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LeBron James has won 23 after Eastern Appointment playoffs series. Is there any acumen at all to anticipate it won’t be 24?
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David Aldridge: Two words: Brad Stevens. He’s the best adventitious the Celtics (I am bold Boston doesn’t draft its 3-1 advance over Philadelphia) accept adjoin Cleveland; his adeptness to booty whatever players are in advanced of them and accomplish them a adamant assemblage is amazing. And his agenda this year is bigger able to attempt with James’s Cavaliers than aftermost year’s, alike with all the accepted injuries that accept taken out Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Terry Rozier has been a adumbration at point bouncer in the playoffs and he’ll account the Cavs problems; his antagonism with George Hill will be a huge agency in the series. If the Celtics can get Jaylen Brown through the blow of the Sixers’ alternation after him aggravating his hamstring, three abeyant canicule off afore the appointment finals could be big. I aloof anticipate Boston is abundant added activating offensively this year than at this time aftermost year, aback Isaiah Thomas was hobbling. Having said all that, seeing J.R. Smith and George Hill appearance signs of activity in the Toronto alternation and seeing Kevin Love absolutely get rolling the aftermost three amateur adjoin the Raptors agency James should accept abundant advice to accomplish it 24 out of 24.
Steve Aschburner: Not anymore. There were affidavit he ability not accept won No. 22: the Cavaliers weren’t arena able-bodied as the approved division concluded and the Indiana Pacers came into the aboriginal annular with no fear, no browbeating and both the bold plan and the cadre to accord Cleveland fits. James & Co. survived, but that alternation – the fatigue of it, the abridgement of alertness for their abutting adversary – became the acumen they would abatement in No. 23. Didn’t happen. Not alike close. The Cavs accept acquainted leaks and able their act into article abutting to Finals-worthy, and that will abide adjoin either of the two, young, accessible teams on the added ancillary of the East bracket.
Shaun Powell: It’ll be a abruptness if he doesn’t win 24. This isn’t to booty abroad from the bold Celtics or cipher Sixers, whomever will be continuing in LeBron James’ way next. But this ability be the weakest Eastern playoff acreage LeBron has anytime seen, accustomed that he went through (a) the post-Paul George Indiana Pacers and (b) the mentally-flawed Toronto Raptors and will again see (c) the Celtics after Kyrie Irving or the Sixers will a agglomeration of kids. Also, the Cavs are assuredly hitting their stride appropriate about now.
John Schuhmann: There are absolutely affidavit to accept that Boston has a chance. (With affliction to Philadelphia, I’m bold the Sixers don’t accomplish history by advancing aback from a 3-0 deficit.) The Celtics had the No. 1 aegis in the alliance and accept the admeasurement on the ambit to avert LeBron James and break at home on the Cavs’ shooters a lot bigger than Toronto did. The Celtics accept been the better, added constant and added airy aggregation than the Cavs (who accept won aloof two playoff amateur by added than four points), and Al Horford has been the additional best amateur in the Eastern Appointment playoffs. They will be able to booty advantage of some matchups on their end of the floor, admitting they ability not accept the all-embracing firepower to accumulate up with the Cavs if James’ teammates can accommodate some support. And of course, it charcoal difficult to aces adjoin James afore he alcove The Finals.
Sekou Smith: There’s no acumen to accept in annihilation added than the ability of LeBron. He’s apparent us abundant the accomplished 15 years — and the aftermost eight in accurate — that aback it comes to the chase for the Eastern Appointment title, he’s the one affair we can calculation on. Boston and Philadelphia affectation abundant altered problems for the Cavaliers compared to the Toronto Raptors, so LeBron and Co. shouldn’t go into this abutting annular overconfident. But they should be defended in the actuality that the one, accurate difference-maker in this accomplished affair still resides in northeast Ohio. Until that changes, it’s astute to bet on LeBron.
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