The Cavaliers travel to Beantown on Sunday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. Tipoff from TD Garden is at 3:30 p.m. (ET).
After a 4-0 series sweep over the Toronto Raptors, the Cavaliers are back in the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth straight season and eighth time in franchise history (1976, 1992, 2007, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). This is also the eighth postseason meeting between the Cavs and Celtics, and the third time the two teams have met in the Conference Finals (1976, 2017). Cleveland won the last two playoff series against Boston, which includes their 4-1 series win in last year’s ECF. In that series, the Cavs set a franchise record for points per game in a series with 120.4 points.
Last postseason, the Cavs led the Celtics by an average of 30.0 points on the road (127.3 to 97.3) and became the first team in NBA history to win two road games by a 30-plus-point margin in the same playoff series. The Celtics never possessed a lead at any time in any of the three games played in Boston in the 2017 ECF, marking the first time in NBA history that a team did not lead at any point of three different home games in the same playoff series.
Also in last year’s ECF against Boston, the Cavs had a 44-point win (130-86) in Game 2 at TD Garden on May 19, 2017. Their 44-point win against Boston was the largest in franchise playoff history, the largest win in an Eastern Conference Finals game, Boston’s biggest defeat at home in their playoff history and the biggest margin of victory over a No. 1 seed in league history.
The Cavs’ success against Boston didn’t stop there. During this past regular season, Cleveland won two of the three matchups against the Celtics, including a, 121-99, win at TD Garden on February 11, 2018. The Cavs’ defense limited Boston to a combined .420 shooting from the field (.283 3FG%) and held them to under .450 shooting in all three games.
Heading into the current iteration of #CavsCeltics, the Cavaliers have been playing very well from an offensive point-of-view. In fact, against the Toronto Raptors, the Cavs averaged 118.5 points on .516 shooting from the field (.411 3FG%) and 24.3 assists (8.0 turnovers). Cleveland tied their franchise record for field goal percentage in a playoff game twice in that series (.595 in Games 2 and 4).
Cleveland also had six players average double figures in scoring: LeBron James (34.0), Kevin Love (20.5), Kyle Korver (14.5), JR Smith (12.5), Jeff Green (12.3) and George Hill (10.3).
Going forward, the Cavs would like to see this same level of consistency from their team, especially against a spunky Celtics club that made quick work of a young Sixers squad last round, taking the series in only five games. Even though Boston is missing two of their star players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, they still have a solid starting five that is more than capable of holding their own against a veteran Cavs team.
In the Boston-Philly matchup, Jayson Tatum gave his club some much-deserved confidence after leading them in scoring with 23.6 points per game, as well in field goal percentage (.526). Tatum’s highest point total came in Game 1, after he dropped 28 points on the Sixers.
Another player to stepup for Boston was Terry Rozier. The Youngstown, Ohio native was second in scoring behind Tatum, averaging 19 ppg as well as a solid 7.2 rebounds per game. While Rozier may not have the same strengths as Irving, he is definitely doing a formidable job in his teammate’s absence.
Where to Catch the Action
FOX Sports Ohio: Before and after all Cavs playoffs games, FOX Sports Ohio will provide pre- and postgame coverage hosted by Jeff Phelps and Campy Russell that will include reporting and analysis from Fred McLeod, Austin Carr and Allie Clifton, with guest appearances from former Cavs coach Mike Fratello.
Radio: WTAM 1100, 87.7 La Mega
Cavs Individual Postseason Stats
Heading into Round 3, the Cavaliers have been on fire, tallying a number of excellent individual performances in their four-game sweep of the Toronto Raptors.
For LeBron James, this postseason has been just plain, old fun. The Kid from Akron has been playing out of his mind and is currently averaging a NBA-high 34.3 points (.553 FG%), 9.4 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.55 steals and 1.00 block in 41.4 minutes, to go along with eight double-doubles and two triple-doubles. He has also outright led Cleveland in points and assists in an NBA playoff record 12 consecutive playoff games (dating back to last postseason).
LBJ’s fellow starter, Kevin Love, averaged a double-double in the 2018 Semifinals against Toronto (20.5 PTS, 11.5 REB), and also had a double-double in all five games during the 2017 ECF versus Boston. He averaged 22.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks, while shooting .486 from the field, .535 (23-43) from three-point range and .870 (20-23) from the foul line, in 33.2 minutes that round.
Starting point guard, George Hill, is enjoying himself as well. Hill has scored in double figures in five of his last six postseason games (10.8 PTS, .538 FG%, .875 FT%, 2.7 AST, 28.3 MIN since April 20)
Sharpshooter Kyle Korver is excelling from behind the arc as of late. The Creighton alum has made four threes or more in six games this postseason and leads his team in 3FGM (30, fourth in NBA) and 3FG% (.462, 30-65).
Alongside Korver, JR Smith has also been hot from downtown. In fact, he’s been shooting very well from all over the court. For the first time in his playoff career, Swish shot a perfect 6-6 during the Game 4 win over Toronto (15 PTS, 6-6 FG, 3-3 3FG).
Following Game 1’s showdown in Beantown, the Cavs and Celtics will meet again at the TD Garden on Tuesday for Game 2 at 8:30 p.m. (ET). The series will then shift to Cleveland on May 19 and May 21 for Games 3 and 4. Tipoff for both games will be at 8:30 p.m. (ET). All games following Game 1 (ABC) will take place on ESPN.