Boston, MA —The only surprise on Sunday night was the Celtics fans realizing that losses can happen at home in the playoffs.
But what wasn’t a surprise? Lebron James showing up in a Game 7 (he’s now won six straight of them) and for the eighth straight year, Lebron James has led his team to an NBA finals appearance. The record for most NBA Finals appearances is held by the great Bill Russel with 10, so Lebron is quickly catching up – especially he stays in the East.
And on Sunday night in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics, he did it again when the Cavs earned the Eastern Conference Title with a 87-79 victory over the Boston Celtics. Ending the game with 35 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks — the Ohio-native proved once again he is unstoppable and is looking to silence doubters every chance he can.
He played all 48 minutes of Game 7 (which was also his 100th straight game this season): “It’s what’s been asked of me,” he said. “Those are the things, like I said, when you’re done playing the game, you can only dream and wish that you could be part of that once again. I haven’t really processed the fact about going back to another Finals yet.”
And despite rumors of fatigue, James was still able to score 12 points in the final quarter to help seal the deal with a ten point lead (and subsequently Celtics’ leading playing rookie Jayson Tatum being subbed off).
“He’s had a lot of gaudy games,” said Tyronn Lue, Cleveland’s head coach. “But I just think, Game 7 in Boston, all the circumstances that surround Boston, the history behind Boston, playing a team that’s very well-coached, a good, young team that’s undefeated in the playoffs at home. To come on the road where all the games have been lopsided, in a hostile environment, Game 7, Eastern Conference finals, this Game 7 and Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2016. Right there.”
And walking down memory lane to think about Lebron in the 2016 finals is something that basketball fans can do with a smile, and Lue is walking into this year’s Finals with that same smile. Not to state the obvious, but Lebron James is very good. And the Cavaliers let him be him.
In the Cavs’ last four games he’s played 91.3 percent of the time. And even without starter Kevin Love, and even after coming off an exhausting 46-point performance two nights ago, somehow James showed up to Game 7 and carried Cleveland on his back.
In the opening minutes, he scored 12 of the team’s first 18 points and even when his teammates began putting points up late in the first half, he was still the one initiating the offense (and I’m not just a big Lebron fan who sits at home and praises the man … But it’s difficult to deny his dominance this postseason). He’s had some heavy lifting this season, but he’s right back where he wanted to be: the NBA Finals.
Game one of the Finals will be on Thursday either at Golden State or Houston, depending on who wins the Western Conference Final on Monday night.