There are only few certainties in life. Death, taxes, and now; annual appearances from LeBron James in the NBA finals.
LeBron turned in probably his best performance of the postseason to the tune of 33 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists as the Cavs blew out the Raptors 113-87 Friday night to end one of the most anti-climatic six-game series in recent memory.
James now finds himself in a very familiar spot, the NBA finals. This will be James’ sixth straight appearance in the NBA finals and seventh overall. The last time the NBA championship was on the line which didn’t include James, was in 2010 when Kobe Bryant was putting the finishing touches on a championship repeat over the Boston Celtics.
Add this accolade to the list of James’ accomplishments, as it has been 50 years since a player has made six-straight NBA finals appearances.
There’s only one problem. James’ current 2-4 record when he gets to the finals.
LeBron James is a future first ballot hall of famer and also a once in a lifetime talent that doesn’t come around too often. However, it’s very hard to write of his losing finals record especially since mainstream media loves comparing him to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and the likes. A loss against either Oklahoma City or Golden State would make those comparisons more incomprehensible.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been bi-polar this season. James called out several teammates back in January and it’s thought that James was the one who wanted David Blatt fired as coach. At any point during the season, it looked like the Cavs were on the brink of spiraling out of control. The team was probably better suited auditioning for a reality TV series than playing out the rest of the season.
But after an eventful regular season that still landed them the Number 1 seed out east entering the playoffs, people still had their doubts. Could they put it together? When would the big three finally jell? When would this team implode? After making quick work of both the Pistons and Hawks, the Cavs closed out the Raptors bringing their playoff record to 12-2 with no signs of implosion.
The Cavs are playing their best basketball of the season and at exactly the right time. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are finally in a rhythm. Role players such as JR Smith and Channing Frye are playing stellar defense and are hitting big three-pointers when the team needs them. It took over 80 games but the stars are finally starting to align for this team.
Attractive series’ out west including Oklahoma City and San Antonio and then Oklahoma City and Golden State are taking attention (and rightfully so) off of the Cavs resistant-free run through the eastern conference. That’s not sitting well as James’ feels he’s still the best player in the league and the Cavs are getting overlooked.
Well now he’ll have the chance to prove it. Regardless if the Cavs face the Thunder or Warriors, they’ll likely be underdogs out in Vegas. But James and the Cavs can use that to their advantage. I’d assume he’ll have a chip on his shoulder the size of the Grand Canyon entering this series. He’ll either be facing the NBA’s all-time best regular season team which beat them in the finals last year or a team with two of arguably the best five players in the league who is also putting things together at the right time.
James has a chance to bring a title to Cleveland which has been title starved since 1964. He also has a chance to win the title and bring him within striking distance, just two rings behind Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson and three from Michael Jordan.
But if LeBron and the Cavs lose in the finals. Good luck trying to convince someone that a player with a 2-5 finals record should be mentioned in the same breath as those guys for now.