CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to make their third straight appearance in the NBA Finals.
By winning the Eastern Conference Championship with a 135-102 Game 5 victory over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden last Thursday night, the Cavaliers earned the right to face the Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors for the NBA title for the third straight season.
“We’ve sacrificed so much to get to this point,” Cavaliers forward James Jones said.
“Find a way to give more because we have two weeks, three weeks of basketball left, and we can do something that we’ve all dreamed of as kids, and that’s win a title. So whatever you can do, however much you can do, find a way to do it, and do it at an elite level.”
The rubber match between the Cavaliers and Warriors marks the first time in NBA history that the same two teams will play each other in The Finals in three consecutive seasons. The Warriors claimed the title over an injury-ravaged Cavaliers team in 2015, and Cleveland overcame a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series to claim its first-ever league championship.
“I believe in this group,” Jones said. “I told them I don’t believe in a lot, but I believe in this group, and so, if you ask me, there’s no one else I would rather face this task with than this group of guys.
“These are my brothers. This team is a true team. We go up together. We go down together, but at the end of the day, we always come out of it together, and that’s what we expect going into this next round.”
Center Tristan Thompson echoed such sentiments following the Cavaliers’ third straight Eastern Conference Championship.
“With this ball club that we have, how talented we are, how well we can defend when we put our minds to it and really lock in, anything’s possible with this group,” Thompson said. “I think losing a game is good for us. It helps us refocus and kind of don’t get too side-tracked and understand that we can get better and we need to get better. We can’t take anything for granted.”
Like fellow small forward LeBron James, Jones is making his seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals, and the chance of raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy is something that is not lost on him despite being a part of three championship teams in the last five years.
“I won’t say I’m numb to it,” Jones said. “I just know what’s on the other side, the opportunity to win, so I’m excited, and it will continue to build, but until we hoist a trophy, I’m not going to think about anything else.”