LeBron James is fouled by C.J. Miles in the third quarter of Game 4 of a second-round playoff series on Monday, May 7, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers won the game 128-93 to sweep the series against the Raptors. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS)

Point/Counterpoint: Does LeBron James have a clear path to the NBA Finals?


After sweeping the Toronto Raptors almost single-handedly, LeBron James and Company now play the waiting game, awaiting the winner of the Boston-Philadelphia series, which brings up a realistic question: Is James’ path to the NBA Finals inevitable?


Pete Ruden


 LeBron James is taking a page out of James Jones’ book and going to the NBA Finals once again.


Because LeBron is the best player in the world, and he can do whatever he wants on a basketball court from April through June.

If you don’t believe this, let’s take a look at LeBron’s stats in the Cavs’ sweep against one of the best backcourts in the NBA:

In the four games, LeBron had 136 points on 57-of-103 shooting from the field, 33 rebounds, and 45 assists.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 138 points on 53-of-108 shooting, 30 rebounds, and 46 assists.

That’s insane. LeBron had zero regard for the No. 1 seed and made the Raptors’ two best players look like they don’t even deserve to be on the same court.

LeBron and Company will now likely face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics don’t have anyone healthy who can play at the caliber of DeRozan or Indiana’s Victor Oladipo.

Sure, Terry Rozier has been a great surprise, and Jayson Tatum is one of the best rookies in the league, but neither of them will come close to stopping LeBron.

Believe me, when LeBron broke my heart by beating the Pacers in Game 7, I wanted him to get smacked by Toronto. But all he did was show his true dominance.

It looks like his matchup with Indiana is going to be his toughest of his run to the Finals, unless Boston can pull some unforeseen magic out of nowhere.

Right now, these are LeBron’s playoffs, and we are lucky to be witnesses.


Adam Hensley


The Toronto Raptors were arguably the worst No. 1 seed in NBA history, for sure in the past decade — I want to make that clear.

So when LeBron James almost matches or tops the combined series stats from the backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, I’m more disappointed in the Raptors (or Lowry, for his whopping 5 points in an elimination game — really earning that $18 million this season).

Nevertheless, James is the best player in the NBA right now; he’s got the Adam Hensley Seal of Approval for this season’s MVP. But just because he’s the best player in the league doesn’t mean his road to the NBA Finals is smooth sailing.

There’s rocky waters ahead, and it’s “Scary” Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford making the waves. The Boston Celtics shouldn’t be in this position. Gordon Hayward goes down six minutes into the first game of the season, and then the C’s lose Kyrie Irving to injury for the entirety of the playoffs.

Yet here the Celtics stand, with a 3-1 lead over the 76ers. Boston is going to win that series, and it’s sure as hell going to give LeBron and Company a run for their money.

Boston is excellent defensively, holding teams to 101.6 points per game during the playoffs, the third-best mark out of the remaining NBA teams (behind Houston and Golden State).

But the Cavaliers haven’t faced a team with as many weapons as the Celtics command. Indiana showed it could gouge Cleveland in more ways than one, and that series went seven games. Considering Boston has four players scoring 16.2 points per game or better through 11 playoff games, it’ll stretch Cleveland’s defense thin.

I’m not going to sit here and say the Boston is going to sweep Cleveland. But by no means is this next round of the playoffs going to be a walk in the park for King James.

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