With the Boston Celtics taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals, we’ll have a chance to reflect on the past, marvel at the present and prognosticate on the future.
Even without their two best players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, it’s easy to see that when they return next year, the Celtics have the best collection of talent to dethrone LeBron James as the King of the East.
The Celtics defeated the 76ers, 114-112 tonight in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to win the series 4-1. Jayson Tatum finished with a team-high 25 points (10 in 4th quarter) along with 4 assists for the Celtics, while Joel Embiid and Dario Saric each scored 27 points for the 76ers in the losing effort.
But even with Irving and Hayward being forced to sit out the series due to injury, this year’s Celtics squad will provide a stiff test for the Cavaliers and James, who is in the midst of one of his most remarkable seasons and looking to advance to an astonishing eighth straight appearance in the NBA Finals.
While LeBron continues his quest to further his NBA legacy, Boston is looking to etch the next chapters in their franchise’s own dominant history.
In last year’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, LeBron averaged 29.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. In this year’s playoffs, he’s making those incredible numbers look pedestrian.
Just as it seemed that the King was going to abdicate the throne, and with Cleveland looking overmatched at times in the opening round against the Pacers, LeBron proved that the rumors of the Cavs demise had been greatly overexaggerated.
When Cleveland lost that opening game, 98-80, the writing seemed to be on the wall. And oh how the LeBron haters rejoiced, despite him scoring 24 points, dishing out 12 assists and grabbing 10 boards. But with the Cavs on the ropes, he saved his absolute best for when his team needed it most.
The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers, 105-101 tonight in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round to win the series 4-3. LeBron James led all scorers with 45 points to go with 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals for the Cavaliers, while Victor Oladipo finished with a team-high 30 points (25 in second half) along with 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals for the Pacers in the losing effort.
In the crucial 100-97 Game 2 win, he made 17 of his 24 shots in scoring 46 points, snatching 12 rebounds and handing out five dimes. In their 104-100 Game 4 victory, he had 13 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and 32 points. In Game 5’s 98-95 win, he posted 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. And in Game 7, he scored 45 points to complement his eight rebounds and seven assists in the 105-101 series clinching victory.
Next up was the Toronto Raptors, the top seed in the East, where LeBron averaged 34.0 points, 11.3 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game on 55.3 percent shooting from the field in the four-game sweep.
Check out the best plays of LeBron James from the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs! Subscribe to the NBA: http://bit.ly/2rCglzY For news, stories, highlights and more, go to our official website at http://www.nba.com Get NBA LEAGUE PASS: http://www.nba.com/leaguepass
And now, here come the young, talented Celtics, whom he’s been tormenting in the playoffs for decades. And in the last four playoff series’ against them in 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017, he’s dispatched them rather soundly. This year, Boston is missing the star power and edge that Irving and Hayward would have provided, and they’ll have to deal with the man who destroyed them in last season’s Conference Finals with four wins that were by an average of 26 points!
But this year’s Celtics, despite being shorthanded, are longer, larger and more athletic than they were last season.
“In all honesty, people from the outside probably expected not much out of us,” Celtics All-Star forward Al Horford said after they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers to advance to another matchup against James’ Cavaliers. “But I’ve seen the way that these guys prepare. I’ve seen the way that they train and they want to be great. And they understand it’s bigger than them. It’s about the team. We’re playing for each other and we’re trying to do things the right way. The way they’ve been preparing every day and the way that we’ve been so resilient all season it doesn’t surprise me that we’re at this point. We have a great opportunity in front of us.”
The opportunity is there and the Celtics, given coach Brad Steven’s acumen, and the hunger and versatility of Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, will not be an easy out.
LeBron James has a storied history facing the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, playing them five times with mixed results.
Golden State and Houston out West is the sexier matchup, but Boston vs Cleveland is gonna be better than most people think.
So buckle up your seat belts.
Here’s a brief look back at James’ playoff battles against the Celtics over the years, against whom he’s scored more points in the postseason than any other player has scored against any other team ever.
Game 6, 2012 Eastern Conference Finals: With Boston leading the series 3-2, a year after the Cavs had lost in the Finals to Dallas, the LeBron haters were out in full force. Despite him scoring 30 points and snagging 13 rebounds in their Game 5 loss, the mental midgets were laughing, screaming that the kid from Akron had no killer instinct, that he’d never win a ring. And then this happened.
” LeBron James pushed away elimination, right along with any defender who tried to stop him. He wasn’t going to let another season end in Boston. The Eastern Conference finals, and his chase of an NBA championship, are headed back to Miami for a Game 7.
Game 7, 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals: In a seven-game series in which the road team never won, LeBron and Paul Pierce staged an epic battle as Boston advanced on. The Celtics went on to defeat Detroit in the conference finals and then the Lakers to win the championship.
Great Duel, Great Players, Classic Game LBJ had 45 Pts, 6 Assists The Truth With 41 Pts, 5 Assists got a highlights request? drop a comment here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4irRWWTUF94&feature=c4- overview&list=UU0LrZO9wORIqn_aRJtKdgfA Follow Me On Twitter -https://twitter.com/Als_highlights Box Score – http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/200805180BOS.html
Game 3, 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals: James scored 21 of his 38 points in the first quarter to help Cleveland beat Boston 124-95, handing the Celtics their worst home playoff loss ever and taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston would eventually win the series, 4-2, and go on to lose to the Lakers, 4-3, in the NBA Finals.
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2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals: During his first year with the Miami Heat, this is where the tide started to turn in LeBron’s favor against the Celtics.
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2015 First Round: Back with the Cavs, James’ squad swept the Celtics in four games.
LeBron James Full Highlights 2015 R1G3 at Celtics – 31 Pts, 11 Rebs, 4 Dimes, 4 Stls, 2 Blks, BEAST!
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Game 5, 2017 Eastern Conference Finals: Eleven years after his NBA playoff debut, LeBron surpasses Michael Jordan as the NBA’s all-time playoff scorer as Cleveland destroys the Celtics, 135-102.
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With this year’s Eastern Conference Finals set to tip off on Sunday afternoon, look for James to add more considerable work to his Boston resume.
And with the hungry young Celtics ready to continue their climb to the top of the East, keep an eye out on their bevy of talented, emerging stars to add their names to the LeBron vs Boston tapestry as well.