Cleveland will win the NBA title, in a year shaping up as Lebron’s best shot

You probably could have drawn it up a little cleaner along the way, but as we drill down to four teams left in the NBA season, the ends are more likely to justify the means than they’ve ever been.

The Eastern Conference Finals opens tonight in Cleveland, a tortured city only eight wins (and four of them very likely) from capturing a most sought after crown in any sport for so many reasons. It would only be fitting that it comes at the leadership of favorite son turned black sheep turned sports Messiah, Lebron James.

Personally, I couldn’t be more certain than ever that the Cavs will be on the fun end of the confetti falling here in about three weeks or so. How it goes about happening is anyone’s guess, but it should be hot, tight, contested, and honestly, maybe the best shot James and the Cavs have had or will have.

Gone are the proclivities of last year, knock on wood if you’re a Cavs fan, I suppose. Kevin Love is healthy. So is Kyrie Irving. There have been no recent sub-tweets or ex-girlfriend chicanery. James and Love haven’t been asked to divulge their inner most feelings about their relationship any time recently, like this is “Days of Our Lives” rather than basketball.

Pervert it however you want, but Toronto isn’t standing in Cleveland’s way. The Cavs are healthy as they can ask for, have home court, and are actually playing better basketball than they have all season. While the Eastern Conference isn’t the murderer’s row of the West, quietly, it’s become better at the back end. Remember, it was the West, not the East, going into the last few days of the season trying to shove through a possible playoff team with a losing record.

The Cavs easily dispensed of Detroit and Atlanta and will likely do so with Toronto, a team that won’t be able to rely on a Game 7 on its home floor to get out of dodge. I’ll call the Gentleman’s Sweep (go up 3-0, lose game 4 in the other team’s gym and wrap it up at home in Game 5).

What the Cavs have needed to happen seems to be happening, astonishingly as it may seem.

The rugged West at the top is taking its toll on Golden State, should they even be the nominee from the conference. San Antonio … the team with the best coach, veteran spirit, and championship pedigree … is gone.

The Warriors, all 73 wins of them, are in the middle of a fist fight with Oklahoma City, who, while they’ve been to the Finals once, is not nearly the routine participant at that level that the Spurs are or even the Warriors would be. OKC had zero answer for Lebron James once upon a time on that stage, though so much has changed.

One thing hasn’t … and that’s Lebron James. He’s still dominant, if in a different way.

OKC winning Game 1 on the Warriors’ turf only ensures that whoever wins will emerge from what will look like a drawn out, back ally brawl and enter the NBA Finals much more taxed than the Cavs. Eventually, it catches up.

With Irving as young as he is and James/Love not fully on the business end of their primes, the Cavs figure to be a fixture the next few years at the top of the East. Toronto is peaking as we speak. Miami has more questions than answers. Can you really put your faith in anyone else to challenge them at this point?

But when it comes to the bloody West, whom the Cavs will eventually have to get through to realize NBA utopia, the Warriors aren’t getting any older or worse (though they’ll need to pay Steph Curry at collateral damage down the roster will happen at some point). So long as Gregg Popovich stays, the Spurs aren’t going away with that winning culture. TBD on Oklahoma City.

Yes, this could be the best shot Lebron and the Cavs come into. The best team is coming off of a title and is mired in a street fight against a team that would enter with less industrial experience on that stage than the Cavs. The Spurs are gone. The East is rife with underlings not fit yet for the challenge.

Cavs in six in the Finals. Forecast calls for confetti unless they screw it up on their own, because the chances will likely never be better.