LeBron James will take the first step to reaching the NBA Finals … again.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday afternoon. This series is a rematch of last year’s conference finals, which LeBron James and the Cavaliers won in five games as Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas dueled. This year’s competition will look a lot different.
James’ Cavs team swept the Toronto Raptors easily in the second round this year, looking like a complete unit for the first time in months. James himself was brilliant, averaging 34 points on 55 percent shooting, 11 assists, and eight rebounds. Can Boston stop him and a reborn Kevin Love, who averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds in the series?
Boston may have been a conference finals favorite in October, but this is hardly the team we pictured them to be after Gordon Hayward signed as a free agent, and Irving was traded from Cleveland. Neither will play in this series due to injury. Yet Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has somehow pushed a young core of rookie Jayson Tatum, sophomore Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier to fill into their roles and advance this far.
The Celtics knocked off a surging Sixers team in five games, limiting Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid just enough. That was just a warm up compared to The King, who’s looking for his eighth consecutive trip to the Finals.
“He’s been doing this for a long time,” Marcus Smart said, according to the NBA. “He’s, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to do it. What better way than to go up and compete against a guy that’s [going to have] statues and things like that.”
Cavaliers vs. Celtics Game 1
Date: May 13
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: TD Garden, Boston
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