Projected Started Lineups
Boston - Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
Cleveland - Daniel Gibson, Aleksandar "For some reason I go by Sasha" Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Getting to Know Random Players on the Cavaliers
LeBron James - There is nothing random about LeBron. Readers who have been following my blog for over a year, all five of you, know that I somewhat resent LeBron for sitting out of a pre season game that I attended in Manchester, New Hampshire prior to last season. However, even I tend to call the Cavaliers the LeBrons and respect the force of nature that is LeBron. Ironically the hype is so out of control for James that it obscures the fact that he is a tremendous basketball player. Major bonus points because he is always good for at least one ludicrous feat per game. Remember last year he did this? Also, he generally lights up the Celtics. And yes today's Random YouTube Clip (see below) went a long way in redeeming James in my eyes. Although his new "Better than me" Nike campaign is about three steps back from the LeBrons campaign. Believe that.
Eric Snow - Rajon Rondo's recent shooting prowess has solidified Snow as the guy everyone feels obliged to remind anyone who will listen that he is a poor shooter.
Damon Jones - See picture below, courtesy of Deadspin from a few years ago. Yeah I went there.
Larry Hughes - I know he's injured right now but what the hell happened to him? His game has completely deserted him. Hughes went from being a potential Scottie Pippen Ultra Lite to a borderline non-factor and a cancer for fantasy basketball teams. And I still like him. I'm a sucker.
Big Z - If you had to guess how old he is can you honestly throw out any number lower than 35? Well I would not. It turns out that he'll be 33 in June. More importantly he is averaging 15 points and 12 boards per game so far. Now that caught me off guard. He is also one of those players, Yao Ming being the other off the top of my head, that makes Perkins look small.
Daniel Gibson - He earned recognition last year for some clutch shooting in the playoffs. Although I was more impressed by the fact that he wanted to get drafted early in the second round, prove himself as a player and then be eligible to sign a bigger contract sooner. That is thinking ahead. Well Gibson is going to have to earn that contract this year.
James/Pierce - I'm always amazed how big James is. Throw in his speed, athleticism and everything else and the guy is a match up nightmare. However, Pierce has a lot more help this year. Granted no one can stop LeBron. But much like they did with Kobe on Friday, I could see the Celtics frustrating James and making him work for his stats.
Rondo/Gibson - Gibson is more of a threat as a shooter. This could be a welcome change for Rondo who has been up against Jameer Nelson, Baron Davis and Raymond Felton - three guys who can get to the rim - in recent games. Meanwhile, I'm not sure Gibson can stay with Rondo. We'll see.
The LeBrons played and won on Sunday, thanks in large part to a triple double from their namesake. Meanwhile, the Celtics had two game free days after their win over the Bobcats. Wisely they did not return to Boston, choosing to practice in Carolina before heading to Cleveland. So no major advantages as far as the recent schedule goes.
Cavaliers Biggest Strengths
LeBron. Big Z's strong start. LeBron. Their commitment to defense. LeBron. Mike Brown loosening the reigns on offense. LeBron.
Cavaliers Biggest Weaknesses
LeBron's supporting cast. I always wonder what would have happened if LeBron landed on a team that did not play its home games in the state he was born and that team proceeded to develop as the Cavs have. Would LeBron have signed his last contract? Would he be pushing for a trade? As is the Cavaliers will be good because of James. But he has to look at the Celtics and get jealous. And you know it kills him that Dwayne Wade and Darko, other members from the 2003 draft, already have rings.
As noted above the Cavaliers played on Sunday. No big deal. However, in their game against Indiana the Cavs' screwed around enough that it made the recap over on NBA.com. The plot thickens. In addition to strong offense and defense through twelve games, the Celtics have shown that they definitely get fired up for certain games. Generally speaking good teams bring out the best in them. LeBron James, by himself, pushes this game into that category. He's that good. I envision epic amounts of trash talking and a physical all around game.