The Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers will face each other once more in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row, but both teams now look completely different than what they did last year.
The changes at the Cavaliers have been well documented, whether it be Kyrie Irving's departure for the Celtics last summer or the numerous moves they made on trade deadline day. Yet, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and the rest of the roster have stepped up at the right time to appear in the Conference Finals for the fourth year in a row.
As for Boston, despite their All-Stars in Irving and Gordon Hayward being injured, their young new-look roster has managed to get the team to the Conference Finals for the second consecutive year, with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier stepping up when they were needed the most.
According to ESPN, while speaking to reporters ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, Love had nothing but praise for the Celtics, especially for their young stars for stepping up during times of adversity when their star players were out of action.
He said: "There's been a lot that's happened throughout the season with us and for them. In some ways it could be looked at as a surprise, but I think both teams stepped up their level of play."
The forward continued: "I think because of how it started with them, two minutes into their season they lose an All-Star in Gordon Hayward, a guy who plays the game the right way and has played for Stevens before, goes in there and is going to be a great fit for them. That was obviously tough.
"And them coming back and playing great from that, even right after that, I know they lost one game and then won a bunch straight. Then losing Kyrie, their No. 1 option, for the playoffs, and then everybody really stepping up."
Love also added that the series would be completely different if Irving was able to play, but he doesn't want to take anything away from the man that stepped up in his place.
He said: "That would have definitely changed the series, but that's not taking away from anything they've done. A number of those guys have stepped up, especially in their backcourt. 'Scary' Terry [Rozier] has played great for them."
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and the Cavaliers takes place on Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston.
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