Friday, May 19, 2006

Game 5 and 6 Thoughts

It's been almost 2 days since the Cavs played the Pistons in game 5, and I still don't really believe it happened.

This isn't supposed to happen, this is not the script LeBron was supposed to be following. Michael Jordan lost his first 3 playoff series, LeBron won his first. Jordan had to struggle vs the Pistons before he took off, but LeBron may have a chance at one of the greatest upsets in NBA history.

This flies in the face of all I know about Cleveland sports. My sports teams lose and lose hard. When my teams lose, the losses get names. Red Right 88, The Drive, The Shot, The Shot II, The Fumble, The Mesa (okay, I made that one up). My teams lose in extra innings of game 7 in the World Series. My sports franchises trade guys because they have drug problems, even though they don't have drug problems (and yes I'm still bitter about the Harper-Ferry trade, even though I was 6 at the time).

Cleveland is the city who loses its NFL franchise, even though Browns preseason games get better local TV ratings than Indians playoff games. The Browns had the number 1 overall pick 2 years in a row (followed by number 3 the following year) and they get no Pro-Bowls out of eitehr of them. The NFL refs change the rules for a game while the Browns play (the bottle throw game, everyone mentions how dumb Cleveland fans are, and I agree, retarded, but the refs did review a play after another play was run... um... thats not allowed).

Indians mid season pick ups break their arms while warming up (John Smiley). Our players get assualted by their wives (Chuck Finely, William Greene) or arrested for gun charges while going to the party of Steeler player (Gerrard Warren).

When the Cavs won their last game of the regular season of the 02-03 season, I knew that they blew their chance for LeBron (they tied with the Nuggets for a whopping 17 wins; I saw one of them in person, vs Golden State, so ya, I'm a true fan).

Part of me feels like I've seen this before, just last year with the Indians. Young team, full of stars (no big James like star, but a multitude of young all-star talent) makes a run that no one thought they should make. They were playing their best baseball late in the year, and they were challenging the White Sox for the division AND the Yankees and Red Sox for the Wild Card. This wasn't supposed to happen, not this soon. I got my hopes up ("if they can get into the postseason, they're the hottest team in baseball... they could do it!") as did the rest of Cleveland. Well, the Indians choked. Sure it was still a good year, better than anyone could imagine, but they choked at the end. They made the run when no one expected them to, and when the pressure was on, they folded. Ah, Cleveland.

So the Cavs win game 4 and head to Detroit for game 5. No one in the world gives them a chance versus Detroit, in Detroit (especially because the Pistons are so mad and focused). I just hoped they would play close and not get blown out, so they'd still have confidence for game 6.

Then the unthinkable happened: they won. What the fuck? Howwhywhat?! I was speachless. My God they did it. They weren't supposed to have the balls to go into Detroit and take game 5. LeBron didn't even go off for 40+. If they lose the series to Detroit, it will feel a lot like the Indians last year. Sure they were better than anyone expected and it was a great season by all accounts... buuuuuut they had a shot and they blew it.

Here's some Random Thoughts on Game 5 (and 6):

Told Ya. Z needed to play well for the Cavs to have a chance in this series. Sure he stunk up the place the first two games, but he played decent in games 3 and 4 (shot a high percentage and got a few blocks). As Michael Reghi would say, Z gave the Cavs a man-sized performance in game 5. Z set the tone early with his 4 first quarter blocks. He also scored on some nifty post moves, which gave the Pistons just one more option to think about. Sure he fouled out, but he had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks. I'll take that.

I like the aggressiveness a lot, but contain it. The Cavs out hustled the Pistons in games 3-5, but in game 5 they almosted hustled themselves out of the game. Anderson and Z picked up some really dumb reach fouls throughout the game. Z went over the back of Rip Hamilton and Andy had some dumb reaching/over the back fouls during some post entry passes. I love the energy and effort that the Cavs are bringing, I just hope they use it more intelligently, if game 5 went into over time, the Cavs could've been really hurt by the fouling out.

LeBron still hasn't been ridonkulous. Well, he has, but not the scoring LeBron. James hasn't gone off for a 40 plus game this series. I know the Pistons are the best defensive team in the league and all, but LeBron hasn't gotten off yet, and it's surprising. His jumpshot wasn't really on in game 5, he airball'd more than one jumper, and had some ugly misses. LeBron kept driving the rim and drawing fouls, so it wasn't like he was out of it offensively. But there has been times this year where he'll get 10 points in a span of 3 minutes or get 25 in a quarter. This hasn't really happened in this series yet, I'd like to think that he's due.

Role players have stepped up. Big time. Eric Snow, Donyell Marshall, Anderson Varejao and Damon Jones are a HUGE reason why the Cavs are up 3-2 right now. Snow has come through in the postseason, sure he'll miss a few jumpers still, but he seems to realize that he can get to the rim when the Pistons forget about him. Varejao has been a life saver in this series. He seemed to be the only guy who wasn't afraid or intimidated by the Pistons. He's gotten shoved around a few times, and I'm kinda suprised there hasn't been more fights between him and the Wallaces.

