BOSTON (CBS) — The 5-2 Celtics have overcome some early season adversity and are off to a great start. The Cleveland Cavaliers, on the other hand, are not.
The Cavs are just 3-4 with losses to both the Knicks and Nets. They’re giving up 110 points per game, ranking 26th in the NBA.
Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Wednesday, and believes LeBron James and the Cavaliers are in big trouble this season.
“I don’t think the Cavaliers are going to make the Eastern Conference Finals. I think their best basketball is behind them,” said Gorman, saying that it would be a tall task for LeBron to beat the Celtics and Wizards on his own come playoff time.
“I think he has enough pride in his game to continue to play well, but I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland next year,” he added. “I think he’ll be in Los Angeles.”
As for the Celtics, the most impressive part of their strong start is the team’s defense and rebounding, which rank at the top of the league.
“I was a guy who said in the preseason they’d have to win games 118-115, and that’s not the case at all. This is just another example at how good Brad [Stevens] is and how good he is at convincing guys to go along with what he wants.”
Gorman said many Celtics players are playing above his expectations, highlighted by rookie Jayson Tatum.
“Guys are better than expected. Jaylen Brown is better than expected. Most guys don’t want to go near that big guy from Australia,” he said, referring to the scrappy Aron Baynes. “It’s just a case of guys playing harder than they usually play at this time of the year. That’s something they’ve exhibited since the beginning of the year, even when they lost the first two games, is they’re going to play hard all the time.
“They’re better than I thought they were, especially on the defensive end,” said Gorman.
The biggest knock on Kyrie Irving when the Celtics acquired him ahead of the season was his lack of effort on defense. That has not been the case to start his career in Boston.
“I just had him as a guy who didn’t bother to defend, and that hasn’t been the case here at all. He is among the league leaders in steals and is aggressive on his guy. He is really trying to do what he said he wanted to do, which was to come to a team and be the guy. If you want to be the guy on a team, you have to play on both ends of the floor,” said Gorman.
“They’re rebounding by committee. Look at the box score after a game and there are four guys with seven or more rebounds. Al Horford is averaging 8-9 per game; if he does that all year then this team will not have problems this year. Certainly not the problems the Cavaliers are having.”
Listen to Toucher & Rich’s full chat with Mike Gorman in the podcast above!