Will the Celtics advance deeper into the playoffs than the Cavaliers?

Kyrie Irving LeBron James
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics look on during the second half at TD Garden. –Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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I know it’s premature to say the Celtics are definitely better than the Cavs. They’re still working Isaiah Thomas into the mix, and the LeBron factor can never be underestimated, yada yada. But right now, the Celtics look like the much better team, and I’d bet that they’d beat them in a 7-game series if it started today. Will I be able to say that in May or June? Is this the year the Celtics knock out the Cavs and keep LeBron out of the Finals? Say it so, please. – Alex L.

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Well, right now the Celtics are the better team, and by a pretty wide margin, at least based on the truth the standings tell us. The Celtics lead over the Cavs in the East is now, remarkably, 7.5 games. Toronto, which deserves more respect than it gets, is second, 4 games back.

I suppose there’s some reason for wariness given that LeBron takes his pedal off the accelerator in the regular season from time to time but always has plenty of fuel in the playoffs when he needs it. Respect to him, but this feels different.

Cleveland is 3-9 in its last 12 games, and it is a downright abysmal defensive team. Isaiah isn’t going to help that. They have a lot of mediocre redundancy on their bench, and if anyone thinks Derrick Rose is a savior they must be watching too many highlights of the 2010 Bulls-Celtics series on YouTube.

The Cavaliers have a roster that looks like it was picked by a fantasy basketball general manager who doesn’t follow basketball closely and is only in the league because his buddies are.  I’m convinced this is a team that LeBron can’t save, and for the first time since 2010 the team he plays for won’t reach the Finals.

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So I’ll go with the affirmative answer. The Celtics will advance deeper into the playoffs than the Cavaliers. Hopefully they’ll have the honor of eliminating them.

Just as we expected when Gordon Hayward went down on opening night, right?

But what do you guys think? Will the Celtics outlast the Cavs this postseason? I’ll hear you in the comments.

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