On Sunday afternoon, the Celtics had a huge matchup with their conference rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Coming into this contest between the two Eastern Conference finalists from last season the C’s sat atop the East with a 40-17 record and the Cavs, who had been on what seemed like the worst skid they’ve had since Lebron returned were in 3rd in the conference 6.5 games back from the C’s at 32-22.
The past month has not been pretty for Cleveland, losing multiple games by more than 20 points. Isaiah Thomas who was an MVP candidate lasts season who averaged 28.9 points per game was a shell of the player he was the season before. IT’s lackluster play and D-Rose’s future still up in the air the Cavs needed a stud point guard bad. I mean look at Lebron just straight ignoring IT here, it was clear something needed to change.
Their bench was also extremely unreliable and most of the weight was falling on LBJ, who just couldn’t seem to get it done with the pieces around him. Then all hell broke loose at the trade deadline.
Cleveland sent away Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Dwayne Wade, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, and their 2018 first round draft pick. At first glance, you’d think who the hell do they have left? Well, they got enough in return that it really didn’t matter who they had left.
The Cavs acquired Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, George Hill, and 2nd round pick form the Miami Heat. Talk about revamping your roster. Clarkson and Nance alone was a huge move adding solid three-point shooters in Hood and Clarkson, who is shooting 33.2% from beyond the arc and averaging 14.6 PPG. Also adding a rising young talent in Nance Jr. who has averaged 8.5 points and 6.7 rebounds in his debut season with a shaky Lakers team. These two will definitely add some youth and Nance will be a big help filling in for Kevin Love who is out for at least the next 6 weeks due to injury.
George Hill a seasoned vet who can help give guidance to the young guns and make an impact on the defensive scheme and Rodney Hood, a 6-foot-8 guard who is averaging 16.8 PPG will surely help boost Cleveland both offensively and defensively.
This was evident Sunday when the new additions made their debut against the C’s in Boston. The Cavs came into town and spoiled the all-time Celtics great, Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony absolutely trouncing the C’s 121-99.
Led by Lebron’s 24 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebound performance, the Cavs dominated this game from start to finish. The C’s had no answer on defense for this new group from Cleveland. With Clarkson adding 17 going 7-11 from the floor and Hood dropping 15 points of his own going 6-11, the Cavs made one of the best defensive team’s in the league this season look like chumps.
As a team, Lebron and Co. shot 53.6% from the floor and 53.3% from 3-point range. The Celtics just simply could not keep up with the new and improved Cavs.
I’m not going to lie, until Sunday I was actually starting to think that the C’s could make it out of the East and have a chance to play in the NBA finals for the first time since 2010. BUT Lebron and the Cavs curb stomped my hopes of that when they came out and destroyed my beloved Celtics on their home court.
Overall, the Cavs stepped up and made some big moves at the deadline and reasserted themselves as a force in the Eastern Conference. At this point, the number one seed is still up for grabs with the Raptors sitting in 1st by half a game ahead of the Celtics and the Cavs looking like they’re going to close that 6 game gap quickly, the second half of the season will surely be much more competitive than the first half.
As we know the #1 seed doesn’t mean shit and come May we’ll probably be looking at a rematch of the last three finals between the Warriors and the Cavs, who I guess are good again.