The NBA is in the midst of its most productive season in more than a decade.
There is no shortage of players to be named in the first round, including LeBron James and Steph Curry, and the Lakers are leading the league in offensive efficiency, scoring average and rebounds per game.
The Warriors, meanwhile, are in the middle of their best stretch of the season.
But the teams that have been named the game changering champions are the Celtics, Rockets and Warriors.
The Cavs have been on fire since the All-Star break, leading the NBA in assists, steals and defensive rating (minus-7).
It’s been a long season for them, and they have yet to miss the playoffs.
But now they are looking at their fourth straight conference finals appearance and fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals.
They have won the East twice (2014 and 2017), but this time, they are facing a team with more talent than they do.
The Celtics, of course, have been an early favorite to win the East again this season, and Boston has a chance to repeat as Eastern Conference champions after a second straight season in which they finish the season as the East’s most improved team.
However, it will be a difficult task for Boston to repeat its season-opening victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which was a career-high 37 points for James and Kyrie Irving in the final minute.
They outscored the Cavs by 16 points in the third quarter and the final frame.
Boston trailed by just two points in that final frame, but the Cavaliers went on a 22-7 run to get within one.
The Cavaliers came into the game trailing by four with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter and took the lead for good with 7:24 remaining.
They scored 15 of their final 22 points in a span of just under eight minutes.
James, who scored 32 points, and Irving scored 17 each, and James scored 28 points for the Celtics.
They were followed by Kevin Love, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Curry and Draymond Green each scored 16 points.
The game was tied at 67 at the end of the third and the Cavaliers had a chance at a potential game-tying run.
But Green had four fouls and Irving had three.
James made a jumper in the lane and missed a jumper.
The play came as a surprise to Cleveland, which had already seen Irving go to the bench with a sprained left ankle and had to use a timeout after he was called for a flagrant foul on Drayvonn Brown.
After a timeout, the officials awarded the Cavaliers a free throw with just over seven minutes remaining.
James and Curry then both hit free throws for a 79-77 lead.
They made a pair of 3-pointers and a free-throw play and then Curry went to the line with 9.8 seconds left, but James missed a free kick to cut the lead to 78-76.
Irving and Green made two free throws in the last 10 seconds to cut it to 84-82.
With the lead at 79-79, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue decided to go for the jugular with a timeout.
He called for his starting lineup to sit and then brought the starters back.
The starters stayed in the game and then, in the second quarter, Irving, Love and James all made free throws to give Cleveland a 75-74 lead.
Cleveland hit a big three-pointer with 5:14 remaining and the Cavs scored eight straight points to take the lead.
Irving scored 10 points in just under nine minutes, and he also scored 10 straight points, including three free throws, for the Cavs.
James scored 13 of his game-high 30 points in eight minutes, going 5-for-6 from the field and 6-for of 7 from 3-point range.
Curry added 16 points, while Love added 12.
Cleveland, though, was not able to pull away from the Celtics late in the quarter and ultimately lost the game in overtime.
The Hawks went on to win 102-97.
The series shifts to Atlanta for Game 4 on Tuesday night.
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