Irving will watch this year's rematch from the sideline after a pair of knee surgeries late in the regular season denied him an opportunity to play this postseason.
Boston's win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night brought down the curtain on the postseason's second round - one that wasn't exactly loaded with drama, since it was the first time since 2002 that none of the NBA's four conference semifinal series went past five games. He did, however, say he'll answer that question on July 1, when free agency begins. Boston has won four of the previous seven meetings, but Cleveland has won the last two - including the East finals last season.
According to OddsShark, the Cavs are heavy favorites at -290 to advance to the NBA Finals, while the Celtics are listed at +245, meaning a $100 bet on Boston to win the Eastern Conference Finals would result in a $245 return. A year later, the Celtics produced a career defining moment from James, who channeled his best with the Heat down 2-3 in the series, en route to winning his first National Basketball Association championship. He'll shoot, kind of a complete player. He's not gonna make every insane play every time down. You need guys with winning attitudes. The Celtics do have home court advantage during this series, but the team dropped their first two home games during last year's series with the Cavaliers, and you know the rest.
The Cavs' supporting cast must be able to ease LeBron's burden to score most of the points in every game.
"Marcus does a great job of getting his hands dirty, getting on the floor", said teammate Marcus Morris. Lebron has played in so many Game Sevens, finals, etc. "Those are the types of things that he brings".
When the Boston Celtics open the Eastern Conference finals Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston will be in a familiar position: Playing as a home underdog in Game 1, and entering a series as a major betting underdog despite being the higher seed.
The current Celtics team, more or less (meaning in the Brad Stevens era), already has two losses to a LeBron James led team on its books, but even if they end up losing once again to the Cavs in the Conference finals, it won't put a damper on the trajectory of this team.
"Our fight picks up", he said on Saturday. I have to think that coach Stevens will come up with a better solution, especially given the way he guarded Ben Simmons. Coming back from [deficits] most teams wouldn't come back from. "I think he's probably broken Toronto, if that's what you were referring to". "This is a process to get to the playoffs, we did it. It's like you never know who's going to go down, things like that, but we find a way", Celtics point guard Terry Rozier told reporters.
It's tough to see [Kyrie Irving] over there when we did play against him, because he's a big part of what we did. "That's being real physical with this team".
Kevin Love and George Hill have gotten healthy for Cleveland, but let's be real: This series comes down to guarding James. Unfortunately Toronto got swept, but, like I said in the beginning, it looked very easy. He also praised the officials for their work overall in the series.