Culture of Hoops

Rested Cavaliers Trounce Celtics In Game 1 Victory


That is the motto for LeBron James and the 2017 edition of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite having ten days off between games LeBron and the Cavs were able to cruise past the Celtics in Boston for a 117-104 Game 1 victory. In typical LeBron fashion he finished with 38 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Kevin Love added a playoff career-high 32 points and knocked down six threes.

Remember when the big conversation about LeBron was he wasn’t aggressive enough? He didn’t, as Skip Bayless would say ad nauseum, have the “clutch gene”. Well you can throw all that talk out of the window. The biggest improvement in LeBron’s game has been his self-awareness. It finally clicked that no one on God’s green earth can stop him and if they do they will have to kill themselves to do it.

The Celtics came into Game 1 on the highest of highs. They had just survived a seven-game bloodbath with their rivals, the Wizards, and won the NBA Draft Lottery. With all that momentum a Game 1 victory was at the very least feasible right?

Not in the least bit. LeBron once again toyed with his opponent. He and Love alone combined for 70 points. Conversely the top three Celtics (Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Avery Bradley) combined for 49 total points. Kyrie Irving struggled mightily in this one (11 points), but it made no difference. Tristan Thompson picked up Kyrie and added a surprising 20 points. It was assumed Thompson would have a strong series against a Celtics team soft in the middle, but 20 points? That’s not a good sign.

But I digress. The story of this game and of the playoffs is LeBron Raymone James. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had this to say after the game.

“He’s better than when I got into the league. A lot better…I didn’t think he could get any better after that but he is.” This has an eerily similar tone to what Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had to say after LeBron effectively ended their golden era in four forgettable games.

The scary part is LeBron said he felt a little rust in this “feel out” game. “I didn’t think we played that great tonight,” he said following the win.

The King of the East now scored 30 points in every single playoff game except one (Game 2 in round one against the Pacers). He’s been aggressive in every meaning of the word and has effectively removed “settle” from his vocabulary. No longer is he resigned to layups and threes. He is at the peak of his powers. He can still get to the rack whenever he pleases. He can post you up whenever he deems fit and can raise over you for a jumper. No one can stop him and he knows it.

No play epitomizes the new LeBron more than this play on Kelly Olynyk last night.

Turning your back to an opponent in any sports is the ultimate sign of disrespect. And Olynyk wasn’t alone. LeBron did it to Serge Ibaka over and over the round before and will continue to do it to any big brave enough to attempt to guard him.

At this point we know the outcome of this series. The Warriors and Cavaliers are making such game of their peers it feels like a montage scene from a movie. Until the two giants face off in the finals these games will be uninteresting. Those (hopefully) seven games should be phenomenal. But until then, sit back, relax and watch the greatest basketball player of all time cook.

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