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Wither the Cavaliers
by Joel Caris
Wither The Cavaliers
What I really wanted was solid entertainment. I wanted a series that was competitive, or at least that offered the convincing illusion of being competitive. I wanted a reason to root for the underdog, to actually question the ability of the overwhelming favorites to pull off a win in the NBA Finals.
I haven't gotten it, though. In Game 1, the Spurs won. In Game 2, the Spurs killed. And in Game 3, the Cavs had their hearts ripped out.
It was a close game in the final minutes. While the Spurs had the lead, it really was anyone's game in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers were successful in keeping the score close and not letting San Antonio run away with the game toward the end. They had a legitimate shot to win. But in the end, they weren't able to pull it off. It was brutal for me to watch, and I'm not even that big of a Cleveland fan. At that point, I was just rooting for them to make the series interesting.
When LeBron James drove to the basket, beautifully, and managed a contorted finger roll that spun along the rim, sank halfway down the basket and then popped back out like a damn jack-in-the-box, that was just a killer. That knocked the wind right out of me. When his three pointer rattled in and then out, it was a shot to the stomach. And when Anderson Goddamn Varejao took a pass from LeBron with mere seconds left in the game and then--instead of immediately dumping the ball back into LeBron's hand and giving him a shot at tying or winning the game for them--decided to have a seizure in the middle of the lane and fling the basketball at the backboard as if he was trying to make a miracle half-court shot . . . well, let's just say that wasn't the happiest moment of the night for me.
At the end of the day, though, while I may have tried to convince myself that Cleveland had an actual (slim, but true) shot at an incredible upset, the reality is that they never really did. As great as James can be--and he's been good, but not truly great in this series--he just doesn't have the supporting cast to take down the Spurs, who are incredibly good. I think that was made apparent when Varejao worked his epileptic magic in Cleveland's third-to-last offensive play. Meanwhile, after Mike Brown finally gave in to the cries of the media and fans and started Daniel Gibson--the hot Cleveland--in place of the hobbled Larry Hughes, Gibson responded with his first bad game in awhile during these playoffs, shooting 1-for-10 on the night.
I mean, what the hell do you do at that point?
To make matters even worse, the Spurs didn't play well in Game 3. They served up a golden opportunity to Cleveland and the Cavaliers were unable to take advantage of it. The gods (or perhaps their own skill?) seemed to be conspiring against them. Hell, even on the final play, at home, with the ball in the hands of the biggest star on the court, the Cavaliers were unable to get a foul called against Bruce Bowen. A foul, in fact, that was intentional. Bowen purposefully fouled James and the refs didn't give a single blow on their whistle. And LeBron shot his three, and he missed, and that was the game.
But understand, even if Bowen had been called for his obvious, intentional foul, it's unlikely it would have been called a continuation, meaning James would have only had two free throws, leaving them still down a point even if he did make them both. Further, even if he did get the call and the continuation, there's certainly no guarantee James would have made all three to tie the game and, likely, send it in to overtime. James and the rest of Cleveland aren't known for their quality free throw shooting.
And so it goes. The simple reality is that the Spurs are a much better basketball team and the Cavaliers have a lot of work to do before they can hang with the best teams in the West. Even with the Spurs having an off night, even with the game in Cleveland, and even in a must-win situation, the Cavaliers simply weren't able to put together a good enough game to beat San Antonio. Now they're down three, and while they still technically have a chance to win this series by sweeping the next four games, they won't. They'll be lucky to avoid a sweep.
Which is too bad.
I mean, all I really wanted was some solid entertainment.
Joel might not know that the San Antonio-based editor of his article has been bored stiff as well.