No team in the Eastern Conference comes into the playoffs hotter than the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a bit of a stumbling start for the team that saw LeBron James look tired, Kyrie Irving play selfish basketball and Kevin Love slink into the shadows of the offense, the Cavaliers made a few midseason adjustments to the roster that sent Dion “BUCKETS DONT LIE” Waiters to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the team bring in J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Iman Shumpert, the Cavs suddenly had a lineup.
The Cavaliers win games by generating easy opportunities, whether than means from a turnover or from a well-placed outlet pass. Both Lebron and Kyrie are expert at pushing the pace down the court and changing the speed of the offense before the defense can react. The Cavs recently constructed bench, including Shumpert, Shawn Marion, Tristan Thompson, Mike Miller and James Jones, is filled with players who put themselves in position to receive timely assists from James or Irving.
While both James and the bench are experienced in the playoffs, for the most part this will be uncharted territory for the core players of the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving thrived as the primary option on marginal Cavs teams, and Kevin Love dominated the regular season as the nucleus of the hapless Minnesota Timberwolves. Meanwhile, J.R. Smith has made a living as a journeyman and timofey Mozgov has just recently emerged as a starting NBA center.
This won’t matter against the even less experienced Boston Celtics, who will be coming into the series led by newly acquired point guard Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics will try to bully Kyrie Irving, but a team of Boston’s caliber will make enough mistakes for the Cavs to capitalize and quickly run away with the series.
A potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Cavs and the Atlanta Hawks has major appeal. The Cavaliers have the depth and atheticism to handle the Hawks movement and spacing, but may not be able to key in on a singular factor to stop the Hawks production or generate turnovers.
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