Celtics

Bean: LeBron James, who is the best, probably won't be bad

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Bean: LeBron James, who is the best, probably won't be bad

The reaction to Game 1 was all about LeBron. People wondered why he fell silent, Stephen A. Smith had a hilarious little video and LeBron acted like a tool in his press conference. Fun stuff. 

That's the way this series is going to be. No matter what happens, it will be about LeBron because he's the best player in the world. Brad Stevens coaches up a storm? It will be about Brad Stevens coaching his way past LeBron. Jaylen Brown turns in a full series worth of performances like Game 1? Jaylen Brown outplayed LeBron. 

Some sports' best players aren't necessarily its biggest stars. That's not the case for the NBA and LeBron James. So when LeBron James is involved, you already know what the story is. 

Yet it's one thing to make it about LeBron James. It's a much different (and awfully silly) thing to make any grand statements about LeBron James after one game of the series. Most of you have probably heard that LeBron has won the last five series in which he's trailed, 1-0. All of you are aware that LeBron James is a lot better than he was Sunday.

The result of this series might not depend on LeBron. It will depend on whether LeBron has anything of value around him. He didn't on Sunday; Kevin Love was meh and the rest of Cleveland's starters totaled 31 points. The whole team was held to 35 points in the first half. They're bad defensively. It's entirely possible that this team kind of stinks. One could say LeBron is the least of the Cavaliers' concerns, but then again he's also their only hope. 

In his press conference, James belittled a reporter with a very condescending, "I don't know if you've followed my career" spiel about how he uses the first game of a series to feel out the opponent. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life, but honestly it's more believable than LeBron James only putting up 15 points a game for a whole series. 

The sad thing if you're a Celtics fan is that, perhaps even without a supporting cast, James is capable of beating a better team -- within reason -- at any time. Hell, even in that extremely un-LeBron performance, he was sniffing around a triple double (seven rebounds, nine assists).

Factor in the likelihood that James will get to the line more than six times a night and the fact that some of these games will be in Cleveland and you're left with the conclusion that Game 1 ruled, but it will be an outlier. Maybe it won't be an outlier based on the fact that the Celtics outplayed the Cavs, but it will be based on LeBron not being much of a factor. 

Now, can we read into how the other Cavaliers played? Sure. It's totally within reason that Kevin Love will be just OK, as he was Sunday. He played like that in the first round, when the Pacers nearly eliminated the Cavs. He was really good the next round, but it's harder and harder with each passing day to put any stock in something that involved the Raptors. 

The Cavaliers have been a team in flux nearly all season, from the injuries and struggles early on to the deadline day team swap. Yet the one constant is LeBron James. He's the best player in the world. We know that he'll be better, way better even. What we don't know is whether that will be enough. 

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The Celtics are going to beat teams however they want

The Celtics are going to beat teams however they want

If you were to tell me before Tuesday night that the Celtics would get barely anything out of Kyrie Irving and still smoke the 76ers, I'd have been like, "well, yeah."

Then I'd have asked you if you watched the playoffs last season, when they beat the 76ers in five games without Kyrie Irving. 

Then I'd have pointed out that they could have smoked the 76ers even if a couple of their other stars didn't have big offensive nights. I probably would have said the Celtics could get seven points from Kyrie, nine from Al Horford and 10 from Gordon Hayward and still win by 18. I would have called it exactly because I'm a brilliant man. 

I would say they'd do it because one of their other stars would go off and at least a couple guys off the bench would have big nights. And because they'd probably still keep the 76ers under 100 points, as they did in three of four regular-season meetings last season. 

MORE CELTICS OPENING NIGHT COVERAGE

Tuesday's season opener illustrated a lot of things: that the C's and 76ers are rivals the same way the last two people at the bar are in love, that Jaylen Brown is the most photogenic dunker in the league and that Ben Simmons is still allergic to shooting. 

Yet the biggest and most important thing is that the Celtics are indeed deep enough to have different players carry them at different times -- even as players go quiet for a game or two at a time -- and still win games. They'll do it to the mediocre teams in the East, and they'll probably do it to the better teams in the West. Only when they presumably meet the Warriors in the NBA Finals -- and a lot can happen between now and then -- will they actually live and die by all of their players showing out. 

We can talk about that in June, though. For now, let's talk about how Jayson Tatum's 23-point, nine-rebound night probably wasn't an anomaly, and how games like that will afford the Celtics the luxury of bringing along Hayward at whichever pace they'd like. 

Or we can talk about how even with Irving having a dreadful shooting night (8-for-14; 1-for-8 on threes), everyone knows better than to worry about it. Even the most cynical of media figures couldn't fear it being a common occurrence, with it far more likely that Irving will do his normal routine of scoring early, getting everyone involved after and gong for the jugular if needed in the second half. 

Brown made a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2; Tuesday he had a modest performance that was punctuated by a dunk through (?) Joel Embiid. He'll have his nights. So will Al Horford. And the now RFA-to-be Terry Rozier, who had 11 off the bench, as well as Marcus Morris (16 points). 

The list goes on, and with the Celtics depth brings lineup options beyond the obvious starting five of Iriving-Brown-Hayward-Tatum-Horford. Brad Stevens doesn't need the best players in a given matchup to exploit the opposition, but now he has them. 

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Highlights: Tatum leads Celtics past 76ers in season opener

Highlights: Tatum leads Celtics past 76ers in season opener

Highlights from the Celtics 105-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in their first game of the 2018-19 NBA season.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE