Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A three game series

Well, I got my wish. I wanted the Cavs to at least get a split in Boston and they stomped their way to a 29-point win on Friday night to at worst guarantee a 2-2 tie coming home for tonight's Game 5. So why am I down on them? Because of the way Game 4 went on Sunday afternoon. After looking so focused on Friday night, the Cavs looked equally as passive and disinterested on Sunday. It's like they were satisfied to get the split and just ended up conceding the loss in Game 4.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I will defend most everything LeBron does. I don't think I've ever called him out on this site for anything he's done. But I am now. It all starts with LeBron and he was passive and tentative again on Sunday. As LeBron goes, so go the Cavs and he set the tone again on Sunday with his passive play. One play in particular stands out to me. It was a crucial possession midway through the fourth quarter when there was a Celtics miss and three Cavs standing in the paint. LeBron was the only one not boxing out and the ball squirted to Rajon Rondo for what seemed like his 200th offensive rebound, which he easily converted for a big basket to help start the finishing run that killed any hopes of a Cavs win. As the broadcast went to commercial I made a point to rewind this play and re-watch it in slow motion to single out which Cav missed his assignment. And it was just one example of a missed assignment on Sunday. I won't even begin to try to figure out how a hobbling Kevin Garnett can beat the entire Cavalier defense down the court for a long pass that ended in an easy layup...

History says that LeBron will bounce back tonight and have a big performance. I'm not doubting that. But MVP players on championship teams usually don't rely on the ability to flip the switch. They know when it's time to squeeze the life out of their opponents. My original prediction for this series was the Cavs in 6. That may still be the way it plays out. But I wouldn't have predicted such a passive/aggressive nature in the way this team has shown up at various times. It's extremely frustrating to see how well they can play, but at the same time never knowing when to expect it. Tonight would be a good time to flip the switch back to "on" and keep it there for the remainder of the season.

I get that the Celtics are a proud team and they won't roll over for anyone. That's fine. And it will probably ultimately end up being a good thing that the Cavs have been challenged in this fashion, while the Magic have been handed a free pass through the first two rounds. But it's only a good thing if the Cavs win this series. I almost get the feeling that they only have one eye on Boston and the other looking ahead to Orlando, even if no one on the team will ever admit it. There needs to be a sense of urgency (a tired but appropriate sports cliche) from here on out. This is a scary time to be a Cavs fan given everything that is at stake. I don't want to think what may happen if they don't take care of business tonight.

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