The NBA playoffs are ready to roll.
Last night’s final slate of regular season games determined the playoff pairings and sealed the fate for a number of not-quite-good-enough teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder, for instance, perennial owners of one of the Western Conference’s top seeds, will be watching the playoffs at home on their big TV’s. And so will the New York Knicks, who suck.
The Boston Celtics, however, a team few expected to make the playoffs at the beginning of the season, will be traveling to Cleveland to take on the star-studded Cavaliers in Sunday’s opener of the best-of-seven series. The two teams split their four regular season contests.
Guard Kyrie Irving is a lights-out magician; Kevin Love is an all-star big-man with range; and 4-time MVP LeBron James is an all-around beast so good that his biggest challenge on the hardwood appears to be an ongoing battle with his receding hairline. (Just let it go, man.)
But Blatt and the Cavs have endured a very public professional puberty as the team struggled to jell both on and off the court. Since February 2, however, the Cavs completed the season by going 24-9—the best such record in that time span in the Eastern Conference—to lock in the second seed.
On Saturday afternoon they’ll host the seventh-seeded Celtics who finished the season on a 24-10 run, including a 6-game winning streak, and have nothing to lose.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.