Posts tagged Cleveland Cavs
Barber's Chair Live after Game Two of the NBA Finals

Check out Barber's Chair Live after Game 2 of the NBA Finals! Pierce and Scott are joined by Rico (@PLAYBOIRICO), the host of Rico's Playhouse, to discuss the Warriors' blowout of the Cavs, Steph Curry staking his claim to Finals MVP, and our predictions for Game 3. Plus a little Power, Game of Thrones and The Wire talk. This game was so bad we couldn't help ourselves.

We do not own any footage used in this video. All footage is owned by ESPN and the National Basketball Association.

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Ball Don't Lie ep 18 - Same Old, Same Old
Celtics aren't scared of LeBron, Cavaliers
Michael Dwyer/AP

Michael Dwyer/AP

After taking a haymaker from LeBron James in the 1st quarter (with 21 in the 1st quarter and 42, 10 boards and 12 assist) and Kevin love having 22 and 15) the Celtics were able to withstand a triple-double from the King and a 22-point, 15-rebound performance from Kevin Love to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Cavs going into Game 3 on Saturday.

Six players on the Celtics scored in double figures in Game 2, led by Jaylen Brown's 23 points, and a strong second half from Boston, outscoring Cleveland by 20 and making every hustle play. The swaggerless starting backcourt of the Cavaliers, on deck to make $35 million next year, scored 3 points on 1-11 from the field in a combined 53 minutes.

JR Smith played hungover, and after going 0-7 from the field, he let his frustration out on a dirty play, pushing Al Horford in the back in midair and earning himself a flagrant one. This nearly sparked a brawl with Marcus Smart, who would've thrown a punch if not for Tristan Kardashian grabbing his arm. JR instantly looked shook diggity talking tough while walking away (he probably got flashbacks of Nate Robinson body slamming him and remembered his hands are trash because smart wanted ALL the smoke.) Woj even called JR fugazi in an article years ago claiming he wanted to be from Newark badly but was a nice kid from the burbs. JR vs Smart is a matchup to watch in game three, as the latter will trail JR on screens and make it tougher for him to get off a shot.

Tristan Kardashian let Marcus Morris yell in his face like he was Kris Jenner on national TV. To quote Stephen Jackson "Straight sucka shit, he's a wannabe that doesn't know what he wants to be". He's Canadian Reggie Evans with an $82 million dollar contract.

The Cavs' lack of perimeter and interior defense is getting exposed this series, giving Boston an edge as they head back to Cleveland. Just like their Cavs, this crowd just doesn't have the same intimidation factor anymore. I'm sure JR and the other role players will shoot better, but their personnel has issues guarding the Celtics on the wings. Boston's entire starting 5 can shoot from multiple spots on the floor and take you off the dribble. It wouldn't surprise me if Boston stole a game in Cleveland.

If you look at Twitter you already see Bron stans abandoning ship. The Cavs are about to be in salary cap hell. The 8th pick they got from Boston in the Kyrie trade isn't enough to convince LeBron to stay. Rodney Hood, a free agent at the end of the year, has looked confused and hesitant on both ends of the floor the entire playoffs. Jordan Clarkson, who looked decent early on in the season with the Lakers, is playing like the moment is too big for him currently. Larry Nance isn't even in the rotation.

Bron stans are going to follow the drinking gourd wherever he goes, but for now we'll see what else this series provides us. LeBron is going to show up and dominate, but these Celtics don't fear him or this team. After the deadline JR Smith claimed "we got a fuckin squad now", but so far everyone but LeBron have disappeared. Ty Lue saying the Celtics "gooned it up" was lowkey calling his squad soft, and the fact that multiple players on the Cavs praised coach Brad Stevens and Smart to the media shows disarray on the horizon.

The Ricky Davis-era Cavs might be on deck soon, and I don't feel bad watching Cleveland's demise. Their fan base lost their minds thinking they were a dynasty. Those jabroni's better throw on that 2016 championship DVD because they're about to be irrelevant and lottery bound for the foreseeable future. If the Celtics win Game 3 I think the Cavs panic and get swept. Boston is 37-0 all-time when up 2-0 in a series ,and while LeBron is great, this team is full of mis-matched parts and its hard to see them digging out of an 0-2 hole.

Ball Don't Lie Ep 17 - Bring David Stern Back ft. @Mariannoo
LeBron must find that killer instinct in order to get back to the Finals

 Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant. LeBron James. Dwyane Wade.

