During the 2016-17 NBA regular season, some started to doubt that the Cleveland Cavaliers were the dominant team in the Eastern Conference. However, through two rounds and two games of the conference finals series, the Cavaliers have quieted their doubters.
When the conference finals shift on Sunday to Cleveland little suspense will remain about their outcome.
Cleveland increased its postseason record to 10-0 following its 44-point rout of the Boston Celtics in Game 2 on Friday night, on Boston’s home court nonetheless.
The Celtics loss was one of the most embarrassing home losses for the franchise and likely in the history of NBA conference finals. Cleveland led by 41 points at the half.
Boston ended the regular season with the best overall record in the East, but much of that was because LeBron James coasted down the home stretch including sitting out four games.
Cleveland handed a gift to Boston with home court advantage knowing they still liked their chances of winning the conference title.
During the last 20 games of the regular season, priorities for the Cavaliers shifted from front runner and superiority to preserving player’s health and resting tired legs.
Cleveland coaches decided that the biggest challenge to winning the East was a major injury to one of its players and not the likes of DeMar DeRozan, John Wall or even Isaiah Thomas.
LeBron cost himself another MVP award by resting down the stretch, as he was not named as one of the league’s three finalists for the award he already has won on four occasions.
This will be the first season dating back to 2008 that LeBron will not be in the top three of the award. Two of the three finalists – Russell Westbrook and James Harden – are already out of the playoffs, while the third, Kawhi Leonard is barely hanging on as his Spurs are behind 2-0 to the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron could get the last laugh, another NBA title and a possible NBA MVP, which he considers to be more important than winning the regular season MVP award.
In all likelihood the Cavs will reach the NBA Finals 12-0 or at least 12-1 for the postseason. It appears they will also meet the Golden State Warriors for the third straight year to determine the NBA Champions.
LeBron promises the doubters amongst NBA pundits that as good as the team has been this postseason, it has another level to go to.