With the Cavs closing out the Raptors in four, seemingly gelling as a team & as an offense, why should the Cavs be worried about their looming matchup from the bottom half of the bracket? The Celtics playing without Gordon Hayward for the year and losing Kyrie right before the playoffs are benefiting from spectacular play from their “rookies” Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown. This play is rightfully attributed to arguably the new best coach in the league, Brad Stevens.
But for those who fail to realize Brad Stevens and his former slew of “star players,” now underwhelmingly filling roles elsewhere in the league because they are now not benefiting from his system, were themselves dismantled by LeBron and co. in just five games last postseason. That Celtics team had a 50-point game playoff scorer in Isaiah Thomas averaging near 30 ppg and a pair of lockdown defending knockdown shooters in Jae Crowder & Avery Bradley. All of these players have since left the team and the Brad Stevens system to go on to underperform in their new landing locations. This leaves the Celtics with an issue, is Jayson Tatum and co. experienced enough to carry their team past the reigning King of the Eastern Conference? If the Brad Stevens system failed miserably last season, even needing a three-pointer bouncing in off the rim to avoid the four-game sweep, why should the results be any different?
The only players proven to be the killers away from the Brad Stevens system, namely Kyrie and Hayward, will not be suiting up for the series. To even have a chance to take down King James you absolutely need those cold-blooded killers.
To emphasize this point, look to the Toronto series. The Raptors as a team played well but they didn’t have anyone, even a single player, that could deal the final blow to the Cavs. Toronto missed 14 straight shots in the 4th quarter of Game 1 to lose in OT and Demar Derozan forced to the bench in Game 3 with only eight points not to even see the floor in the 4th quarter. It’s examples like these that show the greatness and value of the greatest finishers in our league.
Last year showed that Brad Stevens system alone isn’t enough to beat LeBron James and the Cavs. Did I mention that it was not enough even with the homecourt advantage they also had that year? They need those cold-blooded players to take down the King. They simply do not have them. Jayson Tatum is a special player, but even if he is the transcendent talent, he has shown himself to be thus far, his play alone will not be enough. The Cavs have come together at the right time as all championship teams do. They are led by the best player in the league, arguably even the best in history. Simply though, that isn’t even really the leading indicator.
Ultimately, when you have King James on the other side trying to finish your team, you better have more than one killer because you do not have a LeBron James.