One of these things is not like the other. These particular names were chosen as they are often the most closely associated with the name that doesn’t belong.

4 certified killers. 1 plug.

Warning: Due to having seen LeBron James play since high school, things happening in Year 15 don’t impress, excite, or dumbfound me. Many in the basketball world have been waiting for the superpowers to dim to see where his commitment level is. How hard he works to improve the IQ. Quite frankly? So far, good…

Now? It’s put up shut up time.

Going back to Saint Vincent, Saint Mary’s, LeBron James has struck me as a “people-pleaser.” Someone who is so caught up in the well-being of those parties around them that they forget about themselves. Hell, going through the worst of the worst now helps me appreciate it more than ever.

The most difficult hurdle of being a savior is that those you’re saving have to be ready, willing & able. Ask Jesus Christ.

At this point, being ready, willing & able falls on the coaching staff. Sure, LeBron orchestrated the blowing up of the team & has his stand-in appearing admirably absent-minded at all times. But that doesn’t mean that when things get bad you revert to throwing guise on to the floor for familiarity reason.

Great things come to those who embrace discomfort. JR Smith, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love & Jose Calderon flanking LeBron James isn’t going to win a championship.

It might will not be enough to beat the Pacers but it’s definitely not going to beat Houston or Golden State. It’s not going to even get past Philly; can you imagine Joel in that series?

So why bother?

LeBron is the ultimate servant. The ultimate teammate. My disdain for James stemmed [mostly] from his stans making comparisons to players that play a completely different style than he does.

Kobe never studied where his teammates liked the ball because he practices making shots with bad passes, shouldn’t we all?

His Airness never had to celebrate a young fella being the only person doing the right things because he led by example & played in an era where jobs depended on following his lead.

With that being said: *climbs to the mountaintop & screams through megaphone*

LeBron James is a point guard.

Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland because he was never going to be the voice of reason. He was never going to be able to put his stamp on the franchise. But most of all, he hasn’t been allowed to play his game the way he envisioned it. Even as someone who’s purposely avoided praising James because you all do it enough, the only reason ANYONE wouldn’t want to play with James is when his play started dipping into their bag.

It sounds wild but look at all three of his championship teams: filled with high caliber players who could all carry the load for stretches. Any time in his career that LBJ has been asked to lead & show up consistently, his teams have failed.

This team is built in that same manner. Lue, the stand-in, has been forced to learn on the fly but will have to earn his money in this series. Being afraid to grow with the game has & will continue to kill many, many careers, & if LBJ is going to go down in the first round & vociferously return to be the butt of my jokes, it should be at his natural position, allowing him to get others involved & play to his strengths late in the game.

A lineup of LeBron James, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love & Larry Nance adds enough youth to the lineup that it doesn’t put you in a hole to start the game & this lineup gives you the best chance of allowing LeBron James to continually drive downhill & make the best plays. James has smiled more at Osman this year than any teammate ever. Hood is a swiss army knife waiting to be unleashed. Larry Nance Jr’s athleticism & lob release threat ability have made him a favorite of mine even during my series on taking back the Lakers franchise. Oh yeah! This lineup also moves James out of Love’s normal spot & puts Love back to a place where he’s not being bullied by younger, stronger kids.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, the Pacers have to be feeling great about where they are. Great teams always have six starters. For the entirety of the year, it’s been a constant mental tussle regarding shifting Sabonis to a 5, Turner to the 4 & how to address the issue of Bogdanovic vs. Thad Young as the fifth starter. Needless to say, that’s six.

The Pacers also have committed to a style of play, one that continually fostered confidence within the organization throughout the course of the year thus allowing for opportunities for guise to go out & flourish. Sabonis came into the league with a pro-ready skillset. Victor Oladipo has never stood on a wing & watched somebody else create shots for him in his life.

But when you’re blindly chasing wins as opposed to having any semblance of a plan, nothing you attempt will succeed. The only thing OKC knows is that Russ is going to get his. Maybe one day someone will remember basketball is a team sport. Hi PG13!

Needless to say, coaching is & has played a huge part in the journey thus far & that will only ratchet up as the end of the series approaches. Sure, players decide games but, in this series, more than any other, the right players haven’t really been on the floor for either side.

