This will be as good as it gets for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A four-game sweep over a severely depleted 60-win team that so many assumed never had championship chops in the first place. A trophy ceremony that amounts to not much more than being the best of a conference even more downtrodden than it appeared throughout the regular season. And a feat for LeBron James that’s merely the last small step to achieving the real goal that precipitated his return to Northeast Ohio.
The Cavaliers deserve praise for winning the Eastern Conference. No doubt.
They could only play opponents afforded by the schedule; they overcame injuries to two star players; and they saw several contributors develop into something far more than that both on and off the court. Will J.R. Smith or Matthew Dellavedova ever buy a drink in Cleveland again? That’s assuming Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert won’t be paying for all of them, of course.
These Cavs are talented, tough, resilient, and a whole lot more. But in two weeks, most basketball fans will know them as something far different… losers.
Assessing these NBA Finals and their most likely outcome through an unbiased lens leads to no other possible conclusion. Despite tireless efforts of the world’s best player and his gritty band of cohorts led by a wildly talented guard and rebound-eating big man, Cleveland will lose to the Golden State State Warriors in the next and final round of playoffs.
The only question remaining is just how competitive the Cavaliers can make it.
That’s a far-reaching discussion best suited for a time in the immediate future, once the Warriors have officially dispatched of the Houston Rockets and the extent of Kyrie Irving’s limitations becomes more clear. Maybe there’s an unforeseen wrinkle in this dream match-up gleaned from the regular season that David Blatt can exploit. Perhaps Cleveland’s switch-heavy defensive scheme against the Atlanta Hawks will be even more effective against Golden State. And there’s an outside chance the “best player wins the series” theory comes to fruition, too.