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CelticsBlog Podcast 37: Can the Celtics compete with LeBron James?

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Last year at this time LeBron James and the runaway train Cavaliers tore through Boston without any hope of competition. Will it be any different this time? Justin Rowan doesn’t think so.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

“My heart is telling me Cavs in 5, my gut is telling me it’s a sweep.”

That’s Justin Rowan’s predicament entering the third round of the playoffs. He returned for a third time this season, as the Celtics and Cavaliers can’t seem to avoid each other in the Eastern Conference discussion.

First we had to bid farewell to Dwane Casey. Posting 16-12 and 14-25 records vs. the Celtics and Cavaliers respectively in his tenure as Raptors coach, he represented the brick wall against opportunity that is LeBron James, and Boston’s possible fortune in never having faced Toronto in the postseason.

Now that it’s LeBron vs. Boston, for the millionth time, after he torched through the Raps for the millionth time, we pondered the trendy notion of Marcus Morris as a LeBron stopper. Numbers from 2015-16 sound optimistic, while splits on his and the Pistons’ defense every year since don’t.

Can Boston actually stick to the Cavs’ shooters and let LeBron “get his?” It’s definitely easier said than done, because I’ve heard it said again and again without any proof of execution.

While not contending to the Celts’ chances in this series, Rowan did admit this could be the year the Al Horford jokes in relation to Cleveland end and Jayson Tatum’s become far superior to his tongue-in-cheek comparison to Tobias Harris from early in the season.

Does Tyronn Lue once again have a secret plan? Which Tristan Thompson shows up? Who’s better suited for this series, last year’s Celts at full strength or this year’s undermanned? Is this Boston group even undermanned? We ask those questions and the most important of them all in episode 37 of the Banners Broadcast.

How much does competing with Cleveland in this series either add, or take away if he can’t, from Brad Stevens’ status? Let’s debate.