There was nothing stopping LeBron James from making his eighth straight appearance in the NBA Finals.
However, there was a few headwinds.
If you’re a person that knows anything about basketball you know that TD Garden is not the place to be in a live or die Game 7 situation.
The screaming fans, roaring crowd, and taunting atmosphere makes the Boston Garden seem like a nightmare for opposing teams. Besides maybe the Golden State Warriors, it is safe to say there is not another team that feeds off the crowd’s energy more than the Boston Celtics. But if any player in the National Basketball Association could silence a crowd, it would be none other than the King himself.
Image: (Gus Chan)
This setting seemed all too familiar for James as it happened to be the very place where he fell to the Celtics in Game 6 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The aftermath following that game led to James being traded to Miami, followed by a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after he won a couple of championships with the Heat. But for Cleveland sports fans, the pain of the past is gone and all is forgiven now.
As we fast forward to present day, we see James in a similar situation facing free agency with many wondering if this would be his last game in a Cavaliers uniform.
In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it was obvious that the Celtics’ game plan was to tire James out. During his 15th season in the league, James played in all 82 games this season as well as a complete 48 minutes in multiple postseason games this year. Despite lack of rest there was still no doubt that he would show up to compete. The real question was, who would be James’ supporting cast?
Image: (Gus Chan)
After the Kyrie Irving trade deal, followed by a few other big name stars such as Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas, and Derrick Rose departing Cleveland, there was not much for James to work with in the playoffs. With Kevin Love out with concussion symptoms, the bench players for the Cavaliers were going to be the deciding factors for the outcome of the game.
Jeff Green had big shoes to fill for the Cavs as he was set to replace Kevin Love in the starting lineup Sunday night. The former Celtic is a player who underwent an open heart surgery a couple years prior and expressed his gratitude just to be able to even play the game again. Green’s performance inspired many and was the story of the night as he had an all around complete game with 19 points and 8 rebounds (via Boston.com). The rest of the points were scored by the regulars for the Cavaliers as JR Smith contributed
where he could making 3 long range shots and ending up with 12 points for the night. Tristan Thompson certainly didn’t shy away from competition and made his presence apparent as his sound defense and rebounding abilities yielded him to scoring 10 points with 9 rebounds for the game (via NBA.com).
Lebron James was as physically dominating as ever scoring 35 points along with 15 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 blocks. James’ ability to drive to the basket and make shots while taking contact made him an unstoppable force against even the larger Celtics such as Aron Baynes.
Image: (Gus Chan)
The young rookie Jayson Tatum added 24 points for the Celtics as he proved himself worthy of a NBA All-Rookie First Team honor.
This was definitely a memorable Eastern Conference Game 7 for James and only furthers the stigma that he is the best player in the world and of all time. Cavs fans are all eager to see what their team can do in the next few games and if they can bring home the coveted O’Brien Trophy.
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Game 1 of the NBA Finals is Thursday, May 31 @ 9 pm ET on ABC
Featured Image: (Gus Chan)