The veteran Cavaliers got tested, their taste for playoff basketball renewed by a scrappy rival that stayed close, played physical and pushed the defending conference champions right up till the final second of the final game. But they got all that done in the minimum possible time, 192 minutes stretched across eight days. Which meant: No extra games.
No additional opportunities for something to go wrong. No needless exposure to injuries. Cleveland got pushed plenty by the plucky Piston but in the end, they were efficient, they were effective, they were effusive.
Now they are 12 months and worlds away from the 2015 postseason that lasted so long but exacted such a high price.
Love was done after Game 4 of the first round, his left shoulder scheduled for surgery after getting tied up by Boston’s Kelly Olynyk. Irving was gimping around like Uncle Drew portrayed by Fred Sanford, his moves and quickness hampered by injuries that would lead to his fractured left kneecap in Game 1 of The Finals. James wound up working with the understudies, Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson as surrogate sidekicks, and got the Cavs as far as they had a right to expect.