On February 11th the Cleveland Cavaliers will visit the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden for the second time this season. Both frontrunners in the Eastern Conference, each team will be looking to break the current 1-1 season series tie. The Cavaliers came out on top at the start of the season in Cleveland, while Boston won decisively at home in early January.
Cleveland boasts one of the league’s top scoring offenses led by the game’s best player in SF/PF LeBron James. Despite trading dynamic offensive PG Kyrie Irving to the Celtics back in August, the team still manages to put up over 110 points per game, currently second in the East. Nevertheless, the loss of Irving has led to a bit more inconsistency on the offensive end for the team; they have lost games this year just for the fact that they do not have another consistent scorer other than LeBron.
Boston sits at the top of the Eastern Conference and will most likely remain at or near the top barring a major injury. Speaking of major injuries, it was in the team’s season opener against the Cavaliers that star SF Gordon Hayward was injured just minutes into the game. Boston went on to lose by a few points. But since then, the team has proven they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference (they will get better in a few months if Hayward returns and plays well). In their last matchup with Cleveland, Boston limited the Cavaliers to just 8 for 32 on three pointers. Cleveland relies on the three pointer more than most teams, and Boston happens to have one of the best perimeter defenses in the league and have proven they can take away the three ball from just about anybody, including the Cavs.
With all of that being said, the main storyline has to be the (real) return of PG Isaiah Thomas to Boston, the team he had two All-Star seasons for. Thomas recently returned from injury but rested when Cleveland last faced the Celtics. This time he will most certainly start for the team and will be tasked with facing Irving, one of the top point guards in the league this year. Thomas has shown he can still score and has been a nice addition to the Cavaliers lineup, but he is not on Kyrie’s level on either side of the ball (in fact against offensive point guards like Irving, Thomas is usually a defensive liability). Boston is simply the more consistent and complete team right now. LeBron usually plays well in these matchups, but who knows what his teammates will do? The Celtics have the edge, especially at home, and should take this one.
Prediction: Cleveland 98, Boston 103
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