BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are looking like a much different team now that they have their starting five intact, and have a great measuring stick game Thursday night as they pay a visit to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens joined Hardy and Dan Shaughnessy (filling in for Zolak & Bertrand) on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday to look ahead to their showdown with the Cavs. He said what makes Cleveland so tough to play against (you know, besides that LeBron guy) is the number of guys on their roster that can hurt you from anywhere on the floor.
“First of all, they do so many things well that you almost have to pick your spots. Cleveland has done a really good job of putting guys around him that can shoot it and score the basketball and space the floor with him on the court. I’m not even including the unreal talent of Kyrie Irving, who is as good with the ball and scoring as anybody, and Kevin Love, who is having his best year that I have seen in a Cleveland uniform,” he said. “They spread you out so much, and then you’re so consumed with all their shooters on the court, and oh by the way, they have one of the most physical, one of the most athletic drivers in the league barreling down at you.
“We played them and learned a lot about playing them a couple of years ago,” Stevens said of Boston’s first-round playoff loss to the Cavs in 2014. “It goes without saying, if you don’t limit their transition and limit their rebounding, you don’t stand a chance. It starts with those two things, and that’s really the beginning and the end of the possession. In the middle, you have to make it as tough as possible and make them take shots going through you with contest. It’s all easier said than done because of all the attention a player of that caliber needs.”
The Celtics have won six of their last seven, and sit at 19-13 on the season. Their record is good for third in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland and the Toronto Raptors, but while Stevens has been pleased with his team’s play over the last two weeks, he said it’s not good enough.
“I think we have to get a lot better. That is a daily process and I do think we’re on a good path. I’m pleased with a lot of the results, and obviously the last couple of weeks. But we have to get a lot better,” he said. “As you continue to look and watch around the league there is not a lot of separation, especially in the East, between all of us vying for playoff spots and playoff positioning. There is no time for anything but to focus forward and make sure we continue to improve.”
Stevens also touched on Boston’s improved rebounding and how he juggles minutes for players off the bench. Listen to the full interview below: