Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – The Cleveland Cavaliers have been scorching hot in the playoffs with eight straight victories and aim to keep the streak alive when they visit the Boston Celtics in Wednesday’s opener of the Eastern Conference finals. Cleveland had few issues sweeping both the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors while the
Celtics had to fight through a tough seven-game series against the Washington Wizards that ended on Monday night.
The second-seeded Cavaliers haven’t played since May 7 and will continue to ride the red-hot duo of forward LeBron James (34.4 average) and point guard Kyrie Irving (23.8) as they look to shake off the rust. “I know our team is anxious to play,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue told reporters. “(Kyle) Korver and LeBron, those guys are talking about it, so our guys are just anxious to play and ready to go out there.” Top-seeded Boston posted a 115-105 victory over Washington to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2012 and will be huge underdogs against the Cavaliers. “We gotta get ready for the defending champs, we know that,” standout point guard Isaiah Thomas said after Monday’s game. “The good thing about it is we’ve got homecourt advantage, so we’re going to be ready on Wednesday to try to take care of home court. We know it’s going to be tough but at this point, anything can happen, we really believe that.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: Coach Tyronn Lue has vowed to get power forward Kevin Love more involved in this series after he averaged just 13.8 points and 9.1 rebounds during the first two rounds. Love averaged 23.7 points and 13 rebounds in three games against the Celtics this season and Lue feels the matchups will be more in Love’s favor in this round, but Love maintains he’s not overly concerned. “I told him, ‘We’re 8-0. I don’t mind it,'” Love recently told reporters. “If I get five or six shots, if I get 15 shots, it don’t matter to me, as long as we win. I’ve been in this position before; we’re having success, so I’m happy. Feel good.”
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Thomas has carried Boston through most of the playoffs in an inspiring manner considering the tragic death of his sister to go along with numerous minor bumps and bruises. Despite the hardships, Thomas is averaging 25.4 points in the postseason – he had 29 points, 12 assists and just two turnovers in the Game 7 win over the Wizards – and has four 30-point outings. “He’s dealing with more stuff, physically, and has obviously gone through what he went through at the start of the playoffs,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the win over Washington. “It’s pretty remarkable.”
1. The Cavaliers won three of the four regular-season meetings.
2. Boston backup C Kelly Olynyk established a playoff career-best with 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the Game 7 win over the Wizards.
3. Cleveland PF Channing Frye is 16-of-29 from 3-point range in the postseason.