2017 Eastern Conference Finals: What's The Score?

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Form is always thrown out the window when it comes to the finals of any sport, derbies included. Despite the Cavaliers crushing the Boston Celtics in Game 1, there is always hope of a comeback which would make for a stirring sports story.
J.R. Smith (left) and Kevin Love (right) of the Cleveland Cavaliers Sports Illustrated

It looks like taking 10 days to prepare for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals had done the Cleveland Cavaliers a whole world of good, where the team continued to maintain their fluidity on the court while eking out a 30-19 lead in the first quarter alone. The final scoreline of 117-104 over the Boston Celtics showed the gulf in class between the two teams, and with LeBron James firing on all cylinders, he picked up 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.

If there is one thing about the world of sports, it would be the unpredictable moments that make it unforgettable. A team might be on the down and out, but in an inspired run or moment, the situation can change in the blink of an eye. Take for example the 2017 Eastern Conference Playoffs at the moment. While the Cleveland Cavaliers had thoroughly outplayed the Boston Celtics in Game 1, winning by a crushing margin of 117 to 104, is there a way back for the Boston Celtics as a team to emerge victorious at the end of the Finals? If that were to be the case, certain things need to be corrected.

One important point to take note of is to be braver against the Cavalier's Tristan Thompson. This 6-foot-9 player continues his run of fine form, managing to grab half a dozen offensive rebounds in Game 1 while taking full advantage of his strength, speed and length in order to assert his influence and position on the block, regardless of whether it is Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford or Amir Johnson facing him. Out of the six offensive rebounds, it resulted in scoring seven of Cleveland’s 15 second-chance points that allowed the Cavaliers to build momentum and enlarge their lead.

Apart from that the Boston Celtics will need to show more hunger and fight in subsequent games, where a strategy of shooters at the 3-point line while keeping fingers crossed that LeBron James tries will play the role of a facilitator as opposed to being that of a scorer was switched shortly in the game when James realized what was the Celtic's game plan. His experience on the court allowed him to assert himself on the game, picking up 38 points at the end of the night. Boston’s best wing defenders Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown will obviously need to put in more in their upcoming shifts if they were to neutralize LeBron to a degree.

Kevin Love is also in destructive form, having a 3-point accuracy mark for the postseason at 45.7 percent. While many players on the Cleveland Cavaliers are a capable shooter from a distance, Love happens to outshoot all of them in the NBA. The Celtics will need to disrupt his rhythm if they do not want to get slaughtered in the following games, and this means improving on their rotations and defensive awareness.

Of course, there is no such thing as an invincible team in sports, which means the Celtics will have to learn how they are going to exploit the different weaknesses in the Cavaliers' setup. One method would be to work on the counter attack. In other words, the Cavaliers would definitely leave themselves vulnerable to conceding open shots when they are on the offensive, as admitted by Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue, “We know Isaiah is dangerous, and when he gets going, the crowd really gets into it, their team gets into it, and it opens up a lot of things. When you try to take him out of the series and try to make it tough on him, you’re going to give up some shots...Our main objective was to make it physical on Isaiah, try to take him out, and we did a good job of that. So when you try and do that, you’re going to give up something.”

Tags : NBA, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers