CLEVELAND — It’s ironic that – entering Friday’s Game 6 in Cleveland – one of the two only players on the Celtics roster who had been to the NBA Finals did so with the team Boston is trying to vanquish. Kyrie Irving and Aron Baynes are the only players to appear in the final round, with both claiming rings in the end, Irving in ’16 and Baynes in ’14.
Brad Stevens was asked before Friday’s Game 6 what he thought of that nugget and what the key is to keeping everyone focused on the prize at hand with a win over the Cavs.
“You’ll have to ask (Baynes),” Stevens smiled. “I haven’t been, either. But I think the stamina that’s required to get through the NBA playoffs, it just becomes ever
more obvious as you go round to round. You’re not going to get anywhere by looking ahead or behind. If you’re not in the moment, then we’ll be down 20 at the
end of the first. We have to stay in the moment. We have to play the right way and then let the chips fall where they may, like we have all year.
“More times than not, it’s been good. But we could play really well tonight and lose. We could play really well tonight and win. But at the end of the day, let’s just focus on what we have, the task at hand. Stay in the moment and go from there.”
“You hear people talk about it all the time. Danny [Ainge] has got great insights into
that, having lived it quite often as a player, obviously. But I think that that is another feather in his cap that I think people that are in it — and certainly you guys (media) included that travel all over to these places and cover these games — have a great appreciation for.”
Then it all came back to the biggest storyline of the night. With a win on the same court that the Celtics suffered their most devastating loss of the season on opening night, the Celtics could quite possibly end the reign of King James.
Nobody on the court has played in the number of NBA Finals (8) as James has. Nobody has played as many playoff games as James. Stevens is keenly aware of all of this.
“I said this morning, the amount of scrutiny that he deals with after a tremendous game is one of a kind. Nobody else deals with that. Nobody else has what he has on
his shoulders playing the game. I think that the way in which he’s done that and all of the years now that he’s made The Finals and gone deep into the playoffs, again, it’s unbelievable.”