May 27, 2018

LeBron James Lifts Cavs to NBA Finals Over Celtics: The Cleveland Cavaliers have advanced to the NBA Finals, handing the Boston Celtics their first loss at home during these playoffs. LeBron James played the entire 48 in the 87-79 victory, scoring 35 with 15 rebounds and 9 assists. He reaches the Finals for an eighth straight season.

posted by rcade to basketball at 11:03 PM - 12 comments

Did not see the game, but LeBron probably actually played hard on the defensive end as well. When he plays on the D end the Cavs are tough to beat.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:38 PM on May 27

He led his team in minutes, points, assists, rebounds (both offensive/defensive/combined), blocks, and three-pointers (attempted and made) in game 7.

Now begins the serious talk about his place in the "GOAT" list.

I don't see how he can be listed at anything worse than #3, and I think given his overall skill set he could make an argument for #1 (especially if he drags his Cavs to another title this year).

posted by grum@work at 11:46 PM on May 27

I went into this game expecting LeBron to be tired. He played every minute and was the impossible physical force he's always been.

His postgame quote on the court was nicely phrased: "I'm trying to squeeze this orange till there's no more juice left."

But it is a shame these upstart Celtics have to stop playing.

posted by rcade at 12:06 AM on May 28

LeBron James, Bucky Dent, and Aaron Boone now share the same middle initial, F, as in Fu&$#ing. It's a Boston thing, but I believe some of you understand it. Back in the 1940s and early 50s, when for many seasons the Red Sox and Yankees were the best teams in the American League, but New York always seemed to win. The mantra for Boston always was, "Wait until next year." For this year's Celtics, the saying truly applies. With no Gordon Hayward, no Kyrie Irving, and only Al Horford as their only remaining star, they still took Cleveland to a 7th game. Wait 'til next year.

posted by Howard_T at 12:43 AM on May 28

Let's see what Dealin' Danny Ainge thinks about this season heading into next. To go to a CF game 7 without Irving and Hayward, he may not think he needs to keep both of them at this point. Anything is possible with our man Dan.

But Boston definitely looked like a team without a top gun last night. They needed a leader who could make his presence felt and direct the team. For instance, to tell Smart and Rozier to stop jacking up ugly 3's in the second half when none of them were going in.

To me, LeBron's massive achievement was that he singlehandedly overcame Cleveland's disadvantage in the coaching department.

LeBron is so comfortable being the messiah of a ragtag unit. I don't know why he'd want to go back to being one stud among several on another super team.

He could join the Clippers and still sleep in his own LA bed.

He'd look so awesome in a Spurs uni.

Wherever he goes, I hope he doesn't take JR Smith with him to be his emotional support dog.

posted by beaverboard at 09:13 AM on May 28

There was a play last night that they showed in the highlights where LeBron is going for a layup, and a Celtics player (Morris?) grabs BOTH of his shoulders and pulls back/down on him as he starts to go up.

He still made the layup (with a deflection from another Celtics player).

I think his raw strength is what separates him from guys like Kobe and Jordan.

One description I heard for James was "Michael Jordan in Karl Malone's body". That works for me. His one weakness is free throw shooting. He's only 74% for his career. If he was an ~84% shooter (like Jordan), he'd have ~1000 more points...

posted by grum@work at 12:58 PM on May 28

His one weakness is free throw shooting

His other weakness is focus on the defensive end. Jordan killed his opponents on both ends of the floor each and every game (Kobe deserves a mention for this as well). LeBron can be the best defensive player on the court .. but only when he wants to. There would be no talk of the Cavs defensive team weakness if he played to near his potential every game like Jordan did.

He'd look so awesome in a Spurs uni

I don't think he's a fit for the Spurs at all unless they are willing to cut Pop loose and change their entire system, which is based upon team offense and team defense rather than the isolation type offenses that LeBron is more suited to.

"Michael Jordan in Karl Malone's body"

Again, no, because of the defensive lapses.

A better description might be the most athletically gifted player ever.

posted by cixelsyd at 06:29 PM on May 28

Can't compare LeBron and Jordan without taking the coaching factor into account.

LeBron never had the experience of going through an elite college program.

As a pro, LeBron has never played for a coach half as capable and accomplished as Phil Jackson.

Jackson won titles with Jordan and without him. Jackson also took the Bulls to the brink of the Eastern Conference finals after Jordan retired for the first time, which was a noteworthy achievement.

Jackson won titles with Bill Cartwright at center, then with Luc Longley. The NBA equivalent of winning the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer. Times six.

It was idiotic of LeBron to stage "The Decision" to join the Heat, but Jordan did worse, announcing his first retirement shortly before the start of the NBA season, AND right in the middle of the White Sox' playoff series against Toronto. Totally upstaging another hometown team at a critical moment in their season. There is footage of Jordan making an appearance at Comiskey during Game 2 as his bombshell news was starting to get out.

Jordan reversed the timing by announcing his return to the Bulls near the end of the NBA regular season and shortly before the start of the baseball season. Yanking the chain at both ends of his little escapade.

posted by beaverboard at 11:39 PM on May 28

His retirement? Don't you mean, "his one year ban for gambling"? HA!

posted by NoMich at 07:42 AM on May 29

LeBron can be the best defensive player on the court .. but only when he wants to

He's 33, he played the most minutes in a season in his career this year and has had to play 40+ minutes a night in the playoffs to drag a terrible team to the Finals. He's got to rest somewhere. Comparing him to idealized versions of past stars is unrealistic.

I spent the second half of Game 6 and all of Game 7 as a living Shrug Emoji because what the hell was anyone going to do against LeBron? It's a funny ending to a season given the whole playoff run for Boston was found money and yet it still feels cruel that they let opportunity slip through their grasp in those last two games. A year's experience plus two All Stars should help next year.

posted by yerfatma at 10:58 AM on May 29

He's 33, he played the most minutes in a season in his career this year and has had to play 40+ minutes a night in the playoffs to drag a terrible team to the Finals. He's got to rest somewhere.

Agree, except for the terrible team part. But he has never played both ends of the court with the same intensity from the time he entered the league.

Can't compare LeBron and Jordan without taking the coaching factor into account.

Jordan had the benefit of playing for coaches who kicked his ass when it needed to be kicked. LeBron needs the same but refuses to realize it, then pouts and has any coach who says anything to him fired and replaced by someone he can control.

Eliminate these 2 issues and there would be no discussion as to who the greatest player of all time is.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:10 AM on May 29

I think it's pretty impossible to play both ends with the same intensity that you were able to play with ten years ago and if you add in the incredible offensive workload, the sheer amount of minutes, and Lebron's age I think it's unfair to assume he could or should be going harder. The fact that he hasn't broken down and they keep winning suggests to me that he has it metered out about as well as possible. Jordan wouldn't have been able to go wire to wire on both sides of the floor either in 2018... because he's 55 years old. Even in his prime though, I don't think Jordan had that type of endurance effort in him but he also didn't need to be in the shape LeBron is in and no one in the league was.

posted by tron7 at 01:04 PM on May 29

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