With home-court advantage hanging in the balance, the Cleveland Cavaliers elected to sit LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Monday’s game against the Heat in Miami. The Cavs lost, 124-121, in overtime – and they may have lost home-court advantage in the East.
Boston (52-29) leads Cleveland (51-30) by one game with one game remaining in the regular season.
What do we make of the Cavs’ decision to rest James and Irving against Miami?
“I thought it was a little bit strange,” NBA.com’s Sekou Smith said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “This isn’t a team that has shown itself down the stretch of the season to be as dominant as I think they thought they’d be.”
That’s putting it mildly. Cleveland, which started the year 41-17, is 10-13 since March 1.
“So for them to not go after (home-court advantage) with their guys is kind of odd,” Smith said. “I get the feeling Tyronn Lue is more concerned about two months from now than he is about two days from now. That’s a pragmatic way of approaching it when you’ve done what they have the past couple of years and you got a guy like LeBron James as the centerpiece of your team. But it’s also a bit arrogant. Boston is ready to challenge you and take the No. 1 seed, and then you’ve got Toronto and Washington who both believe they’ve got a chance to make some noise at your expense potentially in the playoff as well. So you’ve got to be real careful if you’re Cleveland not to get too full of what you’ve done because there are teams coming after you this year.”
Cleveland didn’t exactly run away with the East this season. In fact, the Cavs will likely finish second to Boston and lead Toronto (50-31) and Washington (49-32) by just one and two games, respectively.
But let’s just say the conference finals comes to the Celtics and Cavaliers. And let’s just there’s a Game 7.
That Game 7 would be in Boston.
Does that change how the series unfolds?
“Well, after watching Cleveland come back from a 3-1 hole in the Finals last year, I’m a believer in LeBron and Kyrie being able to go off and do the unthinkable,” Smith said. “It’s not like I’m ready to change my pick of who will come out of the East based on who has home-court advantage, but a Game 7 potentially in a conference final in Boston? I don’t care if you’re LeBron James or not; that would be an unbelievable environment to have to go into and come out alive. I think Cleveland would really be rolling the dice on their season by doing something like that if it were to come to fruition.”
The Celtics and Cavaliers both close the regular season Wednesday. Boston hosts Milwaukee (42-39) while Cleveland hosts Toronto. Both games tip off at 8 p.m. ET.