Brett Brown: Sixers 'Need Help to Win a Championship'

76ers center Joel Embiid defended by Celtics center Aron Baynes

And still, James tosses him around.

LeBron James has been incredible this postseason, even if words don't quite do him justice. It's still the same love, and the same respect, because you've been through so much to win that championship. "You just got to be active and trust your teammates and everybody be on the same page".

Then Irving was injured, the Philadelphia 76ers' "Process" proved successful, and the Raptors surged to 59 wins and the best record in the East. (The Celtics were 1-point favorites; they won 114-112.) A bettor who placed a $100 bet on the Celtics to win the series before it started would have won $325, given that the Celtics were +325 underdogs to win the series.

"King James" would share fourth on the all-time list by reaching his eighth consecutive NBA Finals, two shy of Bill Russell's record run from the 1960s Celtics dynasty team and trailing nine in a row by Russell's team-mates Sam Jones and Tommy Heinsohn. Most stars can't do it on their own.

It took a superhuman effort, but LeBron James has willed the patchwork Cavaliers into the NBA's Final Four. Combo guard Marcus Smart was also out at the same time and only returned to the team in Game 5 of the first round.

"A lot of people are saying, 'How can they succeed like this without Gordon Hayward?' I've heard that", James said.

James, 33, signs a one-year contract every summer to ensure he pockets as much cash as possible. But Brown also acknowledged that the team will attempt to get Simmons to reduce the flare in his shooting elbow that sees it stick out somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees to the left, an idiosyncrasy that both limits its repeatability and infects the ball with a four-o'clock-to-10-o'clock spin that plays like a pin ball in the rim.

He could have made things more hard for the 76ers by missing the second one on goal, and forcing them to go the length of the court with the clock running.

Shortly after sweeping the Toronto Raptors for the second straight postseason, numerous members of the Cleveland Cavaliers credited the Indiana Pacers for the team's growth since the first round.

But these Celtics are used to using doubt to fuel them. In the last two series, Boston was willing to largely single cover the opposing team's star and let him rack up points - Giannis Antetokounmpo then Joel Embiid - but then stay home on the shooters and the rest of the players.

Boston and Cleveland swapped Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the offseason, and neither player will be part of the series.

Morris led all Celtics who played at least 50 games this season with a 104.8 defensive rating.

"That helps", Horford said.

There are lots of ways to measure the Celtics' success over the last few years. "It's about the team, we're playing for each other".

"We look forward to the challenge", James said. However, he doesn't provide any spark on the offensive end, and the Celtics probably can't afford to give him many minutes in this series. "I think our guys have done a good job with that". Against James, that's as good an opportunity as you can ask.

"He's out there doing whatever he wants". "It's nothing against the defense".

The history between James and the Celtics is more than enough to make things interesting. We understand he's gonna make some insane plays. "But things haven't always gone our way, but these guys are really talented, they're really tough, they fit Boston, and hopefully we'll keep playing well". He tried to miss the second which would have run the clock down but it rattled in stopping time and allowing Philadelphia to try one more play.