NEW YORK – LeBron James should be getting used to sweeps by now.
The Cavaliers star was a unanimous selection to the All-NBA first team Wednesday, after leading his team to a franchise-best regular-season record and a pair of playoff sweeps of the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks.
James was put on the first team on every ballot of 122 sportswriters and broadcasters who regularly cover the league. Lakers star Kobe Bryant finished second in voting, making the first team on 119 ballots, while Dwight Howard of the Magic, Dwyane Wade of the Heat and Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks rounded out the first team.
Center Shaquille O’Neal of the Phoenix Suns was named to the third team.
James was a first-team selection for the second straight season after finishing second in the NBA in scoring at 28.4 points and ranking in the top 10 in steals and assists. He led the Cavaliers to a 66-16 record, including a 39-2 mark at home, and the team’s first top seed in the playoffs.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said of James, who in addition to winning MVP, finished second in voting for best defensive player. “It comes with being the MVP. He’s proven he can do it all.”
The Cavaliers made it 8-for-8 in the postseason Monday night, completing a second straight sweep with an 84-74 win over the Hawks. Along with their dominant sweep of Detroit, Cleveland has won an NBA-record eight consecutive playoff games by double figures.
The Cavs should be well-rested for the Eastern Conference finals against Boston or Orlando, a series the Celtics lead 3-2 entering Game 6 Thursday night.
The All-NBA second team consisted of New Orleans guard Chris Paul, Brandon Roy of the Trail Blazers, Tim Duncan of the Spurs, Paul Pierce of the Celtics and Houston center Yao Ming.
The third team has Denver’s Chauncey Billups and San Antonio’s Tony Parker at guard, Denver’s Carmelo Anthony and the Lakers’ Pau Gasol at forward, and O’Neal at center.
Howard had 17 rebounds but just 12 points while taking only 10 shots in the Magic’s 92-88 loss Tuesday night, but he’s the biggest reason Orlando is still alive.
After becoming only the fourth player to lead the league in rebounding and blocked shots since 1973-74, when the block became an official statistic, the 6-foot-11 forward has averaged 20 points and leads all players with 16.1 rebounds in the postseason.
Bryant finished third in the league with 26.8 points, leading the Lakers to a Western Conference-best 65-17 finish.
They play Game 6 against the Houston Rockets on Thursday.Wade was a first-team selection for the first time after leading the league in scoring at 30.2 points, finishing second in steals and eighth in assists. He also became the fifth player in league history to reach 2,000 points, 500 assists, and 150 steals in a single season.
Nowitzki was the league’s fourth-leading scorer and helped the Mavericks to a 50-32 finish.
“This is a great honor and means that you have played solid basketball for the whole season,” Nowitzki said. “This is about being consistent and helping the team night in and night out.”