After the Cleveland Cavaliers fell behind Boston Celtics three games to two in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night, one narrative emerged in the hours leading up to Friday night's Game 6.
If the first five games of the Eastern Conference Finals are any indication, the Game 6 result isn't hard to predict. While most other players he entered the league with back in 2003 are either out of the league or are on the decline, James somehow keeps on ascending. The last team to represent the East in the Finals that didn't have James - the Celtics in 2010.
Cleveland led by as many as 16 in the third quarter, but the advantage was down to seven with 2:47 to play when James unleased back-to-back three-pointers and converted a layup to push the Cavs lead back to 109-96. The NBA is more geared towards the three-point shot now, and while James has not shot as well there as the past two postseasons, his 30.9% from deep means he can not be ignored there either. LeBron hit a 3 to give the Cavs the lead, then Marcus Morris was called for an offensive foul. It had been this rookie's fate to try to cover James, and as James scored 44 points in Game 4, this was not relentlessly upbeat viewing. On top of that, James has been down 3-2 to the Celtics since that last loss, and Boston does not need to be reminded of the effort he put forth to make sure he overcame a much more established team then they have right now. "That's why he's the best player in the world".
North Carolina: Teachers 'Raleigh' for Salary Increase
Recent marches in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and now North Carolina, all right-to-work states, confirm my worry. North Carolina is now ranked 37th in the nation for average teacher pay and 39th in per-pupil spending.
Now the Cavs will have to win a Game 7 in Boston to advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals. But the Cavs' chances of winning decrease when their best player averages six turnovers a game and teammates don't pitch in. "You know what I'm saying?" Love sat briefly before heading to the locker room for further evaluation.
The Celtics didn't score on all those Horford post-ups, but the eight in the first quarter produced 12 points on good shots. Jeff Green had 14 off the bench, and Larry Nance Jr. had a timely 10 points and 7 rebounds. Jayson Tatum?and James had already turned his head toward the other end of the court as he signaled that the possession should belong to Cleveland as the ball went out of bounds, making him unable to avoid the contact. He's been Boston's top shot creator on isolation plays, and continues to add new moves to do his work inside the paint, or to wiggle free beyond the arc. I haven't always played great in my career.
Brad Stevens surprised reporters by revealing his starting lineup after joking to the media prior to Game 5 that he only did it in the past because he hadn't been told he had an option.