The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics start their first-round matchup on Sunday afternoon, and before they begin their series, we look at the position by position matchup and what the Cavs will need to do to defeat the Celtics. We start with the point guard position between Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart.
Kyrie Irving: 21.7 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.2 rpg, 47% shooting, 21.57 PER, 40% 3 pt
Marcus Smart: 7.8ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.3 rpg, 37% shooting, 11.02 PER
Kyrie easily wins the point guard matchup against the rookie Marcus Smart. Besides rebounds, the stats aren’t even close as Kyrie is clearly the superior player. One thing to keep note of is Kyrie’s recent hip ailment and how it will affect him in the playoffs. Kyrie went out against the Pistons on Monday and got some rest yesterday so hopefully he will be good to go for the long haul of the playoffs.
Click ‘Next’ to see the breakdown of the shooting guards in the Cavs-Celtics Playoff series!
J.R. Smith: 12.1 ppg, 2.8 apg, 3.1rpg, 13.63 PER
Avery Bradley: 13.9 ppg, 1.8 apg, 3.1 rpg, 11.51 PER
Since being traded to the Cavs, J.R. Smith is having one of his most productive seasons. In 46 games, he has averaged nearly 13 points per game in 32 minutes while shooting 43% and 39% from behind the arc. While Avery Bradley is having one of his best seasons as a Celtic, I think this matchup also goes to the veteran J.R. Swish.
Click ‘Next’ to see the breakdown of the small forwards in the Cavs-Celtics Playoff series!
LeBron James: 25.3 ppg, 7.4 apg, 6.0 rpb, 26.01PER
Evan Turner: 9.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.5 rpg, 12.88 PER
Is this matchup even a question? It’s the king versus the peasent. LeBron is having an MVP caliber season while Turner’s performance this season has been nothing but mediocre. Age and experience win in this matchup as the King should be able to handle Turner easily.
Click ‘Next’ to see the breakdown of the power forwards in the Cavs-Celtics Playoff series!
Kevin Love: 16.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 18.89 PER
Brandon Bass: 10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 16.39 PER
With all the flak K Love has gotten, his stats are still pretty solid. While he isn’t having his best season, he’s still nearly averaging a double double. While Bass may be a bit more experienced, K Love outsizes him as well as having some deep range. K Love is shooting 43% and 37% from downtown.
Click ‘Next’ to see the breakdown of the centers in the Cavs-Celtics Playoff series!
Timofey Mozgov: 9.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 16.59 PER
Tyler Zeller: 10.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, .6 bpg, 19.01 PER
The matchup at center is probably the closest player comparison for these two teams. While Mozgov has been impressive in a Cavs uniform, Zeller may be outplaying him. The stat line is pretty close and this matchup could come down to the bench replacements. I would take the Mozgov-Thompson duo over Zeller and Olynyk any day.
Click ‘Next’ to see the breakdown of the sixth men in the Cavs-Celtics Playoff series!
Tristan Thompson: 8.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.7 blk, 15.6 PER
Isaiah Thomas: 19.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 5.4 apg, 0.6 spg, 22.3 PER
This sixth man matchup will be intriguing, because both players bring a different talent to the table. Thompson brings the rebounding and activity on both ends to a Cavalier bench that can sometimes fall flat. Thomas is the leading scorer for the Celtics since arriving after the trade deadline, averaging 19 points a game and providing a major scoring punch to a less talented starting lineup that includes guards Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Although the starters will likely decide the series, don’t rule these two out as reasons why both can/will win games.
Click ‘Next’ to see the breakdown of the benches in the Cavs-Celtics Playoff series!
I think the bench matchup here goes to the Cavs too. Recently, David Blatt has been working on all sorts of rotations and groupings of players to be effective and efficient. Coming into the playoffs, he has a concrete idea on who he will use to provide the Cavs the best matchups. The combination of Thompson, Iman, Miller, and Jones fitting anywhere into the lineup will surely overcome the forces of Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, and Isiah Thomas.