Remember that scene in “The Wire” when “D” was trying to explain the rules of the game of Chess to Wallace and Bodie? The youngins wanted to know what happens to the pieces that survive the game. Will they become the King? D explained to them that the King will always be the King. Period. Well, that was the message that Lebron James sent to the Boston Celtics and the rest of the league last night. “The King will always be the King.”
Love him or hate him, you have to respect what Lebron James means to the game of basketball. I’m old enough to remember Michael Jordan’s greatness. I’m old enough to remember Kobe Bryant’s greatness. I’m even old enough to remember Dr. J’s greatness. (Just the Philly years) I’m old enough to say what I’m about to say with full confidence because I have witnessed different eras of basketball with my own two eyes, and not by YouTube videos and Google searches. “We are witnessing greatness firsthand.” This statement is not to take anything away from the Kobe’s, MJ’s, Doc’s, Magic’s, Bird’s, Shaq’s, and Hardaway’s (Penny and Tim sr.), of NBA history, but Lebron James’ greatness stands out above all for one reason. I have never seen an NBA player take a group of absolute trash so far in my life! This is not the first time Lebron James has taken a can full of trash this far in his career either. This man put this Cavs team on his back and carried them to the NBA Finals. MJ had Pippen. MJ’s role players were not great, they also were not that shit Lebron James played with in these playoffs either. Kobe got his with Shaq and others with Paul Gasol. His role players were not great, they also were not that shit Lebron James carried on his back throughout these 2018 NBA playoffs either. Argue, agree, love him, or hate him. If we’re being 100% genuine, we can all agree that what we are witnessing in 2018 as we watch a 34-year old Lebron James out there battling 20-something’s every night, is nothing short of greatness.
For maybe only the second time since I’ve seen the Celtics in these playoffs, their age and lack of playoff experience were on full display. And that didn’t really kick in until it became painfully obvious that Bron was having “one of those nights.” The Celtics began to look unsure of themselves all of a sudden, and “the little engine that could” finally broke down, on the way to a low scoring 87-79 game-7 “L” to the visiting Cleveland Cavs. Rookie, Jason Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 24 points. Al Horford had 17 and Marcus Morris had 14. The game was played tightly. By “tightly”, I mean that everyone seemed to be on edge. The Celtics did not come out and play like they had nothing to lose, which has been their usual. Last night they played like they had everything to lose. The difference in approaches to the game showed too. Lebron dropped 35, 15, and 9. He came up one assist shy of another playoff triple-double. Jeff Green showed up big in his second game replacing Kevin Love, who is out and in the concussion protocol. Green had 19 pts. and 8 boards. J.R. Smith had 12 and Tristan Thompson added 10 points to go along with 9 rebounds. Bron didn’t have much help last night, but at times it seemed like he wasn’t looking for any. HE was determined to beat the Celtics last night. F*ck what everyone else was doing. Beat the Celtics he did. Cleveland is on their way to another NBA Finals, where they will face the winner of game-7 between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. A game that will be played in Houston.
To be the champs, you gotta beat the champs. That’s what they always say right? You didn’t really think the defending Eastern Conference Champs were going down without a fight did you? I ain’t gonna lie. After those first two games of this series, I did. But there’s a reason why Lebron is nicknamed “The King”, and just in case you may have forgotten, Lebron James reminded us all why, once again last night.
The Cavs pulled off a game-6 victory on their home court last night, even without the help of their second top scorer on the squad, Kevin Love, who only played 5 minutes last night. Love went down after a brutal head-to-head collision with Boston’s Jason Tatum early on in the 1st quarter. He was taken off the court with concussion-like symptoms. Jeff Green stepped in to replace Love. Honestly, it didn’t matter if it was Jeff green, Moe Green, or Al Green who stepped in when Kevin Love went down, last night the King was determined not to be eliminated on his home court. Lebron put up 46 points 11 rebs. and 9 ast to help Cleveland force a game-7 in Boston. George Hill stepped up big-time for the Cavs as he added 20 and Jeff Green filled in for Love nicely with a 14 point 3 reb effort. Larry Nance Jr. also put up nice numbers in extra minutes on the floor last night. He dropped in 10 points and added 7 rebs. Terry Rozier led the way for Boston with 28 points. Jalen Brown added 27 for the “C’s”. And just as I predicted very early on in the series, Al Horford pretty much disappeared. Yeah, he had 6 points and 9 rebounds, but none of his stats were impactful. He was prtty much just out there.
