LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are headed back to the NBA Finals, this after completing a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night.
James finished with a game-high 23 points, to go along with nine rebounds and seven dimes in the 118-88 rout.
The Cavs will rest up for about a week as they await the winner of the Western Conference Finals and the June 4 start of the title round.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal:
LeBron James wandered across the locker room holding a champagne bottle in his left hand when he wrapped each of his arms around Mike Miller and James Jones. […] “The big three,” he whispered quietly before taking a swig of champagne. The trio stood in silence for only a moment, relishing what was and anticipating what is to come. They already know. They’ve all been here before together wearing red and black. Now it’s the Cavaliers returning to the NBA Finals for the first time in eight years.
These were the countless little things that needed tweaked, and in some cases overhauled (Dion Waiters’ removal, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert’s addition) to get the Cavs to this point. It’s why James now concedes he didn’t think this day was possible — at least not this fast and not with the roster to which he was returning. […] “I couldn’t foresee us being in the Finals at the beginning of the season because I just knew that we had to get better and I saw how young we were and how young-minded we were,” James said. “But I knew I had to lead these guys, and if they just followed my leadership, I knew I could get them to a place where they haven’t been before.”
James fell 3 assists shy of averaging a triple-double for the series. As it is, he’s the first player in postseason history (according to Elias) to average at least 30 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists for a series. […] James spoke quietly from the podium Tuesday night. He wasn’t celebrating – the Cavs haven’t won anything yet – but he seemed reflective in his mood. This wasn’t the same guy who sat on a stage in Miami predicting, “not two, not three, not four…” championships. Instead he could only predict the Cavs’ effort level when the Finals begin next week. “I can’t guarantee the championship. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to lead,” James said. “But I will guarantee that we will play our (butts) off. At the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for.”