BOSTON (CBS) – The Celtics will begin their first playoff series under Coach Brad Stevens this weekend, and it comes against a familiar foe.
When the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers start their series on Sunday, it will be the fifth time LeBron James has met Boston in the postseason. Through 25 playoff games, James has averaged 28.1 points and 8.8 rebounds, going 2-2 overall against Boston.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane as we get ready for Sunday’s Game 1:
2007-08 Eastern Conference Semifinals
After it took The Big Three seven games to dispatch the Atlanta Hawks in their first playoff series together, they needed seven more games to eliminate James and the Cavaliers.
LeBron averaged 26.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game in the series, which was capped off with his epic battle with Paul Pierce in Game 7 at the TD Garden.
LeBron dropped 45 points, but Pierce scored 41, P.J. Brown pulled down some big rebounds and make a key bucket in the final minutes, and the Celtics were moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 97-92 victory.
2009-10 Eastern Conference Semifinals
LeBron’s first stint with the Cavaliers ended in 2010 when the Celtics once again ended their season in Eastern Conference Semis, this time in six games.
The Cavaliers were the title favorites, with James collecting his second regular season MVP heading into the playoffs. He was a force in Games 1 and 3, scoring 35 and 38 points, respectively, to lead Cleveland to a 2-1 series lead.
But some off-court drama seemed to distract him as the series drew to a close (you may remember some interesting rumors surrounding his Cavaliers teammate Delonte West and his mother). The Celtics the Cavs 120-88 in Game 5, and closed things out in Game 6 in Cleveland. LeBron dropped 29 points and corralled 19 rebounds, but coughed up nine turnovers and seemed to throw in the towel a little early.
2010-11 Eastern Conference Semifinals
One year, and a new team, later, LeBron finally beat the Celtics in the playoffs.
The Celtics and James, now a member of the Miami Heat, met again in the conference semis, and Miami made quick work of the C’s. Miami advanced in five games, with LeBron averaging 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per contest.
However, he would have to wait for his first NBA title, with the Dallas Mavericks beating the Heat in six games in the NBA Finals.
2011-12 Eastern Conference Finals
An aging Celtics roster made an unprecedented run to the East Finals in 2011-12, and nearly went to their third NBA Finals of the Big Three’s run.
After dropping the first two games in Miami, with LeBron scoring 66 points for the Heat, Boston rattled off three straight wins and were hosting Game 6 in Boston with a chance to go to the Finals.
But King James was never a truer nickname, as LeBron scored 45 points off 19-for-26, holding off elimination and setting up a deciding Game 7 in Miami. The Celtics had a lead at halftime, and the game was tied after three quarters, but Miami outscored Boston 28-15 in the final frame and took the series with a 101-88 win. Just scored 31 in the deciding game, and averaged 33.6 points per game in the series.
Throughout all the ups and downs LeBron has had against the Celtics in the playoffs, the drama level has been consistent. Although most of this current Celtics roster is much different from the Big Three Era under Doc Rivers, Celtics fans have not forgotten this rivalry – and neither has LeBron.
The Celtics know they have a tough task in front of them, but for a team who won six straight and eight of their last 10 to close the regular season, they could be pesky out to start LeBron’s second homecoming.
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