Nate McMillan & Tyronn Lue played in very different NBAs. Nate, the late 80s-early90s style basketball where winning meant you normally had a star that led the way & everyone followed. You could see remnants of that mindset lingering with the PG13 ordeal, but guise skillsets improve each day. Not only do they want to be featured & utilized but it makes everyone else’s job easier. Which helps keep a coach around longer. Shouts to growth. & Nate Mac for being open to change.

Lue, of the early aughts, is actually the one who got to experience the growth of the game & appreciate that the more talented guise on the floor are overall, the better it is for everyone. But then again, when you don’t want to or know that you’re going to be a head coach. You don’t really prepare for it. You don’t do your research. Learning on the fly in front of the world is hell. Ever heard of the Butterfly Effect?

Well, T. Lue knows the Sunken Place well, shouts to AI.

Never would’ve imagined he’d end up back there simply for being awed by the aura of one LBJ., But if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Ben Simmons took two years off just to show Sixers brass he is a 6’10” point guard. Imagine if someone had thought outside of the box with this 6’8” prototype.

Takeaways from opening weekend of the NBA playoffs

It's the most wonderful time of the year: the NBA Playoffs are back in our minds and our hearts. Visions of James Harden crossovers and Draymond dick kicks play vividly in our heads as we await the crowning of a new champion.

Some games were wild, some were blowouts, and others, well... let's just say we all got a good laugh out of whatever the fuck is happening in Cleveland. So let's quickly go through some of our major takeaways from opening weekend.

The Warriors are fine, everybody. Stay calm

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Golden State fans have been worried about the Dubs all season, with injuries and fatigue playing a factor as they finished with the second-best record in the West. SOME were even frightened by the thought of playing Pop and the Spurs without Steph Curry.

You fucking fools.

The Warriors manhandled San Antonio 113-92, stifling the Spurs to just 40% shooting from the field. Last year's Finals MVP Kevin Durant finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Klay Thompson put on a fantastic shooting performance, ending with 27 points on 11 of 13 shooting, 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. We even saw our first glimpse of 'Playoff' Javale McGee, adding 15 points, four boards and two blocks in a late start.

The Warriors looked unbeatable, something they haven't looked like for most of the regular season. Even without Steph, that championship mentality remains among the reigning defending NBA champs.

Victor Oladipo has arrived

Getty Images

Getty Images

Vic is having a breakout season, and if there wasn't any indication that he's a star in this league, Sunday's game against the Cavs was it.

Oladipo scored 32 points, 11 of 19 from the field and 6 of 9 from deep, leading the Pacers to a stunning 18-point victory in Cleveland to take game one of this best-of-seven series. It's the first time in history LeBron James has lost a playoff opener.

The Cavaliers were persistent, coming within seven in the fourth, but the Pacers kept control of the game, playing inspired basketball behind Dipo and Lance Stephenson, whose dunk in the first quarter really set the tone for the rest of the game. LeBron finished with his 20th career playoff triple-double, but the rest of Cleveland struggled. The other starters combined for just 25 points, and as a team Cleveland shot 8 of 34 from long range, and missed eight free throws.

The Cavs will likely rebound in game 2, but if they don't, that spotlight will only grow larger on LeBron.

Anthony Davis ain't goin out like no punk bitch

Looking for the first playoff victory of his career, Anthony Davis went into Portland and snatched the soul (and home-court advantage) straight out of the Trail Blazers and their fans.

The Brow had 35 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the Pelicans's 97-95 win over the Blazers. A.D. wasn't alone; Jrue Holiday put up 21 points and had a big block in Portland's final possession of the game, Rajon Rondo added 17 assists and eight boards, and a clean-shaven (read: fucking hideous) Niko Mirotic dropped 16 points and eleven rebounds to will the Pelicans to a game one win.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum tried to press a fourth-quarter comeback, nearly erasing a 19-point deficit, but it wasn't enough. The duo combined for just 37 points in the contest, and only took three free throws between them. The series is still way too early to call, but Portland needs their star backcourt to show up early in game 2 or else this could get ugly as the series makes its way to New Orleans.

'Playoff P' isn't as dumb of a nickname as I thought

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Okay upon further review, "Playoff P" is sooooo much better than PG-13. Paul George exploded for 36 points and eight threes, an OKC playoff record, as the Thunder downed the Jazz 116-108. PG is no stranger to playoff theatrics, but this is his first with Oklahoma City. A welcome sight to Thunder fans as this kind of production opposite Russell Westbrook was sorely missing last season.

