Takeaways from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals
The King still reigns supreme. LeBron James carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to an 87-79 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron is headed to his eighth straight NBA Finals appearance to commence one of the most dominant feats we’ve ever seen in this era. It’s often said that no player can win by themselves but LeBron’s remarkable 2018 playoff run may be the closest to proving that statement wrong. Here are a couple of key takeaways from the game:
No Love, No Problem
The Cavs were basically able to pull off their final two wins in the series without their starting All-Star forward after he suffered a concussion early in the first quarter of Game 6. LeBron of course filled the stat sheet as usual in Game 7 with 35 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists but if there were ever a game he’d need some help it would be this one in front of a hostile Boston crowd.
Things didn’t look good for the Cavs early on as LeBron scored 12 of their 18 total 1st quarter points. The Celtics had an early 12 point lead but Jeff Green wasn’t ready to go home and he eventually answered the call. Starting in place of Love, Green played a massive role in the victory scoring 19 points on 7 for 14 shooting along with 9 rebounds. It was great to see Green play a big part in such a huge game considering his career was once in jeopardy following heart surgery in 2012. Green was quoted after the game saying “I almost lost it all, and now to sit here in front of you guys, to talk about the NBA Finals and playing in it, I mean, I've been truly blessed to be able to step foot on this court, to play this game”.
LeBron and Green combined to score more than half of Cleveland’s total points for the game. This may have gotten the job done against a young Celtics team but the Cavs will need every weapon possible to have a chance against the Golden State Warriors.
Boston’s Youth Just isn’t Quite Ready Yet
It’s safe to say that this Boston Celtics team overachieved by making it this far without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. In fact, it’s just flat out scary to think that those two guys will be added to the team next season given this year’s success. But 2018 just wasn’t their time yet.
If the Celtics had continued their stellar play at home as they’ve done for the entire playoffs, this game could have been theirs for the taking. The Celtics held Cleveland to only 87 points and 5 total bench points. In addition, Cleveland had 12 turnovers to Boston’s 5. The lights were just too bright in the moment, specifically for Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. The two starters did not contribute in their normal fashion and that simply would not get it done against a motivated LeBron James. Brown shot 5 for 18 with 13 points while Rozier shot 2 for 14 with only 4 points. The Celtics overall did not look great in the 4th quarter as they constantly jacked up (and mostly missed) 3-pointers and only made 6 total field goals for the quarter.
Despite the missed opportunity at a NBA finals birth, it’s evident that the Celtics are going to be a force in the Eastern Conference for years to come and they have nothing to hang their heads about. Rookie Jayson Tatum looked spectacular in the loss with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and a monster facial dunk on LeBron James that made everyone jump out of their seats. He is destined for stardom. This may have been the closest any Eastern Conference team has come to keeping LeBron James out of the Finals since 2010 and that is an accomplishment in itself.