The Cleveland Cavaliers may lose to the Boston Celtics, but I’m going to follow LeBron James’ lead and not panic just yet. Give the Celtics credit for punching first, but the near wire-to-wire Game 1 loss had as much to do with the Cavaliers playing poorly as it did with the Celtics.
Everything starts with LeBron James and he had a rough one. He was minus-32 in the box score with seven turnovers. He shot 31.2% from the field and missed five threes. The Celtics defense was active, but I wouldn’t say it was as physical and daunting as what the Cavaliers saw from Indiana in the first round, at least on that end of the floor. LeBron James will play better. I’m sure of that.
Same goes for the rest of the team. Going 0-11 on threes in the first half isn’t normal for these Cavaliers. If fans and commentators want to extrapolate that and say the Cavaliers are doomed, you can be my guest. It would be just as meaningful to extrapolate a third quarter that saw the Cavaliers outscore the Celtics 29-17, which I wouldn’t do either.
Don’t take it from me. Listen to the oddsmakers who still have the Cavaliers as favorites to represent the East in the NBA Finals.1
Odds to win the #NBA Championship:
Golden State Warriors -147
Houston Rockets +250
Cleveland Cavaliers +890
Boston Celtics +1425
Odds via @5Dimes
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) May 14, 2018
The reason that’s the case is that LeBron James and these Cavaliers have been here before. Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Kyle Korver have been here before. The Cavaliers will need to win just one game away from their home floor to take the series. They failed to do it in Game 1, but that’s what Indiana did as well.
It seems like such a long time ago now, but the Cavaliers lost Game 1 by 18. They shot 38.5% from the field, including just 23.5% from three. The starting lineup for that game was LeBron, Kevin Love, Jeff Green, Rodney Hood, and George Hill. As we all know, the Cavaliers changed that lineup and eventually won the series in seven games. That was even more death-defying in some ways because they had home court advantage and lost it in Game 1.
The Celtics are a worthy opponent. They play smart basketball and have a phenomenal coach, but he is no match for LeBron James and his on-court tactical advantage. LeBron can go toe-to-toe with any coach in the NBA in many ways. He might not be able to draw up set plays the way Brad Stevens can, but Brad Stevens can’t blow up a coach’s gameplan in the middle of a game the way LeBron can with the ball in his hands.
That’s why the Cavaliers are still favored to win this series. That’s why LeBron James says he’s not panicked. That’s why you shouldn’t be panicked either.
- Editor’s note: with the Supreme Court ruling today, we are probably going to be listening to a lot of oddsmakers in the coming years. [↩]