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Celtics host LeBron James, Cavaliers in Game 1 of conference finals

LeBron James guarded by Marcus Smart

Boston stands in the way of LeBron James' next Finals trip. | Charles Krupa/AP Photo

LeBron James and the Cavaliers face the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at 2:30 p.m. CT Sunday afternoon. ABC will broadcast the game live on television, and WatchESPN will serve up the live stream for those with a cable or satellite subscription.

The series opener at TD Garden in Boston represents a crucial opportunity for the Celtics to avoid the same fate as the Raptors, who were swept by the Cavaliers in the previous round. Toronto had entered as the No. 1 seed in the conference after a 59-win season, yet it stood little chance once James decided to kick into another gear and take over games.

The Celtics, who eliminated the 76ers in five games to advance to the conference finals, will need to lean on a team effort to put pressure on the Cavaliers. Without star guards Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, young players such as Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have stepped up. However, there’s nobody on Boston’s roster who can go toe-to-toe with LeBron in crunch time.

Irving was supposed to be that player for the Celtics after his offseason trade from Cleveland, but he’s missing the entire postseason after undergoing knee surgery. Rozier’s emergence as their starting point guard in Irving’s absence has been a godsend.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens is widely considered one of the brightest minds in basketball, and he’s got the evidence to prove it with his on-court success. However, getting past LeBron, who has reached the NBA Finals seven straight seasons, will be his team’s biggest challenge yet.

How to watch Celtics vs. Cavaliers, Game 1

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET | 2:30 p.m. CT


Live stream: WatchESPN