In what was an emphatic message that left no doubt as to whom the beasts of the Eastern Conference are. The defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers sent one in an 114-91 rout of the Boston Celtics.
Smoke signal. Morse code. snail mail. SMS or direct message.
Whichever medium the upstart and loud-talking Celtics which to use to decrypt the Russian-level Spetsnaz-esque like message the Cavaliers sent them on a late spring April evening.
Funny thing though is that I am not surprised.
For the last month and a half, there was non-stop, premature reports of the defending champions demise—as I stated yesterday in my op-ed here—and various “talking heads” crowing about the so-called young, hungry, up and coming and scrappy Celtics led by supposed MVP candidate in point guard Isiah Thomas coming to take LeBron James’ crown as Emperor of the East.
The Cavs have bee pigeon-holed as old, slow and fatigued since January. Even more after a rather dreadful March. While on their best day they were equal to their Bay Area rivals from Oakland, the Golden State Warriors. Yet, on their worst days, maligned for their atrocious defense reminiscent of the Washington Generals.
So what led to the Cavs 21-point blowout over the supposed new princes of the Eastern realm?
By turning on that proverbial switch, Cleveland got serious.
It’s like you could just tell from the opening tip, that the Cavaliers were intent on shutting up all the critics—sans Khloe Kardashian’s beau and NBA ironman in Tristan Thompson—in focusing all of their attention on shutting down IT—cue the 404 and computer geek jokes—and committing to get more chesty, physical in dominating the Celtics on their own parquet and under all those championship banners of theirs.
Cleveland was SUPPOSE TO BE the older, slower team. Not to mention, playing on the second night of a back-to-back with a 1-9 record. Furthermore, without their true center in Thompson, in what was supposed to be a playoff-like atmosphere, right?
So again, what happened?
LeBron. James. That is what happened.
As he has done so much in his storied and inevitable Hall of Fame career, James treated the storied Boston TD Garden as his personal gym. In other words, he was bullying the Celtics all night long. Namely, to the tune of 36 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Utterly crushing whatever will the brash Celtics had left after a dominating second quarter.
If you watched Wednesday’s clash, you’d swear that the green-and-white of the TD Garden was a cover for the black morgue the visitors from Cleveland brought to the tune of snuffing out the usually loud and vocal Celtics fans.
They say that silence on the road is a beautiful thing in sports. Similarly, the eerie silence in Boston could have been mistaken for the controversial tone-deafness of Kendall Jenner’s recently pulled Pepsi ad.
Moving on. Which is exactly how the Cavs treated the Celtics BEFORE and after they sent their message.
At 51-27, and their playoff switch now turned to “on”, the defending champions have their full arsenal of swagger back. Nevertheless, they have that look of a champion ready to defend their crown.
Maybe it’s just the Cleveland in me, but for all of the noise and crowing from those so-called critics doubting the Cavaliers and their resolve after their double-digit blowout win on the road, I have one simple thing to say.
I told you so.