Eastern Conference Champions
The Cavs triumph in Game 4 secured their birth to the 2015 NBA Finals in convincing fashion. The win meant that they swept the #1 seed in the East, the Atlanta Hawks, who owned the second best record in the NBA. The Finals birth was special because the Cavs clinched at home, a place where they are 26-2 since January 19th, and were able to celebrate the accomplishment with every one of the steadfast, diehard fans of Northeast Ohio who have been long awaiting a winner. The fact that they came out fast, jumped out to a lead, and kept it to win decisively made it even sweeter. The sea of gold, created by the playoff t-shirt giveaway, erupted after every big play and were on their feet for the majority of the game to salute the team’s hard work. Chants of “Let’s go Cavs”, “Del-ly” when the feisty Aussie was at the charity stripe, and “M-V-P” when LeBron was in the same position rang out throughout the game. Later, in the closing minutes, “NBA-Finals” chants pulsed through the arena and rang out through the region as elated supporters realized how the Cavs’ objective was coming to fruition. The C-town devotees were truly “All In”. The city that has experienced such a long championship drought during their sports journey can spot the oasis in the distance. The Cavs are just four wins away from their first ever title and the city’s first since 1964. The Finals admittance was additionally impressive because of the slow start to the season and the amount of injuries that plagued the team. Coach David Blatt spoke on the season’s hardships saying, “We're in Cleveland, nothing is easy here." Players were able to rise to the occasion and assume roles they didn’t usually have to. With Kevin Love, the team’s top rebounder, out with injury, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and LeBron together averaged 25 rebounds per game in their smaller lineup. That is a huge amount of production from three guards/forwards. Then, with Mozgov and Thompson averaging nearly double digit rebounds per game, the Cavs trounced Atlanta in rebounding for the ECF. They bested the Hawks 208-157, and had the top rebounding percentage out of any playoff team. Cleveland is 12-0 in the playoffs when eclipsing their opponent on the glass. The stat category is usually a good point of reference to predict who will come away with the win. The phrase “defense wins championships”, or, in this case, makes it there, holds true for the Cavs. Led by T-Mo’s 1.9 rejections a game, the Cavs have been the best shot blocking team in the post-season, averaging 6.9 per contest. They also hold the top spot in opposing points per game, opponent field goal percentage per game, and point differential for the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers Crowned Eastern Conference Champions
LeBron carried his team for the duration of the playoffs, even when he struggled to get his shot to go with consistency. James continued to take an eraser to the record books when he became the first player in playoff history to average at least 30.0 points, 11.0 boards and 9.0 assists in a single series, during the ECF. Before Game 4 he was averaging a triple-double. He battled through his numerous injuries because he knew he had to stay on the court with the two next best players hampered with injury. He found his motivation in his ambition to allow his teammates and his hometown fans to reach the mountain top and have the ability to call themselves champions. This will be LeBron’s, as well as James Jones’ fifth straight Finals appearance.
LeBron James' Eastern Conference Finals Highlights
To win a championship for a city and its supporters that have not experienced what it’s like to be called number one in over five decades and has been deemed “cursed”; to win it with a team that is inexperienced and young and playing far beyond expectation; to provide a beacon of hope for an over-looked community; to come back to his home where he was born and raised and win it for the people that have guided him and molded him into the person he is today; to win it for his Wheels for Education and Akron I PROMISE Network kids who look to him as an exemplary role model and reside in his hometown; to win it for Akron; these characteristics are why winning a championship here, and now, would be something nobody has ever done and will never be able to achieve again.