While the Cleveland Cavaliers have swept their way into the Eastern Conference Finals and are eight wins away from their second championship in as many years, star LeBron James is on the verge of making his seventh-consecutive Finals.
The last team to knock him out of the postseason before The Finals was the Boston Celtics in 2010, during James’ first stint in Cleveland. A big part of the reason why the Celtics beat the Cavs that series was due to Paul Pierce, who is now retired. Pierce, while knowing The King’s greatness, had quite the statement during a reunion with some former Celtics teammates on Kevin Garnett’s Area 21 show:
— KG's Area 21 (@KGArea21) May 9, 2017
A 10-time All Star, four-time All-NBA selection, and 2008 NBA Champion, and long-time nemesis of James, Pierce knows greatness. His comments about James seem to be well known across the league. Teams across the East have completely changed the way they were building their team or were doing things because of James’ dominance. How dominant, you ask? The Cavaliers have gone 32-4 against the East in the playoffs No. 23 returned to Cleveland in the summer of 2014 with two losses to the Bulls in 2015 and two to the Raptors one year later.
Is it that James is that good or that the East is that bad that they can’t even compete with the wine and gold? The former seems to be the correct answer. James and company are so good in the postseason that they make their opponents in the East not only look bad, but not even look like a playoff team the majority of the time. They were the No. 2 seed in 2015 and swept a 60-win Atlanta Hawks team to get to the NBA Finals. This season, they swept a Raptors team that added several resources with the goal of dethroning the Cavs. They were also swept.
The Boston Celtics could have acquired either Bulls’ Jimmy Butler or Pacers’ Paul George prior to the trade deadline while just giving up the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick, one that is supposed to be in the top-3. But instead of making a trade, Boston decided to keep the pick. Many believe they kept it because, if they added Butler or George, both of them would be out of their prime when James retired. Instead, with a top draft pick, they can develop him and he could potentially be in his prime once James decides to call it quits.
So, what are other Eastern Conference’s teams supposed to do, you ask? There’s really only on answer: Wait until the time James retires, or at least stop playing at the level that he currently is.
“Whatever team in the East can stay together the longest gotta shot. If you’ve got a team that can stay together for the next five years, because you gotta figure LeBron’s window is open for this year, maybe two more years.”
Don’t forget, sharpshooter James Jones is also on the verge of making his seventh Finals appearance in seven years, but Pierce must have forgotten to mention Jones’ greatness. It’s OK, Champ will understand.