With Sunday’s game in the bag and the Cavs once again advancing in the NBA playoffs, the one question on everyone’s mind is this: How long can they keep this up?
The truth is, the Cavs are not the World Champions that they were a couple of years ago. In fact, for all intents and purposes, they probably shouldn’t even be here in the playoffs. Whether you are looking at stats or simply have a really good knowledge of the game, most people who start chatting about the Cavs call this year’s team one thing: perplexing.
This all sounds great but remember…the Cavs aren’t even supposed to be here based on their measly performance throughout the season. Could everything be changing for the better? The thing is, the team only got through this series because of the skills of Lebron James. He simply cannot keep this up anymore, right? Can the Cavs keep going without having to rely on James? Are they a good enough team to win the championship?
Tristan Thompson had a great game on Sunday, too, which definitely helped this team pull through. In game 7, Thompson got that double-double, which absolutely helped him and the team. Unfortunately, he only scored a total of three points during the first six games, so at best, he’s been really unreliable. He’s not the only one, either. The rest of the team only shot 16-for-49, and they only made 38.8 percent of shots…to compare, James had 55.3 percent.
Even though LeBron James could be called the hero of this team, the team as a whole is definitely not convincing playoff winners. In fact, before Sunday’s game, there hasn’t been a team in decades who were able to win a series but were outscored by more than 34 points. The last time it happened was in 1990, when the Portland Trail Blazers won the Western Conference finals over the Phoenix Suns. Though the Cavs certainly won Game 7, they were outscored by 40 points throughout the series.
What’s next for the Cavs? They will go head to head with the Toronto Raptors, and again, the Cavs are definitely the underdogs. When we look closely at stats, we can see that the team has a pretty weak defense, especially when comparing those numbers to other championship teams. What are the odds? The website Fivethirtyeight.com only gives the Cavs a 29 percent chance of beating Toronto, and only an 11 percent chance of making the NBA Finals. This makes sense, too. After all, the Cavs just had the home court advantage when going against the Pacers, and they certainly struggled. Now, the Raptors have the home court advantage, plus the Toronto team has an average of 6.1 points per game higher than the Pacers. So, on paper, things don’t look good for Cleveland’s former NBA Champions…
But, the Cavs are the Cavs, and Believeland, as Cleveland is known during these times, is behind them. The team has eliminated the Raptors from the playoffs the past two years, and since 2011, LeBron James has led his team to the NBA Finals. Will his streak end this year? Probably, but this is Believeland’s native son, and he’s certainly going to do everything he can to bring the championship home again. The big question on everyone’s mind, of course, is if the rest of the team will start helping him out. It’s uncertain, and very unlikely, that James can keep up this pace.
The Raptors and Cavaliers series starts May 1st, 2018.