Stephen Jackson unveils the X-factor between the Boston Celtics’ regular season and now that’s led to their success

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Joining Nick Wright, Cris Carter and Jenna Wolfe in studio on First Things First, 15-year NBA veteran Stephen Jackson unveils the X-factor between the Boston Celtics' regular season and now that's led to their success. Additionally, Jackson discusses why he believes LeBron James will not allow his Cleveland Cavaliers to fall to Boston in Game 3. Who wins Game 3?

- I just love hearing those young guys talk. By just knowing that the stage is set for you all to do something great, why not go out there and play hard? That's it in a nutshell for Boston. But Cleveland, I don't think LeBron's going to let them lose game 3. I just feel like he's going to be spectacular, like he always is. And force it.

You know, they play well at home. Hopefully JR will hit a couple of shots. Hopefully Ky will hit a couple of shots. But you know, I think just the King and being a super man his is, I think he can will game 3 by himself.

- Before we get to the LeBron part of it, what do you think of what the Celtics have been able to do up to this point? The Celtics, in this playoffs, being a pick 'em basically in round one, a heavy underdog in round two, and a heavy underdog in round three.

- Well, it's just special. You know, we always talk about the coaching. But me, I want to give some credit to the players. You know, being able to lock in after losing both of your star players. Especially at the first game of the season, to not buckle. And you have young guys on this team. You have young guys that have never really been through this grind. So for them to be able to react the right way, to not get frustrated, and to still play well, being led by a young guy. I think it's special.

So we give a lot of props to the coaches, but we have to give a lot of props to these players for being able to live in the moment.

- You have to give the players the credit. And also their top three scorers, not only adjusted during the regular season, but in the playoffs. They've averaged more points. Six, five, and three more points than they did during the regular season. So as the situation got more strenuous, as they played against better teams, as the hype and pressure goes up, they have played their best basketball of the season.

So you have to be excited about what they've done individually, their overall basketball development. And the stage has been set. For me, I can't wait to see them when their two stars return. With these other young players, what type of offense will they run? And how good this team will be?

- If it's the same team.

- Well, I mean one or two. It's going to be this team minus maybe Rozier being traded somewhere else. But it's going to be worth the price of admission.

- Stephen, we talk a lot about how the Celtics have played on the road this postseason. They've been great on the road, regular season. They were the best team in the East on the road in the regular season. Tell me a little bit about what the difference is.

- Well one win on the road in the playoffs, it says a lot, how hard it is to win on the road. You know, that's when your star players come into play. When you win games on the road, you need that star player. That max player guy, that can get those buckets and walk teams down at the end of the game.

- Regardless of the crowd.

- Regardless of the crowd. You have that one player that you know is better. Probably the first or second best player on the court. And you know when it comes down to it at the end of the game, he can get you a shot, or he can get somebody a shot. And that's what they don't have right now.

- Do the Celtics have that? No.

- Well, they didn't have that. But these young guys are stepping it up as a group. You know, it's not just one guy. It's the whole group stepping up together. And playing for each other shows. You know, how those guys have been so successful at home.

- And listen, I think one of the reasons that the Celtics have been able to have-- because I'm not surprised by the defense. I'm surprised by the offense. They were the best defense in the regular season. They've been one of the best defense-- second best defense, I believe-- this postseason. That doesn't surprise me.

The offense getting progressively better since Kyrie's been out is what is initially shocking. But I do wonder if there is this-- obviously, it would be better with Kyrie-- but I wonder if there is this benefit to not having Kyrie. There is no focal point of the offense. You don't have to worry about, if I don't take this shot, am I going to get another one for six minutes? They have the belief that I can go good shot, great shot. Because the ball is going to find me again. Because it's not like everything's running through Tatum, or everything's running through Brown. They don't have that.

When you have the star player out there, obviously it's a benefit. But you also know the offense is going to run through him. They don't have that. I feel like that's one of the reasons Rozier, Horford, Tatum Brown have been better in the playoffs offensively than they were in the regular season.