“I don’t think Boston fans need any more pumping up,” James said Wednesday morning at the Cavs’ shootaround ahead of Game 1 on Wednesday night. “They’re born with ‘pump,’ if that makes any sense.”
While James’ statement might leave some scratching their heads, he has been just as hard for the Celtics’ defense to figure out over the years. This will be James’ sixth career playoff series against Boston — the most he’s played against any opponent — and he’s excelled against the guys in green, averaging 29 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks in 29 postseason games against them.
The last time the Celtics reached the conference finals (in 2012), they lost to James’ Miami Heat in seven games.
James was not in a reflective mood when asked about playing at TD Garden once again with a trip to the Finals at stake.
“It don’t matter,” he said. “Just to be part of the postseason is a treat for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of it for 12 straight years at this point now, so any building I’m able to walk into at any point of the playoffs is always a treat.”
Wednesday will be Cleveland’s first game in 10 days since they swept the Toronto Raptors out of the second round. James believes the road environment will help the Cavs shake off any rust they’ve accumulated.
“Just getting back into the flow of basketball,” James said. “We’ve been around the flow for eight days now. But (not) a game situation. … Getting into the flow … it shouldn’t be too hard. These fans and this atmosphere and this team that we’re playing against should put us right back where we need to be.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue thinks Cleveland will find its footing rather quickly.
“Just first six minutes of the game,” Lue said. “Crowd is going to be into it, they’re going to be into it so we have to be ready to play and weather the storm early.”
Despite being the lower seed — No. 2 to the Celtics’ No. 1 — the Cavs are the heavy betting favorites to beat Boston and get back to the Finals for a third straight year. James had no interest in discussing the Cavs’ back-to-back championship chances, however, with a series in Boston still to play.
“We know the ultimate goal, yes, but at the end of the day if you’re able to be successful in this league, this is the No. 1 league, if you’re able to be successful at any level, you can always appreciate it,” James said. “You’re never satisfied, for me, unless you hoist a trophy, but I can appreciate what we’ve been able to accomplish in the two, three years I’ve been back. We’ve got to continue the journey, it’s not done.”