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Celtics Vs. Cavaliers, The Battle Begins

Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 1

Boston Celtics (0-0) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)

Time: Saturday, May 1st, 8:00 PM EST

Venue: Quicken Loans Arena


Officials: Ed F. Rush, Jason Phillips, Bill Spooner

The Line: Celtics and Cavs are 2 and 2 in head to head play

during regular season, both winning and losing one game at home.


Batten down the hatches! Hide the women and children folk! Storms' comin.

This is the playoff series we've been waiting for since last season. We all knew that with Kevin Garnett the Celtics would have had an easier time with the Magic last year than they did. We knew they the real test, the one everyone expected the C's to fail was against the Cavaliers (and subsequently the Lakers after that, but I digress). But we as fans never got to see that. Garnett never got healthy, the Magic went on to shoe LeBron James away and advance to the finals. We signed Rasheed Wallace. The rest, as they say, is history. Until now.

Here on this ragged patch of grass called Cleveland, LeBron's hordes face obliteration! Today is our independence day! They can never take our freedom! Other famous inspirational movie quote!

Most times a game one is more of a testing the waters experience than an actual pace setting game. Especially between two good teams, the first game is automatically thought of to be the first of six or seven games, so maybe the urgency isn't there so much. Also, especially in the second round of the playoffs, usually the home team (a one or two seed typically) has had a few more days rest than the away team (a three thru six seed). None of that applies here though.

These teams are as close to a rivalry in the NBA as we have now a days. According to Mo Williams (via ESPN), "We don't like them, they don't like us, it's obvious."

The media are trying to insert sexy subplots, like emphasizing that LeBron James's elbow is hurt, but do not be fooled, both teams will be 100% ready for war tonight.

The Celtics and Cavs have both been at once the cream of the crop and at the same time the underachievers in the East the last two years. Last year both teams were ignominiously tossed from the post-season by a streaking Magic team, despite both squads having home court advantage i their respective series. This season, the Celtics have (because of varied reasons there is no reason to revisit here) have underperformed pretty terribly at times, and already this post season the Cavs have got popped twice by an eighth seeded Bulls team that they by all rights should have swept. Both teams, despite past successes, still have a lot to prove.

The Cavaliers are heavily favored to win this one, with every one of ESPN's talking heads picking the Cavs to take the war, with most of them picking the Cavs in 5 games or less, but that is nothing new to these Celtics this season. Everyone is waiting for the bottom to fall out on this team, but just when you think the floor is starting to shake a little bit, they come out and surprise you.

To paraphrase a movie that captured a generation, they say the Celtics have lost a step or two, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some fireworks here tonight.

Game breakdown and more pithy re-joiners after the jump.

Probable Starting Lineups

Boston Celtics




PG Rajon Rondo 42 14.8 6.2 10.2 2.4 0.2 3 3.4 2.2 0.2


SG Ray Allen 35.4 19.4 2.6 3.4 1 0 1.8 1.89 3.6 0


SF Paul Pierce 38.6 19.6 5.6 3.2 0.6 0.8 2.6 1.23 2.6 0


PF Kevin Garnett 35.5 15.8 8.8 2.5 1.75 0.5 2 1.25 2.5 0.5


C Kendrick Perkins 27.4 5.8 7.6 1.2 0.2 2.2 3.2 0.38 2.6 0.2


6 Glen Davis 22.4 8.8 4.8 0.8 1.2 0 0.8 1 1.2 0.2


7 Tony Allen 16.6 6.4 1.4 0.4 1.6 0.6 0.8 0.5 1.8 0


8 Rasheed Wallace 13.2 3.8 2 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 2 2.2 0.2


9 Michael Finley 8.8 2.4 0.6 0.4 0.6 0 0 0 0.2 0


10 Shelden Williams 18 2 6 0 0 0 1 0 1 0

Injuries and Stuff: Healthy as a horse, of course.

Cleveland Cavaliers




PG Mo Williams 37.2 15.6 2.6 5.2 0.4 0.4 2.2 2.36 2.8 0


SG Anthony Parker 26.4 8.2 2.2 1.4 0.4 0.2 0.8 1.75 0.6 0


SF LeBron James 41 31.8 9.2 8.2 1.2 2.4 3 2.73 2.2 0.2


PF Antawn Jamison 35 19.4 7.4 1.6 0.6 1.2 1.8 0.89 3.6 0


C Shaquille O'Neal 20.6 9.2 6.2 1.8 0.2 1.4 2.8 0.64 3.8 0


6 Delonte West 27.4 8 2.2 3.6 1 0.2 1 3.6 1.6 0


7 Jamario Moon 14.2 5.4 2 0.4 0.4 1 0 0 1.2 0


8 Anderson Varejao 25.2 5.2 7.2 0.6 1 1 1.2 0.5 3.8 0.2


9 J.J. Hickson 4.4 2 0.4 0 0 0 0.2 0 0.6 0


10 Zydrunas Ilgauskas 8.5 1.3 2 0.5 0 0.5 0 0 0.8 0

Injuries and Stuff: LeBron James (PROBABLE, ELBOW)

