The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't have much trouble with the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, leading by 20 points for much of the second half en route to a 117-104 win. At home, Boston needs a win to avoid falling behind 2-0 in the series. Can the Celtics and head coach Brad Stevens make the needed adjustments to pull off the upset? Here's a preview and prediction for tonight's game:
When: 8:30 P.M. ET
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Spread: Cavs by 5.5
What They're Saying About The Cleveland Cavaliers:
Cavs prepare for physical, chippy Game 2 (Akron Beacon-Journal)
Even Cavs Vets in Disbelief over Sudden Playoff Turnaround (Bleacher Report)
LeBron James Hype Video (Chat Sports)
What They're Saying About The Boston Celtics:
What needs to change for the Celtics to win Game 2 (Boston.com)
Isaiah Thomas not satisfied after being named to All-NBA 2nd Team (Celtics 101)
Celtics Hype Video (Chat Sports)
Key To The Game: Who Gets The 3-Point Shot Falling?
During the regular season, the Celtics and Cavs both loved the 3-point shot and it loved them back. Boston was third in 3-point shots attempted and the Cavs were second, with just a half shot per game difference. The Cavs were second in the NBA, hitting 38.4 percent, while the Celtics were 14th with 35.9 percent. Both have been even better in the playoffs, with the Cavs hitting 42.6 percent and Boston 37. But that wasn't the case in Game 1.
The Cavs were just 11 of 31 (35.5 percent), with Kyle Korver going 1 for 6 and Kyrie Irving going 0 for 3. Kevin Love's blistering 6 for 9 night saved the Cavs. But Boston was even worse, hitting 12 of 38 (31.6 percent). Isaiah Thomas was 2 of 7 and Avery Bradley was 2 of 8.
Both teams rely on the 3-pointer and it's a worrying sign for Boston that the Cavs shot well below their playoff average and still cruised to a win. If the Celtics want to pull the upset, they need the deep ball to work. They don't have the shooters Cleveland does, but the Celtics still bank on their 3-pointers falling. If the Cavs 3-point shot is falling, the Celtics could be in serious trouble. If Boston is getting its to fall, maybe we'll have the rare competitive playoff game.
Prediction: Cavs win 115-108
With the way this year's NBA playoffs have gone, maybe it's just wishful thinking that we'll get a close playoff game. The Cavs look amazing, while the Celtics have been up-and-down this playoff run. But, I trust Brad Stevens a lot and think he'll be able to dial up some changes and find a way to make it a game. Still, I can't bet against LeBron James right now.