I don’t have a prediction for game-7. None of these individual games have really been close in this series. Boston looked like an all-star team on their home court, and looked like some shit on the road. The same thing applies for Cleveland. So, if we’re going by the history of this series, Boston should win game-7 of this series easily on their homecourt. The only question I have is can this young squad handle the pressure of a game-7, and facing a player in Lebron James who is averaging 40+ points in game-7’s in his career? WE WILL SEE. All I hope for is to finally get a tight game in this series! Here’s some highlights from last night’s game-6 in Cleveland:
Video courtesy: Rapid Highlights
I’ll give them credit, the 76ers showed some heart last night. After getting their one game back in Philly and avoiding a sweep, I kind of felt like the 76ers would come out last night and lay an egg. Coming back from a 3-0 series deficit would’ve been a steep hill to climb, and I wasn’t sure that this 76ers team had something like that in them. Not against this red-hot Celtics team. I was right about that part, but I was wrong about the type of effort the 76ers would give in Boston down 3-1. The 76ers could’ve actually won this game. The same could be said of at least three of the five games the 76ers played against the Celtics in this series. The problem is that this young 76ers team has a lot of places where they need to be better if they hope to be competitive in the playoffs. The 76ers, as a team has no bigger issue to work on than late game ball control. The carelessness that has plagued this team all season was finally their ultimate demise. In the regular season, the team got away with blowing big leads a lot of times, but the playoffs are a different season. A lesson I’m sure this young team will learn.
76ERS 112 –
The Celtics pulled out the victory in a game that was close and very competitive all night. Boston was led by Jason Tatum who dropped in 25 pts. Jaylen Brown had another solid night on his way to a 24 pts. effort. The Celtics had six players who scored in double digits last night (Horford 15, Tatum 25, Baynes 13, Rozier 17, Brown 24, Smart 14). It was an all-around solid outing by the Boston Celtics as they closed out a tough 76ers team in front of a rowdy Boston crowd. Dario Saric and Joel Embiid led the way for the 76ers, both dropping in 27 pts and adding double digit rebounds (10, 12). The 76ers season is over, but the future of this team is very bright. As a matter of fact, the future of both of these teams are very bright. The 76ers – Celtics matchup is going to quickly become a rivalry that may match the brutal Boston – Philly rivalry of the 80’s. Anyone old enough to remember those days knows that this is a good thing for the entire NBA. The best thing about that, is most of the players on both of these squads are very young. I look forward to great matchups from these teams for years to come.
The Celtics move on to face the Cleveland Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals for a chance to play in the NBA Finals. Feelings aside, and a straight up basketball related analysis of this series…….Sorry Boston, not this year. There is nothing the Celtics can do to stop Lebron James from doing whatever he wants out there. Anyone guarding him will find themselves in foul trouble very quickly. Then there’s the Kevin Love issue. Where’s the matchup there? Tatum? Baynes? Then you have to deal with the Tristan Thompson issue. Yes, I suspect that Tristan Thompson will play a huge role in this series. I wouldn’t even be surprised if coach Tyron Lue decided to start Thompson in this series. As good as Boston was against the 76ers, the thing that worked most for them was not needing to go too deep into their bench to matchup with the 76ers. Cleveland will go deep into their bench. Kyle Korver, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman (remember him?), Jordan Clarkson, Jeff Green, Larry Nance Jr. I think the Cavs are just going to be too deep in the long-run. I still think it will be a competitive series. I give Boston a home game, and maybe even steal one in Cleveland. But too much bench, too much Cavs, too much Bron. I got the Cavs in 6. Sorry I’m not sorry Celtics fans.
Famed basketball analyst and host of ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith believes that the 76ers are going to the Eastern Conference finals. This is news to me, because as far as I can tell, Stephen A. Smith has been one of the biggest Philadelphia sports haters for awhile now. From the Eagles, to the Phillies, to the 76ers, to the Flyers, Stephen A. has always seemed to have some sort of negative insight or take on anything Philadelphia. Pretty ironic, considering he used to write for The Philadelphia Inquirer back in the day. Anyway, Stephen A. has found himself a seat on the 76ers bandwagon pretty early. Hope he doesn’t jinx the squad with his bandwagon jumping! Do you agree with Stephen A. Smith? Do the 76ers have what it takes to reach the Eastern Conference Finals this season?
Video Courtesy: ESPN