The NBA regular season is quickly reaching an end, which means the playoffs are right around the corner. And through a season of ups and downs, LeBron James seems ready to take control of the Eastern Conference playoffs and lead his Cleveland Cavaliers to yet another NBA Finals appearance.
Due to a lackluster regular season for the Cavaliers, they will not hold a No. 1 or No. 2 seed going into the playoffs. However, James doesn’t think that will be an issue for him and his teammates.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Don’t Care About Playoff Seeding
In early March, a reporter asked James if he felt an upcoming road trip was important for the Cavs because if they had a bad trip, they could possibly fall to the No. 6 seed in the conference.
“I want to play well, I want us to continue to get better,” James answered. “It doesn’t matter to me if I’m a six seed, a three seed, a two seed, or an eight seed. If I come into your building for Game 1, it’ll be very challenging.”
And so it would be. As of April 3, the Cavs are the No. 3 seed, meaning they can expect to face the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs. Cleveland would start the series on the road. But after letting his young teammates get their feet wet in round one, James and the Cavs could be rolling come round two.
Benefits of ‘Homecourt Disadvantage’
Having Game 1 on the road for the Cavs would allow them to set the tone, take Game 1, and put the higher seeded Celtics or Toronto Raptors in a nearly must-win scenario come Game 2.
We have seen success on the road before from James and the Cavaliers in the playoffs. Boston had homecourt in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, but the Cavs took a commanding 2-0 lead before the series shifted to Cleveland. The Cavs didn’t look back, taking the series 4-1. Also, what comes to mind is in 2016, when the Cavs wrapped up the Eastern Conference Finals by winning Game 6 in Toronto.
This has been a very tough year in Cleveland. The season has been highlighted by injuries (Kevin Love), poor performances (J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson), and new faces added at the trade deadline (Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, and George Hill).
Don’t Forget the Past
We have seen this story before from the Cavaliers in the James era. We have seen times where team chemistry looks to be low, we’ve seen times where James looks like he is slowing down, and we’ve even seen the Cavaliers fire a coach mid-season. And yet, through all of this, one thing has stayed the same: success in the playoffs against the East.
Since James came back to Cleveland, the Cavaliers have gone 36-5 against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs, making the NBA Finals in all three seasons.
So, when James walks into Toronto or Boston’s building for Game 1 of a series, drops a stat line of 35-12-12, and the Cavs win by 15, you might ask yourself why you doubted LeBron James again this year.
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