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Celtics Brad Stevens is a genius until he runs into LeBron

The LeBron Cavs are 9-1 in the playoffs against Stevens Celtics
Celtics, Brad Stevens, genius, LeBron
LeBron is 9-1 against Brad Stevens in the NBA playoffs. Getty Images

In the early portion of LeBron James' career, the Celtics owned him. The C's dismissed him in the 2008 playoffs in seven games before going on to win the NBA title, and they effectively ended his first Cleveland tenure by upsetting a far-more talented Cavs team in the 2010 semi-finals.

Since then, however, it's been all LeBron. LeBron has won three titles since that time and the Celtics franchise has not been back to the NBA Finals. In fact, the Kevin Garnett - Paul Pierce Celtics were the last non-LeBron team to represent the East in the Finals, way back in 2010.

LeBron's Heat beat the Celtics in five games in 2011, and they effectively ended that era of Celtics championship contention in 2012 - narrowly beating the C's in seven games in the East Finals.

LeBron has been around long enough to see three different incarnations of Celtic teams. When he entered the league, the Celtics had players like Vin Baker, Tony Battie, Ricky Davis and Mark Blount on their roster. He then battled the Garnett - Pierce group and is now engaged in a brewing war with the Brad Stevens Celtics.

Truth be told, LeBron has completely dominated Stevens' Celtics so far. His Cavs swept the Celtics in the first round in 2015, and they drum-rolled over Boston in last year's Eastern Conference Finals - toppling them in a quick and easy five games.

The Celtics do have legit excuses for being crushed both times in that the 2015 group had no business making the playoffs as had the roster of a lottery team. And last year, the Celtics lost their best player to injury early in Game 2 as Isaiah Thomas went down with a hip injury that would eventually require surgery. Thomas did not play the rest of the series.

Both rosters look drastically different this year. The Cavs are not nearly as intimidating this year as they were last as Kyrie Irving was a perfect 1A to LeBron 12 months ago. The Cavs are still searching for a 1A in this year's postseason.

Boston - despite not having its best two players in Irving and Gordon Hayward - looks like it has a better roster than the one that was thoroughly beat by the Cavs last spring. Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and second-year Jaylen Brown figure to give the Celtics a slightly better chance than Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Gerald Green and rookie Jaylen Brown. 

So the Celtics are better. The Cavs are worse. And LeBron is playing the best basketball of his career.

Should be a fun one.