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Jeff Van Gundy goes all-in on Celtics, predicts they'll beat Cavs in five games

Alex Reimer
May 14, 2018 - 1:33 pm

Count Jeff Van Gundy among those who are firmly on the Celtics bandwagon. 

ESPN’s lead NBA analyst slobbered over the C’s Sunday during their 103-83 blowout win over the Cavaliers at T.D. Garden. Midway through the first quarter, as the Celtics were stifling Cleveland and LeBron James, Van Gundy declared he believes they’re the favorite in the series.

“I think (the Celtics are) so much better equipped this year to guard elite teams, because of their increased size,” he explained. “As I said before, I think they’re the favorite in this. They’re the better team, the deeper team.”

It’s difficult to think otherwise after watching the Celtics manhandle the Cavaliers. They managed to shut down James, who posted an atrocious minus-32 on the afternoon. The most symbolic play of the day came in the first quarter, when James didn’t hustle back on defense after being forced to take an atrocious jump shot from the baseline. 

While it’s temping to chalk up the Celtics’ success to Brad Stevens’ brilliance and/or their hustle, those narratives diss the players. This is a really good basketball team, led by perennial All-Star Al Horford and the last two No. 3 overall picks, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum broke Larry Bird’s rookie record with five straight 20-plus-point games earlier this postseason, whereas Brown led all scorers with 23 points Sunday –– and took it to James.

Above all else, Van Gundy touted the Celtics’ talent as their biggest advantage over the Cavaliers. “I think this series is over in five games, because the Celtics are so much more talented,” he said.

The Vegas oddsmakers, while improving the Celtics’ chances, are still betting on LeBron. Boston remains the underdog at +130. 

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