LeBron James got Kelly Olynyk switched onto him late in the first quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 117-104 Game 1 demolition of the Boston Celtics. James had just easily scored on Olynyk the previous possession, so the King was ready to beat the Celtics big man again.
And LeBron made him look especially bad this time.
James nonchalantly turned his back on Olynyk while dribbling through this legs, sized him up, then drove right through him for another easy bucket:
It was downright disrespectful. LeBron knew Olynyk had no chance, so James was just playing with his food.
It was also a microcosm of the entire first quarter. After nine days off, LeBron made sure the Cavaliers wouldn’t get off to a slow start. He attacked the rim with abandon and couldn’t be stopped no matter who tried to stop him.
Jae Crowder was the first victim:
Then it was Al Horford’s turn to get worked:
After Olynyk took his beating, it was rookie Jaylen Brown’s turn:
Brown actually didn’t do terribly on that play, and that bucket was LeBron’s only one in the first quarter that didn’t come in the restricted area. James had 15 points on 7-for-8 in the opening frame as the Cavaliers jumped out to an 11-point lead. The lone shot he missed was a triple at the beginning of the quarter:
LeBron set the tone with his aggressive play, and the Celtics were powerless to stop it. While it was “only” an 11-point game after that first quarter, it felt like Game 1 was already done.
Of course, James made sure it was never a contest.
LeBron finished with 38 points on 14-for-24 shooting. Sixteen of those 24 shots came in the paint, where he made 13 of them. He also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists.
For a good summation of the game, look no further:
I know he didn’t finish this dunk
that game in a nutshell pic.twitter.com/NZoj176d9k
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 18, 2017
The scary thing is LeBron said the Cavaliers didn’t even play “that great” on Wednesday night.
It’s incredible how good LeBron continues to be even as he gets older. As impressive as he’s been throughout his illustrious career, he’s playing some of his best ball at the ripe age of 32 years old. The guy is currently posting averages of 34.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.1 assists in the playoffs. He’s only averaged 34/9/7 once in the playoffs, and that was in 2009.
But what makes this playoff run even more impressive has been the ruthless efficiency and the destruction of the opposition. LeBron is shooting 56 percent overall and 43.4 percent from 3-point range. He has a true shooting percentage of .662. The Cavaliers are scoring a ridiculous 118.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and outscoring their opponents by 15.6 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com. Some may argue it’s against weak competition, but it’s ridiculous no matter what.
Assuming the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors take care of business, the Warriors will again enter the NBA Finals as the favorite. However, don’t rule out LeBron and Co. pulling off another upset. Not with how well the best player in the world is playing. If there’s anybody who can take down arguably the most talented team of all time, it’s LeBron James.