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All eyes on Kyrie Irving for Celtics versus Cavs NBA opening night action in Cleveland
The 2017-2018 NBA season is upon us, and I speak for millions of basketball fans when I say this opening night holds a bit more excitement than we could ever imagine. As if opening night doesn’t bring enough excitement to the fans, we are surely spoiled with the new-look matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs suffered a slew of losses in the final quarter of the season, relinquishing the top seed to the Boston Celtics going into the NBA Playoffs in 2017. That didn’t seem to matter as they almost swept every team in their path, giving up only one loss to the Celtics in the eastern conference finals.
While the Cavs have a guy named LeBron James to credit for much of their success, one might argue that Kyrie Irving played a key role in their three straight NBA Finals appearances as well. After all, he did hit the clutch three pointer over Stephen Curry to give the Cavs the go-ahead lead in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals, ultimately helping them win the championship.
Kyrie asked for a trade, and moved to Boston over the summer, making this eastern conference rivalry a personal affair. Check out the moment he found out that the trade went through.
Since Kyrie asked for a trade from the Cavs, people might think that the Cleveland fanbase will be hostile towards him when he visits the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland tonight. According to an interview with Rachel Nichols, Lebron and D-Wade think “everybody is going to be fine” in regards to all the different homecomings players face after trades this summer. Judging by their tone, there will never be a more hostile environment than when Lebron came back to Cleveland for the first time. “They were throwing batteries at us,” says Lebron. Watch the full interview below:
Due to all the success Kyrie Irving helped bring the city of Cleveland, their fans are going to be extremely welcoming. But whether they say this on camera or not, that personal vendetta still exists on the court to some extent, and it will be exciting to see what happens when they’re on the floor together.
The details of the trade are as follows (ESPN):
- Boston Celtics acquire Kyrie Irving
- Cleveland Cavaliers acquire Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick.
This trade brings up a number of questions:
- What will the chemistry be like for each team?
- Which team is better after the trade, Celtics or Cavs?
- Are the Jazz going to be irrelevant again?
- Will Lebron leave Cleveland AGAIN?!
The game tonight is only one small event that will help us answer these questions, except the one pertaining to the Jazz—the answer is “yes, they will be irrelevant again.”
In all honesty, both teams face challenges as the season gets underway. The team chemistry issues are going to be present, on both sides, without a doubt. These issues are only temporary and will work themselves out as the season progresses. In terms of who “won” this trade? Again, only time will tell.
On top of the chemistry issues, the Celtics also face a challenge with leadership. Their lineup changed the most in this exchange, and that can throw off the leadership dynamic in big ways. However, Head Coach Brad Stevens developed a deeper chemistry, on and off the court, with Gordon Hayward. As Hayward’s head coach at Butler University, Stevens knows him and his playing style very well, because he helped develop him into the player he is today. Sometimes those meaningful relationships can impact communication within a team in a good way, which will definitely be the case in this scenario.
On the other side of the coin, the Cavaliers face leadership and chemistry issues at a similar level. The Celtics and Cavs swapped point guards, only for Isaiah Thomas to be out until January with a hip injury. In the meantime, they have an injury-prone, former MVP in Derrick Rose stepping up for the start, with Jose Calderon coming off the bench. The underlying stories amongst these two teams will make for an interesting eastern conference matchup to say the least, as it adds a little more mystery than in recent years.
And in case you were waiting for my thoughts on Lebron going to Los Angeles, here you go. There have been rumors of Lebron migrating to LA for the 2018 season. As a Lakers fan, that would be extremely exciting. However, either Los Angeles team would be up for debate if that situation arises. The idea is that he has a home in Los Angeles, his family is there, so he might want to be closer to his family at the end of his basketball career to help further develop his highly talented young boys. Personally, I don’t think it is going to happen. I also believe that whether he decides to go to Los Angeles or not, he is going to give Cleveland everything he’s got while he’s there.
Now that we got all that junk out of the way, here’s a look at the starting lineups for tonight’s matchup:
Boston Celtics (ESPN)
- Kyrie Irving (7th year / PG)
- Jaylen Brown (Rookie / SG)
- Gordon Hayward (8th year / SF)
- Marcus Morris (7th year / PF)
- Al Horford (11th year / C)
Cleveland Cavaliers (ESPN)
- Derrick Rose (9th year / PG)
- Dwyane Wade (15th year / SG)
- Lebron James (15th year / SF)
- Jae Crowder (6th year / PF)
- Kevin Love (10th year / C)
Coverage begins on TNT at 7PM ET, game starts at 8PM ET.
Be sure to check out my summary for the second game in the doubleheader of NBA on TNT, as the Chris Paul-led Houston Rockets take on Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.