The Cleveland Cavaliers finished off the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in a 135-102 blowout Game 5 win. This marks the Cavs winning the Eastern Conference championship for the third straight season and making their third consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals.
It’s also Lebron James and James Jones’ seventh consecutive Finals appearance dating back to 2011 when they were with the Miami Heat. No other player has made that many consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals since members of the Boston Celtics of the 1960s.
They will face off once again against the Golden State Warriors starting Thursday, June 1st. The Warriors won the championship in 2015 and the Cavaliers in 2016 so this will be the “rubber match.”
Lebron James had another epic performance in the postseason. On a night where he passed Michael Jordan as the all-time leading scorer in the postseason, James scored 35 points on 13-18 shooting (4-7 from 3), he also added 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and a block.
Kyrie Irving added 24 points including 11 in the third quarter and also dished out 7 assists. Kevin Love put in 15 points, 11 rebounds and four steals and by far had his best performance as a Cavalier during this series averaging 22.6 points and 12.4 rebounds per game against Boston.
Deron Williams scored 14 points off the bench in 17 minutes. Richard Jefferson added 9 and Kyle Korver had 7.
Avery Bradley led the way for Boston with 23. Gerald Green and Terry Rozier had 14 and 10 respectively off the bench. Jae Crowder also put in 11 points.
The Celtics will have some big decisions to make this offseason. They currently hold the first overall pick and are projected to take Washington’s Markelle Fultz or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball with that pick. They both play the point guard position, which they already have an All-Star at that spot with Isaiah Thomas.
They could also trade that pick for an All-Star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George who they pursued prior to February’s trade deadline.
They can also open long term negotiations with Thomas where they can give him a $200 million dollar contract if they choose. Reports came out during the Conference Finals that Celtics President Danny Ainge almost traded Thomas for a draft pick last offseason.
If they feel like Fultz or Ball would be a better fit for the Celtics’ going forward, they could trade Thomas this offseason and I’m sure they’ll be teams lining up for his services.
As for the series against the Warriors, it’s always seemed like a formality that these two teams would once again meet in the Finals. Both were the clear cut best two teams in basketball all season long and it’s only right to continue this rivalry for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The jabs at one another already started to begin even before the Conference Finals ended. Warriors owner Joe Lacob told reporters on Monday after the Warriors swept the San Antonio Spurs that they wanted Cleveland in the Finals after last year’s epic comeback by the Cavaliers after going down 3-1 in the series.
Lacob also told reporters that Golden State was the better team last year and they’ll prove that this year. (Well if you were the better team, why did you blow a 3-1 lead?)
Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue spoke with the media on Wednesday and said that the Celtics offense was tougher than the Warriors’. Now the media took it out of context because I believe that Lue was referring to how tough it was to adjust to Boston’s offense once they made adjustments following Isaiah Thomas’ season ending injury.
Warriors interim and former Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown responded to Lue’s comments by saying that was his opinion and “That’s Cute”.
I’m not going to discredit the Warriors and their accomplishments but I’m going to give the Cavaliers the edge right now in this series.
The Warriors are a great team with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. They also got some solid pieces off the bench in Andre Igoudala and Shaun Livingston.
But the Cavs have the best player in the world in Lebron James, and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are coming off great series and have the momentum on their side.
I also just think looking at it on paper, the Cavaliers are a deeper team. They can bring Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver, Deron Williams and Richard Jefferson off the bench and contain the Warriors small ball lineup.
The Warriors aren’t as deep off the bench as they’ve been in the previous matchups because they gutted their bench to be able to sign Durant last summer.
Now they have guys like Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and David West but I’m not so sure how effective they can really be against Cleveland and especially against Tristan Thompson.
Either way, this should be another epic showdown between the two best teams in the NBA and another chapter to the rivalry that’s heading towards being mentioned with the Lakers/Celtics rivalry.