LeBron James apparently believes too much is being made of Brad Stevens’ impact on the Boston Celtics this season.
And you know what? He’s not wrong.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will begin their Eastern Conference Finals matcup with the Celtics on Sunday afternoon. Much of the talk surrounding the series has centered around how Boston and Stevens, its cerebral head coach, will contain James, who perhaps is playing better than he ever has.
Stevens has been given enormous credit — and rightfully so — for leading the undermanned Celtics this far in the playoffs. But focusing too much on the absences of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward distracts from the truth: Stevens always has gotten the most out of what he’s had to work with, and this season is just another example.
While speaking to the media Friday afternoon, James explained why the Stevens hype has been blown out of proportion this season.
“I think they are one of the most well-coached teams in our league,” he said. “Obviously, you know what I’ve said about Brad Stevens before and his ability to get the most out of his guys, how great they are out of timeouts, late-clock situations as well, no matter who is on the floor or no matter who has played for them. He can put guys in position to succeed and get the most out of whoever has been in their lineup over the past few years, it’s not just this year.
“I think it has been a little bit overblown this year because of the names that has been out. Obviously, with Kyrie and Gordon and the injuries with those two big guys, but he has gotten the most out of everybody he has ever put in his position since he’s gotten to Boston.”
Some might look at James’ comments and immediately suggest he was insulting Stevens. But the truth is “The King” simply was making the case that Stevens has deserved this type of praise all along.
One thing James truly doesn’t agree with, however, is the narrative surrounding how the Celtics have played without Hayward.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘How can they succeed like this without Gordon Hayward?’ I’ve heard that,” James said. “He’s been out since the first quarter of Game 1, so it’s like do we even know who they would have (become)? He’s not even like been on the team. So we can talk from like potential, but he’s been out since the first quarter of Game 1 in Cleveland.
“I get it with the Kyrie thing. He was obviously a teammate of mine for three years, and I know what he’s capable of doing, but they got guys that’s damn good no matter if they are young or not, they know how to play basketball and their coach has put them in position to succeed.”
James also went on to speak about not just the history of the Celtics, but also the significance of Boston sports as a whole.
At the end of the day, the Celtics, as they’ve done all playoffs, will have to devise a gameplan that best suits the players they have available. We’ll find out what Stevens has been brewing when Game 1 tips off Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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