"I think he's probably broken Toronto". "But I do know that this is my eighth straight conference finals, and I have an opportunity to play for a championship if I'm able to be successful in this conference finals, so I don't take that for granted".
Despite the absences of Irving and Gordon Hayward, Smart believes he's also on a team more ready to handle the Cavaliers than past Celtics versions. Charles Barkley declared "their season is over" on national television. If Thompson can stay in their faces and keep Harden off the line, Houston could struggle to manufacture points - especially in the pick-and-roll, where both Harden and Paul have routinely found Clint Capela rolling to the basket this season.
Only one team has advanced to the conference finals in these National Basketball Association playoffs, and it's the same squad that looked vulnerable during a chaotic regular season, beatable in the postseason and was one loss from a possible franchise collapse.
I think they're one of the most well-coached teams in our league. I didn't see no physicality, I didn't see any of that. I didn't see any of that.
"But I mean I felt like there was something on that last play, but you can't really do anything about it".
The Cavs, looking for their fourth straight conference title behind LeBron James, never got anything out of the damaged Isaiah Thomas (hip) and wound up shipping Thomas and fellow former Celtic Jae Crowder out of town as part of a major overhaul at the trade deadline.
Win or lose, it's pretty obvious after watching the Celtics teach the 76ers a lesson that "the progress" trumps "the process". In those six wins - which include Cavaliers victories in the first round in 2015 and the conference finals in "17 - James averaged 34.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists". He and the Cavs swept IN 4-0 IN last year's playoffs which led to George leaving the team, and kicked off this postseason with a tough, 4-3 win over the rebuilt IN team, which was mostly a showing of how James can win series without any help from his teammates.
"It's about playing five guys within our system, sticking to it, and if we do that with the right intensity, then we're going to be in a good spot", Baynes said.
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"More than his game, he's a great kid", James said.
The Celtics and Cavs each needed seven games to get through the first round.
They are 7-0 at home in the playoffs.
Smart said after Wednesday's clincher against Philadelphia that he wanted to guard James in the conference finals. After all, they dropped Game 1 against IN at home, trailed 2-1 IN the series and were forced into an early elimination game. He's not even like been on the team.
Before the Celtics tested James & the Heat in 2012, the Pacers put serious pressure on them with a 2-1 lead while Chris Bosh had to leave due to injury.
"It's still fresh; it's still sore", he said. I've been through so much in my life, doesn't matter what anyone says to me. "Just trying to add onto it while I can".
Boston were the last East team to knock him off, but that was back in 2010 when the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were the Celtics' backbone.