Culture of Hoops

LeBron James Passes The GOAT & Continues Reign Over East

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.


Death, taxes, and LeBron James in the Finals. The last time LeBron wasn’t in the Finals Instagram, SnapChat, and Tinder weren’t around. No one knew what Uber was. Drake was just getting into the game, Kendrick Lamar hadn’t debuted and Kanye West was still Kanye West. Seven straight seasons in the Finals with no end in sight.

LeBron and Kyrie Irving knew what time it was. They wasted no time putting the Celtics to rest in Game 5, routing the East’s top seed 135-102. The Cavs led wire to wire in Boston for the series. LeBron averaged 34.3 points at the TD Garden and never took his foot off the gas.

He and the Cavs as a whole came out and duffed the Celtics right in their grill. LeBron did whatever he pleased. He set up shop in the paint–he embarrassed any mismatch down low and sped past anyone on the perimeter. On defense he was reading passes like Ed Reed, shutting down any Celtics’ dream of a quick score. And that’s just LeBron.

Kyrie Irving is alive and well. His play over the last two games has made one thing abundantly clear–he’s ready for Steph. In Game 4 he dismantled the Celtics for a playoff career-high 42 points, in Game 5 he came with that same energy. In the first quarter he, like LeBron, got into the paint at will. When he wasn’t slicing into the lane he was dropping bombs from deep.

The Cavs had 75 points at half, the Celtics had 57. This game was done but LeBron had unfinished business to handle. He entered the night 28 points shy of Michael Jordan for most career playoff points. In the third LeBron rose up for a three and drilled it to move past the GOAT.

To add onto an already impressive night he also leaped over Manu Ginobili for third all-time in playoff three-pointers. Oh, and he is now 11-0 in his last eleven close-out games.

Up next is the most anticipated NBA finals I can remember. Once Kevin Durant signed with Golden State it was a foregone conclusion how the season would end. Luckily no injuries got in the way of fate and both will be at full power next Thursday. The Warriors have been off since Monday so they have already begun to prepare. LeBron is well aware.

The Warriors are the best thing to happen to LeBron. No team has made him feel mortal more than them and the result has been another level unlocked for LeBron. This paranoia has brought back his jumper, heightened his aggressiveness and relentlessness. I don’t buy that he wasn’t thinking about the Warriors yet. He’s been thinking about them non-stop since this moment.

If all goes according to plan this will be another seven game war. LeBron is ready. Kyrie is definitely ready. Kevin Love is ready and playing the best he’s ever played with the Cavs, same for Tristan Thompson. On the other side Curry and Kevin Durant are the LeBron and Kyrie of their squad. Klay Thompson has been thrown to the wayside like Vince from Fast & Furious, but can still go off at a moment’s notice.

That is what awaits the Cavs. The Celtics? Things aren’t too bad in Boston so don’t feel sorry for them. They return the core of this team plus Markelle Fultz, draft stashes Ante Zizic, Guershon Yabusele, and possibly Gordon Hayward. Not a bad consolation prize heading into the offseason.

All things considered, the undercard to the Trilogy wasn’t great, but it certainly wasn’t bad. The volume of individual performances this playoffs had to set a record. It felt like every other night someone was going off for a career-high. It’s been a great NBA season and will have a proper finish.

Bring on the Trilogy.

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