Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Marcus Morris claims that he's the second-best defender of LeBron James

Marcus Morris claims that he's the second-best defender of LeBron James

With the 2015 first-round sweep and last year's five-game series win in the conference finals, the Cavaliers have generally had final word on the Celts' playoff hopes during the Stevens era.

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James has carried the Cavs on his back at times, averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 11 playoff games for the Cavaliers, who edged in in a seven-game first round before sweeping Eastern conference top seed Toronto in the second round.

With the Eastern Conference Finals just days away, Las Vegas is already looking towards the offseason, more specifically, the betting odds regarding where LeBron James will decide to sign once he becomes a free agent this summer.

Marcus Morris believes he is the NBA's second-best player when it comes to stopping LeBron James, ahead of the Boston Celtics' huge Eastern Conference finals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. "Obviously, he made a game-winning play last game following [Jayson Tatum's] miss".

"I do know that this is my eighth straight conference finals and I have an opportunity to play for a championship if I'm able to be successful in this conference finals, so I don't take that for granted", James said in an AP report Friday (Saturday, Manila time). The Boston Celtics are banged up and the depth has taken a hit, but they continue to find ways to win with a quality defense and a coach who is making sure his guys are ready. They will try to give as much help as they can.

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The Cavs' offensive game plan in this series will be the same as always - use screens to force switches, creating mismatches for their best players.

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"It's hard to play well when you've never been in that environment before, but once you go through it the first time it makes it easier", Smith said. "We've just got to show our energy and length". Al Horford is the third double-digit scorer and Jaylen Brown is grabbing 4.8 rebounds. And then [we] just [need] as many versatile guys out there as possible to guard LeBron and the other guys on the court.

Horford has been a leader for Boston through the 12 playoff games, averaging 17.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game - essentially doing everything for his team. "Going through something like that, going through a seven-game series and coming out on top and the way we won, I thought was really good for us".

As James has reiterated the past few months, experience is the game's best teacher.

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Celtics coach Brad Stevens also isn't the least bit bothered by Cleveland being viewed as favorites. On that night, Rodney Hood - one of the four trade-deadline additions - played just seven minutes. Against a guy like LeBron, it's the team. "Marcus is a big, strong, competitive guy, but you have to guard LeBron as a team".

Morris could be tasked with defending James more than any other Boston player, although the Celtics have hinted they will send a variety of bodies James' way.

James Harden, who in all likelihood is the league's MVP for the 2017-18 season, is poised to have a great series for Houston.

As the NBA postseason gets down to four teams, we've gained some clarity on what the offseason will look like in the basketball world.

"From our standpoint, I feel like it's been a lot of fun", he said. "We'll look at all those things ... and let you know".

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