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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Boston Versus Cleveland Preview

Eastern Conference Second Round

#1 Boston (66-16) vs. #4 Cleveland (45-37)

Season series: 2-2

Cleveland can win if…LeBron James continues to play at an MVP-level, the Cavaliers win the rebounding battle and their defense performs at least as well as the Celtics'.

Boston will win because… over the course of this season they have more consistently been committed to playing playoff caliber defense.

Other things to consider: A lot of interesting questions will be answered by the end of this series. Are Boston's three stars better than Cleveland's one star? Does Cleveland's collective playoff experience from last year's run to the NBA Finals (and Ben Wallace's two trips to the NBA Finals as a member of the Detroit Pistons) give the Cavs an advantage over team whose three top players have never been to the Finals? Was the Atlanta series a wakeup call for the Celtics that helped them regain the necessary focus to make a title run or did it simply reveal fatal weaknesses in the makeup of Boston's team?

Based on what I've already seen from James I'd rather have him than have Boston's three stars, particularly in a playoff series; James can take over a game in a way that none of Boston's stars can. Cleveland's collective playoff experience was more of an edge for the Cavs before they traded away half of their roster; in some ways the Cavs are going through training camp and the playoffs at the same time as they try to familiarize their new guys with the Cleveland way of doing things. I think that the Atlanta series was both a wakeup call and a revelation; winning a seventh game together is a big step for Boston but at some point the Celtics will need to win a road playoff game and they have yet to play well on the road in the playoffs, let alone win a game there.

At the beginning of the season I definitely thought that Cleveland would be able to beat Boston if the two teams met in the playoffs. Then the Celtics turned out to be better than I had expected while the Cavs struggled to deal with holdouts and injuries before literally trading away half of the roster. Before the playoffs began I picked Boston to win the East and I still expect that to happen. However, Cleveland has a puncher's chance to beat Boston and the blueprint for that to happen revolves around winning game one to put immediate pressure on the Celtics to have to win at least one road game in the series. If the Cavs win game one then I think that they have an excellent chance to win the series but I expect the Celtics to prevail in seven games.

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:42 AM

6 comments

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6 Comments:

At Tuesday, May 06, 2008 4:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

celtics have better team but cleveland has best player jordan would win this series if he played on cleveland lebron isn as good as thein god so they lose in 7 games they need prime micheal jordan on the cavs lebron closest ever to mike him and kobe but both arent mike.

 
At Tuesday, May 06, 2008 5:57:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Why do you keep bringing up MJ's name and then complain that you think I am comparing Kobe to MJ? I never mentioned MJ in this post and I've never said that Kobe or LeBron are better than MJ, so what does MJ have to do with this series?

Moreover, you might want to think over this particular comparison a little more carefully: LeBron took a team without a single current All-Star to the 2007 NBA Finals and he has already won five playoff series in his career. MJ went 1-9 in playoff games and lost three series before Pip and Horace Grant appeared on the scene--and please don't start up again with the nonsense that those guys weren't contributing early in their careers; Pip was in the starting lineup by playoff time and was a vital contributor, particularly on defense, and that helped keep MJ more fresh to be a closer.

 
At Wednesday, May 07, 2008 5:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

lebron team is way better than the bulls in 87 put jordan on the cavs he doesnt go 2-18 aginst the celtics put him on the 06 lakers they win the series they were up 3-1 in 5 games. the 86 and 87 celtics is alot better than detroit was last year and boston is this year especially 86 and and he played nj wizards two juggernauts huh and wizards this year the eastren conference is a terrible conference jordan gets clevland to the finals last year and he takes spurs 7 if not win the series.

pippen averaged 7 ppg in 87-88 he was not doing much he was comeing off the bench he averaged 10ppg in playoffs those are josh childress numbers and jordan still won 50 games and won defensive player of the year and mvp the next year pippen was more of a contributor but he was never a dominant offensive player he was good defensively jordan could of won 6 rings with another superstar it just happen to be pippen if pippen went to seattle he would not be a hall of famer jordan was a who he is with or without pippen everyone knows this the knicks never beat the bulls till jordan left in 94-95 the bulls wouldnt of made the playoffs if jordan didnt come back they were 34-31 and started 26-29 without the god greatest player ever there is nuthing to discuss pippen was great jordan had more effect on his career than pippen had on jordan everyone who knows basketball knows this except you it seems.

 
At Wednesday, May 07, 2008 6:02:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Let's make it clear that it is you, not I, making LeBron-MJ comparisons. You act as if I am the one who brings this up. MJ obviously had the more complete all-around game than LeBron.

