Brad Stevens wants no half-hearted effort in doubling LeBron James

NBA 2K18 Le Bron James Eastern Conference Finals

Cavs, Celtics back in conference finals despite trades and injuries

In that series, LeBron James averaged 29.6 points per game as Cleveland bounced Boston from the playoffs with four blowout victories in five games.

Despite the countless rumors and reports throughout the season that seem to point to his desire to play elsewhere in the 2018-19 season and beyond, the Cleveland Cavaliers have emerged as the odds leaders to sign the four-time MVP.

The Celtics aren't going to be able to shake James' confidence.

On Sunday afternoon, the 33-year-old James will be back on the parquet floor for an Eastern Conference finals rematch with the Celtics, still going strong after all of these years. It's impossible. Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers once compared him to Earl Campbell, the Hall of Fame running back known for lowering his helmet and pulverizing sternums. "(Boston executive) Danny Ainge has done a good job of getting guys in that fit that mold of Celtics basketball and they've been playing well".

Boston's Al Horford and Love will battle inside while Hill and the Celtics' Terry Rozier figure on another tussle in the backcourt. "It's nothing against the defense or sometimes you're not tall enough to block his shot or things like that". It's still the same love, and the same respect, because you've been through so much to win that championship.

Added Rozier: "We understand he's gonna make some insane plays".

"We've got to try to make it as tough as we can".

There was a time not long ago when Marcus Smart was simply hoping to have the chance to play again this season. "We've just got to show our energy and length".

"With this group", said Horford, "we have more depth in those positions suited more to guard LeBron". But at the same time this team has figured out how to be the best version of themselves without him and LeBron's taken even more of a role.

With James averaging an astounding 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and nine assists with a 55.3 field goal percentage while carrying the Cavs through these playoffs, Morris will more than have his work cut out for him. This might make me sound positively ancient, but I haven't played a new video game in quite some time. In those games, LeBron James averaged a double-double. But even if LeBron is Super Macho Man to the West's Mike Tyson, he still presents a formidable challenge. "He can really shoot the ball from the outside".

"Yeah, it changes them - not necessarily bad, just different".

No one expected the Celtics to get where they are now, but we have to be realistic here. Against a guy like LeBron, it's the team. I think his spirits look better every single day. It's been that way since Gordon Hayward was injured on opening night of the regular season in Cleveland.

"Obviously previous year with Kyrie a lot of times LeBron would have played where he would be a spacer for parts of the second and third especially, and Kyrie really hurt us in Games 3 and 4, 5 - but they just figured out a way to play without him", said Brad Stevens. "I'm sure he'll talk to our players individually".

"It's definitely not a one-on-one thing", said Brown.

This team isn't going down with a fight.

Morris was asked if James has the ability to break teams mentally.

"So we'll just continue to prove people wrong and have fun while we're doing it".

"I think it's really meaningful but he's good at focusing what he can control and there's nothing he can do about missing it", said Stevens.

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