#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #1 Boston Celtics (+375)
The Boston Celtics will open up the Eastern Conference Finals at home against the Cavaliers as big underdogs despite being the #1 seed in the East. The Cavaliers are coming off back to back sweeps to start the playoffs, while the Celtics had two long, grueling series, including a Game 7, to get this far. Cleveland is trying to reach the NBA Finals for a third straight year, while the Celtics are making their first conference finals appearance since 2012 against Lebron’s Miami Heat.
One of the keys to this series will the point guard battle. Both players are known for their elite scoring abilities but both have been mediocre on defense. It will be interesting to see how the Celtics match up against Kyrie, because Avery Bradley may end up being the one doing the majority of defending. The starting lineups for the Celtics in this series will also be key, since the Celtics cannot afford to get off to slow starts or give up big runs like they did in the previous round against Washington. They need to find a lineup that works and stick with it for consistency. Meanwhile, the Cavs Big 3 will likely do the majority of the damage against the Celtics. Boston has struggled with rebounding and will really have to lock down the boards against guys like Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and even Lebron.
Talent-wise, the Celtics are way overmatched, so if they are going to have a chance in this series it will come down to coaching. As mentioned earlier, the starting lineups will be key in this series. Bench play will be important too. If the Celtics get off to a slow start, it will be crucial for the bench to provide the spark that gets them back in the game rather than put them in a deeper hole. However, at the end of the day I think Cleveland is too good of a team to lose this series even without home court advantage. Cavaliers in 5.
Let me know what your thoughts on the series are in the comments down below.