Washington, Boston and Toronto come off tough series while the Cavaliers lie in wait.
(1) Boston vs (4) Washington
Regular Season: 2-2
One of the accomplishments of the Washington Wizards this season was making teams respect them as threat. It all started with the Boston Celtics who snubbed their nose at the Wizards all season. Though the Celtics history is rich with banners, this unit hasn’t nearly achieved the accomplishments of the teams in their past.
This has turned into one of the best rivalries in the league. They chased the same free agent (Al Horford). They’ve had ejections, technicals and just old school on court hate. The two teams split their regular season series which was highlighted by the ‘funeral game’ when the Wizards came to the arena dressed in all black.
Both Isaiah Thomas and John Wall will garner MVP votes even though neither one will win the award. In their head-to-head matchups this season, Thomas has had the more impressive statistics in their head to head battles.
For the Wizards Gortat and Morris have to up their games from the Atlanta series. One of the weaknesses of the Celtics is their rebounding. The Wizards outrebounded during the regular season and that will play a major role in any success they have in the series.
This will be the most entertaining series in the playoffs. Yes… the PLAYOFFS. Each game will be it’s own reality show and should be as chippy as the games in the regular season.
No one is playing with more passion than John Wall. He’s become a complete point guard and fits in perfectly with Scott Brooks’ system. Washington wins a very tense, physical series in 6.
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (3) Toronto
Season Series: Cavaliers 3-1
The older LeBron James get, the more days off matter. For all the complaining about James resting during the regular season, the playoffs is why the Cavaliers did it. James played 43, 42, 45, and 45 minutes in the Pacers series. It’s why those who think Kyrie Irving has assume the mantle (and there are some who think they) couldn’t be more wrong. James is still the best player in the world and will need for the Raptors series to end in short order similar to the Pacers series.
That won’t happen. Despite having their struggles early in the series, Toronto is getting into the groove. In the last 3 games of the series, DeMar DeRozan average 27+ points a game.
In their regular season series, you could only draw so many conclusions from the games. Three of the games came early in the season and the final meeting was the last game of the season when Cleveland rested their key players. Also, both teams look different. The Cavs now have Kyle Korver and Deron Williams and the Raptors have Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker.
The series could come down to role players. For the Raptors, they could gain some advantageous stretches in the series when they go small. Shooting will be the key. So much focus has been on Kyle Lowry’s shortcomings but it won’t come down to him. It will be on the backs of Ibaka, Tucker and Norman Powell.
For Cleveland, expect LeBron to play big minutes but how effective can he be in a series that gets pushed past four games? Irving and Love will have to shoot the ball very well and players like D Williams will need to not only play minutes but they will have to be productive minutes.
Cleveland showed cracks in the Pacers series despite sweeping them. It’s been brought up time and time again that the Cavaliers aren’t as effective on defense as they were last season. That’s not going to change at this point in the season. Since they are depending so much on their scoring, expect the Raptors to get some wins but it won’t be enough. Cavaliers will win in 6.
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook