Published: Sun, May 13, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

LeBron James: Brad Stevens praise is overblown

LeBron James: Brad Stevens praise is overblown

Kyrie Irving was dealt to Boston in a blockbuster offseason deal for Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder.

On Friday, the Boston Celtics tweeted an article touting forward Marcus Morris as the guy to slow down LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals.

Yes, those storylines would have been fascinating, but this series and these teams hold plenty of intrigue as is. It's a testament to a program they've been nurturing since he took over as coach five years ago.

Smart said after Wednesday's clincher against Philadelphia that he wanted to guard James in the conference finals.

With Thomas a mess and the season slipping away, Cavs general manager Koby Altman traded him on February 8 to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

The Cavs succumbed to Irving's trade demand - he was exhausted of playing in James' shadow - and sent the All-Star to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, a first-round draft pick, forward Jae Crowder and center Ante Zizic. The Pacers held a third-quarter lead in Cleveland in Game 7 before falling, 105-101. 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. If it's the team that looked so strong in Round 2, they'll beat the Celtics. He grabbed his own rebound but lost that too when Rozier slapped the ball away with 10.8 seconds remaining. He was then involved in almost every decisive play in the final minute of his team's Game 5 clincher against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

However, individual stat lines isn't how guarding James should be judged. "I think we've shown that throughout the season".

James wouldn;t narrow down who the Celtics' "head of the snake" is.

Guard Jaylon Brown said that there is no one who can successfully defend LeBron James - saying it is a mismatch no matter who they put on him.

We can now add Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris to that growing list.

James is, obviously, more unsafe than Antetokounmpo or Simmons.

Forget about stopping LeBron James.

Meanwhile, All-Star big man Al Horford has been the leader and has upped his production significantly across the board compared to what it was during the regular season. One of the more versatile defenders in the NBA, Tucker will likely draw a slew of defensive assignments in this series. Terry Rozier's all-around game has surpassed Avery Bradley's. Plus, Boston excels at defending the 3-pointer, which should help neutralize both Korver and Smith. Love was great against Toronto, averaging 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Both sides have endured turbulent seasons since they last met in May, but the new-look Cavaliers aren't looking past the injury-plagued Celtics to the NBA Finals.

With so many subplots, the league scheduled Boston at Cleveland in the season opener.

The Boston Celtics aren't just happy to be here.

Brad Stevens left open the possibility yesterday that his starting lineup against Cleveland today will be different (ie: smaller) than what he put on the floor against Philadelphia.

If you're wondering what more LeBron James can do to blow your mind during the 2018 postseason, sit back for some fireworks as the four-time MVP squares off against the squad he loves to hate for the next two weeks. It's a big challenge, but it's not about the one-on-one matchup.

There's no denying James's greatness or his ability to win this series all by himself. "James" teams have won their last six playoff games against the Celtics going back to that game, considered one of his all-time great performances.

Though oddsmakers view the Cavs as pretty heavy favorites to beat the Celtics, oddsmakers don't give Cleveland all that much of a shot at winning its second title in four years.

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