When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2010 to join the Miami Heat in free agency, he formed a super-team alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that enjoyed a measure of immediate success in making it to the NBA Finals in their very first season together.
But they didn’t win the title — a more experienced and veteran-laden Dallas Mavericks team earned that honor by beating the Heat in six games.
James bolted Miami to return to Cleveland, and is now in a situation similar to the one he faced four seasons ago. These Cavaliers have been very good, especially in the second half of the season, but remain untested. And that lack of playoff experience has James admittedly concerned about their championship chances.
“I think from top to bottom, we’re just very balanced team and we have experience with youth and I think that’s a great combination in the postseason,” James said this week as part of a wide-ranging sit-down interview with ESPN. “One thing that scares me a little bit is just us coming together for the first time, our experience.
“We have guys that have played experienced basketball, but then we have guys that we have to rely on a lot that haven’t played experienced basketball and that’s Kevin Love, that’s Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson that’ve never played a postseason game. So, that kind of scares me a little bit. But at the same time it scares me, [there is a feeling] of excitement as well, and not much of failure.
“I don’t fear failure in my teammates, but I fear just them never been a part of it. You can talk about the postseason. You can watch games of the postseason. You can clip it. You can watch film. But until you actually get out there, that’s the only way you can really understand what it’s about it.”
The good news for Cleveland is that LeBron is more experienced than the entirety of his team’s first-round opponent all by himself.
James has appeared in 158 playoff games; the entire Celtics roster combined has 139 postseason appearances.
Cleveland’s lack of experience won’t be a factor in the first round, as Boston will be hard-pressed to win more than a single game simply due to the overall talent deficit in place. The Cavaliers will, however, be heavily-tested in the second round, in what is projected to be a matchup against a very good Bulls team which features players who possess all kinds of postseason experience.