With the NBA playoffs in full swing, one question is on the mind of every basketball fan: Is this the year LeBron James delivers the city of Cleveland its first ever championship? Cavalier fans sure hope so, but even I, a so-called “LeBron hater,” can’t help but believe that 2016 is the year of the King.
As is the norm, LeBron has saved his best play for the championship push, but for once during his time in Cleveland, his supporting cast is healthy and playing better than ever. Kyrie Irving is leaving opposing guards in the dust with his lethal crossover, Kevin Love is scoring inside and out, J.R. Smith is hitting big shots, and Tristan Thompson has once again taken up the role of garbage man.
It doesn’t stop there, however. The Cleveland reserves have been crucial to the Cavaliers’ 10-1 playoff start. Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and the rest of the bench brigade have done a stellar job holding down the fort while the starters catch their breath.
Although the stars have aligned in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are by no means shoe-ins to walk away as the NBA’s top team. With a record 73 regular season wins and arguably the best shooter ever to set foot on earth in Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors present a major challenge in Cleveland’s quest for a championship.
The Warriors are without a doubt a sight to behold, but they have had their share of misfortunes this playoffs. They ousted both the Rockets and the Blazers in five games, but the Blazers, a team that most expected to be one of the worst in the league after losing four starters this past summer, fought the Warriors unlike any team this season. Yes, I know Stephen Curry missed the first three games of the series, but if I’d expect any team to maintain utter dominance without their leading man, it would be the Warriors. Despite a 1-1 series tie against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors still have little margin for error. If they do make it to the finals, which I believe they will, it will not be without another long, hard fight
Meanwhile in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are trouncing the Toronto Raptors while working on their handshakes. Some say not being tested in the earlier rounds will come back to haunt LeBron and company against the Western Conference champions, but last year’s playoffs served as ultimate test for the Cavaliers. After losing Kevin Love in the first round and Kyrie Irving in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to injury, the Cavaliers still took the Warriors to six games. Coming so close despite the odds being stacked against them has the Cavaliers locked in more than ever this time around.
So will King James reclaim his throne? Will the people Cleveland, loyal fans deprived of a professional sports championship since 1964, finally have a reason to dance in the streets? Despite the events of this NBA season, I can’t help but say yes. Of course, there are a lot of games to be played and anything can happen, but in the words of the great Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.”