LeBron James is one day away from his 10th consecutive postseason appearance Sunday afternoon against his rival Boston Celtics. He’s got 158 playoff games under his belt compared to the 141 games for the entire Celtics roster.
Cavs head coach David Blatt predicts that James will lead the way for his teammates, as most of their core guys haven’t won a playoff series, and the two biggest teammates will make their playoff appearance.
Although Kyrie Irving has won the FIBA World Cup of Basketball tournament MVP last summer while college greshman Kevin Love has reached the Final Four with his UCLA teammates, the NBA playoffs are just a different overall experience.
“I think that mentally and emotionally he’ll lead the way,” said Blatt regarding the experienced James. “And certainly on the court his example is going to be felt and it’s going to be followed. But this all can’t be on LeBron. This is a team and a team effort and everyone here has to do his part. The good news is he’s a guy that’s done it, been there and led teams to the ultimate. He’s certainly a guy that the other guys can look towards.”
Even Blatt has coached in big games back with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, but all of those were single game matchups to advance or be eliminated.
Irving talked about the importance of this Sunday’s game after practicing Friday:
“This probably will be the biggest game I’ve played in,” Irving said regarding Sunday’s opener. “I played for my country. But the preparation that goes into this and just the attention, everyone is watching, and the elite 16-team group, all the hard work has come to fruition and now we lay it out on the line to get four wins in a playoff series.”
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Irving said LeBron’s message was simply to stay prepared. Teammate Brendan Haywood, who many have forgotten won an NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, also gave his advice to Thompson regarding the playoffs:
“Don’t Change Your Game. Some guys get into the bright lights and they want to do more of what they’re capable of doing.
“-Study your opponents
-Study their strengths and weaknesses
-Pay attention in the shootaround, make sure you know team’s sets. Know where they want to go with the ball when they make certain calls.
“In the playoffs one play, one decision can be the difference between winnign and losing, and he has to know the importance of it.”
We’ll see how far the Cavs can go, and it all starts with their play come Sunday, where the Cavs can focus all of their attention and schemes to one team: the Boston Celtics.
“There will be no overlooking Boston, no matter what the records are,” James said. “Everyone’s 0-0 when you get to this point, so our whole game plan right now is giving ourselves a chance to win the game.”