Even entering this series, there was a train of thought amongst Celtics fans that LeBron James was still Peyton Manning in sneakers and shorts. The 30 points that James dropped on the Celtics in Game 2 Tuesday night, half of which came in the fourth quarter, should more or less end the speculation that No. 23 sees the color green in his sleep.
Dating back to Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals between James’ Heat and the KG-Pierce-Allen Celtics, it’s been the Celtics and their fans who have had to begrudgingly admit that the guy is pretty damn good. That was the game it all changed for James in terms of “clutchness” as he torched the Celtics for 45 points in a do-or-die game. He and the Heat won that series in seven, before beating Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals in five.
His flip-flopping and often “fake” attitude toward matters related toward basketball and life in general will never make him a fan favorite in Boston. Truth be told, most Boston fans would respect Kobe Bryant for being a straight-up prick ahead of respecting LeBron for being phony good guy. But there is absolutely no doubting anymore than James can single-handedly win a basketball game just about whenever he pleases these days.
The scary part for the Celtics and every other franchise in the NBA is that a now grown-up James seems to have found a younger Dwyane Wade-like Robin to his Batman back in Cleveland. Kyrie Irving, who already has 56 points total in his first NBA playoff series, certainly has an edge to him. And he’s learning all sorts of playoff tricks from the battle-tested James.
“He’s a student of the game, but he’s been through far more experiences than I have,” Irving told Cleveland.com. “There was one time, I forget who we were playing, we were still on the court, he was running pick-and-roll I think five times in a row and we scored I think five times in a row and he came to me and gave me advice and told me what he saw out there and what I should be seeing as well. Just the overall game and how to control it. Constantly teaching. You want to take advice from someone who has done it before and been successful with it.”
James seems to be relishing the role of teacher, offering a Irving a chance to learn from a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. It’s something James himself never had early in his career. Maybe it could have helped him in those struggles against the Celtics once upon a time.
“I make it tougher on him because he can handle it,” James told Cleveland.com of Irving. “He has the potential to be great if he’s not there already. A lot of room for improvement and I am going to continue to be tougher on him than anyone on this team.”