That said, LeBron carried a team without a current All-Star to the NBA Finals. You can say all you want about the competition but that is quite an accomplishment. MJ never did anything like that. That does not mean that LeBron is better than MJ but if you want to make objective comparisons--as opposed to just talking like a fan--then you have to take this into account.

If you really think that Pip and Childress were at any time equivalent players then I am going to leave that alone because you are well beyond any help that I could offer.

As for MJ and Pip's time together, Pip was an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team player during the championship years. Please go back and find for me another small forward from that era who has the same qualifications and who could also average 6+ apg. I'll save you the time--there weren't any. MJ probably could have won a ring or two with another All-NBA sidekick but it is very unlikely that he would have won six of them. Pip was a unique, special talent and, even more importantly, his strengths blended in perfectly with MJ.

The Bulls went 57-25 in 1993 and then without MJ in 1994 they went 55-27 as Pip finished third in MVP voting. As I indicated above, if you truly cannot fathom that Pip was a great player then you are beyond any help that I can offer. GMs, coaches, scouts and players who truly know the game completely disagree with what you are saying.

The 1995 Bulls suffered injuries to numerous players in the early going. Once those players returned they went on a winning streak that, ironically, ended in MJ's first game back. Obviously, with MJ and Pip reunited the team was well positioned to close strongly, which is exactly what they did. That said, they made it to the seventh game against a tough Knicks team in 1994 but were eliminated in six games in 1995. The addition of Rodman to replace the departed Grant made them champions again in 1996. That is the analytical view of what happened. Of course, as a fan you are free to believe and say whatever you wish.

Pip's primary contribution in the early years was on defense, as you admit, so why do you cite his scoring average? Pip averaged nearly 30 mpg in the playoffs as a rookie and he was on the court in crunch time.

 
At Thursday, May 08, 2008 7:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

lebron great there is no comparison with him and mike so far maybe lebron will be better in do time but he is not better no where close.

the competition was the diffrence if jordan was on lebron team last year they would of won the championship or at least took spurs to game 7. lebron with jordan team would of got swept like jordan did both times and he wouldnt of scored 63 against vaunted team if you dont take competition your not speaking anaylstic your speaking like a hater. im sure if kobe was jordan in 87 and you compared the two youll be quick to say who boston had like you always do when you make excuses for kobe.


those were josh childress numbers pippen at his best is way better than childress but he was not a major contributor in 87-88 or 88-89 not till 89-90 he was.

jordan could of won the rings with another all nba sidekick it happened to be pippen but he's not a hall of famer without mike everybody knows this the notion that you think he could win 2 or 3 without him is defintely enough for me to know he could of won all 6 without him. pippen was very good player jordan could of carried the team farther if pippen retired and he was still playing in the mid 90's. the bulls were the bulls cause of jordan nobody was scared of pippen like they were jordan or shaq in his prime with pippen at the helm the knicks beat them and they would of never won a championship or made the playoffs the next season if jordan didnt come back.

and if pippen and rodman were at the helm they would of never won the nba championship or come close without jordan your argument they are more or so important is crazy jordan won 3 nba championships almost 2 70 win season and 63 win seasons in those years karl malone john stockton patrick ewing charles barkley shawn kemp have no ring and countless otyhers becuse of mike every body knows that but you chris webber peja portland reggie miller mark jackson jalen rose have no ring because of shaq who has no ring because of kobe?

 
At Friday, May 09, 2008 4:07:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

The horse is dead, please stop beating it: I did not say anything about MJ in this post, so why do you keep bringing him up? What does MJ have to do with Boston playing Cleveland in 2007? How can you say that I write too much about Kobe when you keep bringing up someone who has not even played for several years?

Pip is a Top 50 player largely because of his all-around game and he had his best individual season when MJ was retired so it makes absolutely no sense to say that he would not have been as good without MJ. That is a slippery slope for you to walk on considering MJ's 1-9 record in playoff games without Pip, who won playoff series in Chicago and Portland without MJ.

The truth is that in order to win six titles they needed each other and neither one could win six titles by himself because no one in NBA history has won a title, let alone six, by himself. We've talked about this before with Shaq and Kobe. Your "number one," "number two" business is irrelevant when you are talking about players who made the All-NBA First Team during championship seasons--such players are obviously indispensable.

I must have missed something--MJ won 70 games without Pip? What are you talking about? Never mind, don't answer that--I've really heard more than enough about this topic in this thread, especially considering that it has absolutely nothing to do with the post. Further comments that are completely off topic will not be posted.

 

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