Shirtless and smirking, LeBron James whipped a looping, two-handed shot from the corner baseline seats — behind the court, at least 25 feet away — and watched it sail, over the backboard and through the net.
Satisfied with his work, James strutted away, hands in the air, biceps bulging. The self-proclaimed King never looked more relaxed.
While the N.B.A.’s other contenders have been sweating through overtimes and seven-game series, James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been in virtual hibernation. They cruised through two rounds of playoffs without an ounce of anxiety, or a loss. They played their last game eight days ago, leaving them to kill time with light practices and trick-shot competitions.
James’s amazing shot was captured on film Sunday afternoon, sometime before Los Angeles’s Game 7 victory over Houston and Orlando’s Game 7 victory over Boston. It signaled the end of the Cavaliers’ extended recess. They open the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night against the Magic.
“The hard part is ahead of us,” Danny Ferry, the Cavaliers’ general manager, said during the lull last week.
The Magic was 2-1 against the Cavaliers this season and should provide much stiffer resistance than either the Detroit Pistons or the Atlanta Hawks could muster.
Orlando is armed with the East’s most imposing center, Dwight Howard, and two lengthy, sweet-shooting forwards, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. Those three combined for 56 points, 26 rebounds and 17 assists on Sunday as Orlando eliminated the defending champion Celtics.
The Cavaliers counter with James, the N.B.A.’s most valuable player, and his usual assortment of underrated sidekicks, including Mo Williams, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao.
For the Cavaliers, this has been a spectacular and oddly quiet postseason. They set a franchise record by sweeping the first two rounds, and an N.B.A. record by winning all eight games by double digits. Their average margin of victory so far: 16.8 points.
Yet despite their dominance, or perhaps because of it, the Cavaliers have been almost an afterthought.
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