Whether it is Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello or Roger Federer playing tennis in his prime, there is something special about watching somebody who is the best in the world at what they do put on a performance.
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James reminded us yet again that he is still the best player in the NBA.
With Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers’ starting point guard and second best player, sitting out due to knee tendonitis, LeBron and the Cavs had a tall task in facing a desperate Hawks team that was trying to avoid losing the first two home games of the series.
After being declared a game time decision, DeMarre Carroll started for the Hawks in Game 2 with a sprained right knee. “When you’re a kid, you dream of an opportunity to play in the Eastern Conference Finals. … I don’t care if I had one leg, I wouldn’t let this pass me by,” he said after the game.
LeBron, who was guarded by Carroll, tested the Hawks player’s health early, attacking him off the dribble and scoring seven of the Cavs first nine points.
Behind LeBron, the Cavs jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first half, but the Hawks were able to hang around in the that half due to Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague’s shooting. They trailed by only 5 at halftime.
Like Game 1, the Cavaliers began to break open the game in the 3rd quarter. LeBron James completely took over the game. He was able to get wherever he wanted on the floor, creating open shots for himself and his teammates. “You always get the excitement of two guys benefiting from a pass” Lebron said. Like hall of famer Magic Johnson, LeBron is able to completely dominate a game with his passing, in addition to his scoring, as he led the game in both categories with 30 points and 11 assists.
Basketball is a team sport, and even if the pass is perfect, the teammate needs to make the shot. In Game 2, the Cavs did just that. LeBron continued to whip cross court passes perfectly into the hands of wide open teammates, including James Jones and Iman Shumpert, who combined made 7 three pointers. “The other guys are completing him,” Cavs Head Coach David Blatt said.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Cavs lead by 18 and never looked back. “Our guys played the game right,” Blatt said after the game, “We’re the big one, one team.”
On the other side, the Hawks were very disappointed in their performance after the game. “We just came out flat,” Carroll said.
Down 0-2 in the series and heading to Cleveland, the Hawks would be only the fifth team in NBA history to lose the first two games at home and still win the series.
Even with Kyrie Irving battling injuries and Kevin Love out for the playoffs, the Cavaliers find themselves on the brink of the NBA Finals.
Coach Blatt has faced his fair share of adversity this postseason, but when asked if having LeBron makes his job easier, Blatt said with a huge grin on his face, “[It’s] better to have than to have not.”