Is LeBron James benefiting from a weak East, or is he making the East look weak?

The Boston Celtics — missing two all-stars — have made it back to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.

The Celtics getting this far without those two all-stars puts an asterisk on the team, and by extension puts an asterisk on any team that beats them to make the NBA Finals. Like, say, LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers, should that happen.

But there’s an asterisk for the asterisk. Neither of those missing all-stars (Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward) were on the team when the Celtics made it this far a year ago. All-star Isaiah Thomas was around, but while he played in the first two games of that 2017 series, he certainly wasn’t healthy. There’s also another all-star in the mix, one healthy for both runs: Al Horford. There’s also the fact that Boston has been good enough top to beat more top-heavy teams and get this deep. You don’t make the conference finals on dumb luck.

There are asterisks all the way down.


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