Cavs vs Celtics has been a rather bizarre ECF series for the Cleveland players. Over the 7 game series, the first 2 games have seen the Cavs crumble under a 0-2 record versus the young and energetic Boston outfit. But even then, there’s hope.
Why? Because as long as you have the world’s best player on your team, you’re a contender.
And that’s exactly where LeBron James is so pivotal to the final outcome of the Cavs vs Celtics match-up, as NBA’s “king” is now trying to manoeuvre his way into an 8th straight NBA Finals appearance vs Golden State Warriors (we were so confident about it that we even made a video at the start of the season, analyzing the prospective finals match-up).
But what have the Cavs lacked and what can they now do to save their season and an embarrassing exit at the hands of the Celtics?
Let’s analyse the prospects of the 3rd game of this Cavs vs Celtics match-up a little closely:
#1. For The Sake Of The Lord, Mend The Defense:
A bizarre series of turnovers in the 2nd half of Game 2 played a massive role in helping the Celtics mount a comeback. Sure, Cavs aren’t one of the strongest defensive sides but it is in matches like these that LeBron James led teams are supposed to “flip the switch”, which they haven’t done yet.
Secondly, 5 players from Celtics scored in double digits in Game 2, something which is alarming for a bad defense, even if it’s the Cavaliers we are talking about. Jaylen Brown’s 23 nullified LeBron’s 42 points because of bad defense in the 2nd half.
Jayson Tatum has been a revelation for Celtics and it’d be imperial for the Cavs to guard him and Al Horford well if they wish to win.
#2. Use LeBron The Mastermind Instead Of LeBron The Scorer:
The one man who has driven the Cavaliers offense by himself is LeBron James, who had a massive 42 point haul in game 2 but the worst part is that it was only Kevin Love who supported him with 22 points, as most of the Cavs couldn’t hit their stride.
Kyle Korver chipped in with 11 points but the worst of the lot was J.R. Smith, who had 0 points at the end of the night.
If LeBron’s scoring duties are given a little rest and if his vision is brought out to play, the Cavs vs Celtics can definitely get interesting provided the Cavs make use of LeBron’s passes and make them count.
The over-dependence on 1 player might hurt them, which is why the Cavs need to step to keep their championship run going.
#3. Watch Out For Jayson Tatum Being The Key:
Celtics young gun Jayson Tatum is loving it, out there. While the world is divided over the rookie talent of Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell, it’s the most unexpected rookie who has survived the opening 2 rounds of playoffs.
Jayson Tatum has been a brilliant performer and guarding him will be a pivotal aspect of this series.
#4. Get Physical, But Only Just:
Cavs coach Ty Lue said that the Celtics were “gooning it up” in Game 2 and was quick to clarify what he meant as he emphasised on the fact that the Celtics played strong physically and were tougher down the stretch.
By all means, Lue is right.
If at all there is any chance for the Cavs to play out the series and move to the finals, they have to play physical, draw fouls and convert their chances. The Cavs are an ageing outfit compared to Celtics but this is where the likes of Rodney Hood and George Hill need to lend a helping hand to LeBron James.
Can the Cavs live up to their playoff motto of “Whatever it takes” and turn the tide around?
We’ll find out on 20th May, 2018 at 6:00 a.m. (IST) as game 3 takes place in Cleveland’s home court, the Quicken Loans Arena.
Image Credits: Google Images
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