Getting Familiar With Cleveland as a Culture

I thought this video from the Tourism And Recreation Committee Of Cleveland would help you understand where our boys are going tonight: LINK

Matchup Of The Game: Paul Pierce V LeBron James

-This is a no-brainer, but it has a lot more to do with Paul Pierce's defense than it does his 19 points per game in the post season. If you looked at ESPN's post season stats for the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James is the leaders in PPG, APG, RPG, and BPG. He is their entire team. I'm not saying the rest of the Cavaliers aren't talented; they are. But LeBron James is where that team starts and where it stops. He will make highlight plays. He will make momentum killing blocks and dunks. He will have his way a lot of the game. He's just that good. But, for the Celtics to have a chance of stealing a game in Cleveland, they need to body up LeBron every chance they get, and stop him where they can, and that starts with Paul Pierce.

Runner-up, Matchup of the Game: Rajon Rondo V Mo Williams

-This one is important for the inverse reason of the LeBron vs Pierce matchup. Mo Williams might score his 15 points tonight, but the bigger question is what kind of pace will Rajon Rondo set? He's averaging over 14 points, 6 boards and 8 assists a game right now, and frankly as good as that sounds, we need more out of him to win this game. The Celtics don't have a player who can take over a game against a team as good as Cleveland, but they have 3 players who can all do substantial damage if given the right opportunities. If Rondo can eclipse 16 points and 11 assists tonight, I think that goes a long way towards taking a W in Cleveland.

Why It Is Critical That Boston Takes A Game Either Tonight or Monday

Over the past three years (including 2010) Boston and Cleveland have both been two of the top teams in the league at holding together home court. Neither team has lost more than 2 home games in any one post season since 2007-2008, and both teams stand with an impressive 87.5 winning % at home. While the Celtics have been weak at home this regular season, do not take that to be an indicator of how they will play at home this post season. Both teams have a HUGE advantage at home, and neither team is expected to lose when they are in their own building. It is imperative that the Celtics head back to Boston for games three and four with at least a 1-1 record, because if history is any judge, until Cleveland loses at home, this is the Cavaliers' series.

Three Keys To The Game For The Good Guys

1) Do the Hus-tle: Andersen "Sideshow Bob" Varejao has, like a fart in church, been a silent killer of the Celtics. He takes charges, he throws elbows, he waxes the floor with the mop he naively calls a hairstyle..he is the hustle monster. The Celtics seem to wilt sometimes under the overbearing Gym Class Hero attitude of some of these guys, and it can't happen tonight. Garnett, Perkins, and especially Glen Davis need to keep both their composure and their effort levels up for the entire game. On the perimeter side of things, Tony Allen will be asked to do a lot this game, and the most important thing will be to cover LeBron while Pierce is out. Hustle and energy are Tony's biggest weapons here, and he's got to use them.

2) No Soup For LeBron, Come Back One Year!: No. Easy. Lay-ups. Let me say that again, Rasheed Wallace, NO. EASY. LAY-UPS. Every time that LeBron James takes off for a highlight reel dunk, we need someone there to meet him. Shelden Williams should get some very important minutes, because he's the ideal guy to put the hurt on anyone who thinks they can just waltz up to the basket and lay one in. For the Celtics, a lot of this game will rely on dirty crafty veteran play. We need our boys to be spot on with thier elbows and their undercuts because this game will set the tempo.

3) Don't Ever Hang Your Heads, Boys!: Cleveland is supposed to win this game. The crowd will be up, the players will be up, the river will catch fire, it'll be a spectacle. Do not expect our guys to come out for a 15 point first quarter lead out of the gate, because it won't happen. The bigger concern though is if the Cavs come out hot and get up five or six solid points. I promise, the Celtics will have a first half moment that will decide whether or not they take this game. Cleveland will get seven or eight quick points and build a small lead, and the Celtics will have a decision: chalk it up to a game 1 loss, or put their head down and slowly but determinedly get back into the game. The tough teams find a way to get back in, and I think our boys are pretty tough.

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