I don’t wanna talk about the winning streak. Yes, it’s incredible. Yes, the Miami Heat are incredible. Yes, LeBron James is incredible. Yes, it’s incredible that a Jeff Green game that redefined what we think of as being a “career night” wasn’t good enough to end it. Yes, it’s incredible that late in the game against the Cavs, I went to get my laundry with Cleveland up 27, and when I got back they were only up nine, and a channel-flip-and-back later LeBron was shooting a three to tie it up. It’s incredible how nostalgic I am now for those months where LeBron actually went under-the-radar with his casual brilliance.
All those nice things that people are saying about how incredible this streak is are true, and then some. It’s incredible.
But all that said, it’s still just the regular season. As discouraging a regular season as this has been for a LeBron Hater, it’s not too late for him to turn it all back around in the postseason, for him to come up short when everyone assumes he’s just gonna cruise to the title. Of course, there’s a reason that everyone now assumes that, and that’s because it seems really, really likely that cruising to the title is exactly what LeBron and the Heat are gonna do. It’s borderline-impossible to beat this team once right now, how the hell could any team possibly be expected to steal four of seven?
At this point, the only thing that concerns me in the Good Fight is finding some shred of hope to latch on to with a team, a player, a cosmic force whose intervention could possibly result in LeBron James not repeating as champion this season. I’ve come up with 10 possibilities, presented from least to most likely to actually get in the way of LeBron getting that second ring.
Win out for the rest of the regular season, LeBron, see if I care. (I will, of course, but not so much, hopefully.) I’ll just be biding my time, hoping one of these 10 opponents (internal or external) results in your eventual downfall.
10. Chicago Bulls (with everyone healthy). Pretty bad bet here, since the Bulls haven’t exactly been playing like contenders lately, it’s not looking super-likely that Derrick Rose will be back in time, and the Heat dispatched them fairly easily a few seasons back when they were basically at full strength. Still, a healthy Bulls team would be about as tough an out as the Heat would be likely to face in the East, and it’s not totally impossible that the return of D-Rose could lift the Bulls (on the court and in the locker room) enough to give them a real series. At this point with LeBron, anything “not totally impossible” is worth discussing.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder. Gotta include them since they faced the Heat in the Finals last year and looked like the better team for about a game and a half. I just don’t see it really happening with the Thunder this year.
8. Jeff Green. He certainly seems to get up for the games against LeBron, playing his best two games of the season (one on each side of the ball) in the Celtics’ last two matchups against the Heat, proving something of a worthy adversary for LBJ. Hard to say if he could keep it up for six or seven games, but the Celtics have always been trouble for LeBron to begin with, and Green’s emergence is a fascinating, fun new wrinkle in the two teams’ rivalry. Real shame about Rondo though.