Lebron James is super human. We all know this and he continues to play at the top level year after year in the playoffs. This was shown once again as the Cavs won their eighth straight playoff game to sweep the sulking Raptors back to Barney-land.
Over the last five seasons, Lebron James has swept his first round opponent in five straight seasons; all three of his years in Cleveland, as well as his final two seasons in Miami. This is an incredible streak by all standards, especially when you consider that over the last two seasons, the Cavs have swept their first and second round opponents.
So, knowing this and knowing that we will eventually get an opponent for the Cavs after the Wizards and Celtics get done beating each other up, can we expect something similar to happen in the Eastern Conference Finals?
The Celtics would almost certainly get swept. The Cavs swept them out of the first round three years ago and while the Wizards are pretty good, if they come out of this series they are going to be tired, hobbled and probably in no shape to give James and the Cavaliers trouble.
We talk so much about James’ playoff scoring, but in Game 4 of their series against the Raptors, it was Kyrie Irving who helped lead the charge when the team needed it the most. He scored 11 straight points to start the third quarter and he never looked back after that.
Imagine if Kevin Love can get it going. These and others like Kyle Korver playing inspired basketball is going to be tough to beat before the NBA Finals. Some of the trends are pointing in that direction.
Lebron’s Sweep Trends
Not including the NBA Finals, it’s kind of hard to find a Cavs’ series over the last three seasons in the Eastern Conference playoffs that is anything but a sweep. James and the Cavs are an incredible 32-4 SU in the playoffs over the last three years and the Cavs have won four straight games (whether in a sweep or not) six times during that stretch.
Cleveland has also had a knack for winning (at least) three games in a row. They did it last year famously to win the NBA Finals and since James returned to the Cavaliers, they have done it eight times in the playoffs.
The Cavaliers also swept the conference finals three years ago in Lebron’s first playoffs back in Cleveland. That was against the Hawks who actually beat them out for the number one seed in the East that season. However, it didn’t matter one bit. The Cavs used their momentum from going down 2-1 against the Bulls in the second round and winning three in a row to push them to sweep Atlanta with an average margin of victory of 13.3 points.
If you go back even further to his Heat days, you’ll see Lebron teams have a tendency to go on winning streaks in the playoffs. Those Heat teams had six series where they won four games in a row, including their first NBA Championship. After losing Game 1 to the Thunder, they won in five games.
So, if you’re keeping track at home, that makes 11 times over the last seven NBA playoffs that a Lebron James team has either swept or won four games straight in a series.
That’s a rate of 44 percent. In nearly half of his playoff series over the last seven years, James has swept his opponent or won four straight 11 out of 25 series.
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Can We Expect The Cavs To Sweep The ECF?
This is the million-dollar question for most NBA bettors heading into what will be the start of the conference finals next week. The Cavs will have a full eight days until the start of the Eastern Conference Finals and even though a lot of rest can be dangerous to some teams, for the Cavs it’s a huge blessing.
The Wizards and Celtics are going to go at least six, if not more likely seven games and with the way those two teams hate each other, they might be even more beaten and bruised once one of them puts away the other.
So, considering some of the tougher circumstances either this current Cavs roster or the Heat faced in James’ four years there, it would make sense to want to bet the Cavs to sweep whoever comes out of the other side of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
As I stated above, the Celtics stand no chance. The Cavs went 3-1 SU against the Celtics in the regular season, the lone loss coming without Love playing. They were 2-1 against the Wizards, but as we’ve seen to far from the playoffs, the Cavs’ struggles from the regular season mean absolutely nothing right now.
This team is scoring 117 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs and their effective field goal percentage is a playoff-high 57.9%. Neither Boston nor Washington is anywhere close to that in their playoff averages so far. With the rest and still having the best player on the planet in one of their jerseys, a bet on them to sweep is likely going to be popular.
We can talk more about this once the series prices come out. However, if it is the Wizards, I might be more likely to fade the herd on the Cavs to sweep and put some dough on the Cavs to win in five. The Wizards are talented and they have proven that in this series against Boston. If they can win two out of the next three games, they have a shot at keeping the Cavs from a perfect playoff record in the East this season.