Cavs, Celtics ready for conference finals

On Sunday, the second-seeded Celtics and fourth-seeded Cavaliers meet in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year, proving that, while much has changed in the past calendar year, the protagonists have remained the same.

Forward Tatum tallied 25 points, guard Jaylen Brown had 24 and Rozier finished with 17 points and six rebounds for the Celtics who are 37-0 when taking a 2-0 lead in a play-off series.

The Cavaliers floundered at times against the Pacers. But if the Celtics can make those baskets a little more hard, they might be able to get a few key stops.

The Celtics began their season at Quicken Loans Arena, as did their yearlong adversity. However, that's because names like Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

What to watch: Rozier is arguably the revelation of the 2018 National Basketball Association postseason. "You work all season to earn the trust of your teammates and coaching staff for moments like this, whether it's finding Al on the lob or a layup". Dario Saric was played tighter and had trouble Dario'ing his way in the post against longer and more athletic players, he also had trouble driving past the Celtic wings. Hill was added to the roster for his defensive ability on the perimeter. Smart gave it a worthwhile turn, and Brown did well defensively in that series despite battling a sore hip, but the Celtics did not have the multiple options against James. The four games against Toronto that average was cut in half. It was clear from the jump that McConnell was the best player in the minutes he was given.

While noting that Stevens is a great coach, James said Friday that he finds the praise of the Celtics boss to be somewhat overblown. None of those games were close as the Cavs won on the road by an average of 30 points. It's a testament to a program they've been nurturing since he took over as coach five years ago.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star can become a free agent at the end of the season.

What to watch: James is putting together a postseason for the ages. A much more interesting series was in 2015, this time with Rose and with James back in Cleveland.

And yet, starting shooting guard Kyle Korver thinks the Boston Celtics represent an even bigger challenge for Cleveland's surging offense. He'll be a part of the bodies Stevens tries to throw at James. "He looked very confident, he was getting to different places on the court". So we can talk from like potential, but he's been out since the first quarter of Game 1 in Cleveland. At 6-foot-10, Baynes' rim protection is his most valuable contribution to the Celtics. While Smart isn't a max-contract type of player, his steady progression and unmatched intangibles likely will result in a large number of suitors.

If Morris can do that even a little then maybe his comment has some weight behind it.

The most important? Draymond Green.

Hayward was back in Boston while the Celts were in Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4 and is returning this weekend.

Fultz said it hasn't been discussed if he'll play summer league.

But Celtics are well-positioned to stop him with an army of players. The Cavaliers' bench ranks 13th in playoff scoring at 26 points per game. That the series was over in four games was a big surprise.

In 34 playoff games against Boston, James has scored 979 points, the most by any player against one team in postseason history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Cavaliers will have to match his grit and intensity.

Winning Game 1 of any National Basketball Association playoff series is important; under this format that the league has been using since 1984, teams that take 1-0 series leads ultimately win those matchups about 80 percent of the time. The young genius exposed Ben Simmons in the last round and he'll expose the Cavs' weaknesses too.

  • Julie Sanders