The Boston Celtics are the second-seeded team in the Eastern Conference and possess home-court advantage for the best-of-seven conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It's the second season in a row that the two teams will meet with a chance to go to the NBA Finals, though plenty has changed over the a year ago.
What did the Celtics star say? With that said, many question how competitive this series will actually be. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart have played wonderfully with help from veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris.
In Boston's lone win over the Cavaliers during the regular season, Morris did limit James to 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting (36.4 percent) over 30 possessions and was Boston's best option that day. He and the Cavs swept IN 4-0 IN last year's playoffs which led to George leaving the team, and kicked off this postseason with a tough, 4-3 win over the rebuilt IN team, which was mostly a showing of how James can win series without any help from his teammates. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how he performs against the Cavs during the upcoming series, especially with the stakes so high; something that can lead to struggles especially for young players like Tatum. But when the Celtics reloaded their roster over the summer, there seemed to be a pretty clear mandate to collect defenders against the new crop of big wings who can handle and facilitate - players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons.
James has been superb in the postseason with averages of 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 rebounds, and the Celtics know stopping him completely is highly unlikely.
This (unofficially) is the NBA Finals.
Morris acknowledged that no one person can guard James, but that doesn't meant there isn't a formula to guarding him. The Boston Celtics superstar has no evidence to back up the fact that he can defend LeBron James.
Morris will have the unenviable task of defending James, who has been in stunning form during the National Basketball Association playoffs.
For the first time in his career, James played all 82 games.
Korver and Smith are similar to Philadelphia shooters J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli, whom the C's defended in the previous round, in the vein that all are more than capable of draining catch-and-shoot 3s with little to no airspace. He said he thought his year had ended the week prior when he'd been told of the ligament tear, but was hopeful that a six-week recovery timetable would have him back around the start of the Eastern Conference semifinals. "Both teams have raised their level of play and been through it, but are here now and have to lay it all on the line". His statistics aren't too appealing for an All-Star, but he has made his presence felt nonetheless. And when the conference finals move to Cleveland on May 19 for Game 3 - the Celtics' first visit to Quicken Loans Arena since Hayward's gruesome opening night injury - this nascent core will attempt to again carry this veteran load. He was getting to different places on the court. Preventing second-chance opportunities for the Cavaliers will be vital for the Celtics' success as giving James another chance to score will put the team at a disadvantage.
The Celtics know what's about to hit them.
Meanwhile, James isn't buying into the chatter about how his squad will overwhelm the Celtics. Sweeping the No.1 team in the East is no easy task. The Cavaliers swept a first-round meeting in 2015 and won last year's conference finals in five games, but it's all meaningless at this point. Regardless of all these factors mentioned, this series will still be a fun one to watch. Starting with the 2008 National Basketball Association season and ending with a preview of the upcoming matchup. They're well-coached. Despite all the circumstances of guys getting hurt with Kyrie out, with Gordon being out for the whole year, they just keep plugging guys in and keep playing.