Will LeBron James’s Finals Crusades Come to an End?
After a round 1 scare, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have advanced to the second round to play the Toronto Raptors. Although the Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers, they did it in seven games. This is James’s first ever first round game seven, which raises an alarm for many fans.
DISCLAIMER: I will focus mostly on the Cavaliers’ struggles on offense due to the fact that their defense is so atrocious that I have no hope for anyone (aside from LeBron James and George Hill) on the Cavs to play “good” defense.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have never looked so troubled in the first round of the playoffs behind LeBron James, but should fans be concerned about the team’s NBA Finals campaign? While the Cavs struggled, they won despite only one player scoring above 20 points in each game. This, while disturbing, can give hope to fans of the King, as it’s highly unlikely that the entire team will be playing at such a subpar level after a great win. Another aspect about Game 7 that should give Cavs fans hope is that the team was forced to play without LeBron James, as he exited from when there was 1:00 left in the 3rd quarter until around 10:00 to go in the fourth. Surprisingly, the Cavaliers did not squander the lead with James in the locker room. Squandering leads while LeBron rests is all too familiar for this year’s Cleveland squad.
The Cavs will face off against the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 Tuesday night. The keys to victory for Cleveland? Aside from LeBron James showing up, Tristian Thompson must have an impact down low, as he was a great help in Game 7 v.s. Indiana. Next, either Kyle Korver or J.R. Smith must get hot in the second half. The Cavaliers’ top threats from beyond the arc are Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, and (sometimes) Kevin Love. When Korver and Smith shoot well, James has less to worry about on offense.
If the Cavaliers are looking to make a Finals run, again, the newly acquired and young players, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr., must do more. In one of the Cavs’ losses, the trio put together just 13 points combined. George Hill, another product of the trade deadline extravaganza, also needs to become more consistent from deep if the Cavaliers look to advance to the Finals.
All in all, as long as LeBron James has help from at least one other player, the Cavs should win. Technically speaking, he really doesn’t need help (he won a game or two against Indiana without any) however as the playoffs move on, the teams will only get better, and the chances of LeBron single handedly winning games will only decrease. Someone must step up on offense in order for the Cavaliers to reach the Finals again.