Celtics

Blakely: Change of venue won’t keep LeBron on throne

Blakely: Change of venue won’t keep LeBron on throne

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?

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.

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.

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Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Those pesky Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around even before Yahoo's Chris Mannix mentioned the Celtics were "scared" of Kyrie Irving heading there next summer. They picked up steam this week with another report of The Big Apple as a destination for Irving and Jimmy Butler to join forces.

Now, ESPN's NBA Forecast Panel gives the Knicks a slight edge over the Celtics to land Irving, 46.9 percent to  43.8 percent.

Here's part of the panel's explanation on ESPN's "The Jump": 

It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season. 

There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance. 

Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston). 

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Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge was busy on Twitter late last night poking a little fun at a couple of his players.

Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, wondered where the defense was in a video of "Scary" Terry Rozier playing in a pickup game with Wizards guard John Wall and other NBAers. 

A little good-natured payback for Rozier's FaceTime interruption of Ainge's drafting of Robert Williams back in June?

A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.

Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills. 

So, Celtics players, post those Twitter videos at your own risk because the boss is watching.

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