James' Cavs advance to NBA Finals
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
Just like that, well, maybe eight years later than we expected, but LeBron James has taken his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers from the worst team in basketball to the biggest stage the sport has to offer. The Cavaliers are headed back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007, after a young James led the Cavs past the Detroit Pistons in six games.
"I'm a guy who believes in unfinished business," James uttered after becoming the first player to make five straight NBA Finals since Bill Russell.
James finished the series less than one assist per game away from averaging a triple-double for the series. He needed just three more assists in Game 4 to average the triple-double. James averaged 30.3 points, 11 rebounds and 9.3 assists against the Hawks.
This time around, James' Cavaliers seem poised to win it all. The Cavaliers wrapped up a sweep of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, dominating the Hawks for the entirety of the game, 118-88. This close-out game appeared to be more like a slaughter because the Hawks never had a chance.
"This is Cleveland," said coach David Blatt. "Nothing is easy here." Well on this night, it was certainly easy. Blatt pulled James aside during the game and told him, "You deserve this."
Behind James, and Kyrie Irving, who returned from injury last night and played well, the Cavaliers virtually put this game away in the first half. They jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and held a 20-point lead by halftime. A surprise to nobody, James led the Cavs in scoring. He finished with 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting,
Although Irving was running up and down the court with a slight limp, he showed why he's one of the best young players in this league. Irving connected on four out of his first five shot attempts. When those shots went down, the Cavaliers never looked back.
Just Irving's presence on the court provided a huge boost of energy for the Cavs' players and fans. He finished with 16 points (6-of-11 FG) and two assists. They'll need the Irving from Game 4 if they plan on taking out the Golden State Warriors.
On this night, maybe the biggest smiles of all came from guards J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert. Smith said after the game his mother came on the floor and said "talk about starting from the bottom now we here." After playing for the dreadful New York Knicks, it must be pretty sweet to advance to the NBA Finals playing alongside LeBron James. Just another example of how things can change so quickly in this world.
This is an impressive accomplishment for a Cavaliers team that practically nobody gave any chance to survive when Kevin Love went down with the shoulder injury. The same Cavs team everybody counted out against the Chicago Bulls when Kyrie Irving came down with multiple injuries. Yes, that team will now be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. That team has a chance to bring Cleveland its first championship in over 50 years, and at this point I don't think anybody would be surprised if they do so.
Since 2010, James is 60-18 (.769) against the East in the postseason, and has needed seven games in only two series. The Cavaliers will enter the Finals, which are set to begin on June 4, with an impressive 12-2 record in the postseason.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @T_Rosen11