The Cavaliers and Celtics meet for the fourth time tomorrow, but you have to ask yourself if this meeting can tell us much. Usually when two title contenders meet in April, there’s high drama and questions to be answered. But given what we’ve seen this season, the result would have to be extreme to bear any fruit in this instance.
We’ve not only seen the Cavs run away from the Celtics twice, making them look every bit the aging, worn-out team their critics claim they are, but we’ve seen the Celtics fall regularly to other teams, most recently the Rockets.
If the Celtics win, would you really think them more capable of ousting the Cavs in the playoffs if they were to meet? With the Cavs having essentially locked up homecourt through the playoffs, they have very little play for, and are still without the services of Shaquille O’Neal. The Celtics on the other hand were on a bit of a reclamation run before losses to OKC and Houston sent them back reeling.
If the Cavaliers win tomorrow, it will simply be a validation of everything we’ve already assumed, that they are the pre-eminent team in the East, and the Celtics are simply not in a position to compete this season.
A Celtics win, at best teaches that they’re capable of putting together a viable threat still. But it won’t erase the struggles they’ve had this season, or any shining light to guide the way to the Finals.
That said, I wouldn’t expect this to be any less of a battle. Neither team likes one another and the Celtics desperately needs to re-establish some measure of legitimacy.
And the Cavs are loath to relinquish the throne.