"But I do know that this is my eighth straight conference finals, and I have an opportunity to play for a championship if I'm able to be successful in this conference finals, so I don't take that for granted". The Celtics haven't been to the NBA Finals since 2010. "And Brad sat me down and said, 'We brought you here to be able to defend LeBron [James] when we get to the Eastern Conference finals.' And we're here now".
BOSTON (AP) - The jerseys and venues will be the same, but so much has changed since the last time Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics met in the Eastern Conference finals. Isaiah Thomas will not be returning to Boston in a Cleveland jersey to exact his revenge. The Celtics needed seven games to oust the Milwaukee Bucks and five to beat Philadelphia. But as he has done so many times, James found a different gear, and he and his teammates absolutely humiliated the Raptors in a four-game sweep that was so comical it was probably the chief reason Toronto chose to fire Coach Dwane Casey last week (which was especially awkward since Casey had just been named coach of the year by his peers).
The Cavaliers' journey hasn't been almost as improbable because LeBron James has remained the one constant, but they've undergone significant changes throughout the season as well. Yes, it's that Larry Hughes, who played with the Cavs from 2004-08, when James was a young player.8. How will those young Celtics players handle the big stage?
Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart can both take turns on James without being totally overwhelmed by his strength or quickness. "It's frustrating, but I've got to keep staying positive, keep getting treatment and try to get back out there".
The series starts Sunday in Boston.
Once again, James is up against a team that was better throughout the regular season and that has far more options, far more youth and a far more cohesive strategy on defense.
Now, is Larkin's availability vital to the Celtics' chances against the Cavs? Terry Rozier showed the league why he will eventually be a high-level starter. He's eliminated them in the last three postseasons and lost only two games in the process.
"I think it has been a little bit overblown this year because of the names that has been out. But we found a way, we pulled together".
Like James, Rozier first bounced a ball in Northeast Ohio. "Certainly I'll pick Kyrie's brain on not only him but the other guys around him".
Google is Working to Address Issues of Disclosure with Duplex AI
And they're even more hard to ignore when they start pitch-perfectly mimicking human interaction. Our interactions with them for now are over text, thus mitigating the potential for misuse.
"From our standpoint, I feel like it's been a lot of fun", he said. "He's gotten better and better. He's going to get everything I got". "He's a local guy".
James has had success against everyone since entering the National Basketball Association as a teen sensation in 2003, but lately has especially been hard for the Celtics.
James put up 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting with 10 assists and only one turnover when defended by Morris during those 55 matchups, according to Second Spectrum. Jayson Tatum led Boston in scoring with 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting.
Smart was Boston's starting point guard as a rookie in 2015 for the first three games of Boston's sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers before Jae Crowder replaced him in the lineup for Game 4 after Smart was late to the morning shootaround.
Give me the team over the superstar in seven games. The Pacers were physical, resilient and confident. But it's also obvious that the Celtics can pose a greater defensive challenge than Toronto, or Indiana.
"One of the rowdy environments", Cavaliers forward Kyle Korver said.
"I think in the Toronto series, no disrespect to them, but watching film, it just looked very easy at times". They're really good. They're always in the right spot.
"For sure the IN series has prepared us for the playoffs IN a lot of ways".