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Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Preview

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Cavaliers Blogs to Check Out
Cavalier Attitude 
Waiting for Next Year
And One
Fear the Sword - This one dropped off the face of the blogging world shortly after the blockbuster trade. The same goes for Hey Larry Hughes, Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots.

Starting Lineups
Rajon Rondo vs. Delonte West
Ray Allen vs. Wally Szczerbiak
Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James
Kevin Garnett vs. Ben Wallace
Kendrick Perkins  vs.  Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Schedule Notes
Cleveland closed out its first round series Friday night and had three days to prepare for the Celtics. Boston of course went the distance with Atlanta and did not wrap up round one until Sunday. I’ll give Cleveland the edge but it helps that Boston is home.

Season Series
1. The Celtics lost the first game of the season series in overtime. This game was memorable for several reasons:

- Ray Allen played 49 minutes. At the time this was a big deal. Of course as the season progressed his minutes came down. But that was a little frightening. He also took 25 shots, which was easily his high for the season. In fact Allen only took 20 shots two other times and that has not happened since January.

- While Rajon Rondo finished with 7 rebounds and 6 assists, he was also atrocious from the field (1-9). This game single handedly prevented people around the country from recognizing how much Rondo can bring to the table until the third Pistons game.

- The Celtics should have gotten it done down the stretch as Ray Allen missed a few free throws late and Paul Pierce could not come through on a possible game winner.

- LeBron dropped 38 points and was huge from the line (14-15). That’s the kind of stat line I’d hate to see as we move forward.

- Drew Gooden was on fire – 24 points (11-15 from the line) and 13 boards. Big Z also chipped in 15 and 15.

2. LeBron sat out the rematch less than a week later and the Celtics won a pretty dreadful Sunday afternoon game, 80-70.

3. LeBron James – 33 poinrts, 12 assists, 9 boards and 5 steals. That coupled with Kevin Garnett’s absence led to a 114-113 victory for Cleveland. On the bright side the King had 5 turnovers.

4. The Celtics handled the new look Cavs in one of those games where the final score (92-87) made it look a lot closer than it actually was.

Long story short the home team won every game.

X Factor
If Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West hit shots you have to like the Cavs chances.

I’ve Posted About This Before (Several Times) But It Still Warrants Your Attention
A while back Henry Abbott  passed along Brian Windhort's contention that Paul Pierce is LeBron's best rival. Of course no one person can guard LeBron. He’s a force of nature. But you should really check out that article. Perhaps I can whet your appetite with the following:

They were guarding each other before last season during a preseason game in Columbus at Value City Arena when things got heated. James and Pierce were aggressively going after each other on the offensive and defensive ends. It boiled over after James got a steal and dunk.

Being chirped at from the Cavs' bench, Pierce spit at the reserves. He later was fined.

Following the game, Pierce and James got into a fiery exchange in the hallway between the locker rooms with then-coach Paul Silas having to break things up and Pierce having to be carried away by teammates. - Brian Windhorst

Needless to say things have gotten heated at times. As a side note a beat reporter really can be awesome. Windhorst is one of my favorites.

Lebron James vs. Papa John’s
I’d like to pass along a giant “Who cares?” Thanks you.

Cavs’ Strengths
They will defend and hit the boards hard. And then of course there is LeBron. Also Coach Mike Brown is a big time video guy. Cleveland should be prepared.

Cavs’ Weaknesses
At times they fall into the “watch LeBron dribble and hoist up a bad shot” routine. In general their offense is not awesome.

Boston's Defense
This is Boston's chance to go down as one of the great defensive teams. LeBron presents an incredible challenge. And I really believe the Celtics are up for it.