LeBron James vs. superteams in the mid-to-late 2000s:
LeBron James and the Cavs got their first taste of the dynasty in San Antonio when they were swept by the Spurs in the 2007 Finals, in just their second playoff appearance together. This was the third championship for Pop’s big three, and the fourth for Coach Popovich and Tim Duncan.
In Boston, the Celtics were creating a superteam of their own by drafting Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, and later trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. The trio of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett gave the Celtics their first big three since the days of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, who played nearly a quarter-century prior.
This Celtics team was even referred to as a big four, as Rondo was a major contributor to the team’s success with his masterful ball distributing skills while running the point.
In LeBron’s final three years of his first stint in Cleveland, he fell to the Celtics in the second round in the 2008 playoffs on their route to beating Kobe’s Lakers for their sole championship together. The following year, he lost to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
LBJ and the Cavs once again lost to the Celtics in the second round in 2010.
It was clear that LeBron needed a better number-two man than Zydrunas Ilgauskas if he was going to compete with the Lakers, Spurs, and Celtics for a championship, so on July 8, 2010, LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, and the rest was history.