(Sporting Alert) — The NBA playoffs continue on Sunday with four more games, including Cleveland against Boston and defending champions San Antonio against LA Clippers.
LeBron James will lead the second-seeded Cavaliers against the seventh-seeded Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round playoffs series and the star forward is without a doubt eager to avenge his team’s humiliating outing the last time these two sides met in the playoffs.
Five-years-ago in the East conference playoffs semi-finals, James and his Cavaliers teammates were jeered off the court by the home fans in a 120-88 defeat in Game 5 to Boston, and he is ready to make sure this incident never happens again.
“It stuck with me a lot,” he told reporters last Friday.
There is no doubt that Cleveland’s supporting cast, which includes the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, will need to deliver throughout the series to get the better of a confident Boston side, but make no bones about it, it is James who will be carrying the major weight load in these playoffs.
The former MVP, who won titles with the Miami Heat, averages an impressive 28 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists in over 150 career postseason contests, and oddsmakers, as expected, are making him the leading man heading into this series.
The return of James and the additions made during the season, make the Cavs one of the favourites to win the NBA championships this term, according to the bookies, but James isn’t getting carried away.
These teams split their four game series during the regular season, with the Celtics winning the last two, which were back-to-back.
James sat out the last meeting, which his team dropped 117-78.
“Everyone’s 0-0 when you get to this point,” he said. “So our whole game plan right now is giving ourselves a chance to win the game.”
Meanwhile, star point guard Irving, who has lots of experienced with the USA national team, will be making his playoff debut and he is looking forward to finally fulfill his childhood dream.
The Celtics battled through a tough opening period during the regular season to play themselves back into the playoffs, despite losing two of the club’s best players, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green.
The visitors are heading into Game 1 of these series on a six game winning streak and have won 8 of the last 10 games overall.
In Western Conference action, defending champions San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers will get their series underway at Staples Center.
The two West powerhouses have been drawn together despite producing two of the better records in Western Conference and the league.
There have been talks about the format of selections, but both sides are only focusing on starting the series.
“Playing the defending champs in the first round, that’s tough, but I think we’re up for the challenge,” Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said.
Spurs veteran forward Tim Duncan said: “We’re starting on the road against one of the hottest teams playing right now.
“We’re comfortable playing on the road. We’ve been through just about every situation possible, so we have the capacity and we have the experience to be able to start a series on the road.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Eastern Conference No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks will meet the eight-seeded Brooklyn Nets, while Western Conference fourth-seed Portland Trail Blazers play the 5th-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
Game 1 – Sun. April 19, Boston at Cleveland, 3:00 PM, ABC/ESPN3
(1) Atlanta Hawks vs. (8) Brooklyn Nets
Game 1 – Sun. April 19, Brooklyn at Atlanta, 5:30 PM, TNT
(4) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies
Game 1 – Sun. April 19, Portland at Memphis, 8:00 PM, TNT
(3) L.A. Clippers vs. (6) San Antonio Spurs
Game 1 – Sun. April 19, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 PM, TNT