The Boston Celtics are heavy underdogs against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals, but that doesn’t mean everyone is counting them out.
Boston has no shortage of assets, from the emergence of young guard Terry Rozier, to the multiple tools that Al Horford and Jayson Tatum provide. Of course, much of the reason Celtics players — particularly the younger ones — are so productive is because of head coach Brad Stevens.
It has been well documented that Stevens is among the best basketball minds in the NBA, and that part of the injury-riddled Celtics’ success this postseason is thanks to Stevens.
For player-turned-analyst Steven Jackson, it is because of Stevens that the Celtics will be able to give James “a run for his money” in the ECF. Jackson explained on SportsCenter why Stevens’ awareness for the game, mixed with his knack for maximizing his players’ abilities, will give Cleveland fits in the best-of-seven series.
“I’ve been high on (Stevens) for at least two, three years now,” Jackson said on ESPN. “I just think from playing with Gregg Popovich I know how he’s changed games with calls he’s made, timeouts, and play calls out of timeouts. I think Brad is a genius, just as good as Pop.
“Going against a wounded Celtics team, it’s a good position for (James) to be in,” Jackson added. “But like I said, Brad and those young guys they will be ready to play. You’ve got to credit the success of Cleveland to Indiana (Pacers) and the Toronto Raptors. They gave LeBron time to build his game and gave his bench players enough time to get a rhythm, they got a rhythm in the last series and that’s how they were able to sweep Toronto. It’s going to be a great series, but one thing about it, these young guys play hard in Boston and I think they’re going to give LeBron a run for his money.”
You can listen to Jackson’s full comments on Stevens and the Celtics here.
Of course, no one will argue that the Celtics have quite the battle in front of them. But with Stevens at the helm, suffice to say that if nothing else, they will be more than adequately prepared.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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