Celtics

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

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File Photo

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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Aron Baynes available to return for Celtics vs. Raptors, Brad Stevens says

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Aron Baynes available to return for Celtics vs. Raptors, Brad Stevens says

BOSTON -- Aron Baynes will be back in the Boston Celtics lineup at some point tonight as they take on the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

How much will Baynes play remains a mystery, even to head coach Brad Stevens. 

“He’s going to be available tonight,” Stevens said on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak and Bertrand" show. “I don’t know if spot minutes; I don’t know if I’m going to get to the TD Garden and there’s going to be a minutes restriction on him. But I think that we’ll see Aron at some point tonight (on the floor) which is good.”

Baynes has missed the last 13 games for the Celtics with a left fourth metacarpal fracture. 

While the Celtics center averages 14 minutes per game, his impact when not in the lineup has been felt in several games. 

A year ago, Baynes had the best defensive rating in the NBA (96.6).

New season, same old Baynes. 

Having appeared in 25 games this season, Baynes’ defensive rating of 97.3 is also tops in the NBA among players who have appeared in as many games while playing at least 14 minutes per outing. 

In addition to his defense, Baynes has also averaged 5.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while connecting on 45.2 percent of his shots from the field and 32.4 percent of his 3-point attempts. 

Stevens is eager to get Baynes back on the floor, if for no other reason than it’ll stop him from pestering the coaching staff and medical staff about returning to action. 

“Glad to have him back. He’s getting a little restless,” Stevens said. “You guys would love him. He’s a loud, fun, vibrant, always brings the life to the party kind of guy. But when he’s out for a couple of weeks, he’s wearing on everybody because he wants to play so bad. He’s asking every minute of everyday, can he get checked up on again? Can he be in the game? It’s a good kind of wear. We can’t wait to have him back, that’s for sure.”

In addition to Baynes, the Celtics will also have Kyrie Irving (right quadriceps) and Marcus Smart (illness) back in the fold after both were out for Boston’s 109-102 loss at Brooklyn on Monday. 

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