As it turns out, the regular season was largely meaningless. We end up where we thought we’d be. The Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. Like last year, both teams will enter the matchup healthy. Unlike last year, the Warriors have Kevin Durant.
First though, the Cavs had to finish off the Boston Celtics. The Celtics were the East’s top team in the regular season. ESPN’s fivethirtyeight.com had the Celtics as slight favorites heading into the series. The Cavaliers closed them out tonight in five games, the lone hiccup being a game in which Marcus Smart nailed seven three pointers.
There was none of that in Game 5, where the Cavs won for the third time in Boston. LeBron James became the leading playoff scorer of all time. Kyrie Irving continued to shoot himself back into rhythm. Kevin Love played like a superstar. It was impressive, and it was largely easy.
Your Cleveland Cavaliers, 135. The Boston Celtics, 102.
The Celtics were unable to stop the Cavs from getting whatever they wanted whenever they wanted on offense. Kevin Love got things started, LeBron scored with ruthless efficiency, and Irving put the Celtics to sleep in the third quarter. The backups took care of things in the fourth quarter.
This has all been prelude, though. The main event is now, and the Cavs will be big underdogs in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive season. They have LeBron James, and a supremely confident supporting cast. They’ve been there before, so they know what it takes. They’re a year older, the Warriors are mostly just more athletic. A year ago the Warriors were coming off a seven game series with the Oklahoma City Thunder in which they had to come back from a 3-1 deficit. By Games 6 and 7, they seemed tired. They won’t have that adversity this year.
This is one of the best rivalries going in sports. Soak it up. They can’t take the 2016 title away from the Cavs. So what’s on the line? Immortality for the team. Immortality for LeBron A recalibration of what people think of Irving. Hang tight. It’s going to be an insane three weeks.