In the end, you could throw the Xs-and-Os away, ditch the what-ifs and if-onlys, and boil it down to this:
LeBron James is LeBron James. And you're not.
That means you, Indiana Pacers, who got swept out of the playoffs Sunday by James and the Cavaliers because they don't have LeBron James. They've got Paul George, a great player but, in comparison to LeBron, simply a wanna-be. And so they lost, putting up a fight again but not enough of one when the best player in the world has the kind of playoff series he had.
Which was, LeBron-like. In four games, he averaged a double-double and nearly a triple-double. Sunday he went for 33 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. With this latest sweep, teams for which he has played -- the Cavaliers and the Heat -- have not lost a first-round game since 2012.
Think about that: Not only has LeBron not lost a first-round playoff series in five years, he hasn't lost a first-round game. The streak is now at 21 straight first-round wins, an NBA record.
And, yes, Nate McMillan could have made some better coaching moves. Yes, the Pacers could have played harder at the defensive end at times. And, yes, George could have just a little more LeBron-ish -- although he did average 28 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists in the series, so how much more he could have done is a very good question.
And it wouldn't have mattered, anyway. Ultimately, this had the feel of LeBron and the Cavaliers playing only as hard as they had to against an inferior opponent. And now it's on bigger fish.
And the Pacers?
Well, now the Paul George Watch begins in earnest. Which likely won't be much more fun than the last week was.