Home court advantage?
Favourite Cavaliers open East finals on road versus underdog Celtics
The Celtics are heading to the Eastern Conference finals with the No. 1 seed and home court advantage. But they are still very much underdogs to the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
That’s because throughout this season the conversation hasn’t so much been about which team would come out of the East, as much as how much resistance any team could offer the Cavs.
“We’re not really focused on the outside noise and what they think we’re going to... We’re just going to take care of business as we go.”
Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas
So far it hasn’t been much, with Cleveland posting backto-back sweeps in the first two rounds.
After waiting more than a week for an opponent, the Cavs have their latest challenger. It’s a Boston team that many wrote off after the Celtics fell into a 0-2, first-round hole against the Bulls.
Now, fresh off a Game 7 semifinal win over the Washington Wizards , the Celtics in many ways find themselves playing with house money as they prepare to host a LeBron Jamesled Cleveland team carrying all the expectations into tonight’s Game 1 in Boston.
“We’ve been counted out since I’ve been here, so it’s nothing new,” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas said. “We’re not really focused on the outside noise and what they think we’re going to... We’re just going to take care of business as we go.” That’s easier said than done. Boston has yet to beat the Cavs this season with Cleveland at full strength.
The Celtics’ lone victory came on March 1, with Kevin Love out after minor left knee surgery. Cleveland won the other games by a combined 35 points, including a 114-91 romp on April 5.
Still, James respects not only the Celtics, but also their hallowed history.
“There’s only two winningest franchises in the history of the game, the Lakers and the Celtics,” James said. “Just respect that and look out up in the stands and see the banners, see the jerseys retired and things of that nature. You respect what the history has created at that point.”
Thomas has spoken several times this post-season about wanting to experience the make or break moments that only the playoffs can provide. He has his chance against a team that both he and coach Brad Stevens have acknowledged is better than it was even in April.
“That’s where LeBron is so good,” Stevens said. “I think that you can’t throw him one look, because he will eventually pick that look apart.”
In this March 1 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (left) lines up a dunk against Boston Celtics center Al Horford during the third quarter of an NBA game in Boston.