Looking back at Game 1 of these 2018 NBA Finals, the first thing that came to my mind was that it was the summation of the 2017-2018 NBA season as a whole for the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James has proved yet again why he is & has been the most valuable player in the Association for going on a decade straight (and probably even longer).
Before both the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers & the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, I thought the Cavs would lose… I was wrong. The reason I thought that was because the Indiana Pacers & Boston Celtics are better TEAMS than the Cleveland Cavaliers. Indiana finished just 2 games back of Cleveland in the regular season at 48-34 & the Celtics were the #2 seed after an improbable 55-27 run while losing their two highest paid all-stars (Gordon Hayward ten minutes into the season opener & Kyrie Irving who hadn’t played since March 11th & had surgery on March 24th that sidelined him for the remainder of the year). The Pacers & Celtics both gave the Cavaliers a glimpse at what looks to be a grim future, if LeBron departs The Land this summer, a Cavaliers team that doesn’t have the guns to be competitive without LeBron.
That’s why I believed they could beat Cleveland. The Cavaliers have always been overly dependent on LeBron James, that’s been his entire career in Cleveland. Look at what LeBron has done in this postseason through 20 games played:
THOSE ARE HIS PLAYOFF NUMBERS!
Here are his regular season totals:
Almost every single statistical category has seen a rise & that’s because his responsibility to this team is unheard of. When LeBron did have the help of another legitimate NBA superstar, Kyrie Irving, they were able to win a championship. He doesn’t have that counterpart on this Cleveland team.
But, that is the whole point of this. Game 1 of the 2018 Finals was a summary of the entire 2017-18 season for the Cavaliers. LeBron James in Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors:
48 minutes, 51 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 19/32 FG, 59.4%, 3/7 3PT 43%, 10/11FT
AND THEY LOST.
The Cavaliers took an all-time NBA Finals performance from LeBron James & wasted it by getting thumped in overtime (124-114). Tell me this, if going into Game 1, had you said to all of your friends & LeBron: “the Cavaliers will go on the road to Oracle Arena in Game 1 of the NBA Finals & take the Warriors into overtime”, not only would everyone had said “YES!”, they would’ve liked the odds of Cleveland “stealing” Game 1 & maybe having an outside chance at stealing the entire series. They didn’t win Game 1, nor will they win this series. Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers have the best player in the world, it takes a TEAM to win a championship. Multiple scorers, roll players who contribute, coaches who make in-game adjustments, you need ALL of that in order to win a title.
LeBron James may have been able to carry this team into the postseason, he may have been able to carry them past the first round against Indiana, or even past Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals, but he alone can’t carry them past the Golden State Warriors.
-Anthony Bellino is the host of The Fox Sports Morning Blitz, weekday mornings form 7am-9am on Toledo’s Fox Sports Radio 1230.