Just last week I spoke of how I thought the LeBron James’ play may start to deteriorate due to all the minutes he has been playing of late.
We can put that thought/theory to bed as James and the Cleveland Cavaliers made short work of the Eastern Conference’s top seed, the Toronto Raptors, in four games. James will now have a week of rest before he and the Cavs meet the winner of Boston/Philly in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Cleveland’s roller-coaster regular season transitioned to a grueling seven-game first-round win over the Indiana Pacers. It was a series that the Pacers actually outplayed the Cavaliers most of the time but came up short in the final minutes of multiple games. In fact, Indiana out-scored Cleveland by 40 points in the series. That is why I thought things could get tougher for the Cavs against Toronto.
Instead, the No. 4 seed Cavaliers punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 25 point victory on Monday night, completing their sweep of the Raptors. The lopsided victory came one game after James broke Toronto’s heart with a buzzer-beating game-winning hoop in game three. This season marked the third straight year the Raptors were eliminated by Cleveland.
Against the Raptors, the Cavaliers finally showed some signs of cohesion. While James carried the load against the Pacers, he got some help from a variety of teammates, most notably Kevin Love.
No player on the Cleveland roster saw a bigger turnaround than Love, who struggled big time against Indiana. Love came up big against Toronto, averaging 25.0 points and 11.0 rebounds over the final three games against the Raptors.
One has to think that Cleveland is gelling at the right time. But do they have enough to match up against Golden State or Houston? Most think not, but you never know when you have the best player on the court. And I am not talking about James Harden, Chris Paul, Steph Curry, or Kevin Durant. I am talking about a now rested LeBron James.
Hornets To Try Out Another Coach
The Charlotte Hornets surprised many this past week when they chose to remove Steve Clifford as their coach. After all, Clifford had brought Charlotte out of its worst days as the Bobcats and made the playoffs twice. However, with two back-to-back disappointing seasons and a new front office, the Hornets decided to go in a new direction.
The new direction is somewhat out of the box as Charlotte has tabbed San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego as it’s next head coach. Out of the box in that Borrego is not a known name and he is only 41 years old.
The hire of a young coach could be a sign that the Hornets are going to rebuild (again). Even with all the roster moves in recent years, the franchise only has one player with all-star skills, Kemba Walker. The rest of the roster has failed to meet expectations. A rebuild could be in the cards.
Charlotte is hoping that Borrego can become another success story coming from the very successful Gregg Popovich coaching tree.
Images: Kevin Love; James Borrego