Thursday, April 24, 2008

Waiting for Game 3

The wait between games in the NBA playoffs is sometimes agonizing. It feels like a week since the Cavs blew out the Wizards in Game 2, even if it has only been three days. But for this version of the Cavaliers (with LBJ's bad back, Big Ben's bad back, Z's bad back, Boobie's bum ankle, etc., etc.) the off days are likely welcomed by the players and will ultimately benefit us as a team.

I have a lot of confidence going into this one, even if it is on the road where the Cavs have struggled mightily in recent weeks. LeBron is playing at a very high level, which is normal, but I think he somehow has an extra playoff gear that we are seeing now. The x-factors for me are the following:

  • Can our shooters keep hitting on their open looks? If Boobie and Wally are making shots and Z is hitting on his pick-and-pops, we are extremely tough to defend.
  • Will Big Ben bring the energy we saw in Game 2? He has been tough to gauge this year because of the back problems, but the few times we have seen him play with that type of energy, the Cavaliers usually look much better. I think the intangibles he brings are even more important than what Varejao brings.
  • Will we continue to defend the way we have in the first two games? I think Mike Brown has made some great adjustments on the Wizards' big three that has really disrupted the team's rhythm. It helps that Arenas is nursing some injuries, but we have really locked down on him since the first half of Game 1. The key will be if Wally can stay in front of Butler, and if we can keep Jamison in check.
The good news is that Mike Brown is 10-2 during the postseason head-to-head vs. Eddie Jordan over the last three years. Brown has been able to keep his team focused and not let them get caught up in the Wizards' nonsense. I expect them to be just as focused in a hostile environment tonight. Taking Game 3 would really kill any life the Wizards may have left.

Non-basketball thoughts: I didn't even know who Soulja Boy was before LeBron's infamous quote (give me a break, I'm 32 and don't listen to pop radio or watch MTV). But if the Wizards are going to use that quote and some music to try to get into LeBron's head tonight (and go ahead I dare you to give LBJ extra motivation), they might want to check out this photo from Soulja Boy's official web site. Even he is a LeBron fan:

Even Soulja Boy knows who the King is

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