CJ McCollum outlines the key for Boston to defeat LeBron’s Cavs in Game 1

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Joining Cris Carter, Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe in studio on First Things First to discuss the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, Portland's star CJ McCollum explains how Boston's confidence and Brad Stevens are advantages to taking Game 1 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

CJ MCCOLLUM: I don't know if they should be worried, honestly. I think they're confident in their abilities and they have the best player in this series. And no one who can guard them on the other team. But I think it's tough to play against a team who has nothing to lose. The Boston Celtics have nothing to lose. They're a bunch of young guys who, as I said before, don't really-- don't have a lot of experience. You heard Jayson Tatum. This is my first year. Like, I don't know. I don't have the answers. I'm just out here hooping, essentially, is what he said.

But I think when you have Brad Stevens, who's going to put him in a position to succeed, and you have a bunch of guys who are playing at home. They're going to be comfortable. A lot of guys are making a lot of money for themselves in the free agency. Marcus Smart, Rozier, my fellow Ohioan. So I think they're not afraid of the Cavs. So that's that's one thing to watch going forward.

NICK WRIGHT: When you mentioned not afraid of the Cavs and Brad Stevens edge to it, I do think one edge that the Celtics have-- and I think Ty Lue's a good coach. I think Ty Lue gets a bad rap. But I think they have the coaching edge in Boston. And I think what Brad Stevens is going to be able to do with the time between the series is look at the things Indiana did against the players not named LeBron, and see if they can duplicate that. Because the reason Indiana went seven and Toronto went four was not about LeBron.

LeBron averaged almost identical stat lines, points, rebounds, assists, shooting percentage in both series. The difference was his supporting cast was outstanding in round two, and was almost non-existent in round one. Is that something what Indiana did to those guys duplicable in your opinion? Or was that just guys missing shots they typically make?

CJ MCCOLLUM: I think it was a combination of both things. Supporting cast. They had similar looks in both games. JR-- JR hit tougher shots. You could argue he hit tougher shots in the series, in the previous series. Whereas in the first series, Kevin Love was missing layups. His rhythm was a little off. He wasn't as comfortable out there.

CHRIS CARTER: No inside presence.

CJ MCCOLLUM: Not a real presence. And then, they started force feeding him. He got comfortable. He started hitting tough shots. He started being the aggressor on the offensive end. I think, as you said before, the Cavs will go as far as the role players go. However, LeBron's good enough to get past this Celtics team without Kyrie. Now if they had Kyrie, they would be worried.

CHRIS CARTER: Yeah, I think that that's one of the things about the series that-- not going to talk about it too much. But Kyrie Irving, if he was on the court. LeBron doesn't have that to worry about. I don't think they have the bodies. And I don't think you can duplicate what happened in the Pacers series. They had wide open looks. Guys couldn't make no buckets. They couldn't make no shots.

Now they did come up with some different sets in the second series against Toronto that was very, very effective. But LeBron, you can't double team him. I think this all boils down to this. How well do the Celtics shoot the ball, and shoot it behind the three point line? They shoot it well at home. But on the road, they haven't shot the ball as well. Do you see this as being one of the difference between the Celtics being able to make this A series? Or trying to pull the upset?

CJ MCCOLLUM: Definitely shot making is going to be crucial. I think figuring out ways to exploit certain mismatches, you don't necessarily know who LeBron's going to guard in this series. A lot of times, he's spent time on guys who don't really impact the game offensively to allow him to rest. Look at this Boston Celtics starting five. Jayson Tatum is an aggressor. He's going to attack. He's going to try to score. Jaylen Brown's an aggressor. He's going to attack and try to score. And you know, Al Horford's going to do a little bit of everything. And then you have Rozier, who is able to get off as well.

So you got to kind of question, who's Kyle Korver going to guard? Who are they going to put JR on? Some of those situations. Because I think the Celtics are good enough, regardless of how they shoot, to win two games in this series.