The NBA starts to get very serious at this time of year, their marquee fixture ‘All-Star Weekend’ is where best players from the Eastern Conference go against the best of the Western Conference in an exhibition game. Mix that up with a celebrity game, a slam dunk & three point contest and it’s all a bit of fun.
The seriousness does kick in now and in the coming weeks I will review the key teams and players who will be heading to the play-offs and NBA Championship glory.
When talking about the NBA, I have to start with the best player on the planet, ‘The King’ Lebron James, who is covered with personal and team awards at all levels. The most important are his two NBA Championship rings which he’s desperate to improve upon, especially if he ever wants to be mentioned in the same breath as the all-time greats of the game like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
In 2010 he went from Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat in what was called ‘The Decision.’ It turned out to be a good one because he picked up both his NBA rings there. He returned to his home town team in the summer of 2014 and signed a two year contract (he can though opt out after one year).
Shortly after James re-signed for the Cavaliers, Kevin Love the power forward/centre joined from Minnesota Timberwolves. Along with hot prospect Kyrie Irving already at Cleveland, Lebron had made a new ‘big three’ – an extension of the old ‘big three’ in Miami featuring himself, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who were colossuses together.
Lebron James is at an organisation where it looks like he really does run the show. The head coach in Cleveland is David Blatt a man with a good record in Europe but no NBA experience. The two did clash earlier in the season but it seems now all is fine for now.
James is the most popular and most criticised player in the NBA. The expectation levels from him are ridiculous high. As soon as he made his move to the Cavaliers they were expected to make the Eastern Conference finals at least, something they can and should do with the roster they have.
Along with Kevin Love fellow Miami Heat players Mike Miller & James Jones also jumped at the chance to follow James to Cleveland; it really does looks like Lebron James has full control of everything going on at the Cavaliers. JR Smith and Iman Shumpert joined from the New York Knicks in January 2015 and it is clear that Lebron is putting the pieces together for a championship tilt, if not this year then most definitely next year.
So on the court this year the Cavaliers are 33 wins 22 loses which sits them 5th in the Eastern Conference. The impact James has is unquestionable – through his drive for greatness he makes others play better. They can most certainly make it through to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Atlanta and Toronto sit top of the tree now, but Cleveland have the roster, mentality and ‘The King’ to do it when it really matters. I also feel that they can go to anyone’s court and win in the play-offs whereas Atlanta and Toronto will need home court advantage to go deep in the play-off.
For me the Chicago Bulls are the real danger to Lebron James in the east which will pit him up against Derrick Rose. It will be an exciting run as the spotlight will now fall on the stars of the court and the season hots up.
Sean is a freelance writer. His football blog can be found here: http://threeminutesinjurytime.blogspot.co.uk/