Midwestern Showdown

By: Danny Cunningham

The series that the NBA has been waiting for in the Eastern Conference is finally here, however it is not under the circumstance that everyone expected it to be.

At the beginning of the year, everyone thought that the Eastern Conference would ultimately come down to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Many people, including myself, felt that the Bulls and the Cavs would be battling all year for the number one seed in the East, and obviously that did not turn out to be the case as the Atlanta Hawks reigned supreme in the regular season with a surprising 60 wins.

The other circumstance that has disappointed many Cleveland fans, and a small number of Chicago fans is the injury to Cavaliers Power Forward Kevin Love. Love tore his labrum in his non-shooting shoulder during Game 4 against the Boston Celtics as Celts’ Forward Kelly Olynyk ripped it out of socket on what Love called “A bush-league play.” Love had surgery to repair the damage last week and will need four to six months to recover from the injury.

Regardless of those things, people are still amped for the series to begin on May 4th in Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena.

Even though this is the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, many are predicting the winner of this series to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. I tend to agree with that prediction, I personally do not think that either Washington or Atlanta has enough fire-power to keep up with either the Cavaliers or the Bulls in a best of seven matchup.

As far as my prediction goes, I am taking the Cavs in six games, and for very good reasoning. I could absolutely see the Bulls pulling off the upset, but I’m going with the Cavs.

My reasoning for taking the Cavs over the Bulls is very simple. There are times when the team with the best player in the series can be outmatched, but it is not very often that the team that has the two best players on the floor loses the series, and that is the case for the Cavaliers in this series.

There is no debate that LeBron James is the best player in this series, and arguably the world, and the second best player in the series would be Kyrie Irving. An argument could be made for Derrick Rose, and even for Jimmy Butler as well, but in my opinion Kyrie is the second best behind James. Derrick Rose is no longer the Derrick Rose that won the MVP back in 2011, and Jimmy Butler is still a developing player that has not been able to be as consistent as a superstar needs to be.

While the Bulls have two players that are capable of going off for 30+ on any given night, the Cavaliers have two players that are capable of going off for 50+ on any given night.

Outside of the two superstars that give the Cavaliers an advantage there are a few more keys to winning for the team.

  • Timofey Mozgov must stay out of foul trouble.
    • The Cavs front court is already thin with the loss of Kevin Love. Mozgov and Tristan Thompson must stay out of foul trouble or the Chicago Bulls will be able to dominate in the paint at will.
  • James Jones needs to knock down outside shots
    • Without Kevin Love, James Jones is going to be called on to stretch the floor in his absence. Jones knocking down shots is critical to winning for the Cavaliers, especially in JR Smith’s two game suspension to start the series.
  • Mike Miller or Shawn Marion will need to step up
    • I have said all year that Mike Miller would help the Cavs win a playoff game. It is time for him to prove me right.
  • David Blatt has something up his sleeve.
    • For some reason, I have a high amount of trust in coach Blatt for this series.

 

Official Prediction: CAVS IN 6

 

– Danny Cunningham

 

photo via B/R

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