After sweeping their way through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still awaiting their Eastern Conference Finals foe. It will either be Boston or Washington, but frankly, it might not matter which.
Kenyon Martin doesn’t think so, anyway. The former No. 1 overall pick and 15-year NBA vet was asked if either team could push Cleveland in the conference finals.
“No,” Martin said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “No.”
Really? Neither team could force, say, six games?
“No,” Martin said. “No, no, no. When the playoffs first started, if you would have asked me that question, it would have been a different answer. But now after seeing the way they’re locked in – they’re still giving up a ton of points on the defensive end, but they’re scoring 115 a night. So if you can’t score more than that with them – and I don’t think either Washington or Boston can at this point – (you have no chance). If you see the way Cleveland played (DeMar) DeRozan and Kyle Lowry on pick-and-rolls, they’re not going to let Isaiah Thomas or John Wall dictate the flow of the game. And if you get back in transition on John Wall, they know (that’s the key). I don’t see either one of those teams beating Cleveland – at all.”
Boston leads Washington, 3-2, in their second-round playoff series. Game 6 is Friday in Washington at 8 p.m. ET.
The Western Conference Finals, meanwhile, are set, this after the Spurs embarrassed the Rockets, 114-75, in Houston in Game 6 on Thursday. Even worse for the Rockets, San Antonio played without Kawhi Leonard, who was nursing a sore ankle.
“They took that exhale breath,” Martin said of the Rockets. “They realized Kawhi wasn’t playing, they were at home, they thought they had that game in the bag, and they relaxed – and San Antonio came out and punched them in the mouth. I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised by anything that Gregg Popovich does with that team. No matter who’s on the roster, no matter who’s playing, I’m never surprised. He’s going to make you compete on the defensive end, and he’s going to play the right way. When you do that, you have a chance every night.”
Martin didn’t think the Rockets would win this series, but he didn’t expect them to roll over, especially at home.
“I thought Houston would come home and show up,” Martin said. “I thought San Antonio would win the series. I never thought Houston was going to beat them, but I was surprised that Houston didn’t show up last night. I’m surprised James laid that egg. That’s very, very surprising that he played that way. Not being aggressive, (passing) up wide-open shots, being indecisive – he hasn’t been that way since his rookie year. But their season’s over. Go back to the drawing board.”
The Spurs, who got 34 points from LaMarcus Aldridge in Game 6, will face Golden State in the Western Conference Finals. Game 1 is Sunday at ORACLE at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Martin believes the Spurs can push the Warriors in this series.
“I do,” he said. “Listen, I think any team that Pop coaches, they believe. They got some young guys that are trying to make a name for themselves, and they got some vets that’s still hungry. Hopefully that LaMarcus Aldridge that showed up last night is going to continue that streak.”