On Sunday afternoon, the Boston Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers and megastar LeBron James at the TD Garden in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.
The Celtics trail 3-0 in the best-of-seven series. Another loss would send the Celtics home for the summer. This is the latest chapter in James' long history of playoff basketball in Boston.
A Familiar Foe
James has plenty of playoff experience. The four-time NBA MVP has reached the postseason 10 straight years.
"For me to be able to have some type of history in this city, it means a lot for, I guess, for my legacy."LeBron James
During those runs, he’s matched up against the Celtics more than any other team — this marks the fifth series between James and Boston.
So when James took the court for Game 3 on Thursday night at the TD Garden, he knew to expect a hostile environment.
But the boos from the crowd did not hinder his performance. James scored a game-high 31 points, leading the Cavaliers to a 103-95 win. Afterward James gave a shoutout to the Boston fans.
"The great thing about being here, these fans are loyal to one thing and one thing only, and that’s green," he said. "That’s all they see, that’s all they care about, and for me being a competitor, me being someone that they know personally, to be able to come out here and perform in front of those guys, it means a lot."
The last two times James met Boston in the playoffs, he sent the Celtics packing.
But LeBron hasn’t always won. In 2008, the Celtics beat James on their way to an NBA championship. Two years later, Boston beat James again, prompting the star to leave Cleveland for the more talented Miami Heat.
LeBron and the Heat beat the Celtics in 2011 and again in 2012.
In Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, James scored 45 points, helping propel the Heat into the championship, where LeBron won his first title.
James is now back playing for the Cavaliers, but he calls that game with the Heat three years ago a "defining moment." It was also a key moment for the Celtics.
After that loss, Ray Allen, one of the core members of the Celtics’ 2008 championship team, left in free agency. And in the next offseason, the Celtics traded away stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as well as their coach Doc Rivers.
'It's The Same For Me'
Ever since those trades, the Celtics have been rebuilding.
"We’ve got a lot of guys doing this for the first time," said second-year Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after Thursday night, pointing to his team's lack of poise. "We played with tremendous energy. We played with great spirit. But we just didn’t make good, sound basketball plays most of the night."
So far this series, James has taken advantage of the Celtics’ inexperience. Through the first three games, James has averaged 27 points.
And even though the players on the opposing side have changed, James says that playing Boston — yet again — is still special.
"The uniforms are the same. Some of the players are different, but it’s the same for me," he said. "For me to be able to have some type of history in this city, it means a lot for, I guess, for my legacy."
LeBron will have a chance to carve out some new history Sunday afternoon in Game 4. Despite numerous playoff meetings between the Celtics and James’ teams, none of the series have ended in a sweep.
This segment aired on April 26, 2015.