Russ got his, indeed; 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists from the 2017 NBA MVP, but Sunday night was all about George. Big nights from him are necessary for OKC to get past Utah, and surely if they want to challenge Houston and Golden State in the rounds to come.

Also worth paying attention to Donovan Mitchell's left foot. He left in the second half although he did return in the fourth but was noticeably having trouble moving up and down the court. He finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds in his playoff debut.

Harden comes through in the playoffs, but the Timberbulls won't back down

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it's only the first round, but James Harden was clutch Sunday night, scoring 44 points and willing the Rockets to a game one win over Minnesota 104-101. Harden's 13 in the fourth powered Houston past a Timberwolves team that looked ready for the big stage, having missed the postseason since 2004.

The T'Wolves almost caught the Rockets on a bad night. Houston shot just 10 of 37 from 3-point range, an anomaly for the best 3-point team in the league. But strong play from Harden and Clint Capela (24 points, 12 boards) propelled Houston to a victory.

It's also a problem when your best player, Jimmy Butler, is shooting worse than Derrick Rose, and Karl-Anthony Towns is being checked for just eight points. That seemingly won't happen again, which should give Minnesota hope they can steal a game or two in this series, but neither will the Rockets' shooting woes. The Timberwolves missed a prime opportunity to steal a game from Houston. For their sake, let's hope it doesn't come back to bite them in the ass.

Final Takes

Marco 'Big Balls' Belinelli is back in the playoffs, which means I can bring this classic back.

The refs should've given the Bucks a game one win over the Celtics for Khris Middleton's tying shot at the end of regulation. HOLY SHIT!

Hey Raptors fans... THE STREAK... IS OVER.

Hoops N Brews Ep.74: Brandon Ingram Better Than Andrew Wiggins

On episode 74 @Pavyworld & @reeltpj are joined by Thabiso (@Its_TSM) and Joel (@THEJoltss) to talk the Rockets, Cavaliers struggles (again), if the Trailblazers are for real, will the Timberwolves make the playoffs and Andrew Wiggins downfall. They also engage in heated arguments about MVP and Rookie of the Year.

Hoops N Brews Ep.73: Zaza Is A Mercenary

On episode 73 of @HoopsNBrews Pavy & TPJ are joined by Noah, @Justin_Mozer & @blinkpanther to talk Warriors vs OKC, Warriors future, if the Cavs trade was good, Jimmy Butler injury, T'wolves playoff potential, Hornets, Bucks, Wizards and more.

Did the trade deadline just make the Finals more fun?
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It never ceases to amaze me how LeBron James and his teams tend to stay in the news. But with how badly the Cleveland Cavaliers have performed the first half of this season, the conversation was truly warranted. James has historically favored fellow veteran players as teammates, which have always been exploited by young and athletic teams.

The pot boiled over though when Isaiah Thomas began to openly gossip about this team. GM Koby Altman had to get some sort of deal done. Shedding their old and bitter players for youth with enthusiasm, and doing so without trading their 1st round pick from Brooklyn in 2018 was a win in both the short and long term.

But their first big win came quickly against the Eastern Conference-best Boston Celtics. Cleveland’s dominance in the 2nd and 3rd quarter showed the rejuvenation of the squad, physically and emotionally. Bursting with angst and adrenaline, and with an opportunity to crash the Paul Pierce Party, they wanted this. They needed this.

It’s now the part of the season where we ask whether the Cavs are back. But the answer is still being formulated. What we know though, is that LeBron is reinvigorated. Storming the court during play in excitement of Jordan Clarkson’s shooting display, when just days prior he didn't even acknowledge Thomas in celebration after draining a game winner. The hope though, is to get back to the Finals.

LeBron will lead the charge, of course, but this new bench should keep the team afloat while Kevin Love nurses his broken hand. It’s also given Cedi Osman big minutes as he’s flown around on defense, even checking Kyrie with success on switches. Ultimately this three-game win streak, with all games on the road, has been a step in the right direction.

All that matters and will matter though is whether they’ll be able to contend for the title in June. For the last four seasons (minus the '16 Finals) the Warriors have had LeBron's number. They’ve been happy to let LeBron take the tough shots, so long as he’s not able to create for his teammates, but his new teammates should make it a more competitive matchup.

Guys with pace, athleticism, and the ability to stretch the floor are harder to gameplan for than one dimensional shooters (ie. Crowder, Korver, Frye), And as the Thunder have shown us this season, the Dubs are vulnerable against athleticism.

