The Eastern Conference Finals began in the way everyone looking for some parity feared: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers mopping the floor with the Boston Celtics and their faux-MVP Isaiah Thomas. It was so bad, the memes got really good.
If one could describe the difference between the teams in the best way, it would have to be that the game looked like a contest between grown ups and little kids. It’s not just that Isaiah Thomas is physically small. The Cavaliers simply walked on the court with the swagger of champions, knocking all the confidence out of the Celtics before the first quarter was over.
LeBron James looked like the 9-day rest only made him stronger, not rusty like in past playoffs. He took every player who tried to guard him to the basket with ease, and seemed to target Thomas on both ends of the floor when he had the opportunity. More than anything, it felt like a statement game for the defending champions, a statement that is going to be felt until game 2 begins.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a sweep in this series, but it’s not going to surprise anyone if it ends up being that way. Good for the league, bad for the league, the Cavaliers and James don’t care. They want the championship again, and if it means destroying everything and everyone in their path, so be it.