I have been a Boston Celtics fan for far longer than seems appropriate. However, I’ve watched our team’s performance after this year’s All-Star break deteriorate rapidly, and we haven’t been playing championship ball since the first half of the season. To have made it as far into the playoffs as we did was surprising. When we played the Orlando Magic, it was clear to me that they were the better side, despite the series taking all seven games to decide. Additionally, it seemed clear that the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had steamrolled through the playoffs, would have crushed our already beat and battered C’s squad. Perhaps in four. So silently, a lot of Boston fans whispered, “Thanks be to the Magic.”
Now that Orlando are up 3-1 in this series, in several close games including last night’s OT thriller, I am finally starting to believe that they can close things out — perhaps even on Thursday. Their coach, Stan Van Gundy, must relay the urgency of their situation very plainly. Win on Thursday.
All of my Ohio friends ask the question, why do I want the Cavs to fail? It’s true, the Cavs are having a stellar season. It’s true, LeBron will be one of the best ever in the NBA. (Yes, ever.) But looking at the stats from the Cavs last two losses to the Magic, and my problem with the Cavs becomes clear. In Game 3, LeBron scored 41 points. Game 4, 44 points. In Game 3, the Cavs had only two other double digit scorers, at 15 and 12 points each. Combined, it takes the next 5 players to equal the scoring output of one LeBron James. So what? So, they lost Game 3. Contrast this with the winning Magic, who had four starters and one sub in doubles. Game 4 went into OT, of course, so others had a chance to get into double digits for the Cavs. Nevertheless, LeBron scored 44 points. And the Cavs lost. While he definitely had 7 assists and is undoubtedly a team player, it seems clear from the last two games that he needs to trust his team more. A great player cannot just change the game single handedly. A great player learns that to win one must give his team the confidence to step up and lead them into victory. That seems to be missing right now. The Cavs are not a bad group of players. But like the Fresh Prince, their entire game strategy simply cannot be, Pass it to LeBron.