Will somebody challenge the Cavs in the East….please

Updated: May 6, 2016

In the wake of Cleveland’s 123-98 destruction of the Atlanta Hawks, much of the buzz afterword surrounded the record 25 3-pointers the Cavs hit and Charles Barkley’s assertion that a physical message needed to be sent by the Hawks to their prancing opponents.

This will surely give tonight’s Game 3 storylines some juice going in, but the fact of the matter is that, similar to last season, Cleveland once again appears to be rolling towards the NBA Finals.

Before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 playoffs, the Cavs made short work of the teams in the East by sweeping Boston, winning in six versus the Bulls, and then sweeping the Hawks. So far to date in these playoffs, they bounced the Pistons in four and have won the first two against Atlanta.

As much as I want to see this get competitive, barring an injury or a slew of off-nights from the Cavs, it’s hard to envision Atlanta making this a long series. They have good players, but not the superstar level talent of a LeBron James or Kyrie Irving.

That leaves the Miami Heat (I’m assuming they beat the Raptors), a team with the guard play, size in the middle, and depth in terms of wing players that could at least make it interesting. They know LeBron inside and out, and seem to have his number when games are played between these two squads at the American Airlines Arena. Everyone is clamoring to see Wade/LeBron go at it on the big stage, with Pat Riley is the stands trying to play mind tricks and will the Heat to victory. Without Chris Bosh though, I still think the Cavs would emerge victorious and head to the Finals again.

All of this makes me wonder if this is how it is going to be in the East until LeBron eventually (I think) starts to show some slippage. Barring a Kevin Durant move to the Heat, Celtics, or Wizards, there isn’t much out there that I can see shifting the balance of power. LeBron will get to cruise into the Finals year after year (enduring a light workload along the way), until he finally gets by one of the teams out West. It is a testament to the greatness of LeBron that he can keep putting himself in prime position whether he is playing for the Heat or Cavs, but as a fan of the drama and struggle of playoff basketball, his domination in the East has made this entire exercise a bit of a formality.

I appreciated it more when he was battling the Sheed/Chauncey Pistons in his youth and the KG/Pierce Celtics later on before he broke through, but now the only true conflict will be when his team inevitably faces either the Warriors, Spurs, or Thunder. For the meantime though, I will sit back and hope that Paul Millsap channels his inner Barkley and turns this Cavs dance party into something that resembles an a real series.




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