Question of the Week: Which Eastern Conference Team Poses the Biggest Threat to the Cavs?

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Point guard Isaiah Thomas has broken out this season. His Celtics are fighting for the one-seed in the East against the Cavs.

By ERIC FISHBIN

National Sports Editor

After six straight NBA Finals appearances, I think it is fair to say that every non-LeBron James fan is sick of seeing him play basketball in June. The Cavaliers have held a lead in the Eastern Conference for most of the season, but have recently been dethroned from the top of the standings by the Boston Celtics. Now that there appears to be a chance of a new Eastern Conference representative in the NBA Finals, let’s start speculating.

I absolutely love the starting lineup for the Celtics and think they have the best chance out of the top-four teams in the East to beat the Cavs. From top to bottom — Al Horford to Isaiah Thomas — the Celtics bring grit and toughness along with a high-powered offense and solid defense. What can put the Celtics over the top and power them into the Finals is the potential home-court advantage in a showdown with the Cavs. The TD Garden atmosphere during the playoffs could spark the Celtics, especially in an Eastern Conference Finals matchup against LeBron James. 

While the Celtics are the most logical pick, I truly believe Boston has had enough fortune in sports recently and would love to see the Raptors get to the Finals. If Kyle Lowry can return in time, and DeMar DeRozan can score as much as he has been recently, the Raptors stand a chance. 

Defense wins championships, so if a team wants to beat the Cavs, they will need to shut down multiple forms of scoring. To beat the Cavs, a team will need to be at peak performance for a full series, win at home and take care of the ball.

 

By JACOB MAGIN

Maroon-News Writer

The Cleveland Cavaliers entered this season as heavy favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. However, they have struggled more than expected and are now in second place with a 49-27 record. The Cavs are still favorites in the East, primarily because they have Lebron James, who has made it to the NBA Finals in each of the previous six seasons.

The greatest threat to the Cavs in the East, in my opinion, is the Boston Celtics. Right now, the Celtics have a record just above the Cavs at 50-27, and hold first place in the East. They have exceeded expectations this season after finishing last season in fifth place in the East. Isaiah Thomas, a 5’9” point guard, has been the Celtics’ driving force this season. Thomas is scoring 29.2 points per game, the same as James Harden, who is one of the favorites to win the NBA MVP award.  Boston’s biggest weakness is their defense, which could be their downfall in the playoffs if they don’t improve in that department. In fact, Isaiah Thomas is by far the worst defender in the NBA, rated 461 out of 461 in Defensive Real Plus-Minus.

Despite lacking defensive quality, the Celtics play a good style of team basketball, and if Isaiah Thomas can heat up in the playoffs offensively and defensively, I think the Celtics have the best chance to take down the Cavs in the East. As for the other contenders in the East, the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards are having good seasons, but aren’t playing well enough to take down Lebron and the Cavs. Ultimately, I see the Cavs winning the Eastern Conference Finals and defending their NBA championship by defeating the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.

 

By BRANDON GARDNER

Maroon-News Writer

Now that the NBA season is nearing a close, it is time to begin thinking about who in the east is going to pose the biggest threat for the super-team Cleveland Cavaliers. The reigning champions are best known for having arguably the most dominant player in the league, LeBron James.

Although the Cavaliers are second in the East, there’s no doubt that the defending champions are one of the most formidable opponents going into the tournament. The question becomes, who in the East will pose the biggest threat?

For me the choice is easy: the Celtics, who rank at the top in the east with fifty wins, will be the biggest challenge for the Cavs. Boston is currently half a game ahead of Cleveland for the first seed in the East, and they will meet to

contend for the top spot Wednesday night.

Currently, the MVP conversation includes subjects James Harden with the Rockets and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook leads the league with 31.9 average points per game, and Harden follows in second with 29.2. However, Isaiah Thomas follows closely at third with 29.1, a fact that is easy to forget in the MVP conversation.

That has changed as Thomas has helped the Celtics hit a 50-win milestone this past Sunday in New York. What he has been able to do with Boston is remarkable. Last time the Celtics had a 50-win season was in the 2007-2008 season, and that year Boston won it all. The Celtics are peaking at the right time and hope to carry this momentum into the postseason.