CLEVELAND – You can add me to the list of folks who absolutely hates the King James references when it comes to LeBron.
That said, there’s no way you can look at his body of work and not acknowledge his greatness and, with that, respect that he is truly NBA royalty.
So, the idea of knocking one of the greatest players ever out of the postseason is one that the Celtics are doing more than just pondering…They’re actually doing it.
And the journey to such an unprecedented achievement involves doing some unprecedented things.
We saw LeBron James at his best in Game 2, hammering the Celtics to the tune of 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists – the kind of numbers that most nights equate to a Cavs victory.
Not only did Cleveland not win, but the Celtics won going away to post their second double-digit victory of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Think about it and let this marinate for a second.
LeBron James delivered one of his best statistical playoff performances ever, checked off damn near every box on the LeBron “to-win list” and the result wasn’t just a loss, but a loss by double figures to a team that’s without its top two players.
Conventional wisdom tells us that now that the series shifts to Cleveland, the Cavaliers will be better and they will start playing great defense, which I’m hearing is now called “gooning up the game!”
Cleveland’s backcourt of J.R. Smith and George Hill will emerge and show that they can do more than just step on the floor but actually be semi-productive.
After all, conventional wisdom and history tell us that James & Co. will win Games 3 and 4, right?
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When down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference playoffs, James is a perfect 6-0.
The Celtics may not be aware of that particular stat, but they know James, the Cavs and playoff basketball well enough to know that a Game 3 or 4 win on the road won’t be easy.
The home team in this postseason is 49-19, a winning percentage of .721.
Nothing about this series, or this season for that matter, has been easy for the Celtics.
Which is why the raucous Quicken Loans Arena crowd - one of the better ones in the NBA - won’t rattle the Celtics.
They have been through too much, experienced far worse this season than anything the Cavaliers faithful can hurl their way.
Which is why this series is closer to being over than any of us envisioned.
The Cavs are going to play better, just like they played better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1.
Still, the Celtics are on what so many believed was a basketball suicide mission – to get to the NBA Finals – that they would never live long enough in the postseason to ever see come to fruition.
“Maybe next year” was an all-too-common sentiment from their fans, an intelligent bunch that logically reasoned a team void of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward would be hard-pressed to win a series let alone a couple more after that and get to the NBA Finals.
And yet here are the Celtics, making so many of us look like fools because they saw what no one else did – talent, toughness and a never-say-never will to win regardless of the circumstances.
No matter how this season plays out, this team will be remembered as the one that repackaged Celtic Pride in a way no Brad Stevens-coached team has done in the past.
And that pride has a Teflon-toughness about it that has been bent, twisted and contorted time and time again.
But it won’t break.
It can’t break.
And that’s why location, history, healthy players … none of that is going to matter.
This series is about more than having a will to win, but a will to not lose.
These Celtics have proven themselves time and time again that they are in fact that team.
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And as much as I hate the King James references, it’s clear that this series is trending towards James being dethroned from atop the Eastern Conference mountain at the hand – make that hands because nothing this Celtics team does is done alone – of a team that will not be forgotten about anytime soon.