Celtics

As series progresses, LeBron's getting tired of Celtics

As series progresses, LeBron's getting tired of Celtics

BOSTON -- One of the reasons the Celtics came into this series against Cleveland more confident than most teams was due to their depth at the wing position.
 
Boston has played a solid eight-man rotation in this series, and all but 6-foot-2 Terry Rozier has the size, length and athleticism to at least slow down LeBron James from time to time.
 
The plan from the very beginning was to wear down the perennial All-Star, something both sides acknowledged played a role in Boston's 96-83 Game 5 win.

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James had a strong double-double of 26 points on 11-for-22 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and 5 assists. But he couldn't muster up enough in the fourth quarter to take over and dominate play, scoring just two points in the fourth while missing three of his four shot attempts.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was asked whether James looked tired.
 
"He looked a little tired to me, yes," Lue said.


 
 Boston's Marcus Morris reiterated Lue's sentiments about James.

"Yeah. I seen it," said Morris when asked if he saw James tiring as the game wore on. "We threw a lot of different bodies at him. He has to do a lot for that team. Everybody knows these games are coming pretty quick; games are coming fast."

Morris added, "At the end of the day . . . I'm tired. Everybody else is tired. You still gotta play. I would think he would get a little tired."
 
James, playing in his 15th NBA season, played all 82 regular-season games and led the NBA in minutes played (36.9) per game. Among teams still in the postseason, James is averaging a league-high 40.6 minutes per game in the playoffs.
 
Throw in the fact that he nearly always plays until mid-June -- he's been to the NBA Finals each of the last seven seasons -- and it stands to reason that at some point, fatigue would become a factor.
 
And the Celtics, to their credit, have not made it easy on him. We have seen James defend Boston's perimeter 1-2 punch of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, a pair of young, athletic wing players who have been aggressive going at James and his teammates.


 
One of the best conditioned athletes in the NBA, James acknowledged that there were moments in Game 5 when fatigue became an issue for him.
 
"I had my moments," he said. "But I think everybody at this point is tired or worn down or whatever the case may be."
 
That said, his stat line speaks to how James was still a dominant force for the Cavs.
 
"Still trying to make plays to help our team win," James said. "Put us in position to win. We had moments. We had an opportunity, but we didn't make enough plays."
 
The key for James is recovery time, something he and the rest of the players in this series haven't had much of lately.

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After the three-day gap between Games 2 and 3, each of the remaining games in this series have been, and will be, played every other day -- something that probably benefits the younger Celtics more than James and the older Cavs.
 
But at this point in the season, while all acknowledge that having some level of fatigue is just a reality of where this series is now, no one's using it as an excuse. And certainly not James.
 
"I'm fine," he said. "I'm fine."
 

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Cedric Maxwell 'absolutely loved' seeing Celtics players step up, lead call for change

Cedric Maxwell 'absolutely loved' seeing Celtics players step up, lead call for change

Several Boston Celtics players have been leaders in calling for change and participating in peaceful protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis last week.

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to his home state of Georgia to lead a peaceful protest in Atlanta. Celtics centers Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier, as well as guard Marcus Smart also took part in peaceful protests Sunday in Boston.

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Cedric Maxwell played for the Celtics from 1977-78 through 1984-85, and he's spent most of the last two decades as a radio analyst for the team. He's very happy that these Celtics players are stepping up in this crucial moment.

"I absolutely loved it. It was fascinating to see," Maxwell said on "Arbella Early Edition" on Tuesday night. "Jaylen Brown -- I love what he did, to drive down 15 hours going to Atlanta. The only thing that disappointed me about Jaylen Brown was the fact that he did not have a mask on. If you're going to lead, you've got to lead on every aspect.

"I have just marveled at that, the fact that you have our players, like my family, my kids, are doing something that's so positive that they don't have to do. And they're showing the fact that they're connected to this community. That to me, is just -- that's what it is supposed to be about. Players during my era, we weren't connected like that. Now that these guys live in a city, they live and breathe and do the same things the city does."

NBC Sports Boston Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely isn't only impressed with the players doing their part to bring about change, he's encouraged by the message from coaches like Brad Stevens on how they can play their own role in fighting racial injustice.

"The thing that jumps out to me about the Celtics isn't so much the players who are stepping up, but those around them, the Brad Stevens' of the world," Blakely said. "On his call with reporters earlier today, the one thing he talked about that really kind of resonated with me were the conversations that he was having with other white coaches in the NBA. He talked about how they can't just have empathy for players -- the black players and black coaches and the assistants.

They have to be part of what drives change throughout this time. I thought that was really important for him to acknowledge that, that they can't just be on the sidelines saying, 'We feel so bad for you guys, we're so sorry.' No, you have to be part of the process that brings about change, and I think the simple acknowledgement of that being their role, that to me is the beginning of things turning around.

"When you look back at the Civil Rights movement back in the 1950s and 1960s, as much as Dr. Martin Luther King was at the forefront of that, there were a lot of white people who helped elevate that platform to another level. I think if we're going to get the kind of systemic change that we're talking about, that has to happen among the NBA family as well." 

Brad Stevens, NBA coaches have 'power and platform to affect change and will use it'

Brad Stevens, NBA coaches have 'power and platform to affect change and will use it'

NBA players have been the most outspoken group of professional athletes when it comes to raising awareness following the killing of George Floyd by ex-police officer Derek Chauvin last week.

Their voices and their platforms — while helpful — won’t be enough. 

They need allies and the league’s head coaches are ready to do their part in bringing about systemic change. The National Basketball Coaches Association has formed a committee on racial injustice and reform.

“We have the power and platform to affect change, and we will use it,” the group said via statement. 

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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said all 30 NBA coaches were on a call recently.

“One thing that I heard from a number of coaches, as white coaches we have a lot of responsibility here,” Stevens said. 

Like the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, bringing about the kind of wide-ranging, systemic change that so many are now championing can’t be done by one person or one group. 

“We may not be able to know the depth of the pain of colleagues that are black or players that are black, our assistants that are black, but we have a responsibility to not only be empathetic but also help drive change,” Stevens said. “You saw in the coaches association statement; you saw in the Celtics statement. We have all been in these conversations before. And you’re moved to drive change and sometimes actionable steps lead to what you think is progress but this sure doesn’t look like progress."

Stevens added, “What we need to do is play our part and make sure we’re part of long-term, sustainable change.”