The Cleveland Cavaliers marched to the 2nd round of the playoffs with a sweep of the Boston Celtics. However, it came at a cost that may hurt them in this round and the next ones to come.
PF Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder after a scuffle with Boston's Kelly Olynyk in Game 4 of their first round series. The injury will cause Love to miss the remainder of the playoffs and sideline him for 4-6 months.
Without Love, the Cavs are losing 2.3 three point makes per game which he was hitting at a very high 42.9% clip. Aside from outside shooting, Love was also contributing 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Yes, Love isn't producing the same numbers he used to deliver last season in Minnesota. But as the third wheel in Cleveland's Big Three, Love's outside shooting spaced the floor for both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to create.
But it won't be just Kevin Love the Cavs will be missing in Game 1 because Guard J.R. Smith was suspended for two games after striking the Celtics' Jae Crowder in the face. Smith will sit out Games 1 & 2 of this series which is crucial because the Cavs are playing both games at their Quicken Loans Arena.
With two starters out in the first two games of the series, Cleveland is at a manpower disadvantage. But can the Bulls take advantage of the situation?
We'll help you answer that question by previewing Game 1 of the Bulls-Cavs and Rockets-Clippers series scheduled for tomorrow. We'll also be giving you the SportHold Super Prediction score to help you make your picks for Thursday's double header challenge.
The SportHold Super Prediction score is based on the collated predictions of SportHold users. Our users enter their predictions in our challenges page and we come up with a set of picks based on those. Those picks become our voice- or the voice of the crowd. The more predictions we get, the stronger our voice is. Remember that there is strength in numbers. Here at SportHold though, we just don't come up with a voice, but our users compete with others in our leaderboard. We give out points to every prediction you make, depending on the accuracy. Users also get points when they test their Sports IQ at our mini-games and even get a chance to win cash prizes by predicting the exact scores of NBA games. To get you started, here is the Prediction Data for May 04 to help you out:
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The Cleveland Cavaliers will open their second round campaign without two of their starters.
PF Kevin Love is out for the rest of the playoffs after dislocating his shoulder in a scuffle with Boston's Kelly Olynyk during Game 4 of their first round series. During that same physical game, guard J.R. Smith also got involved in an altercation where he smacked Boston's Jae Crowder and incurred a two game suspension which starts in Game 1.
Down two key men, Cleveland is at a disadvantage in manpower but when in doubt, they always have the King to turn to.
Challenges and disadvantages are nothing new to two time NBA champion and 4-time MVP LeBron James who's seen everything in this league. James averaged 27.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game during the first round and you bet he'll be ready to step up for his hometown fans.
The key match-up in this series should be the duel between James and another former MVP in Derrick Rose. Rose has blown hot and cold in this playoffs, playing much better in games where he's had more than two games of rest. It will be crucial how that factor plays in this series because the Bulls need Rose to be at his best every single game against a Top Tier team like the Cavs.
The Bulls hope to get the advantage at the frontcourt with Love out of action. Chicago's Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are both battle tested veterans while their Cleveland counterparts Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are newcomers. However, speaking of newcomers, Chicago's leading scorer Jimmy Butler is also classified as one because of the lack of playoff experience. It will be interesting to see which newcomers will step up to the plate as the postseason goes deeper.
The Cavs won their season series 3-1 but were undefeated against Chicago when Kevin Love played so that's going to be something to watch too in Game 1.
If there's a piece of history worth noting in this series, it's the fact that LeBron James has a record of 12-3 against the Bulls in the playoffs and that he's never lost a playoff series against them, winning once during his first stint in Cleveland and twice when he wasin Miami.
The Cavs have been the best team in the NBA since January 15, going 34-9 and doing better than the Warriors, Hawks, Clippers and Spurs. But the scarier thing is that they've lost just once at
the "Q" in their last 23 home games (inluding two in the playoffs). On the other hand, the Bulls went 1-2 against the Bucks in Milwaukee, but won the last one 120-66 ,im what is now known as
the most lopsided closeout win in playoffs history.
Floyd Mayweather Jr and the L.A. Clippers were the biggest sports winners on Saturday night. But while Mayweather may be headed for a vacation after picking up his nine figure check, the L.A. Clippers are back on the road less than 48 hours after dethroning the San Antonio Spurs to take on the Houston Rockets in Round 2 of the playoffs.
Fatigue could be a factor in this game (and perhaps the serieS) because the Clippers have just survived a gruelling seven game affair against the San Antonio spurs. That series wasn't just physically tiring, it was emotionally draining as well. But it's not just fatige that the Clippers are worried about.
PG Chris Paul, the Clippers'hero in Game 7, is listed as questionable for Game 1. Paul suffered a strained left hamstring in the first quarter of Game 7 but played through the pain to hit the game winner with one second left in the ball game. But while Paul hit the biggest shot of his career, it was obvious that he was limping on the court after the basket. Should Paul sit out the game, the Clippers will definitely miss not just his leadership on the court but his statistical production as well.
Paul has been the barometer of the Clippers' success this postseason. During their three losses, Paul scored just 15.66 points and issued 7.0 assists per game. But in their wins, CP3 averaged 22.7 points, 7.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He also made 2.1 three pointers per game at a 0.429 clip during their victories.
On the other hand, the Rockets are well-rested for this contest after having last played a game six days ago. But while the Rockets acknowledge the opportunity to recharge, they are also about wary about not losing their intensity, especially against a team like the Clippers who are coming off the most emotionally charged victory of their franchise.
The Rockets have proved that they are more than just James Harden's team because despite Harden struggling from the field in Games 1 & 2, the Rockets easily beat the Mavericks with a balanced scoring attack. And with Dwight Howard slowly regaining his old form, Houston is a tough match-up for anybody.
An interesting sidelight here is the assembly of three poor foul shooters. The Clippers DeAndre Jordan is the worst in the league at 38.4% while the Rockets former AAU buddies Dwight Howard and Josh Smith are equally horrible at the charity stripe at 46.3% and 43.5% resepctively sp you might see one or both teams apply the "hack-a-Shaq" strategy at one point (or more) in this game or this series.
Houston and the L.A. Clippers split their season series 2-2 but Howard didn't play in any of those games so the Rockets have to be a little confident with having their big man for Game 1. The Clippers meanwhile must find someone to step up if CP3 cannot play in Game 1.
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