Eastern Conference Finals Predictions

Jayson Tatum’s go-ahead basket with 22.5 seconds left sent the Boston Celtics back to the Eastern Conference finals with a 114-112 win against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers in Game 5 of their second-round play-offs. (USA TODAY Sports/Greg M. Cooper)

Round 2 has concluded! The Rockets, Warriors, Cavs, and Celtics (!!!) have moved on to the next round. Prediction time!

RECAPPING LAST ROUND PICKS:

After my almost perfect Round 1 picks, I basically got all the semifinal picks wrong.

Predictions:

Raptors in 6:

I can’t believe I picked against LeBron when he’s playing the Raptors. Just a rookie mistake by me.

Sixers in 7:

Yes, yes, I didn’t have faith in my own team. Well, that’s the last time that happens. At least I knew the Celtics had a chance in this series. I’m just happy they’re in the next round and HUMBLED Joel Embiid.

Dubs in 5:

Wow, would you look at that. I got one right.

Rockets in 6:

Close, but wrong. I thought the Jazz could put up a bigger fight and maybe even extend the series to 7 games, but the Rockets with Harden and Paul are too good. This team will be good for a long time though.

ECF:

Celtics (2) vs Cavs (4):

These two teams have had a similar path to getting here. The Celtics had a great series (maybe the best one in these playoffs) against the Bucks as it went to 7. The Cavs went to 7 games against the Pacers but took the series easily in Game 7. Although, the Celtics were the underdogs in their series, just saying. Then, both teams quickly went up 3-0 in their respective series. The Cavs were able to complete the sweep against the Raptors. The Celtics dropped a game to the Sixers, but got the job done in Game 5. The Cavs (but mainly LeBron) made easy work of the Dinosaurs, and while the Celtics struggled to get some wins against the Sixers, they were able to get wins and we saw very promising play from the young guys (Brown, Rozier, Tatum). Now, it’s time the actual contenders fight in the Conference Finals.

The real question for Brad Stevens here is what can the Celtics do to stop LeBron. We already have received reports that Kyrie has been helping to reveal LeBron’s play style and some of his own plays. Brad will try to throw different defenders and every defensive scheme he can think of against this team. We might see Ojeyele get significant minutes against LeBron, and Marcus Morris will have to back up his talk.

“Personally, I think I’m probably the best guy defending [LeBron James] in the league, outside of Kawhi [Leonard].”

I’m excited to see Horford and Tatum’s defense on LeBron, since neither have been particularly great defending him this season.

There are going to be times where the Celtics are going to have to accept that LeBron cannot be stopped in some cases, but that just means the offense has to pick up against the Cavs defense (one of the weak points of Cleaveland).

“If him and even a guy like Tatum weren’t growing as players, we couldn’t have been at this point,” Horford said. “It’s a lot of credit to both of them.”

The offense of Tatum (who has 7 straight 20 point postseason games, most by any Celtics player since Paul Pierce in 2005) is really starting to put a smile on Celtics fans and I think playoff Jayson Tatum is going to be something to be scared of. His tandem with Jaylen Brown has been amazing, to put in plainly. In Game 5 against the Sixers, a huge game, the two combined for 49 points points on 18/28 from the field. Not only did they score just below 50% of the Celtics points, but they also went almost 70% shooting. Not too shabby. Hopefully this offensive spark that they Celtics finally have started to get (they couldn’t spark they offense very well in the regular season) will spill over into this series. We know Brown and Tatum will put up high numbers along with Horford, but then we also have Scary Terry running point with Smart’s physicality running the defense. The talent, I believe, is there, but now it’s just about the game plan Stevens draws up.

It’s no secret the Cavs have better players. Everyone has them as the the favorites. But could there be an upset? Yes. I absolutely think so. And that’s not even my bias speaking. Will the Celtics (but mainly Brad and four of our actual players, since they actually had the experience) overcome their terrible play last year? I believe it’s a toss up.

But my final prediction is:

Cavs in 7 (Yeah, I went to 7, and yeah, I’m picking against my own team…)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *