NBA – Cavs Game 3 Loss Was a Much Needed Wake-up Call

26 04 2010

I know what a lot of you might be thinking: “Game 4 was yesterday, why are you writing about Game 3 now, four days later?”

Answer: about 10%  can probably be accounted to laziness, while the other 90% can be explained by my utter fear of jinxing the Cavaliers come playoff time.

It may sound sacrilegious at first, but part of me was glad they lost in game 3. They needed a wake up call:

The Cavaliers are going to win this series. I thought that Derrick Rose might be able to win a game on his own in Chicago if the Cavs took them lightly. And in Game 3, that’s exactly what happened. But it is also exactly what the Cavs needed in order to achieve their ultimate goal: winning a championship.

In the 08-09 season, the Cavs had won an impressive 66 games and secured the first overall seed. And because they had only lost two games at home all year — one of them being the last game of the season with the back ups playing — clinching home court advantage seemed to be all they needed to finally bring a championship home to Cleveland.

As we unfortunately know all too well, that did not happen.

After cruising to 66 wins in the regular season, the Cavs cruised to a perfect 8-0 start in the post season. There was talk if they could be the first team to go 16-0 en route to a championship. I was never anywhere inside the Cavs locker room, but I’d be willing to bet my Shawn Kemp jersey that there was an aura of invincibility there heading into the Magic series.

And what happened? The Cavs lost the opening game by one, which cost them the home court advantage they had fought so hard to secure. They played on their heels the rest of the time and lost the series in Orlando in game 6.

While Cleveland may not have won 66 games in 2010, this Cavs team is better than last year. We traded a Sasha Pavlovic/Ben Wallace tandem for Shaquille O’Neal. And then midseason, we acquired Antawn Jamison for a first round pick (that would be sure to be playing in Europe this time next year) and a free 30 day vacation to Washington D.C. for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. As a result, we added veteran leadership, size, and scoring options to our front court, which was our weakest area last year.

I hope GMs Steve Kerr and  Ernie Grunfeld got my fruit baskets in the mail expressing my sincerest thanks.

Now back to the topic at hand.

The Cavs should win a championship this year. They have some of the best depth in the league and they have the best player in the world, LeBron James. It is a talented, veteran crew. And their “best” is better than anyone else’s “best.”

But a championship will only come if they refuse to take an opponent lightly and play the inspired defense they’re capable of playing.

In Game 3, they acted as if it was a game between the top overall seed and the lowest overall seed and tried to coast. They played passive defense and relied too heavily on the outside jumper. It resulted in the Cavs getting outplayed and the final scoreboard reflecting it. And I’m glad it happened.

In Game 4, you could tell they woke up. They splashed some water on their faces, came out and made a statement to the Bulls: “We’re better than you. You can’t score on us if we don’t want you to. Now watch us prove it.”

And I’m really glad that happened.

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18 05 2010
Cavs – Round One in Review – Cavaliers a little too cavalier « lebrontourage

[…] I think we caught a glimpse of the Kraken in Games 1 and 4. But in each of those games, the team had an unusual burst of energy. Game 1 was the first game of the playoffs, so they were obviously going to be amped. In Game 4, I think they were still pissed off from the Game 3 loss that served as a wake-up call. […]

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