BOSTON — LeBron James brought plenty of energy when he stepped onto the TD Garden floor for Tuesday morning’s shootaround. He expects the building to match that energy Tuesday night.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in Boston for the first time since they dispatched the Celtics in the opening round of last season’s NBA playoffs. The Cavs swept the series, but it didn’t come without drama, as incidents between Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Love and Jae Crowder and J.R. Smith can attest.
A regular-season matchup in December hardly compares to a playoff game in April. But James admitted Tuesday night’s contest might have a little extra juice.
“Well, I mean, if you come into Boston and play in their building and there’s no emotion, then something is going on,” James said during Cleveland’s shootaround. “Something is going on in the air, and it has nothing to do with the players, the referees, the fans. It’s just part of it. Boston always has emotion, you know, from everyone. So we expect that.”
James and Co. also expect a much-improved Celtics squad than the one they saw this spring. Boston is off to a 14-10 start and sits just two games back of the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference after nearly knocking off the Golden State Warriors on Friday and beating a hot Charlotte Hornets team Saturday.
According to James, the Celtics’ success starts with their head coach, who drew unsolicited praise from the Cavs star.
“It’s a well-coached team,” James said. “I think coach (Brad) Stevens is very good, and he puts his guys in a position to succeed every night, both offensively and defensively. We’ve got to be in tune with the game plan, and we’ve got to be aggressive, because they’re going to be aggressive.”
The Garden crowd that took in Friday’s double-overtime thriller against Golden State produced an energy unmatched in a Celtics home game this season. But Tuesday’s crowd might come close when the The King takes the court.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images