The Cavaliers (38-26) are third in the Eastern Conference – closer to eighth place than second. Barring a highly unlikely run, they’ll enter the playoffs with LeBron James‘ lowest seed in a decade. The only times he was below a No. 2 seed were 2006 and 2008, when the Cavs were No. 4 seeds, and his first two seasons, when he missed the postseason entirely.
LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“Listen, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m a six seed or a three seed or a two seed, eight seed,” James said. “If I come into your building for a Game 1, I can be very challenging.”
LeBron has played 13 series without home-court advantage. His teams are an impressive 7-6 in them. The full record:
- Cavaliers lost to Warriors in 2017 NBA Finals
- Cavaliers beat Celtics in 2017 conference finals
- Cavaliers beat Warriors in 2016 NBA Finals
- Cavaliers lost to Warriors in 2015 NBA Finals
- Cavaliers beat Hawks in 2015 conference finals
- Heat lost to Spurs in 2014 NBA Finals
- Heat beat Pacers in 2014 conference finals
- Heat beat Thunder in 2012 NBA Finals
- Heat beat Bulls in 2011 conference finals
- Cavaliers lost to Celtics in 2008 second round
- Cavaliers lost to Spurs in 2007 NBA Finals
- Cavaliers beat Pistons in 2007 conference finals
- Cavaliers lost to Pistons in 2006 second round
LeBron emphasized that it matters far more how the Cavaliers are playing than where they’re seeded. That’s especially true given LeBron’s ability to dial it up in the playoffs and his experience winning without home-court advantage.
But a team’s record is a good indicator of how it’s playing. It’s far from a be-all, end-all. Teams can play well and lose (and vice versa). But if the Cavs don’t finish top four in the East, that’d be quite the negative indicator.
At times, LeBron looks – as he said – better than ever. But the 33-year-old has also gone through long stretches of defensive indifference. There are signs he’s wearing down.
LeBron is still confident, and he should be. It seems foolish to doubt him, especially in early rounds. LeBron has won the East seven straight years.
But if Cleveland enters the postseason without home-court advantage in the first round, that should raise even more questions. However, if the Cavaliers close the regular season playing how LeBron wants, they’ll probably be the No. 3 seed, anyway.