LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers stumbled to the conclusion of the grueling 82-game regular season and will likely begin the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference on either April 15 or April 16.
James concluded another remarkable season becoming first player in NBA history to average at least 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while shooting at least .540 from the field.
The 32-year old in his 14th season led the Cavs in scoring with a 26.5 average and career highs with 8.7 rebounds and 8.7 assist playing in 74 of 82 games.
The only categories below his lofty standards were his free percentage just under 70 percent and his career high in turnovers with 4.1.
Cleveland lost three consecutive games since an impressive beat down of the Celtics at Boston Garden, almost handing the Eastern Conference top seed to their hated rivals.
It wasn’t so much losing the games, it was wasting brilliant efforts by James while allowing his game minutes to increase. That colossal 26-point meltdown to the Hawks, after blowing a fourth quarter lead at home days before were head scratchers.
Now, James and the cast will likely engage the oddly inconsistent Indiana Pacers in the first round.
On the surface it’s probably better than facing the Bulls with a returning Dwayne Wade or the Heat, two teams who have seemingly had the Cavs number all season long.
Coach Tyron Lue doesn’t appear to be sweating those details, instead preferring to focus on the big-ticket item such as the NBA championship.
James is attempting to reach the Finals for the seventh consecutive season.
The Cavaliers have prioritized health and rest over getting the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The defending champions have been sitting All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who’s been bothered by soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.
Cleveland has also been without center Tristan Thompson, who has a sprained right thumb.
However, this time the Cavs will have much more productive Kevin Love, a more physical Channing Frye, the shooting hand of Kyle Korver, 3-time all star Deron Williams and former lottery pick Derrick Williams in an arsenal that already includes JR Smith and Iman Shumpert.
Buckle up for the ride, it could be another long one.