So, who are the guys who needs to get it done for their squad?
ESPN's Brian Windhorst, who has been covering LeBron James since his first go-around with the Cavs, joined Adrian Wojnarowski's "Woj Pod" to discuss a number of topics in the near-hour podcast. After knocking off the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 2, the Celtics are riding high on confidence as players like Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier have blossomed in the postseason.
If the Celtics are going to keep their unbelievable ride going, they are going to have to do something about the dominant James, and it won't be in the hands of just one defender. "We're doing the same thing now, but with this group, we have more depth in those positions, suited more to guard LeBron". The Celtics are better equipped to try and slow down James than the Raptors, but you can not expect anyone to actually be capable of doing it.
I think they're one of the most well-coached teams in our league. "But that was definitely one of the major points that he brought up when getting me here". Getting there again would tie him with Boston's Frank Ramsey for the fourth-longest such streak in National Basketball Association history, and would leave him behind three other Celtics' standouts: Tom Heinsohn and Sam Jones with nine straight and Bill Russell with 10.
With the 2015 first-round sweep and last year's five-game series win in the conference finals, the Cavaliers have generally had final word on the Celts' playoff hopes during the Stevens era. "Sometimes you're not tall enough to block his shot and things like that, but you can try to affect his shot as much as you can by showing hands, being long off the ball and being active, showing bodies and stuff like that".More news: Rights group calls for judicial independence amid Sereno ouster
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James is averaging 34.3 points per game in these playoffs, a Michael Jordan-like run that opens up greatest of all time debates best left for another time. If Thompson can stay in their faces and keep Harden off the line, Houston could struggle to manufacture points - especially in the pick-and-roll, where both Harden and Paul have routinely found Clint Capela rolling to the basket this season. But that was about it, as the Heat contained everyone including Rose to win the series 4-1 and begin James' NBA finals streak. In those games, LeBron James averaged a double-double. But Boston led the league in defensive deficiency, so, they're a good defensive team.
Durant may be the best all-around player in the series. Golden State beat No. 7 San Antonio 4-1 and No. 6 New Orleans 4-1. Teams have now gone 130-0 when leading 3-0. That makes it impossible to predict who will prevail but it also nearly guarantees that whichever team does win, will have also won over our hearts. Tucker, perhaps more than anyone else on the Rockets, is likely up to the task.
Smart has been at the heart of similar comebacks this season - most notably with his two drawn offensive fouls on Houston's James Harden in the final minute of Boston's 26-point comeback win on December 28, and the rally from down 22 against the 76ers in Game 2, the likes of which Smart said "you only see in movies".
With the Eastern Conference Finals just days away, Las Vegas is already looking towards the offseason, more specifically, the betting odds regarding where LeBron James will decide to sign once he becomes a free agent this summer.