Taylor C. Snow/Celtics.com
Cavs Seeking Rhythm vs. C’s After 10-Day Layoff
BOSTON – The Cleveland Cavaliers will have gone 10 full days without live game action by the time they tip off against the Boston Celtics tonight for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Such an extensive layoff can be seen as a blessing or a barrier, depending on whom you ask. For LeBron James, it could mean the latter.
“I feel worse when I don’t play,” he admitted Wednesday morning ahead of Cavaliers shootaround at TD Garden. “It’s no advantage at all, not for me. We got days off, but for me, I’d rather be playing.”
James hasn’t played much at all over the last month-plus. Since April 9, he has appeared in just eight contests. That averages out to just one game every 4.75 days.
Still, James has found a way to stay fresh, and has put together a dominant string of postseason performances. He has averaged 34.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game during Cleveland’s eight playoff contests, each of which have been wins.
This marks the second time this postseason that Cleveland has had gone at least one week in between games. After sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the first round, the Cavs went seven days until the start of their second-round series against Toronto.
The long layoff didn’t seem to impact Cleveland in Game 1 of that series, however, as it beat the Raptors 116-105 behind a 35-point, 10-rebound performance by James.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue believes a prolonged recess can be beneficial. Even one that has lasted roughly 242 hours.
“It’s always an advantage to get rest,” said Lue. “It’s a good chance to work on things you need to get better at, offensively and defensively. And we used our days wisely to get better.”
The Celtics, meanwhile, feel like they’ve been playing non-stop since the All-Star break. Boston has played 13 postseason games to this point, and only had one day off in between Monday’s Game 7 against Washington and tonight’s Game 1 matchup vs. the Cavs.
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas said there’s advantages and disadvantages to Cleveland’s situation, though he's not sure if the pros outweigh the cons.
“It can be (an advantage) because they’re definitely getting a lot of rest,” Thomas said yesterday following C’s practice. “But at the same time, their rhythm won’t be there as if you were playing in games. Practice isn’t a game. So yeah, their rhythm might be off a little bit, but they’re the defending champs. They know how to win.”
James agreed with Thomas, saying that finding an early flow is the biggest concern heading into tonight’s matchup. After all, this is Cleveland’s longest break in between game days since last summer.
“That (rhythm) is always something that you’ve got to kind of pay attention to,” said James, whose teams are 6-4 all time in the first game after completing a postseason series sweep. “I said that before we opened up the Toronto series because we had all those days off before we opened up the second round. You can practice, you can train a lot, but it’s never a simulation of a game. So we’ll see what happens.”