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Can LeBron Go All the Way?
by Joel Caris
In my preview of the second round, I wrote that LeBron James would manage to power the Cleveland Cavaliers to a win in their series against the New Jersey Nets. I didn't think it was a particularly smart prediction, but I went with it. Then, for the Conference Finals, I went for Cleveland again, for the same reason. I thought James would power them through. Well, both times, it worked out for me. James was not spectacular in every game against the Pistons, but he was good enough to get the Cavs into the Finals. In particular, he was ridiculously good in Game 5, which involved him scoring 29 of Cleveland's final 30 points. And the last 25 points, including every point in the two overtimes. Further, he did it with some amazing shots and plays, and a couple of monster dunks. Think about that for a minute. 29 out of the final 30. That's ridiculous.
Word is, as well, that James is quite focused on winning a championship. That's to be expected. Still, it has to be at least a little worrying to the Spurs.
However, James has in no way been flawless this postseason. While he put together a historic Game 5 against the Pistons, he also had a mediocre Game 6, despite a solid stat line. In that game, it was rookie Daniel Gibson--known, until this point, by about thirty people throughout the world--who stepped it up with 31 points, 19 of which came in the fourth quarter. Therefore, while James going off is going to be crucial to Cleveland's chance in this series, other players are still going to have to have some good nights.
Here's the reality: the Spurs are damn good. Seriously, seriously good. And when it comes right down to it, I have a real hard time seeing them lose this series. Cleveland simply is not anywhere near as good as a team as San Antonio. While James will have his games, don't think Tim Duncan isn't going to be producing impressive games, each and every night out. I'll be surprised to see him have a bad game. He doesn't very often. He does a whole hell of a lot, too, even if it is in a quiet and methodical way.
Yet, I can't shake the feeling that Cleveland might prove surprising. Over at TrueHoop, Henry Abbott took a look at every single possession by James against the Spurs in the two regular season games between the two teams, and he found that the Spurs simply were unable to effectively guard James. In fact, James was able to get to the rim multiple times, despite the fact that normally that's a tough proposition with Duncan clogging the middle. Hell, there was one particular play in which James dunked right over Duncan, which has to leave you wondering what he might do during this series.
I think he goes nuts. I really think he's focused, determined, and feeling good about his game. I think that confidence and that desire for a championship is going to push him to some amazing heights, very possibly allowing him to create another performance along the lines of his Game 5 outing against the Pistons. If that ends up being the case, and James is consistent, and Daniel Gibson continues to play like he did during the last half of the Detroit series, the Cavaliers have a serious shot at stealing this series.
Here's the reality, though, again: the Spurs are damn good. Seriously, seriously good. And at the end of the day, I think this is where my reliance on James stepping it up has to end. Yes, I think he's going to be good, and I think that will produce some great games, which is always a good thing. At the end of the series, though, I think the Spurs are walking away with another championship, and probably in six games.
Look out for James next year, though. You have to think his days of coasting might be coming to an end. After this taste, he's going to want a championship bad next year, and the East is likely still going to be wide open, giving him just that opportunity.
Joel was going to try and spur on his readership by posting a picture of his wang, but he doesn't want to be too cavalier about it.