Without two of their top stars, a young core has rapidly expedited its maturation. Terry Rozier has demonstrated a convincing Irving impression by averaging 17.6 points and 6.7 assists points per game. Despite injuring his hamstring in Game 7 of the opening round, Jaylen Brown closed out the conference semifinals by going 10-for-13 with 24 points.
In order to prevail, the Celtics must stifle his supporting cast and keep pace on offense. The first task isnt as easy as it may seem. Kevin Love has tallied 75 points over his past three games, and Kyle Korver has drained 30 of 65 postseason three-point attempts.
Embiid Featured in NBA Live 19 Release Trailer ?
Game 4Monday, May 21: Celtics at Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Every star has perfectly played his part this postseason. Klay Thompson is delivering lights-out shooting and suffocating defense. Draymond Green has led the club in rebounds (11.5), assists (9.0) and blocks (1.3).Kevin Durantis simply filing 28.0 points per game with a 49.3 field-goal percentage.
Plenty of prognosticators could have predicted these conference-finals matchups before the season commenced. This postseason, however, has not felt like a fait accompli.
Yall know the record when the three of us play together, and its not because of me and James, Paul said. Clint is really the X-factor. He opens up so much for us.
Boston earned the Easts No. 2 seedthus securing home-court advantage against Clevelandby relinquishing anNBA-low101.5 points per 100 possessions during the season. The youngsters, however, have bolstered their postseason offensive rating to 106.9higher than the seasons 105.2 clip attained with 60 games played by Irving.
The Warriors claimed each playoff series in five games, but that means they have already lost once more than last postseason. With a healthyStephen Curryback at their disposal, they must defeat a Houston Rockets squad that finished the regular season with a better record, point differential andnet rating.
Game 1Sunday, May 13: Cavaliers at Celtics, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Game 3Sunday, May 20: Rockets at Warriors, 8 p.m. ET on TNT
Theres at least hope, asan NBA-best 33.9 opposing three-point percentage buoyedBostons smothering defense during the season. Quieting that duo from downtown would leave Cleveland crossing its fingers for a prolonged J.R. Smith hot streak.
According Chris PaulandJames Hardenrespectively ranked first and second in Real Plus-Minus during the season. Clint Capela is also becoming a legitimate third star, submitting 12.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per postseason game.
Game 1Monday, May 14: Warriors at Rockets, 9 p.m. ET on TNT
Although the NBA will likely continue itsGroundhog Dayfinale, neither three-time conference champions progression is inevitable. Either way, viewers might as well enjoy the journey, so lets take a closer look at both matchups.
No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 2 Golden State Warriors
TheNBAs conference finals could once again turn casual hoops fans into clairvoyants.
Of the two home underdogs, a Rockets victory is an easier pitch. They won 65 regular-season games while ranking sixth indefensive rating(103.8). Their 112.2 offensive rating trailed the Warriors by one-tenth of a point for the leading spot. Including the playoffs, they are 39-8 at the Toyota Center, where the series starts Monday.
Game 4Tuesday, May 22: Rockets at Warriors, 9 p.m. ET on TNT
Shutting down James is not a feasible option. Still at the height of his prowess, the 33-year-old superstar has submitted 34.3 points per postseason contest with a 55.3 field-goal percentage. He has created a staggering70 pointsper 48 minutes.
He must now make life difficult for his cousin, Tyronn Lue. PerESPN.coms Dave McMenamin, the Cavaliers head coach commended Tatum for shining on the grand stage.
Game 7*Monday, May 28: Warriors at Rockets, 9 p.m. ET on TNT
Game 2Wednesday, May 16: Warriors at Rockets, 9 p.m. ET on TNT
Jayson Tatum averaged 23.6 PPG, 52.6 FG%, 3.4 RPG, 3.2 APG in this years Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the @Celtics.
To the surprise of few observers, the four remaining squads include the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. If each team nets four more victories, they would meet in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight time.
The Celtics cant possibly end James Eastern Conference tyranny withoutKyrie Irvingand Gordon Hayward, right? Probably not. Then again, they werent expected to last this long.
Game 5*Wednesday, May 23: Cavaliers at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Game 5*Thursday, May 24: Warriors at Rockets, 9 p.m. ET on TNT
Game 7*Sunday, May 27: Cavaliers at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Yeah, I feel good. I feel confident in what Im able to do out there. Timing can still get a little better with the ball, things like that, when you start to get so excited…I continue to get better, continue to get my timing right and continue to get back to the normal rotations, normal, you know, minutes that Im out there playing, and hopefully wont look back.
The Indiana Pacers pushedLeBron Jamesand Co. to seven grueling games during the opening round. Despite rebounding to sweep the Toronto Raptors, Cleveland cannot exhale with the young and tenacious Boston Celtics looming.
Otherwise, the onus falls on James to carry the Cavs back to the Finals. Boston can only hope hes worn down after playing every regular-season game and averaging 41.3 minutes through 11 playoff bouts.
Game 6*Friday, May 25: Celtics at Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers
In four games back after an MCL injury, Curry has scored 98 points while making 15 of 34 threes. Initially eased back into action off the bench, the two-time MVP logged 32 and 37 minutes in Games 4 and 5, respectively.
Hes not scared, hes not afraid and hes always been that type of kid, Lue said. He wants these type of moments, and hes taking advantage of it.
Cleveland might not be the only frequent conference champion possessing a proverbial playoff switch. Golden State, cruising to an 8.7-point average margin of victory, leads all playoff participants in points scored (110.3) anddefensive rating(99.3).
Yet, s Zach Loweaptly noted, the Rockets represent the most profound challenge the Warriors have faced since signing Durant in 2016. Perhaps its a stretch to claim a series not featuring James will decide the championship, but the winner should enter the Finals as a considerable favorite.
Game 6*Saturday, May 26: Rockets at Warriors, 9 p.m. ET on TNT
Yet Jayson Tatum is Bostons key to shocking the world. The 20-year-old rookie has registered at least 20 points in the past seven postseason contests. /Stats highlighted his seismic second-round showcase to fend off the Philadelphia 76ers:
Game 2Tuesday, May 15: Cavaliers at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
After advancing to the Western Conference Finals, Houston is 50-3 (and 2-0 against Golden State) when all three play. Per theSan Francisco Chronicles Bruce Jenkins, Paul credited the big man for their dominance at full strength.
Game 3Saturday, May 19: Celtics at Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
None of that may matter, as the Warriors also have all hands on deck.