Why Chris Mannix Believes Celtics Can Beat Cavs in Seven-Game Series

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Jan 9, 2018

Despite LeBron James’ greatness so far this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have yet to look like a team that can challenge the Golden State Warriors for the NBA Finals.

Actually, they might not even make it out of the Eastern Conference.

The Cavs were blown out 127-99 by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night, and currently, they look like a team struggling to find an identity.

While the return of Isaiah Thomas (despite his ejection against the ‘Wolves) should help them improve offensively, Cleveland’s defense still is a sieve and could be their downfall against the Boston Celtics.

At least that’s what Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix believes.

Mannix went on Tuesday’s episode of “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” and explained why this might be the year that James can’t just elevate his team’s play in the NBA playoffs, and the Celtics currently would beat them in a seven-game series.

“Boston’s threat to them this year is real,” Mannix said. “Boston right now would beat them in a seven-game series. Boston’s defense is night and day compared to what the Cavaliers are, and the Celtics are getting better. And I’m not so sure when I look at the Cavaliers, that I see them getting that much better before the end of the season.

“Yes Isaiah Thomas is going to improve them offensively, but what is their problem, Colin? They were the third-best team in the NBA when Isaiah Thomas came back. Their problem is that Minnesota’s blowing them out. That Orlando’s putting 127 on them. I know the playoffs are different, the game slows down. Can you trust Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown? I trust Jayson.”

When Cowherd brought up the idea that the Celtics would struggle to guard James, Mannix said the C’s versatility will allow them to match up well with the Cavs.

“Difficult to guard LeBron, right,” Mannix said. “But they’ll throw multiple guys at him and make somebody else beat them … This Boston team is better because of their defensive versatility. The pick-and-roll is the bread-and-butter play in today’s NBA. Everybody runs it. Boston switches everything. They might be the only team in the league that at certain times during a game they can switch one through five. So it’s not going to be one guy and LeBron. It’s going to be, ‘OK I’m going to switch Brown with Tatum, I’m going to switch Brown with Horford.’ It’s not perfect, but they have more defensive¬†versatility than any team in basketball and that’s going to be a real asset against the Cavs. ”

The Cavs and Celtics have split their first two meetings this season, and it appears they are headed for a collision course in the Eastern Conference playoffs that will pit James and Thomas against five of the NBA’s top 15 players in terms of defensive win shares.

Good luck.

Thumbnail photo via Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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