Franchise on the Brink

05.12.10 8 years ago 220 Comments

Not trying to take anything away from the Celtics and the completeness of their domination, but Boston’s win last night wasn’t nearly as interesting as Cleveland’s loss. You already knew the story line going into the tiebreaker Game 5 would be whether this was LeBron‘s last home game “deep in the Q,” but you also have to remember what city we’re talking about here. This is potentially one more year where Cleveland had a championship-caliber squad — the Cavs, the Browns, the Indians, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony — and something went terribly wrong on the way to what seemed like a certain ‘chip … Things were fine until the Celtics went on a 15-0 run in the second quarter, capped by Paul Pierce‘s and-one layup. Boston was only up six at halftime, and although LeBron hadn’t yet made a field goal at that time, he’d also spearheaded the defensive effort keeping Rajon Rondo scoreless in the first half. The problem was that with LBJ on Rondo, Candace Parker got lit up by Pierce (21 pts, 11 rebs, 7 asts). Then Ray Allen (25 pts, 6 threes) opened the second half with consecutive triples, Rondo (16 pts, 7 asts) finally got on the board, and midway through the third quarter it was a 15-point Celtics lead. That was around the same time LeBron got his first field goal, a breakaway dunk. He would only make two more shots the rest of the game. By the time it was over, the Celtics had a 30-piecing while LBJ and the Cavs were getting booed at home … Not even Big Z getting some tick was enough to spark the Cavs. He had 5 points and 4 blocks in a few minutes off the bench, and his and-one banker over Shelden Williams was probably the most athletic move he’s made since the Cavs were rocking the black and blue spray-paint unis … Funny coincidence when the cameras showed Z, Mike Finley and Dr. Jack Ramsay all in succession. Combined age of that trio? About 203 years old … So now LeBron (15 pts, 3-14 FG) is on the brink of another earlier-than-expected playoff exit, the Cavs are on the brink of another playoff disappointment, and Cleveland is on the brink of a really bad summer. And a lot of people are pleased about this. It’s weird: When Michael Jordan got beat year after year before 1991, and when Kevin Garnett had his championship hopes continually dashed before 2008, it seemed like the general consensus among basketball fans was to feel bad for them. People wanted to see Mike and KG get that ring. With LeBron, it’s like so many people are taking pleasure in his losses, and last night was another moment to pounce on him and laugh. If you’re one of those people, do us a favor and explain that line of thinking. Is LeBron just unlikeable compared to Jordan and Garnett? … Now it’s not like the Cavs are dead yet. (It only feels like it.) That said, have you thought about the potential NBA Finals matchups we’ve still got on the table? Each one is interesting for its own reasons: Lakers/Celtics is the historic rivalry; Lakers/Cavs pits the two best players in the world against each other in what will be the highest-rated series ever; Lakers/Magic is the always-fun Finals rematch; Suns/Celtics is the flashback to the ’76 Finals which featured arguably the greatest NBA game of all-time; and Suns/Cavs means one suffering superstar will finally get that elusive ring. The only one that’s kind of “eh” is Suns/Magic, which might be noteworthy because Shaq could show up to all seven games and get booed by every person in each building … And you thought the craziest sports story you’d hear this week was the one about Ken Griffey Jr. reportedly taking a nap in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse while manager Don Wakamatsu was looking for him to pinch-hit. (Wakamatsu denied the report, Griffey kinda-sorta denied it, and two anonymous M’s players were quoted confirming it.) But then Hasheem Thabeet got involved. According to numerous reports out of Memphis, Thabeet was recently at a club in Tanzania when he got into a fight with R&B singer T.I.D. (no relation to T.I.) and knocked dude out. Or as one story put it, “the 7-foot big man bounced him like a basketball.” Thabeet’s agent claims there was no fight, but come on. How many 7-foot-3 guys were at that club? Either you’re saying everybody made it up, or it’s a case of mistaken identity. And last we checked, Arvydas Sabonis is well into the “old guy at the club” phase of his life and probably wasn’t out kicking it like that … We’re out like Cleveland’s margin for error …

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