Warriors sweep Cavs to win NBA championship
LeBron watch begins
​ BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers had faced elimination on three separate occasions in the 2018 NBA Playoffs. The first occurrence came in a surprising seventh game in the opening round of the postseason against the Indiana Pacers, but LeBron James dropped 45 points in Game 7 against Indiana to delay any vacation plans a little longer.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs trailed the Boston Celtics 3-2 in the series. Yet, facing his earliest exit from the playoffs since 2010 in Game 6, James posted 46 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to force a win-or-go-home Game 7. In Game 7 against the well-coached and well-rounded Celtics, James scraped together 35 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists to ensure that the Cavs would play in their fourth straight NBA Finals.

Their Finals opponent, however, had proven to be a much stiffer challenge than the Pacers, Celtics and forgotten Toronto Raptors the Cavs faced in the first three rounds. Cleveland entered Friday night’s Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors trailing 0-3 in the series and once again facing elimination. Unlike the previous three times they faced going home, though, the Cavs couldn’t overcome the superior Warriors and fell ... on Friday in Quicken Loans Arena to end the NBA season.

With the loss, the Cavs had to watch Golden State’s players and personnel celebrate a title on their home floor for the second time in four seasons.

“Just after the game, just talking to the guys, it was a tough season,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. “We went through a lot, but I think it made us tougher, made us stronger.”

With the Cavs season over, there’s only one question on the minds of Cavs fans, management and NBA followers everywhere. Was Friday’s game the last for James in a Cavaliers uniform? James, Cleveland’s king and the best player in the league, will be a free agent this summer, free to leave home and join virtually any team he chooses. There will be plenty of suitors for his talents.

“I mean, I have no idea at this point,” James said. “The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family. Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago.

“I’ve got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn’t around as well.”

James finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in Game 4, but the overwhelming storyline from his 2018 playoff run was the lack of consistent support. Entering Game 4 of the Finals, the only other player on the Cavs roster averaging double-figures in scoring besides James was Kevin Love (15.0 ppg). And while the Cavs were swept in the Finals, it shouldn’t take away from the historic performances James produced throughout the postseason.

James tied Jerry West with eight 40-point outings in the 2018 playoffs, an NBA record that has stood since 1965. He also posted an NBA leading four triple-doubles in the postseason, and his triple-double in Game 3 gave him 10 such occurrences in his Finals career, which is also the most all-time. Now, Cavs fans have to wait to see if he’ll be putting on superb performances for another team next season.

The game that ended James’ season wasn’t particularly close. Cleveland trailed by as many as 11 points in the first quarter of Game 4, but battled back to take a 39-38 lead on a James dunk with 7:12 to play until halftime. However, by the time Steph Curry drained his fourth three-pointer heading into halftime, Golden State had a 61-52 lead. It only got worse for Cleveland from there, as the Warriors led 86-65 entering the final frame.

James left the floor with 4:03 remaining in the fourth and the Cavs trailing 102-77. He received a standing ovation and MVP chants rained down.

“I hope he stays,” Lue said. “I mean, we all know that. But after a game like that, I’m not in any position to talk about that. I just appreciate what he’s done for us this season. That’s all I can really speak about.”

Curry finished with 37 points, six rebounds and four assists, but Kevin Durant took home Finals MVP honors.

The Cavs season is over, and they’ll enter an offseason filled with uncertainty. Whether James will be back in a Cavs uniform when the 2018-19 season begins will loom until he makes his next big decision.. 
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​POSTED 06/09/2018 01:42
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