The team that ultimately forced LeBron James to depart to Miami now stands as the first post season test during his return to Cleveland.
James achieved his goal, winning two NBA titles in a four-year span, but in his first opportunity to become a free agent since joining the Heat, he returned to Cleveland to try and deliver the city its first major championship in any sport since 1964.
The combination of the appeal to return to his hometown team, the emergence of point guard Kyrie Irving and the ability to select the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft served as the right set of circumstances to leave a potential dynasty in Miami.
The Cavaliers enabled James to essentially become the general manager of the franchise, as it selected Andrew Wiggins only to use him as the centerpiece to acquire All-Star forward Kevin Love, a player hand selected by the four-time MVP to help bring the franchise its first Larry O’Brien trophy.
The start of the post season signifies the same statistic for 16 different teams in the league: all that stands between them and a championship ring are 16 victories.
The first four for Cleveland will have to come against Boston, a that was supposed to be rebuilding after removing Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, only the team has rallied behind second-year coach Brad Stevens to make an improbable run to the playoffs.
No player from the team that knocked out Cleveland twice in three seasons — during the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals and the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals — still plays for Boston, but the Celtics truly had to be the first test for James in his return to the Cavaliers.
The loss to Boston in 2010 still haunts James and even though he was abel to eliminate the Celtics twice during his tenure with Miami, the only way to truly extract the pain is to win this playoff series.
The 30-year-old has emerged as the most dominant opening round performer in league history, carrying his team to victories to a 36-7 record in the first round (for a winning percentage of 83.7 percent) while averaging 29.5 points on 51 percent shooting from the field along with 8.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
The Cavaliers still are battling plenty of internal issues, mainly involving Love.
During his six seasons with the Timberwolves, Love put up plenty of impressive statistics, averaging 19.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while winning the 2010-11 rebounding title, but never led his team into the playoffs.
Despite the lack of team success, Love was able to even garner some MVP consideration a year ago on a team that finished two games below .500.
The war of words didn’t just play out in post game interviews, the Cavaliers initially experienced plenty of difficulties winning games at the start of the season.
Cleveland claimed victory just 19 times in its first 39 appearances, before striking deals with Oklahoma City and Denver to rebuild its roster.
A slow season from Love, as he averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, but often found himself on the bench during critical periods during the fourth quarter didn’t derail the team that was supposed to compete for a championship immediately.
The brilliance of James helped the team overcome its numerous struggles.
James averaged 25.3 points, 7.4 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game, gelled with Irving and led Cavaliers to 53 victories, the second most in the Eastern Conference.
The regular season has been completed and Cleveland has done enough to establish itself as a contender.
Now just 16 victories stand between the Cavaliers and the ultimate prize.