Yesterday, the top two Eastern Conference teams made a trade that could possibly switch things up, as far as who comes out of the East. With the Boston Celtics having agreed to a deal in which they acquire Kyrie Irving, from the Cleveland Cavaliers, in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Žižić and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, the C’s certainly do become interesting. Earlier this offseason, they signed free agent Gordon Hayward, traded Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris and drafted Jayson Tatum in this year’s NBA draft.
- C’s On Top?
The Boston Celtics are looking to start things fresh, as evident by this year’s offseason. They now have an almost entirely different starting lineup, with only Al Horford remaining from last season. With the additions of Morris, Hayward and now Irving, the Celtics solidify themselves as true contenders. The Cleveland Cavaliers have owned the Eastern Conference for the last three years, with their big three of Irving, James and Love, but now a piece is missing. That piece now belongs to Boston and they will look to shock the NBA world by knocking off LeBron James and the Cavs. Advancing past the Cavaliers will be no easy task, still, but they definitely have improved their chances, while keeping young, core assets of their team in tact.
- Not So Fast!
The Cleveland Cavaliers have one thing that the Celtics absolutely do not have, LeBron James. Sure they’ve had a major overhaul this offseason, but Boston is still behind the Cavs, by just a little. King James and company have chemistry, experience and depth and that’s something that this new Celtics squad will have to find and utilize as the season progresses. Similarly to last year, as most others do, I expect them to finish in the top two of the Eastern Conference. This team has the weapons and options to be a complete nightmare for most any team that they face, every single game. However, topping the Cavs could be a whole different story, especially come playoff time, as we will see a more defined Cleveland roster, with many different dangerous players, even from the bench. Their depth will be absolutely insane, from Derrick Rose to Kyle Korver, making them a dreadful team to play against, even for the Celtics.
- Does It Even Matter?
Of course it does! What a silly question. On a serious note, whichever of these two teams makes it out of the East will have their hands full, and then some. From Golden State to San Antonio to Houston, you have three teams who could probably beat either of these two in under seven games. That may seem like a bold statement, but it’s more than likely true, considering year’s past examples and just looking at the rosters. Maybe this year is different though, maybe we don’t see a fourth consecutive meeting between the Cavs and Warriors or maybe we even see the underdog Celtics raise a banner. No one knows for sure, as of right now, but we will get to see a nice little preview of what is likely to be the probable Eastern Conference Finals series.
- Fantasy Impact:
This trade will have major results on how these teams play going forward, but what does that mean Fantasy wise? It means that both Boston and Cleveland will be playing a different game of basketball this year and different guys will be stepping up. With the Celtics transitioning away from smaller guards to Cleveland looking to get over the hump that is Golden State, things will vary. All additions, made by both teams, create a different identity as compared to last year’s rosters, and probably for the better. Expect Kyrie to be the leader of this new Boston team and create a more attack driven play style. Look for LeBron to utilize Thomas and Crowder to their full potentials, like the unstoppable playmaker that he is. These two teams will dominate the Eastern Conference, even more so than last year and it will be an absolute treat to watch them kickoff this year’s season.
First Matchup: Celts @ Cavs – Oct 17 8:00 PM EST.