The Eastern Conference finals, which start Sunday, will pit the resilient Boston Celtics against the rebuilt Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here's a look at how the teams match up:
2. BOSTON (55-27): Home 27-17; road 28-13
First round defeated Milwaukee 4-3.
Second round defeated Philadelphia 4-1.
4. CLEVELAND (50-32): Home 29-12; road 21-20
First round defeated Indiana 4-3.
Second round defeated Toronto 4-0.
Season series: Cavaliers 2-1.
Key stats: Nine players from last year's Boston-Cleveland conference finals series will participate in this year's rematch. ... Cleveland's LeBron James is seeking his eighth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. He is averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in the playoffs while shooting 55.3%. ... Boston forward-center Al Horford's teams are 1-16 in playoff games against James' teams.
Outlook: After Boston's intense injuries and Cleveland's massive makeover, this series looks far different than last year's matchup or what was projected earlier this year. A Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas matchup has become a Terry Rozier-George Hill duel. This series is about how the shrewd tactics of Celtics coach Brad Stevens can counter the basketball genius of James' remarkable late-career resurgence. Boston will try rotating personnel and various schemes (layers of big-men support) to reduce James' dominance, but the key might be neutralizing the supporting cast. Horford has been a two-way star and will be tough on Kevin Love, who averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 54% in his last three Cleveland games. Boston has leaned on top-rated defense when the offense waned, but has found scoring in Rozier and rookie Jayson Tatum.
Paul Coro's prediction: Cavaliers in six.
(All times PDT)
Game 1: Sunday at Boston, 12:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 2: Tuesday at Boston, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 3: May 19 at Cleveland, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: May 21: at Cleveland, 5;30 p.m. (ESPN)
(Games 5-7 if necessary)
Game 5: May 23 at Boston, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6: May 25: at Cleveland, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)