Brad Stevens wants no half-hearted effort in doubling LeBron James
Brad Stevens’ coaching genius will encounter a litmus test in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.
Last time these two teams met in the playoffs, James was masterful, averaging 29.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game. The Cavs ended the Celtics’ hopes in five games.
This time around, Kyrie Irving is on the Celtics’ side and although he’s not playing, his insight into the Cavs’ scheme of things will come in handy. Apparently, Boston’s main card against Cleveland in this series won’t even see the court.
James has been on a tear so far in these playoffs. In fact, he’s having the best individual performance in the postseason throughout 13 career trips. He’s been logging in 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 block per game after two rounds.
This has made Stevens very much wary of the damage that the Celtics could take when they don’t check James properly. While the Cavs superstar has been spectacular, Boston’s bench guru has been just as splendid. Stevens is hailed as one of the best basketball minds today and he’ll have to put out his best with an NBA Finals appearance one step away.
In speaking with Jay King of The Athletic, Stevens laid out one key message that he imparted unto his players as far as strategy goes.
“He will get a three for his team unless you double perfectly.”
Stevens wants to see zero half-hearted effort from his wards. Every step, every move, and every decision must require all their heart. When the stakes are this high and the opponent is this good, nothing less can be expected if the Celtics want to come out of the East.