The Eastern Conference Semifinals are potentially set-up to end tonight and finish off with the final two teams. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics are up 3-0 in their respective series.
(1) Raptors vs (4) Cleveland Cavaliers
The biggest question coming into this post-season was how much better is Toronto going to be as a first seed? Coming off 59-wins in the regular season and much of it due to the elevated play of DeMar DeRozan the team from the “6” seemed to be on a path to upset the defending Cavaliers.
However, here we are. Another year, another LeBron dominance, another 3-0 series lead for the King and his crew. James is coming off a buzzer-beating floater in Game 3 that sealed the deal for the 3-0 lead. Sorry Drizzy, Bron’s plan was to turn the 0-2 to the 0-3 and now to sweep away the Raptors. Go ahead and pull out your phone and hit the angles because like is asking why be nice for what?
Enough with the Drake and more of the King. The 15-year veteran is shooting 54-percent from the field and averaging 35.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 11.3 assists per game in this series. He has now connected on two buzzer-beating performances in the 2018 postseason which happens to be the most by any player, ever.
Insert Kevin Love to the rescue
Coming off a seven-game series against the Indiana Pacers, James appeared to need much more help. Cleveland’s other prized All-Star had many concerns coming into the Toronto series. In the seven games during the Cavaliers first round match-up Love only averaged 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds while only shooting 35-percent from the field. In the first three games of the Cavaliers second round match-up against Toronto, he has elevated his game. Love is averaging 20 points, 13 rebounds while shooting 44-percent from the field. The Cavaliers have definitely made adjustments by looking for Love specifically in which in return he has delivered to turnaround the disappointing first-round struggles.
If you haven’t heard James perhaps might just get the keys to the city he kind of owns. This will be the third straight year the Raptors are playing the Cavaliers and James in the postseason. Should the sweep happen in Game 4 then, it will be a back-to-back sweep for Cleveland. For whatever reason, fear is in the eyes of the Raptors when they see No. 23 on the opposing end.
A good part of Toronto’s success is because of DeRozan. However, with about three minutes left in the third quarter of Game 3, DeRozan was benched and did not return to play all of the fourth quarter. While the Raptors unit on the floor during that fourth quarter made a comeback, their best player was not a part of that. DeRozan is struggling with his three-point this series. He has nine attempts in which he has not connected on any. In Game 3 he did not have a single attempt. As for the first three games, he is averaging 18 points, 3 assists, while shooting 43-percent from the field.
The Cavs will look to pull off the sweep tonight as Game 4 is slated for an 8:30 PM EST tip-off on TNT.
(2) Boston Celtics vs (3) Philadelphia 76ers
Does anyone like to watch premature celebrations gone wrong? Look no further than Saturday’s Game 3 in Philadelphia. Marco Belinelli connected on a corner jump-shot that appeared to be the game-winning three-point basket for the 76ers. Brett Brown was ready to hit the shower and the confetti quickly fell from the rafters. However, as always, we get a nice little thing called replay. The conclusion of the review showed both of Belinelli’s feet on the three-point line and the bucket registered as a two-point field goal instead. This meant a tie game. The 76ers could not hold in overtime and dropped Game 3 to fall into the 0-3 hole.
Last year a gritty Boston team sneaked out a win against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. This was all done without their best player at the time, Isaiah Thomas. The feeling of playing without a couple of injured stars might be slightly different but Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown have brought new light to the Celtics young core. How about the Sixers? Their first playoff appearance since 2012 and currently with one of the NBA’s youngest rising stars. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have driven Philly ahead of schedule and overachieved. However, a look at a more experienced Boston team that is one of the league’s best defensive units can be too much for the young guys. Simmons struggled greatly in Game 2 as he did not register a field goal and scored one-point from a free-throw. While Philly played a better Game 3 alongside Simmons, there still were a few mishaps that have the Sixers sitting down 0-3.
Trust the Process
With the youth of most things, you can expect growing pains. You live and you learn right? Would it be too soon to call for the firing of Brett Brown? He’s led the 76ers through the rough times of tanking and many player injuries. A series win and a match against a solid defensive team regardless of down star players should not be the end of the world for the 76ers.
The Celtics will look to head back to Boston without another game planned in the Semifinals. Game 4 is scheduled for a 6 PM EST to start on TNT.