Over the course of his legendary NBA career, there is no team LeBron James has had a longer and more treasured history with then the Boston Celtics. He’s played them in the playoffs 7 times going 5-2 in those series and tonight he adds the most legendary rivalry in the NBA to that history as he plays the Boston Celtics for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and he will stare across the court at his former teammate Kyrie Irving in green & white.
In the early part of his Cavs career, the Celtics were the team he couldn’t get by. In the 2007-08 season when James won his first scoring title, his Cleveland Cavaliers team faced the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs. The series turned into an epic battle going seven games, and in that 7th game, James and Paul Pierce kicked started what turned into one of the greatest player vs player rivalries in NBA History with an epic back and forth duel in that ended with James having 45 points and Pierce with 41. Former Celtic Eddie House a member of that Celtics team said “at some point, it felt like everybody else disappeared from the court and it was James and Pierce playing one on one making shot after shot” the game ended in a Celtics victory clinched when Pierce stole a jump ball from LeBron after the Cavs, Zydrunas Ilgauskas won the tip from the Celtics James Posey. The Celtics went onto win the NBA Championship that year.
Two years later, the Cavs and Celtics met in the second round again without much hype around the series as many expected the Cavs to win easily, as it appeared the Celtics time had come and gone. The Celtics stunned the world when they won Game Two in Cleveland, the Cavs responded with a blowout win in Game Three back in Boston. The Celtics bored down from there winning three in a row to win the series including dismantling the Cavs in Game Five in Cleveland where the Cavs fans booed the team off the floor in LeBron’s last game in Cleveland the first time. The Celtics went on to lose in the NBA Finals and LeBron left the Cavs for Miami that summer
The next year LeBron now a member of the Miami Heat teamed up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh… things changed this team the Celtics and Heat met in the second round and it was completely one-sided as Miami won in five games. Is there any other way to have it? The Celtics and Heat met again in the playoff the next year this time in the Conference Final. Despite a Game-Two 44 point gem from Rajon Rondo the Celtics fell behind 0-2 in the series. Then, all of a sudden the series swung the Celtics ripped off three straight including Game Five in Miami and the Celtics were one win away from knocking LeBron out of the playoffs again and preventing him from winning his first Championship. Game Six back in Boston something was different in LeBron’s eye that night you could see it the moment he got off the bus at TD Garden. That night with everybody in the building ready to send LeBron home again and send the Celtics off to the Finals, LeBron had different plans. He dropped 45 points, to go along with 15 rebounds and 8 assists sending the series back to Miami for Game 7 that Miami won and the Heat and James went onto win the Championship. Then that summer gas was poured on the LeBron vs the Celtics rivalry when Celtic Ray Allen, joined the King and the Heat in free agency a move that some members of that Celtics team still hold against him to this day
Three years later, LeBron was back in Cleveland teamed up with a young star named Kyrie Irving and double-double machine Kevin Love. The Celtics team of the past was long gone nobody Lebron played in that 2012 Conference Final was still on the Celtics roster. The Celtics were led by young head coach Brad Stevens and players like Isaiah Thomas, and Avery Bradley predictably the series was quick the Cavs won in four games with game three being the only one decided by less than 10 points. The Celtics did leave a mark on the Cavs though as in the deciding game the Celtics Kelly Olynyk ended Love’s season by tearing his labrum. Two years later, the Celtics clawed their way to the Conference Final where LeBron, Irving, Love, and the defending NBA Champion Cavs were waiting despite the Celtics having home court, the Cavs demolished Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics in the first two games. A buzzer beater by Bradley in Game Three gave the Celtics their lone win of the series, two nights later in Game Four the Celtics led at halftime but Irving had a bowl of Wheaties in the locker room as he dropped 35 points in the 2nd half alone at one point scoring 18 straight Cavalier points to lead them to the win. Back in Boston for Game Five, the Cavs easily handled the Celtics and were off to their 3rd straight Finals.
That summer the Celtics and Cavs pulled off an NBA Blockbuster swapping their All-Star Point Guards Irving and Thomas after Irving asked out of Cleveland knowing of LeBron’s impending departure. All the potential storylines went by the wayside as Thomas and Jae Crowder who went to Cleveland with Thomas were traded at the deadline and Irving suffered a season-ending injury in March. However, as faith would have it, the Celtics and Cavs fought back to the Conference Final again. The home team won the first six games setting up another Game Seven on the day before Memorial Day in 2018. James, without Love, got help from Jeff Green and the Cavs squeaked out the win to go to their 4th straight Finals.
Now LeBron James vs. the Celtics added it’s latest and perhaps most exciting chapter and it all starts tonight.