After a surprisingly difficult first round series against the Pacers that almost ended in a first round exit for Lebron and Co., the Cavaliers broke out the brooms and swept the #1 seeded Raptors in what was possibly an even more surprising outcome for the second round series.
If you’re looking for a show, LeBron never disappoints.
The King put up as many points, assists, and rebounds in the series as Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan COMBINED. Lack of all-star production wasn’t enough to keep the Cavs at bay, despite the stellar bench play coming from Toronto.
Now that we are moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals, we ask ourselves; Can anyone stop LeBron at this point?
I’m afraid not.
Now up 3-1 in their second round series against the 76ers, the Boston Celtics seem to be the Cavs most likely opponent for the final round.
This is almost a repeat of last year’s playoffs, where Cleveland handily put the C’s away in 5 games. Now with an almost completely different roster and missing key superstars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, Boston is going to step up their game to slow LeBron down.
James currently is the postseason scoring leader, putting up an insane 34 points per game on 55% shooting. On top of that he is third in assists, averaging around 9 per game. Add 9 rebounds to that stat-line and the King is just under a playoff triple-double average.
Boston lacks a single player in the top 5 of any significant statistical category, per ESPN.com. Their success can be attributed to great teamwork and fantastic coaching, a stellar rookie run from Jayson Tatum and surprising production from Terry Rozier III.
By doing some extra digging, I found possibly the only way I believe that the Celtics can stop the Cavs and move on to the NBA Finals.
LeBron is shooting a pretty awful 29% from 3 during this postseason. He has landed some daggers from distance, but overall he has not been reliable. He has leaned on JR Smith and Kyle Korver to produce from beyond the arc. The first thing to do would be to try and force James to take as many 3’s as possible and keep him out of the lane. This is much easier said than done because teams have been trying to do this for more than a decade with no luck. Even if they accomplish keeping LeBron out of the paint, he can find so many more options with his court vision and creativity.
The reality is that the Cavs do not have a reliable second option. LeBron’s greatness creates looks but no one in Cleveland has been able to produce on their own without his help. If they can’t lock James down (which is most likely) the next strategy would be to lock everyone else down. Even if LeBron drops 50 on you, it won’t be any good if his teammates aren’t scoring alongside him.
Besides that I have no more ideas on how to keep the King from yet another NBA Finals appearance. I don’t feel too bad about that considering that not a single NBA coach has been able to accomplish that in the last 8 years… and counting.
Featured Photo: chicagotribune.com
Photo Sources: chron.com, latestcommentary.com