Would another title for James - evening his Finals record at 4-4 and nearly certainly coming along with his fourth NBA Finals MVP - inch him ever closer to Jordan in his stated campaign to become recognized as the GOAT - the Greatest of All Time? "All them doctors know that", Thomas said.
This team strikes the flawless balance between superstars and players who excel at the role they're asked to fulfill. "There's bigger threats in my neighborhood than LeBron James, so I have no fear - I have no fear whatsoever of LeBron".
He said the Celtics are committed to putting him on the best path to long-term health. "That's all I ever know about Mike", Lue said Saturday. They never stood a chance. They're a team that doesn't have many weaknesses, if any at all.
Thomas had his front tooth knocked out in Game 1 of the conference semifinals against Washington, but it was a lingering hip injury he aggravated later in the series against the Wizards that would end his season prematurely. Kevin Love had 15 points and 11 rebounds before joining the rest of the Cavaliers starters on the bench for the fourth quarter - a familiar scene in the series. The organization suspected it before, but knows with certainty now: the league's superpowers belong in a league of their own.
"He's been the driving force, this entire playoff run, and all of us have just helped us along the way", Irving said.
The Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 to clinch the best-of-seven series 4-1.
Pop quiz, hot shot: Which of the two Finals teams has a higher 3-point rate? The current Boston team can blame the old guys for forcing James to become the monster he is today.
Sure, a three-year window may not seem like a lot. The Celtics have placed themselves in position to straddle the line between now and later; they can grow with Thomas and Horford, chase Gordon Hayward this summer, and, assuming they hold onto their draft equity, groom a group of lottery picks. Despite this, the Celtics rookie was still unsure if James executed a legal play.
The sustained success is insane, but it's what the Celtics are chasing. They played great basketball this year.
There will be time to discuss all that, to wonder what Markelle Fultz might bring to Boston or whether Hayward will really leave the Utah Jazz. Couple all of this with the brashness he displayed during his brief matchup with James and the Celtics have a player in Brown, whose future will likely be directly tied to the success of the franchise in the years to come. Those previous 21 NBA Finals games, with totals of 200 or more points, saw an average of 200.9 points scored. Jaylen Brown showed unbridled talent and an eagerness to charge straight at a challenge. "As of tonight, I'll get started". Toronto's DeMar DeRozan said after the Cavs dispatched the Raptors, "If we had LeBron on our team, too, we would have won". "We still have to keep growing as a group and getting better".
Of course, should they come out flat, some will look back on this and compare it to the Miami boat trip taken by New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and his teammates prior to their wildcard game against the Green Bay Packers. "So however you want to take that, that's how the season's been". "That's gonna be the toughest thing, because I love hoop". The Warriors are 12th among playoff teams in points per possession in transition.
The Celtics will need to. They may be defending champions and they may have LeBron James, but against Golden State, they are definite underdogs.
"I'll take LeBron James, absolutely", Laimbeer said this month on "The Rematch" podcast.