#1 Seed Boston Celtics vs. #4 Cleveland Cavaliers

Jacob’s Outlook and Prediction

Season Series: Boston Celtics 2-1

The Celtics and the Cavaliers are teams that had completely different first-round experiences. On one hand, Boston had a game 2 lapse against Miami but completely dominated the Heat in the other 4 games. On the other, Cleveland beat Orlando in 7, and to be completely honest looked horrible in the 3 games played on the Magic’s floor. Boston has been the most dominant team in the NBA all season, Cleveland has fluctuated between looking incredible and looking stagnant, especially on the offensive end. Differences aside, these teams do come into the 2nd round with one major similarity, the absence of their starting centers. Kristaps Porzingis is nursing a calf injury and Jarrett Allen is struggling to raise his arms, per reports. That being said, injury or not, there is no reason that the Celtics should take more than 5 games to win this series, and here’s why.

If we learned anything about Boston’s first-round series, it’s that they can beat you in a multitude of ways. It doesn’t have to be Tatum, it doesn’t have to be Brown, it can be Derrick White, it can be Jrue Holiday, and even guys like Hauser and Horford are consistently chipping in. If we learned anything about Cleveland’s first-round series, they can’t beat you in a multitude of ways. The Cavs rely far too heavily on Donovan Mitchell, who is a fantastic player but can’t beat the Celtics by himself. Orlando is a great defensive team, but Cleveland struggled immensely against their scheme, you have to think the NBA’s 2nd ranked defense can bring all of those issues and more. This will be the story of every round the Celtics play up until the Finals, they just have too much for the Cavs. The Celtics win this series in 5, losing one game where the Boston-killing Max Strus goes unconscious from deep.

Prediction: Celtics 4, Cavaliers 1

#1 Seed Boston Celtics vs. #4 Cleveland Cavaliers

Jon’s Outlook and Prediction

Season Series: Boston Celtics 2-1

Series Odds: Boston -3500 (Implied Odds of 97.22%)

Boston is going to win this series. They are coming off a historical NBA season and a complete destruction of Miami in Round 1 (we can ignore the outlier shooting performance from Miami in Game 2). HOWEVER, I do think Cleveland has a better than 3% chance to win this series. The season series was 2-1 Boston, but all 3 games were close, and Cleveland was missing Mobley for the 2 losses. Further, Boston is likely to be without Kristaps Porzingis for most, if not all of this series. So how does Cleveland pull out the miracle? 

Paging Darius Garland

It appears that playoff Donovan Mitchell is ready again to carry this Cleveland team, but against a juggernaut like Boston, he is going to need some help. Garland was almost a non-factor vs Orlando in Round 1, and with the attention Boston will pay to Mitchell, Garland will have to be a major scorer for Cleveland to keep these games close. If Garland can find his way into space to make open jumpers and drive to the rim, he can put serious pressure on Boston’s defense and take advantage of Kristaps’s absence. 

Jarret Allen’s Health

We are unsure of Jarret Allen’s status for Game 1, but we do know he is EXTREMELY important if Cleveland wants to compete in this series. During the season series vs Boston, in Allen’s 111 minutes on the floor, Cleveland was -1. In his 33 minutes off the floor, they were -14. He also leads Cleveland, ahead of Mitchell, in on/off win probability at 6.59! His defensive versatility is essential with the number of attackers Boston has on offense. 

Overall, I think Boston’s size/athleticism will just be too much for Cleveland to handle. Boston will swarm the smaller backcourt of Mitchell/Garland with Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. In this matchup, Boston likely does not miss Kristaps as Al Horford is more comfortable staying on the perimeter, taking either Evan Mobley or Jarret Allen away from the paint and unable to help. Outside of a few Donovan Mitchell bubble performances, a Caris Lavert/Max Strus out-of-body experience, or Evan Mobley finding Michael’s Secret Stuff and becoming the Monstar we hoped he would turn into, I think this is a fun, but quick series. 

Prediction: Boston wins 4-1

X-Factors: Darius Garland and Al Horford

Favorite Bet: Exact Series Games = 5 Games @ +155