Last year's Celtics team got blitzed by the Cavaliers, losing Game 2 by 44 points and falling in five.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will begin their Eastern Conference Finals matcup with the Celtics on Sunday afternoon. The Celtics have overcome injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to make a surprise run to the conference finals, winning on the strength of a talented but young roster. Specifically, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver.
And like the Warriors, the Rockets have played tenacious team defense in these playoffs. They finished the regular season allowing 101.5 points per 100 possessions, the best mark in the league.
With that, the Sixers head coach threw cold water on the "truther" movement that has emerged regarding the true identity of Simmons' dominant shooting hand. It could be now or never for their coach Mike D'Antoni, who previously guided the Phoenix Suns to conference finals when Steve Nash was their point guard.
When the Celtics take the court Sunday afternoon for Game 1 at TD Garden, they will be much different than the team that faced the Cavaliers past year at this time (only four players returned this season: Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart). That mixed with the inexperience of executing in close games against a good team in the later rounds of the playoffs really showed.
3 overall pick Jayson Tatum has indeed come a long way from the start of the Boston Celtics' season.
They aren't just enjoying the ride, ready to call whatever happens a massive success, given their unfortunate injury circumstances.
But James proved his postseason bona fides yet again, and the Celtics, thanks to the emergence of "Scary" Terry Rozier, also proved up to the task by eliminating the 76ers. Cleveland's defensive effort has been better, as it will be in this series, but their communication and recognition have not been sharp. While we won't be seeing a Kyrie Irving versus LeBron James showdown, this series should still be exciting. "If that's the goal - and for me and us it is - then that's the answer I give".
Zizic is the lone player from last summer's blockbuster trade that might play in the series. In Game 2, he scored 43 points and dished 14 assists, connecting on turnaround fadeaway after turnaround fadeaway, gleefully torturing the Raptors toward their inevitable demise.
Cleveland took care of Boston in five games past year, going 3-0 at TD Garden. Clarkson, Hill, and Hood, all acquired at the deadline, combined for 44 points. If the Cavs role players continue to step up, and James keeps taking his game to new heights, there is no stopping this team short of putting four Hall-of-Famers on the court. Harden has 285 points to James' 377.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James has carried the Cavs on his back at times, averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 11 play-off games for the Cavaliers, who edged in in a seven-game first round before sweeping Eastern conference top seed Toronto in the second round. The highlights include two buzzer-beaters and a 45-point virtuoso performance in Game 7 against the Pacers. He doesn't know when the help is going to come, but he says the 76ers are just one big free agent away from being a genuine contender. "He's obviously a special talent".
The Boston-Philadelphia series featured a few other betting oddities: Despite being the higher seed and holding home-court advantage, the Celtics opened as an underdog in all five games.
Same as it ever was.