Remember when we all thought the Cavaliers would have trouble getting through the playoffs because of their defensive struggles? Remember when they ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency during the regular season? Remember when they went 12-15 after the All-Star break? Well, these aren’t the same Cavs.
In the first round against the Pacers, Cleveland did struggle a little on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the 4th quarter. In 3 out of 4 games, the Pacers outscored the Cavaliers in the 4th. The Cavaliers went on to win every game in the series, completing a sweep of the Pacers, but none of those games were won by more than 6 points.
Even after a sweep of the Pacers, there was still some doubt about how the Cavaliers would hold up. In the second round, Cleveland completed a sweep of the Toronto Raptors. Here we are once again, witnessing the Cavaliers going to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight year.
I don’t know if you watched any of the games between the Raptors and Cavs, but if you did, you saw LeBron James put on an incredible performance game after game.
Wait…. Didn’t LeBron do that last year? And the year before? And the 4 previous years he lead his team to the NBA Finals? Oh that’s right, he did!
There was never any reason to worry about the Cavaliers. There was never any reason to doubt. We only doubted because of stories about LeBron resting during the regular season to save himself for the playoffs. “LeBron can’t possibly keep up with his playoff performances from the past two years,” we said. “He’s too old,” we said. As long as LeBron is LeBron, he’s going to give it everything he’s got.
The greatness LeBron James has shown us throughout the years is unbelievable. Even after all he’s done, some still doubt him. There’s always the argument that LeBron has it easy because he plays in the Eastern Conference. To those who are stuck on that, or any other argument against LeBron, let me remind you that he lead the Cavs to their first ever championship last season. They didn’t just win a championship, they won a championship after being down 3-1 against the best regular season team in NBA history.
I’ll also point out that the Warriors aren’t exactly having a tough time beating their competition either. In the first round, the Warriors swept the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland went 41-41 this season. In the second round, the Warriors are up 3-0 on the Utah Jazz, who had a record of 51-31.
Let’s compare those teams to who the Cavaliers have played. In the first round it was the Pacers, who had a 42-40 record. In the second round they beat the Raptors, who went 51-31. The combined record of the two teams Cleveland has played, is one game better than that of the teams the Warriors have played. To this point in the playoffs, the Warriors have had a just as easy, if not an easier road to the NBA finals.
I don’t want to say the Cavaliers are a lock to go to the NBA Finals for the third straight year, but I won’t be betting against LeBron James any time soon. The Eastern Conference Finals won’t be a cake walk. The Celtics and Wizards are both great teams. Regardless of who the Cavs play, it will require a LeBron like performance from The King every game. We should all know by now that he’s more than capable of doing so.
It was just a couple days ago we heard LeBron say, “What else do I have to prove? Seriously, what else would I have [to do]? I’ve won championships, I won my first one, and I’ve won for my teammates; I came home and won. There isn’t anything I have left to prove.”
LeBron James is exactly right. He’s got nothing left to prove to anyone, and it’s time for us to stop doubting him.