The Celtics are playing the Cavaliers in Boston tonight, and it should be an interesting game. Both Rondo and Green have had big moments against Lebron James in the past. Hopefully, Lebron's new jersey won't trick both of them into not having an epic game.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs. Kyrie Irving
This is clearly a battle between two star point guards that play completely different games. Rondo is a do it all point guard who puts up numbers in ever statistical category. Kyrie Irving is a point guard who can completely dominate a game with his scoring. Whoever wins this matchup basically comes down to preference, and my preference is a two-way point guard that can affect the game even when his shot isn't falling. Also, Rondo seems to play his best against Lebron-led teams.
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley vs. Shawn Marion
If you haven't been keeping up with the Cavaliers, you may not have noticed that Marion took Dion Waiters' spot in the starting lineup. The Cavaliers wanted someone versatile that could actually defend starting at the 2, and Waiters can be their instant offense off of the bench. That being said, Marion doesn't do much offensively, and his age is starting to catch up with him on the other end as well. This may be a situation where we put Avery Bradley on Irving for a lot of the game so that Rondo can have an easy defensive assignment. Either way, I think Avery Bradley has the clear advantage in this matchup.
Small Forward: Jeff Green vs. Lebron James
After Jeff Green's epic game winner against the Heat last year, I really want to give him the advantage in this matchup. My homerism can only go so far. Unfortunately, Lebron James is still the best player on the planet. Sure, he isn't playing like it now, and he wasn't even the MVP last year. However, I can't write off a player of Lebron's caliber after 6 games. Once Lebron gets used to all of his new teammates, I fully expect him to look like he has for the last 4 or 5 years. Hopefully for the Celtics, he takes a few more games to get used to those new teammates. Regardless, the Cavaliers have a pretty big matchup advantage here (as they do every game).
Power Forward: Jared Sullinger vs. Kevin Love
I know Celtics fans have to be excited about seeing this matchup. Our young power forward going up against the guy we tried to trade him for. If this matchup doesn't motivate a guy like Sullinger into having a great game, I don't know what will. If heart was all it took for Sullinger to have the advantage in this matchup, I would probably give it to him. However, Kevin Love is the player that we hope Sullinger will become one day, but Sullinger isn't there yet.
Center: Kelly Olynyk vs. Anderson Varejao
Kelly Olynyk is quickly emerging into a centerpiece of the Celtics offense. Anderson Varejao has long been a staple of the Cavaliers defense. This matchup could go either way. Varejao isn't used to defending a perimeter oriented big man. Kelly Olynyk has been getting in foul trouble early in every game. If the Cavaliers attack Olynyk defensively early, they could get him in foul trouble and take him out of the game. If they don't, I could see Olynyk having a feast from the perimeter. For that reason, I think this matchup will be pretty even.
Sixth Man: Evan Turner vs. Dion Waiters
Dion Waiters is a game-time decision due to a back injury he sustained from a hard foul against the Denver Nuggets. However, most signs points to him playing, and this could be a bit of a problem for the Celtics. Dion Waiters has always seemed like he was destined to be a great 6th man (in my opinion). He likes the ball in his hands, and he can put up points in a hurry against an inferior defender. Evan Turner seems to be an inferior defender. After watching the last several games, the only game he played well in was against Chicago when Rondo was out. At this point, I'm just not sold on Evan Turner as our 6th man, and I've always thought that Waiters was well-suited for the role.
Rest of Rotation:
Celtics: Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton, Tyler Zeller, Phil Pressey, Gerald Wallace
Cavaliers: Mike Miller, Joe Harris, Tristan Thompson, Will Cherry
The Cavaliers don't really go into a deep rotation. Tristan Thompson will get major minutes, but their other "rotation" players haven't done much of anything at this point in the season. The Cavaliers have pretty much stuck to their starting 5 with Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson being the only guys who get major minutes off of the bench. The Celtics on the other hand are still toying with lineups, and all of our rotation players could play a significant role during any given game. The Celtics bench looked like it was going to be dominant during the preseason, but they have actually been a huge let down so far during the regular season. This matchup comes down to a draw just because the Celtics bench hasn't played well, and the Cavaliers bench just doesn't see much playing time.
Here comes the hard part. The Cavaliers haven't played that well since the start of the season, but they are clearly one of the most talented teams in the NBA. They are starting to figure it out with a two game winning streak coming into Boston. On the other hand, the Celtics have played relatively well in most of their games, but they have far less talent on the roster. This game also happens to take place in Boston where the Celtics have shot the ball much better than they have away (with the exception of the 2nd half against OKC). While I do think the Celtics keep it competitive until the end, I just can't see them winning this game without great games from everyone on the roster.
Outcome: Celtics lose 118-108