Golden State still has the advantage in star power. They’ll have four of the five best players in the matchup, but the Cavs may have the superior bench. However, the concern in the Bay is whether or not their bench is depleted or bored, and Kerr tried fixing their issues in their game against the Suns last Monday.

Kerr let the players man the timeout huddles & the after-timeout plays Monday. While the idea was taken in a negative fashion by some, it certainly worked, blowing the Suns out by 40+, even getting Omri Casspi to outscore KD (19-17 points). Without assets, or incentives to make a trade, this was a Cavalier-esque boost.

Ultimately, the goal is the title, but the process is just as important, and the differing paths being taken are emblematic of how both of these teams operate. Though the lenient structure the Warriors have molded works for them, the Cavs have embraced the chaos. Hopefully, though, it’s a sign that we may have a competitive series come June.

Hoops N Brews Ep.71: Cedi Osman could check Klay

On episode 71 Pavy & TPJ are back to talk Cleveland Cavaliers new team, Cavs defeating Celtics, Rockets facing the Western Conference, are the Raptors the deepest team in the NBA. Pavy says Cedi Osman can check Klay Thompson and more

The most intriguing Finals matchups for the Warriors

In the last two weeks, the Warriors capped off their season series with the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. Now comes the long wait until June to find out who’ll the Warriors will be facing. So in the meantime, here’s my subjective list of the most intriguing possible Finals Matchups.

Dubs in 3

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Indiana Pacers

Indiana has been a pleasant surprise to the league. The Pacers seemed to have started a rebuild once they shipped out Paul George after another first round exit. Instead they've cracked the top 7 in the East, and the play of All-Star Victor Oladipo is a large reason why.

Their core has played well and they’re largely untested, but on the slim chance they make the Finals, they’ll have an even slimmer chance to beating the Warriors. While the everyday fan would hate the idea of Pacers-Warriors, Dubs fans would rejoice at Oladipo flourishing after Russell Westbrook conformed him into a dark skinned Alex Abrines.

Miami Heat

First of all, these dudes have all of my respect. Last season, they went 11-30 in the first half of the season, and completely flipped their season around going 30-11 in the second half of the season, just barely missing the playoffs.

Fortunately their late season success has continued on into this season, sitting at 4th place, with a 29-21 record. Spoelstra has worked his coaching magic to keep his guys in line and playing hard. He gets the most out of his talent, none of whom have even been an all-star (though Goran Dragic has played like one). At their best, they can make things uncomfortable for the Warriors (see Cavs-Pistons 2016, a hard fought 4 game sweep.)

You’ve got my attention

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Washington Wizards

John Wall will go under the knife for arthroscopic surgery on his knee, which may keep him out for 2 months, maybe more. With a 27-22 record, good for 6th in the East, they’re at risk of dropping out of playoff contention if Bradley Beal can’t carry the load. Beal has been their guy this season; partially because of how Wall’s injuries have inflicted his game, but also because Beal has avoided injuries of his own.

Nevertheless, the Wizards are always a pleasure to compete against because of the extracurriculars they bring to their games. Whether it's claiming the throne before they accomplish anything, being concerned with meaningless player rankings, or planning “funerals”, they're truly the hypebeast of the league.

Their last few matchups with the Dubs featured some theatrics. In 2016, Steph Curry and Wall exchanged 51 and 41 points in D.C. In 2017, Curry exploded for 42 points, holding Wall to just 20. And in the most recent matchup, Beal and Draymond Green got tangled up and brought the scrap into the first row. In a series, I’d give the Wizards a game, but for the most part, they’ll be too in their own heads to truly contend.

Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis is just incredible. He’s one of the few players that the Warriors really respect the hell out of. However, the pieces around him are still shaky.

Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and Jabari Parker (hoping he’s healthy) are all out matched by the Warriors counterparts, and the Bucks bench isn’t even worth talking about. There’s also the game within the game of Delly and Steph's Finals rematch (he isn’t well liked by the Warriors.)

But Giannis is amazing and at his best can make everyone's job easier. He’s also a matchup nightmare. He’s too tall to be guarded by a 3, but too shifty to keep a big man on him. The Warriors counter with KD, who mirrors Giannis’ body type, and can make things just as difficult for the Bucks. What’s most admirable about the Bucks is their demeanor, and it starts with Giannis. His rookie year, he ran through Milwaukee to get to a game because his car wouldn’t start. But for all young stars, the stage of the Finals can change their career trajectories, for better or for worse. So while it may hurt him in the short term to lose on the biggest stage, in the long term it’ll surely sharpen his iron.

