LeBron’s Cavs: Beaten, battered and tied
The good news for Cleveland Cavaliers fans, which is hard to come by as of late, is that they can’t possibly suffer any worse luck than they have this playoffs with injuries, and they are returning home for Game 3 of the NBA Finals all tied up with the Golden State Warriors. LeBron has lost his two all-star running mates, Kevin Love and now Kyrie Irving, and has still managed to control this series through the first two games. Will the real MVP please stand up?
LeBron has played like he took the MVP race personal this year against the 2015 NBA MVP Steph Curry. Through two games in Oakland so far he is averaging 41.5 PPG, 12 boards and 8.5 assists. He is also playing just over 48 minutes a game with both games one and two going into overtime. LeBron finished 3rd in the MVP race this year behind Steph Curry and James Harden. Not to take anything away from Steph Curry, but I think if we were to have the vote now, let’s just say LeBron is not finishing 3rd. And you have to feel for LeBron after coming back home to Cleveland and building a Eastern Conference championship caliber team, he basically finds himself in the same situation he was in during the 2007 NBA Finals, carrying a team of average players. The world has witnessed LeBron go through a lot over the last decade…losing in Cleveland, bolting for Miami, bold predictions of multiple championships, losing in the finals with the big 3, finally winning the NBA championship and repeating, losing again with the big 3 in Miami then shocking the world and going back home to Cleveland. He has played the role of home town hero, villain, favorite, underdog and now even a sympathetic figure. The one constant throughout it all that is now showing up for the world to recognize is the heart of LeBron James…
Regardless of who is out on the floor with LeBron, I have seen this Cavs team control this series as the road team. Both games have gone to overtime and the Cavs are a kneecap away from being up 2-0 in this series. Game 1 saw the Warriors run away in OT immediately following the Kyrie Irving injury. That game was back and forth and the Cavs blew a couple of opportunities in the final minute to put Golden State away. Same thing in Game 2, the Cavs actually had an 11 point lead with a couple minutes to go and could not hold on to the lead. They go to OT where LeBron put the Cavs on his back and said follow me back to Cleveland. The scrappy defense of the Cavs is getting to Golden State who averaged 110 PPG in the regular season but were held to just 93 in Game 2. The MVP Steph Curry is averaging just 22 PPG in the Finals while only having 13 assists to 10 turnovers.
The first two games of this series has been about more than just Golden State trying to figure out Cleveland like they had to do the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Semifinals. It has been about LeBron James being the best player in the world and making Dellavedova, Thompson, Shumpert, Mozgov and J.R. Smith elevate their level of play and forget that their names are Dellavedova, Thompson, Shumpert, Mozgov and J.R. Smith. The fact is no other player in the world would be able to walk into Oakland for a Game 2 of the NBA Finals with that squad and pull off an overtime victory to tie the series. After the win, LeBron talks about his team’s effort,
“I tried to give it all to my teammates. And they do a great job of giving it back to me. Total team effort,”
Just to be clear my position is that Michael Jeffrey Jordan is and will always be the best player to ever play the game of basketball. His level of excellence and perfection will never be duplicated. The way that he never lost a title on the big stage going 6-0 in NBA Finals, including two 3-peats while retiring in between to take a shot at playing major league baseball. And don’t forget about his two gold medals in the olympics. You can have the argument who is number two behind Jordan all you like, that is a legitimate debate. But make no mistake about it, Jordan is and always will be number one.
But this LeBron James guy is very rapidly climbing my list to the number two spot for best ever to play the game. Besides the fact that he is a freak athlete, he has a great basketball I.Q that people underestimate. He knows when to get his teammates involved and how to do it. He truly does make all of his teammates better and that is showing more now than ever. This ability alone cries leader and greatness to me and it’s something other superstars over the last decade or so just don’t have. Two guys that come to mind are Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. Both are great in their own way but neither possess that skill to make others around them reach a level they never knew was possible. It’s not always pretty but somehow it gets done. I am not ready to proclaim that the Cavs will beat the Warriors and win the NBA Championship this year. I will stick to my original prediction of Warriors in seven. But I have news for Golden State, this will not be easy and they shouldn’t poke a wounded warrior. That is exactly what LeBron is at this point, a gladiator leading his wounded army through battle, trying to conquer his kingdom. So we’re all tied up and Cleveland…your hero is coming home.
Do you think LeBron can overcome the odds and win the NBA Title in his first year back in Cleveland? Let us know what you think about the series in the comments section below.
Brandon covers the NBA for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid
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You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_Breid