For NBA fans, this is a bittersweet time of year. On the negative side of things, after nearly seven months of nonstop action, things suddenly slow to a crawl and we have to - gasp! - go many days without a game to watch. But on the positive side, the games start getting really exciting, with serious implications.
That begins today, at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC when the Boston Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s a rematch of last season’s showdown, which the Cavs won in five games.
Just like last year, the Celtics are injured this season, with two of their best players - Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward - sidelined, while Jaylen Brown is not at full strength. Still, they’ve looked impressive in the playoffs so far, especially in round two, where they knocked off the upstart Philadelphia 76ers in five games.
For the Cavs, things are clicking at the perfect time. They needed seven games, and a bevy of clutch shots and buzzer beaters to beat the Indiana Pacers in the opening round, but they dispatched the top-seeded Toronto Raptors in round two in an emphatic sweep.
Now, only one team stands in between them and holding up their end of the deal in the quest for a fourth consecutive NBA Finals showdown with the Golden State Warriors. And, not surprisingly, it’s another historic note for LeBron James.
Regardless of who wins, it will mark the 12th straight season that the Eastern Conference champ is either LeBron James or the team that eliminated LeBron James. The last team to reach the Finals without either LeBron or beating LeBron was the 05-06 Heat. — @ESPNStatsInfo— Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) May 13, 2018
Now, before we get to enjoying this great game, the petty Warriors fan in me needs to make a point. The Cavs got rid of Irving, and really didn’t replace him with anyone, and still made the Conference Finals. The Celtics replaced their best player, Isaiah Thomas, with Irving, and, despite Irving being injured, still made the Conference Finals.
Enjoy the game.