A banner hasn’t been hoisted to Boston’s rafters since 2008. LeBron James won’t let go of the rope.
Cleveland’s star has bounced the Celtics from the playoffs four times in the last seven years, and James carries a six-game postseason winning streak at Boston into this year’s Eastern Conference finals, which open Sunday at TD Garden.
And if he beats the Celtics again to reach his eighth straight NBA Finals, James joins a club of Boston legends. Only Bill Russell (10), Sam Jones (9), Tommy Heinsohn (9) and Frank Ramsey (8) have played in more consecutive Finals.
After a 2-9 start to his playoff career in Boston, James has won six straight, a streak that began with a 45-point, 15-rebound Game 6 for Miami in the 2012 conference finals. Since then he’s 8-1 against the Celtics with a sweep in 2015 and a five-game dusting last year in the conference finals.
But following a February roster purge, the Cavaliers were left with only five players from last year’s team.
The one constant has been James, whose 34.3 scoring average in these playoffs is his highest since the 2009 postseason.
James has scored 979 points in 34 playoff games against the Celtics, the most by one player against a single team. And in his last six games on Boston’s parquet, he’s averaging 34.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
“Physically, he is more superior than any guy that is on the floor,” Boston’s Jaylen Brown said.
The Celtics agree it’ll take a team effort, but Marcus Morris said he’s their stopper.
“I’m probably the best guy defending him in the league, outside of Kawhi [Leonard],” Morris said.
George Hill, Cleveland’s point guard, missed practice as he got his degree from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.