Boston Celtics (60-19) at Cleveland Cavaliers (64-15)
Sunday, April 10
3:30 PM ET
Game #80, Road Game #41
Quicken Loans Arena
This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams who rank 1st and 2nd in the East. The Celtics lead the series 2-1 with both teams winning on their home court. The Cavs are basically healthy and have their team in place as it will be going into the playoffs. The Celtics are still missing 3 key players who they will hopefully get back in time for the playoffs.
The Celtics come into Cleveland with the 2nd seed wrapped up courtesy of 2 losses in a row by the Magic. The Cavs have the top seed in the East all wrapped up and are up 1.5 games on the Lakers for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Although at first glance it would appear that this game is just a formality, it is actually a big game for both teams. One t issue is the fact that Cleveland needs just two more wins on their home court to match the 1986 Celtics home record of 40-1. The Cavs would love to go into the record books tied with a team that is arguably one of the best teams ever and the Celtics would love to maintain that record for that '86 team alone.
Both teams are also looking to gain mometum going into the playoffs and both are looking to send a message and gain a psychological edge for their expected meeting in the Eastern Conference finals.
This should be a very hard fought game. The Cavs definitely have the advantage since they are at home where they are playing exceptionally well this season. They also are healthy while the Celtics are still short handed, especially in the front court. It is also an afternoon game and the Celtics haven't fared all that well in afternoon games this season. But, you can't underestimate the heart of a champion. The Celtics have been playing with and winning with a lot of heart and we can expect to see that heart on display in this game as well.
Coach: Doc Rivers
Average Age: 27.3
Average Height: 6-6
Average Weight: 222
PG: Rajon Rondo PPG 12.2 RPG 5.20 APG 8.4
SG: Ray Allen PPG 18.3 RPG 3.50 APG 2.8
SF: Paul Pierce PPG 20.3 RPG 5.70 APG 3.7
PF: Glen Davis PPG 6.4 RPG 3.90 APG 0.9
C: Kendrick Perkins PPG 8.5 RPG 8.20 BPG 2.0
Leon Powe (knee) out
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (head) out
Coach: Mike Brown
Average Age: 27.1
Average Height: 6-7
Average Weight: 227
PG: Mo Williams PPG 17.9 RPG 3.40 APG 4.0
SG: Delonte West PPG 11.7 RPG 3.10 APG 3.6
SF: LeBron James PPG 28.3 RPG 7.70 APG 7.2
PF: Anderson Varejao PPG 8.7 RPG 7.10 APG 1.0
C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas PPG 13.0 RPG 7.40 BPG 1.3
JJ Hickson (back) out
Matchups to Watch
The matchup between Paul Pierce and LeBron James is always an entertaining one and is one of the best matchups in the league. The game 7 duel between these two players is a classic. Both players are capable of taking over a game and both players will try to keep their teammates involved. Both Pierce and LeBron know the importance of this game and so we should see another classic game between these two.
Both of these point guards have been playing very well and both have their teams playing well. The Celtics will need Rondo to be aggressive and to continue the high level of play we have seen from him over the past 6 games if the Celtics hope to win this one. He will also need to stay in front of Mo Williams and try to slow him down.
Ray Allen vs Delonte West
Delonte has a chip on his shoulder against the Celtics for trading him and he will do his best to help his team win this one. He is a good defender and will make Ray work for everything he gets. It will be up to Ray to try to slow down Delonte as well as continuing his own hot shooting. .
Wally Szczerbiak played for the Celtics in the 06-07 season.
Wally also played with KG in Minnesota
Delonte West was the the Celtics' 24th pick in the 04 draft and spent 3 seasons with the Celtics before being sent to Seattle in the trade that brought Ray Allen to Boston.
Mikki Moore and Lorenzen Wright played together in Sacramento
Darnell Jackson and Paul Pierce are former Kansas Jayhawks
Cavs Assistant Coach John Keuster was an assistant for the Celtics from 1995-97.
Keys to the Game
Defense, Defense, Defense The Cavs have taken a page from the Celtics' book and are winning with defense. The Celtics have struggled with their defense at times after KG went out, but it seems as though they have found their defensive intensity once again. Defense will be the key to winning this game.
Limit Turnovers The Cavs are one of the best teams in the league in converting turnovers into points. The Celtics are one of the worst teams in the league at turning the ball over. It sounds like a formula for disaster. If the Celtics turn the ball over, the Cavs will make them pay for it.
Rebound Rebounding numbers indicate effort and desire and the team that works hardest on the glass will likely be the team that wants this game more. The Celtics must limit the Cavs' second chance efforts and at the same time they have to get offensive rebounds to give themselves more opportunities to score.
Home Court and Focus
The Cavs are very tough on their home court and it will take a very focused Celtics team to win there, especially in an afternoon game. We know that the Cavs will come in focused to protect their home court and to gain a mental advantage over the Celtics for the upcoming playoffs. . If the Celtics also come out focused they have a good chance ot pulling this one out.