As the old adage goes: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Well, for the 2015 Cleveland Cavaliers where there’s LeBron James’ will, there’s a way. Despite injuries to Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and Iman Shumpert, a two-game suspension to JR Smith, and overall fatigue, the Cavaliers are in the NBA Finals.
The biggest reason? The play, the leadership, and the will of LeBron James.
While everyone thought the Cavaliers would be here, no one knew it would be THIS version of the Cavaliers. They swept the Boston Celtics in Round 1 but lost Kevin Love for the season, defeated the physically challenging Chicago Bulls in Round 2 despite a hobbled Kyrie Irving, and dominated the No. 1 seeded Atlanta Hawks with uncommonly big games from JR Smith and Matthew Dellavedova. Where any other team might have thrown in the towel, these Cavaliers continue to persevere because LeBron James wills them to do so.
May 10, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward
James (23) dribbles the ball as Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) defends in the first quarter of game four of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron’s natural talent and ability to play basketball transcend the game. He’s a passer, a scorer, a rebounder, and an athlete. His game has never been questioned, and he has always found new ways to develop his skills. He learned how to play in the post, shoot a higher free throw percentage, and even improved his 3-point shot.
But when it comes to shooting, LeBron’s shot has told a different story as he’s struggled to find a rhythm at times during the postseason. According to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, LeBron‘s 2015 Playoff True Shooting percentage is the worst of his career at 49 percent and his overall efficiency is his lowest since 2011 at 24.3 percent. Compare this to the 2014 playoffs when LeBron had a career best 66.8 true shooting percentage and 31.1 percent efficiency rating we wonder how LeBron‘s doing it this year?
How are these Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Finals despite his efficiency struggles? Think of Game 3 against Atlanta. LeBron started out 0-10 from the field, and yet finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists. He didn’t quit, he didn’t give up, he simply willed himself to keep going, and the Cavaliers ended up with a soul crushing victory against Atlanta. It’s LeBron‘s will that’s pushing him and helping his team find a way.
LeBron‘s will also drives his leadership ability. In his first go-around with Cleveland many questioned LeBron‘s ability and willingness to take on that leadership role. Now there is no question, as his time in Miami has taught him how to lead. He has the credentials as a two-time NBA champion, played with other champions like Dwyane Wade, and gained his respect around the NBA as a four-time MVP.
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Players listen to him, follow him, and want to learn from him willingly. Players like Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and even Kyrie Irving have raised their games to new levels this season. GM David Griffin acquired JR Smith and Iman Shumpert because LeBron believed he could make something of them after sub-par seasons in New York. Griffin doesn’t make the trade with the Knicks if LeBron doesn’t believe he could lead those guys. None of this happens without the leadership ability of LeBron James. In an article on NBA.com, Ian Thomson calls this team LeBron James and his cast of Cavs. No other player in NBA might get as much out of this team, but LeBron has single-handedly pulled these Cleveland Cavaliers, these role players, through these playoffs by his will to be a leader.
May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; The Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate beating the Atlanta Hawks in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
So now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have made the NBA Finals, is there any reason to believe that LeBron can’t will the 2015 Cleveland Cavaliers to a title? The popular pick among NBA analysts and pundits across the nation are the Golden State Warriors based on “Splash Brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s talent joined by their roster depth vs Cleveland’s. However, one thing that they keep forgetting is the will of LeBron James. It’s the ultimate trump card, and the one thing that can carry the Cleveland Cavaliers to the title.
LeBron James has this team where he wants them. He has Tristan Thompson averaging a double-double, Kyrie Irving pushing through injury, JR Smith happy shooting away, and pushing back-up Point Guard Matthew Dellavedova into the status of a playoff legend.
What will decide who wins the NBA Finals? It’s the will of LeBron James, because it’s the one thing Golden State can’t defend, the one thing Steve Kerr can’t prepare for, and the one thing that the Cleveland Cavaliers have that Golden State doesn’t.