The Cleveland Cavaliers were set to be NBA championship contenders from the tip, particularly considering that they had a fearsome trio ready to take over the mantle of being the league’s best ‘Big Three’.
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After locking Kyrie Irving in to a long-term deal, the franchise traded for Kevin Love and brought LeBron James back after his short stay in Miami.
The new ‘Big Three’ knew that there would be troubles to begin with, but ultimately there was far too much talent on that team not to be competing in the latter stages of the playoffs.
However, things haven’t quite gone to plan with Love sidelined since Game 4 of the opening-round series with the Boston Celtics after suffering a dislocated shoulder which required season-ending surgery.
A series later and the Cavs have essentially lost Irving too as he has sat out a significant period of time across the Eastern Conference semi-finals and finals as he continues to battle knee tendinitis.
While the suggestion is that he could play if the team desperately needed him to, Cleveland ultimately haven’t needed him as James has been in such sensational form that he is taking the lead and dragging his team deeper into the post-season.
Iman Shumpert, JR Smith and Matthew Dellavedova amongst others are certainly doing their part, but there is no denying that the two-time NBA champion has been on another level compared to his rivals.
Despite going 0-for-10 to start Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night, the 30-year-old regrouped and ended the game with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists even as he struggled with his body breaking down on him.
There will be a fear of how much he has left when the NBA Finals eventually come round, such is the effort, physical and emotional, that he is putting into each game this playoff campaign, but his averages of 32.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 10 assists per game in this series tell their own story.
The ‘King’ is proving that he still remains the dominant force in the league and it will take something incredibly special to deny him a fifth straight trip to the season finale where he hopes to end Cleveland’s long wait for a championship. With the Cavs and the Golden State Warriors nearing a series sweep in their respective conferences, LeBron vs Stephen Curry will surely be the most entertaining and thrilling climax to the season any fan could have wished for.