The Celtics Get a Big Win But Don't Get Your Hopes Up
Last night the Celtics played the Cavs and got their biggest win of the season. They had everyone healthy besides Gerald Green, and the Cavs had everyone besides Kevin Love, JR Smith, and the newly acquired Andrew Bogut. It was close throughout the entire game with the Cavs leading early and then the two teams going back and forth in the second half. In the end the Celtics got a few big stops and hit some even bigger shots in the 4th quarter to secure a win against their Eastern Conference foe. Now don't be deceived by the headline of this post. This was a big win for the Celtics, it helped them in the standings and gave this young team confidence. All i'm saying is just don't let this win convince you that they can beat the Cavs in a 7 game series. There were many things in this game that went against the norm for both teams in this game and you should think about them before you go betting on the Celtics to make the Finals.
The first thing to consider in this win is that the Cavs were missing a few important guys that would have made a big difference. One of them was Kevin Love who is a monster on the glass and spreads the floor for Lebron and Kyrie. Another person was JR Smith, who has been out for a while, but will be back sometime soon and definitely for the playoffs. JR is very important to the Cavs because he is their 4th and sometimes 3rd best scoring option, and you can't just leave him alone when deciding to double Lebron or Kyrie. The other person that was missing was the recently acquired Andrew Bogut. Now his impact is least important, but he definitely will help the Cavs in the rebounding department going forward. With these guys playing the Cavs are a much deeper team which means they don't have to play guys like Derrick Williams, and would make them a very deep team. One of the advantages the Celtics had in this game was that they were a deeper team and were able to trust their bench more to make contributions. Once the Cavs have everyone back in the playoffs it will negate this advantage for the Celtics.
Another thing to consider in this win is that the Cavs shot uncharacteristically bad. Their team averages this season are .466 FG%, .388 3P%, and a .755 FT%. In this game they had a .407 FG%, a .303 3P%, and a .682 FT%. All of those are significantly less than their season average. That is not likely to continue for seven games in a playoff series, especially when you consider that they tend to step up their level of play in the postseason. People will say that the Cavs shot poorly because of the Celtics defense which I disagree with. Sure the Celtics had some good defensive plays coming from Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley at the end, but it seemed like the Cavs were missing open shots. Even at the end of the game during their last possession they had a few open looks, they just missed them. That typically does not happen and definitely wont happen often.
The last thing to consider is that the Celtics somehow, someway won the rebounding battle last night. In fact when the Celtics win the rebounding battle they are 18-1. So pretty much if they get more rebounds than the other team they are going to win. But that's the thing, the Celtics rarely out rebound the other team. We got a fluke rebounding performance from the $30 million dollar man Al Horford and Tristan Thompson still out rebounded him. It was only because guys like Channing Frye and Derrick Williams were getting serious minutes that the Celtics won the rebounding battle. When Love and Bogut are playing again the Celtics will definitely get out rebounded and probably by a pretty wide margin. Tristan Thompson is Al Horford's daddy in the playoffs and Horford will go back to his usual 6 rebounds when the time comes. So don't expect that to ever happen again.
Again I don't want to discourage people, that was a big win for the Celtics. The Wizards got a big win last night and the Celtics got an even bigger one to keep them at bay in the standings. They hit multiple big shots in the final 2 minutes, including one from the young Jaylen Brown. And we also got to see some great late game defense from Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. If anything that is what should make you most excited. If those two guys play lockdown defense this spring then MAYBE the Celtics have a shot, but otherwise do not get your hopes up because there is a very big difference from this Cavs team now and the playoffs Cavs.