NBA Playoffs — Celtics and Cavaliers Open Eastern Conference Finals Series
Banged up Celtics Look to Contain Lebron in Eastern Conference Finals
The 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals are ready to kick off this afternoon. The Boston Celtics have thrived as underdogs. They get a chance to relish the role again when they take on the almighty LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Game 1 is on Sunday in Boston at TD Center.
James steamrolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs. He averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and nine assists, throwing in a pair of buzzer-beaters along the way.
Oddsmakers opened the Cavaliers as 0-point favorites versus the Celtics, while the game’s total opened at 204. TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Celtics Struggled to Slow King James Last Spring
The Celtics struggled to slow down James in the one-sided matchup last spring. Cleveland won the series in five games. Cleveland won three games at Boston by an average of 30 points in the 2017 conference finals. They also won by 22 at TD Garden on Feb. 11.
The absence of Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and others led to the emergence of Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.. Smart has come back from his surgery to provide a huge spark. The Celtics needed seven games to beat the pesky Milwaukee Bucks and five to beat Philadelphia.
Tatum has a shot at history in this series. The young star has recorded seven straight 20-point games. That ties him with Donovan Mitchell for the second-most all time among rookies. Lew Alcindor of the Milwaukee Bucks holds the record with 10 in a row in 1970.
Shane Larkin suffered a shoulder sprain running into a Joel Embiid pick. He hopes of returning some time during the series.
Al Horford has been a leader for Boston through the 12 playoff games. He isaveraging 17.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He is essentially doing everything for his team.
Can Love and Company Contribute In Eastern Conference Finals
The Cavs are looking for their fourth straight conference title behind LeBron James. The Cavs dropped to fourth in the conference this year. The Philadelphia 76ers ran off 16 straight wins at the end of the season to finish 3rd.
They needed seven games to dispose of the Indiana Pacers in the first round.
In the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, Kevin Love averaged 22.6 points and 12.4 rebounds. He seems primed to help out James the way he played in the second-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors. Love scored at least 21 points in the final three games of that series. He only avereaged 10.9 points on 31.9% shooting in the first eight playoff game.
NBA Eastern Conference Finals Trends
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Cleveland at Boston Tuesday, May 15
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