Philadelphia 76ers

Much like the Bucks, the amount of young talent on the Sixers is entrancing. Ben Simmons has carved out a surprisingly effective role for the modern NBA, given his shooting woes, and Joel Embiid, if he can stay healthy, could be a generational player.

Trusting the process got them here but also credit some solid drafting & development of starters Dario Saric and Robert Covington. But there is serious concern with last year's #1 pick, Markelle Fultz. His shooting shoulder has been messed up since preseason, and from what recent footage has shown, his form just looks awful.

But the Dubs are the kind of competition that can teach these players a lot, whether or not they're playing (sorry Fultz). For now though, they just need to do as Embiid says and “Trust the Process”.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Ahhh, that’s pretty interesting!

Cleveland Cavaliers

There isn’t much intrigue left in a Dubs-Cavs Finals. I’m sure most people are expecting it, but I’m just not convinced. The Cavs just don’t have the same vigor and fire to compete that they had in the past three matchups. Lebron is planning his getaway, Kyrie already escaped, IT is cold snitchin’, and Kevin Love broke his finger and is out for two months.

There just isn’t enough focus and attention to detail in the game plan, and it starts with LeBron taking breaks on defense and being ambiguous about his future (which is his right, there’s no loyalty in this game, see Blake Griffin). It’s hard as a fan to really want to match-up with a team that’s half-assing it. There's more joy in beating someone who wants to win as badly as you do.

Still, while it may not be as fun a series as these last two teams, it’s still a nice feeling to beat Lebron in the Finals.

Toronto Raptors



So many factors go into my love of this matchup. For one, we’ll finally get to see Drake actually root against the Warriors. Also, the city of Toronto seriously deserves to host a few finals games, but the team could use it too. This is the best team the Raptors have ever had, and as the Cavs have become more vulnerable, they’ll have a shot at taking them out.

Demar Derozan, a pure-bred gym rat, has finally looked to have rounded out his game. He’s always had a smooth game, thanks to his excellent footwork, and he’s seemed to master the mid-range game. But as Steph and the Dubs have changed the direction of basketball, Derozan has just caught up to the party. He’s shooting a career high in 3PT% while putting up another career high 3.2 three’s a game. He’s also averaging a career-high 5.1 APG, another career high. While these numbers don't jump off the page, they're indicative of the pace, space, drive and kick offense that’s given the Raptors so much success.

Raptors fans are yearning to get to this stage, and while The Dubs may not think too much of this squad, this Raptors core has shown a serious ability to contend with the champs. It’ll all come down to Toronto's mindset when the playoffs return to the 6.

Anything less would be uncivilized

Boston Celtics

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Celtics are exactly the team I want to see come out of the East for the Finals. Kyrie Irving is in the prime of his career playing under Brad Stevens. Behind Steph, he’s the most offensively gifted and explosive scorer at point, and he does so with so much control.

Stevens, a basketball savant in his own right, has crafted Boston's offense much like Golden State's, just without all of the talent. He’s made Boston play above their talents, which is how the most talented team's function, sports or otherwise. Their foundation though is the defense, cemented on Al Horford's smarts and fundamentals, and once he returns from injury, Marcus Smart's tenacity and lack of shit-giving.

There’s also the byproduct of Gordon Hayward's injury, immediately forcing the team to overcome heartbreaking and scary adversity. While he's unlikely to return his season, the prospect of what Hayward's presence can contribute to the already top seed is an encouraging reminder throughout the season.

The Celtics are Golden State's biggest challenge towards a third title in four years, their close loss to the Dubs last Saturday as evidence. Kyrie responded to Curry's 49-point performance with 37 of his own, giving them the same problems on offense as he did in Cleveland. On the other end, the way every (competent) team defends Steph is the way the Warriors guard Kyrie, sending doubles on screen and rolls, and being quick to rotate on defense, which plays into both teams offenses.

Still, Boston's offense can't touch Golden State. They just don’t have the fire power, but, again, Irving’s control of pace and possession lowers the amount of opportunities for Golden State to score. However, this is the most exciting Finals matchup because it’s inevitable. The Celts have set themselves up so perfectly to flourish in near future, that I just want to get a real glimpse into how this new rivalry takes shape come June.