Celtics embracing underdog role against LeBron, Cavaliers

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Horford is averaging career playoff-high 17 points per game, while carrying the leadership torch.

"It's very hard. I feel like these playoffs have been great for our group, because the first round was tough with Giannis, a guy that attacks and you always have to be aware of him, and then (Joel) Embiid and Simmons, and now LeBron", Al Horford said after practice yesterday. But even if LeBron is Super Macho Man to the West's Mike Tyson, he still presents a formidable challenge. "We lean on him a lot". In that series, LeBron James averaged 29.6 points per game as Cleveland bounced Boston from the playoffs with four blowout victories in five games. Obviously, you know what I've said about Brad Stevens before and his ability to get the most out of his guys, how great they are out of timeouts, late-clock situations as well no matter who is on the floor or no matter who has played for them, he can put guys in position to succeed and get the most out of whoever has been in their lineup over the past few years, it's not just this year.

"He's out there doing whatever he wants. There's only so much you can do".

"That's one of the things [Celtics GM/president of basketball operations Danny Ainge] said when I first got here, that I was one of the guys they felt as though could guard LeBron", said Morris. He's not gonna make every insane play every time down. There's been a lot that's happened throughout the season with us and for them.

It's not going to be just one guy, and it can't be just one look with LeBron. "Those past experiences are in the past, and it's a new year, a new team, feels different, looks different, and we're going out there to make the outcome different".

The Boston Celtics - without Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving - have banded together and advanced through the playoffs. S--, I think IN did a great job against Cleveland IN that [first-round] series.

"Big time. He's around", said Rozier. "I think he's probably broken Toronto, if that's what you were referring to". But it's just one of those things that's gonna bother me for a little bit. All year, you fight to be No. 1 for that homecourt advantage, and you kind of use that to your advantage.

Rozier has flourished in a starting role since Irving was sidelined in mid-March.

Morris ranked 78th out of 90 power forwards in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus and 75th among all forwards in defensive win shares this season, per NBA.com.

Stevens, however, has said while Morris is successful when it comes to defending against the Cavaliers star, his whole team must guard against him in order to make sure he doesn't play a huge impact on the game. During the regular season, only Jaylen Brown logged more matchups (56) than Morris (55) against James, according to Second Spectrum data. They have a great game plan. I think both teams will be doing a lot of switching on defense due to their players' versatility. That series helped establish Leonard as one of the NBA's best perimeter defender and the only player that is really seen as someone that can handle James 1-on-1.

As far as Brown is concerned, he's moved beyond the minutes restriction that was in place to help recover from a strained right hamstring. He is an elite rim protector and is more agile than one would think.

I would expect Mbah A Moute to get a lot of playing time off the bench against Kevin Durant as well. "I'm the youngest out of everybody except those guys", he said. Can Marcus Smart hit on more than 32 percent of his shot attempts, as he did last May?