Pistons seem shellshocked. It seemed like the Pistons thought they were destined to go to the finals and the first two rounds of the playoffs were just a formality. It also seemed like a lot of NBA experts thought the same thing. Detroit seems totally unprepared to be in a series right now. Everyone likes to point out that Detroit has been down 3-2 before (I think something like 3 times in the last 2 years or so). But lets remember, the time they were down 3-2 vs the Nets, they were the underdogs. And even being down 3-2 vs the Heat, game 6 was in Detroit (game 6 was in NJ during that series). Now the Pistons are down 3-2, going to Cleveland while being the overwhelming favorites to win the series. That is a bit different scenario. Oh yea, neither New Jersey or Miami had A) the intensity that of Gund Arena will have tonight (New Jesery is nortorious for having lame fans and Miami actually puts t-shirts on seats to hide the fact that no one showed up-IN THE PLAYOFFS!) and B) LeBron James.

I love the NBA playoffs. Every year around March we always here this shit about how the NCAA tournament is sooooo much better than the NBA playoffs. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Tourney, but it doesn't compare to a tough 7 game slugfest. For a basketball junkie like myself, the NBA playoffs are where its at. Plays that worked so well in game 1 now get stopped cold in game 3. Players can go from goat to hero in a manner of seconds. After 3-4 games, the teams actually hate each other. You think Rasheed Wallace wouldn't like to go off on Varejao?

It's only the second round! My god what the hell is going on. The Cavs are a game away from one of the greatest upsets in NBA history. The Suns are going to have to play back to back 7 game series vs a team from Los Angeles. Oh yea, the Suns came back from 3-1. The easiest second round series was Heat-Nets and everyone and their mother had the Nets upsetting Miami before the playoffs started. The Western Conference Finals is in round 2. Are you seeing this San Antonio - Dallas series? After the Cavs game tonight, watch game 6 from Dallas, that is a hard fought series by two evenly matched teams. Just wow.

I love TNT. I've said it before and I'll say it again, TNT has the best halftime/postgame show on television. There isn't really a TNT announcer combo I don't like (I cannot say the same for ESPN, ABC, FOX or CBS). Jalen Rose as a sideline reporter? Steve Kerr, my all-time favorite player growing up, working with Marv Albert. Bringing in Mike Fratello, Doc Rivers and Jeff Van Gundy for comentary? YES! (Okay, Rivers sucked, but having Van Gundy call the Cavs-Wizards series and taking thinly veiled shots at Tracy McGrady was awesome "when your superstar works this hard, it makes it easier to coach"). And don't even get me started on Ernie, Kenny and Charles. I could listen to those 3 talk basketball for hours.

Game 6. I'm not going to predict the score or the outcome (though I will say this, I told my friend Justin that the Cavs would either win in six or lose in 7, saying that I don't think the Cavs have the intestinal fortitude to win a game 7 in Detroit- not sure if I believe that now).

I think the game will be close and one of two outcomes will occur: Cavs win and Gund Arena explodes or Cavs lose a heartbreaker, and we all commit mass suicide.

I think Drew Gooden will have a big first quarter, as he'll feed off the crowd's energy.

I think Z will continue is strong play for 4 straight games.

I think I love you, but what I am so afraid of.

I think if Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall hit 3s, Gund Arena will explode.

I think James is due for a monster game.

I think Tayshawn Prince will score some killer buckets.

I think Ben Wallace will miss free throws (I know... going out on a limb).

I think we'll get at least one tech out of Rasheed Wallace (and I wouldn't bet against 2).

I think the Pistons whine about fouls more than any 'great' team in memory (this goes back to last year).

I think everytime they show Larry Hughes on the bench the crowd will go nuts.

I think I hate Ronnie Duncan.

I think I'm scared of getting my hopes up. My Columbus friends are all pumped and excited (if you live/hang out with Sepe, Maiberger and myself, you will begin to like Cleveland sports) and I'm apprehensive. I don't want to get too excited about the possibilites here. I mean, if they can beat Detroit, couldn't they beat Miami? We all know that the Heat can't guard small forwards... See, I can't think about this! No dreaming.

I think the Pistons flop like motherfuckers. Rip Hamilton literally took a dive last game. He actually jumped forward and onto the ground. Lindsey Hunter comes in the game and within 5 minutes he's on the ground at least 130 times. Sure, Z and Andy flop every now and then. But this is getting out of hand.

I think as much as David Stern wants a LeBron-Detroit game 7, he wants a LeBron-Wade-Shaq 7 game series.

I think the Mavs close it out tonight.

I think I think that I think the Cavs win tonight.

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