Let it soak in Cleveland.
It was anticipated since the start of the regular season that the Cavaliers would get back to The NBA Finals and have a chance to defend the title they won last June 19th.
And here we are after the Cavs dominated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, four games to one.
The only game Boston won, the wine and gold had a 21 point lead midway through the third quarter.
It was that much of a mismatch.
So, the Cavaliers, a downtrodden franchise since the Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, and Larry Nance era, is heading to their third consecutive trip to The Finals, and the fourth overall in franchise history.
All four of those squad contain a certain LeBron James, who became the most prolific scorer in league playoff history tonight.
As for James, he is making his seventh consecutive trip to The Finals and his eighth overall.
Just for comparison, Michael Jordan played for the NBA title six times.
The only players in NBA history who have played in more championship series are as follows:
Bill Russell 12
Sam Jones 11
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 10
Jerry West 9
Magic Johnson 9
Tommy Heinsohn 9
That’s it. Three of those players played with those Celtic teams that dominated the late 50’s and 60’s. It’s incredible to ponder James’ greatness and to think he has now been to the ultimate series four times with two different franchises.
Of course, we know just getting to The Finals isn’t enough for James or the rest of the Cavaliers for that matter.
This is the rubber match against the Golden State Warriors, and unlike the great Celtic-Lakers’ rivalry in the 1980’s, we don’t think there is a lot of respect for each other.
Cleveland would love to win this match up, not only to repeat as champions, but also to give them bragging rights in this trilogy.
You have to feel good for two veterans making their first Finals appearance in Deron Williams and Kyle Korver, both of whom joined the Cavs during the season.
Williams has been in the league for 12 seasons, made the All Star team five times, and played on the US Olympic team. The closest he got previously was in his second NBA season when the Jazz lost to San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.
Korver was swept out of the playoffs the last two seasons by the Cavaliers, giving new meaning to the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” saying.
He got to the conference finals twice, losing as a member of the Chicago Bulls in 2010-11 and with the Hawks in 2014-15. Both times, he lost to a team featuring LeBron James.
Be ready for a national media blitz extoling the virtues of the Golden State Warriors and how they cannot be beaten. They aren’t unbeatable.
That doesn’t mean we are expecting a Cavalier victory, but we are saying if the wine and gold execute their game plan, they can beat the Warriors again.
Remember, the Western Conference Finals were played with San Antonio missing one of the top five players in the NBA in Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs would have trouble beating Toronto or Boston in a seven game series without Leonard.
These are the halcyon days for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As James himself said after last night’s win, don’t take this for granted. After all, before James came back to the team, it had only happened once.