BOSTON — There will be immense pressure on the Boston Celtics on Sunday night when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Not only do the Celtics have an opportunity to head to the NBA Finals without their two best players — a feat few people thought would be possible when the postseason began — but they also will feel the responsibility of playing for a team with a rich tradition of winning.
While the Celtics’ legacy might not be at the forefront of their minds at tip-off Sunday night, head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that the franchise’s unrivaled success — which is engrained in the 17 banners that hang above the parquet floor — becomes a part of you from the moment you enter the organization.
“Right when you get here — when you get draft here, traded here or sign as a free agent — you feel it,” Stevens said prior to Game 7. “And that is, I think more than anything when we were not quite as good, earlier on when I got here, you still, everyone feels the responsibility to give it your all and to be part of a team. And I think that’s part of playing in Boston and I think it’s part of playing underneath those banners as a Celtic.”
Stevens has brillianty acquitted himself since taking over as Celtics head coach in 2013, and his brilliance has been on full display during the Celtics’ playoff run. From on-court tactics to lineup maneuvers, Stevens has outclassed each opposing coach he has faced.
And if he can get the best of Tyronn Lue and, more importantly, LeBron James on Sunday, the Celtics will be headed to their first NBA FInals since 2010.