NBA Playoffs: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Remember those rock-paper-scissors games when Tony came at you with an unprecedented scissors to cut your paper, when you were certain he was running with rock from the jump? We know what happens next; you instinctively say, "best of three." Then five. Then seven. Because over the course of seven games, statistics prove that Tony's going to retreat to his usual hand. I think you know where I'm going with this one.

The Celtics showed scissors to the Cavalier's paper in Game 1, and they cut them up pretty bad. Let's not overreact though, there's a lot of basketball yet to be played in this best of seven series. No, I take that back. Let's overreact entirely.

The Celtics have the formula to stop LeBron.

Not only did Marcus Morris dub himself the LeBron-stopper, but he also he backed up his proclamation in Game 1, holding LeBron to just 15 points on 5-16 from the field, and 7 turnovers. But anyone who knows basketball understands that this was a total team effort. The Celtics strategically sent doubles, shadowed LeBron on every touch, paraded help defense by building a wall behind the initial defender, and didn't back down physically from The King, often forcing him to shoot his far-fading away turnaround. If he beats you consistently with that shot, you tip your cap. It also didn't hurt that the Cavaliers' role players couldn't throw an Earl Grey tea bag into the Boston Harbor.

But, that doesn't mean that the Celtics have some sort of secret Stephen Hawking formula. A formula has to be reaffirmed constantly, continuously proving its worth. If the Celtics can continue to stifle LeBron into similar performances, then maybe we will re-evaluate, though we've seen this story once or twice before. LeBron has a subpar game and then explodes for a ridiculous stat line and a win in the next. We will see what Tuesday brings.

Verdict: Overreaction

Brad Stevens is the best coach in the league.

This debate seems to be circulating basketball spheres more frequently than usual over the past weeks. And it makes sense. The Celtics are three games from advancing to the NBA finals without their two best players, and with a system that is essentially utilizing a plug and play. No Kyrie? Enter Terry Rozier. Jalen Brown has filled the Hayward role all year. And Jason Tatum has to be the best rookie in recent memory that will finish as a third-place after thought for Rookie of the Year.

Stevens deserves a lot of the credit. It is hard for an outside fan to quantify the coach's role on a team when they aren't in the facility everyday or the huddle every timeout. Nonetheless, some of the intricacies of the game that Stevens exploits are remarkable. He knows how to get the matchups he wants and put his team in the best position to score by catering to their strengths and hiding their weaknesses. In a must-win game for the Sixers in Game 3, with the Celtics down 1 in overtime, Stevens drew up a sideline out of bounds play from a box-set, setting a double L-shaped screen that forced Joel Embid to leave Al Horford to follow Jalen Brown to the top of the key, leaving a shorter Robert Convington on Horford with no backside help. A simple lob pass gave Horford an easy layup for the win. That's coaching.

Verdict: Not overreaction

The Celtics are the better team.

This one is difficult. We can't forget that a few weeks ago, the Celtics were in Game 7 against the Bucks. A 4-1 series victory over the Sixers and a Game 1 win over the Cavaliers, and now everyday is St. Patty's Day in Boston.

I wouldn't go that far yet, though. And to be honest, I really like this Celtics team. Terry Rozier is a starting point guard, and the quickest person with the ball left in the playoffs. Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown are future stars, if not stars already. Al Horford is still playing at a high-level, and their role players know exactly what their team needs and when they need it.

Still, I can't say they are better just yet. Let's not forget, the Celtics were at home. They were supposed to win Game 1. Coach Lue will make adjustments. Kevin Love is still the second best player in this series. J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver won't shoot like they did in Game 1, and the King is still in Cleveland. Boston is damn good, but I'm not giving them the series just yet.

The Celtics are a tough team, and if you throw some paper out there, they are going to cut you. I just think the Cavaliers are going to strike back with some rock.

Verdict: Overreaction

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