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Pluto: Cavs take remarkable route to the NBA Finals
Commentator Terry Pluto says the team overcame a season filled with adversity to advance to title series

The Cleveland Cavaliers reserved a spot in the NBA Finals with a 118-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks last night to win the Eastern Conference title.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are heading to the NBA Finals after completing the sweep of the Atlanta Hawks to win the Eastern Conference crown. The Cavs dominated the Hawks in last night’s 118-88 win. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto looks back on how the team gained momentum and looks ahead to the title series. 

LISTEN: Terry Pluto on Cavs heading to NBA finals

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LeBron James scored 23 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in eight years by completing a four-game sweep of Atlanta in the Eastern Conference finals, 118-88.

The only other time the Cavs went to the NBA Finals was in 2007 and they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

LeBron James was 22 then. He's 30 now. And Pluto says he's shown his maturity. "When he came back, he wrote what I thought was a moving essay in Sports Illustrated. One of things he mentioned was, 'I come back now as the old head.' He talked about how he knows that a championship in Northeast Ohio is worth -- take your pick -- three, five, eight somewhere else. That was his goal."

"To see him, how he's handled people and situations so much differently than he did when he left, it's like Miami, were he went to the finals four times and won twice, was a graduate school of basketball and what it takes to win and what it takes to lead a team," Pluto says. 

Unlikely stars
The Cavs are 12-2 in this playoff run. Pluto says in the four seasons he went to the NBA finals with the Miami Heat, the best they did was 12-3. Pluto says some unlikely stars emerged. 

"The stars of the season were supposed to be the Big Three - LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Love hurt his shoulder early in the playoffs in the first round and then Irving has battled all kinds of injuries. So, you see Matthew Dellavedova from Australia, [who] wasn't even drafted. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert who were picked up mid-season from the Knicks. [They were] literally cast off from New York; they were traded almost for nothing. And Tristan Thompson, who was a backup at the start of the playoffs, has become this rebounding machine."

Pluto says James is giving those guys credit by bringing them out with him during his post-game press conference.

"It's like he cast a spotlight upon them. They've been the stars in different games, [and] he's sort of been the sun -- They've revolved around him. But they've played so much better than any of us could have anticipated and you could see how these young guys and guys that were on other teams and given away are just basking in glow of, 'I'm going to the finals too!' They just never saw this coming."

Looking ahead to the Finals
The Cavs await the winner of the Western Conference finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. The Warriors have a 3-1 lead and can win the series tonight. Pluto says the Cavs and Warriors have a lot in common. The Warriors have won three NBA titles, but the last time was in 1975.  

"The coach of the Warriors is Steve Kerr. He's a rookie head coach, just like the Cavaliers head coach is a rookie, David Blatt," Pluto says. "Had David Blatt not been hired by the Cavaliers, he'd be sitting on the Warriors bench next to Steve Kerr because he was offered a chance to be an assistant and he was going to take that job."  

The NBA Finals begin June 4. 

Related WKSU Stories

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cavs win game 6 over Bulls; move on to Eastern Conference finals
Friday, May 15, 2015

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