The Cavaliers have rediscovered their identity. "It's nearly like the new guys have been here", James told reporters after the game, referring to the four players - Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood - the Cavs acquired three days ago just at the National Basketball Association trade deadline.
At the post-game press conference, Philboxing was able to pose a question about Coach Brad Stevens thought process in defending the new-look Cavaliers next time as a potential play-off opponent given their youth, athleticism and speed. The trades, which sent away players like Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose, seem to have reawakened James. For them to give the praise they gave that means a lot because Magic Johnson was my idol and Kobe Bryant was my rival. And, in doing so. It made the Cavs the only squad in the top five of either conference that made a trade up against the deadline. Cleveland also managed to make this major trade while holding onto a likely high pick in the 2018 NBA Draft (obtained from Brooklyn), which enhances both the A and the B in our equation.
After the game on Sunday, Hood conceded that he had butterflies coming in.
But aiming to burst their bubble this evening will be an Oklahoma City team which stunned the Golden State Warriors last week. However, it's clear that the team's new additions are committed to helping Cleveland steer in the right direction toward reaching a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance for another chance to compete for a championship.
It only took watching the Cavaliers for a few minutes in January to see that James was miserable.
The Celtics will continue to be a very good team.
That was what made James's performance - and his attitude - Sunday against the Celtics so striking.
With the Thunder trailing by five with about 15 seconds remaining, Abrines missed a three-pointer that would have cut the Cavs lead to just two. The Cavs defeated the East-leading Celtics 121-99 in TD Garden, spoiling Paul Pierce's jersey retirement ceremony, something the Cavs of two weeks ago had no hope of doing. George Hill was in Sacramento and he's ready to get back to the playoffs. "Obviously we got a helluva point guard in George who can guard 1, 2 and 3. It's going to be something special".
They're much more active, more athletic, their defense is already significantly better, and Tyronn Lue can again trot out a devastating lineup featuring LeBron surrounded by shooters. This is the New Age and these are the three greatest acquisitions from Thursday's trades.
What spectators saw from the Cavaliers in their former iteration was a team that was old, slow, sloppy, disjointed, dispirited and dysfunctional.
It will be a litmus test for the Cavaliers as they will visit the Thunder who have enough offensive firepower. Goran Dragic led the Heat with 28 points, including 16 points in the third quarter. "It's fun. He demands simple things, just to play hard". Now, they could become a regular occurrence. Therefore, if you haven't already, thank Boston because now the Cavs' long-term outlook looks even better!