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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been able to spin the loss of his two stars into a positive situation all season. There's no telling how far Toronto would have gone in each of the past three years if it didn't have to take on King James. However, Baynes' 3-pointer with 56 seconds to play sparked an 8-0 Boston run to end the half.
"LeBron draws so much attention, and because of that he gets you scrambling", Stevens started, "but first and foremost those guys are tremendous offensive rebounders individually". Stevens may have something up his sleeve that I haven't even thought of, and I'm excited to see the defensive schemes that he draws up throughout this series.
"These days of rest have really helped me a lot".
"Our guys really embrace that".
Whether it's with the athleticism of Jaylen Brown, the strength of Marcus Smart, the size and lateral quickness of Semi Ojeleye, or the guile of Marcus Morris, the Celtics intend to send waves of defenders against the best player in the world.
Tatum outplayed his peer - rookie of the year favorite Ben Simmons - and has now scored 20 points in seven straight playoff games.
It's hard to put much stock in the regular season meetings but for what it's worth, the Cavs won two of the three contests, holding the Celtics to 102 points per game or less each time.
Game 1 against James and the Cleveland Cavaliers is Sunday at 3:30 p.m.at TD Garden.
"It's a sight to see", Marcus Smart said of his young teammates.
The Celtics have already proven plenty this postseason, considering they're competing for a shot at the National Basketball Association finals without two of their most important starters.
"Old man, that's insane".
"I'm excited", Rozier said.
"Just trying to add onto it while I can". In Game 3, James scored 38, including his nearly comical game-winning runner that may force Toronto to change the direction of its entire organization.
Added Rozier: "We understand he's gonna make some insane plays".
James simultaneously has never felt more vulnerable and more impenetrable.
"It's like night and day", he said. "We just gotta take away the other guys and have a great mindset of mentally being locked in every possession". "Me being a leader, I know he's there, so I'm gonna use that to my advantage". "There's a lot of places (around the league) that will be full, but it's full for different reasons". The Cavs went from losing only one game leading up to the finals last season to going seven games in the first round.
James has eight playoff wins in Boston, more than all but four current Celtics. I think there's a lot that everybody knows that makes LeBron so great.
"Yeah, that's not happening", Celtics President Danny Ainge said. The highlights include two buzzer-beaters and a 45-point virtuoso performance in Game 7 against the Pacers. He's doing basketball activities, but he has not played basketball yet.
"You've got everybody counting us out, but we knew from the beginning we've got each other", Celtics guard Terry Rozier told reporters. "No matter how good you're playing or how bad you're playing, they're going to ride with you". They have been long shots this year ever since Hayward went down in the opening game of the regular season last October in Cleveland.
"Gordon's making great strides", Ainge said.
"I think Boston's better than IN, as much respect as we have for Indiana". I'm happy to report I'm feeling like an athlete again.
That call would have given Philadelphia the ball back. Otherwise, he's been spending his rehab time in Indiana. The fact that they are down two-star players, and are at the Eastern Conference finals, is a true testament to their great coaching. "Brad's very familiar with this group, and Gordon's worked with these guys for five or six years". We'll miss Kyrie and Isaiah and some of the storylines we were promised on after a insane offseason, but this series should still have plenty of intrigue.