This NBA season was one of the most entertaining (although frustrating for Cavs fans) we’ve had in a long time. ESPN’s Bill Simmons as long called the NBA the No Balls Association because of teams unwillingness to pull of big trades. This season there was a slew of trades involving big names. Jason Kidd went to the Mavs, Shaq to the Suns and the Cavs traded away half their team. I’ve said all along (and others have too) that you can’t really evaluate a trade until the playoffs. Well the playoffs are here and the only team of those three that made a big trade still around is the Cavs. Kidd and his Mavs and Shaq and his Suns will watch the rest of the playoffs from the same spot we all are. (Although I’m sure on much nicer TVs and much more comfortable couches.) Not only are those teams out of the playoffs in the first round, but their coaches will soon be out of a job too.
For all the bickering about the trade, for all the bad loses, for all the chemistry/rotation/defensive/offensive/just plain bad basketball problems, the Cavs trade looks to be the winner of the season. How good it really is will be determined the rest of the playoffs and even next year.
The Cavs were the only team of the three who’s trade didn’t dramatically change the team’s playing style, which is strange since knocked six guys out of town and brought four in. The Suns all of sudden could run how like to and Mike D’Antoni didn’t know how to coach that team. The Mavs got an old point guard who can’t shoot, can’t play defense and can’t lead a fast break like he could even last year. Avery Johnson didn’t know what to do with a point guard older than him and now he can look forward to getting an offer to coach the Knicks. The Cavs trade kept the same make-up of the team; Defense and let LeBron do whatever he wants. Plus it got rid of Larry Hughes and that alone was worth the risk.
My point is, the trade gets better and better everyday the Cavs continue to play in these playoffs. It helps to have the best player in the NBA the teams with the MVP the last three years are all home, first round losers, and the Cavs are still going strong.
As for Game 5, the Cavs are saying all the right things. Of course, they could say anything and it would sound like the right thing considering who is speaking in the other locker room. Remember last year, in the second round, the Cavs had a 3-1 lead over New Jersey and they came out and played their worst game of the playoffs, at home, losing 83-72. They had to go back to New Jersey before finally pulling out the series (thanks Donyell Marshall making more three’s in that game than he did the entire 2008 season). The Cavs remember it. They are making sure it doesn’t happen again. I don’t think LeBron will let it happen again. This isn’t your normal 3-1 series lead. I think LeBron and the rest of the Cavs want to close this series out at home and embarrass the Wizards. They are treating it more like a Game 7 than a Game 5. Get the win, take a few days and wait for the Celtics (but hopefully the Hawks). More than anything else, the Cavs need to win so the Wizards can leave all our lives. If I never hear a comment or quote from Stevenson and/Haywood again, I could be the happiest man in the world. In fact, I’d give three fingers to never hear those names again.
I hate to “predict” the Cavs to win tonight knowing my track record of predictions coming true (somewhere around 12.5%) but you have to feel good the series ends tonight. LBJ doesn’t think the Wizards can win the series and deep down, the Wizards know they can’t. Let’s just hope Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum don’t try to go after the King when the game is long over. If there is a hard foul on LeBron when the Cavs are cruising to victory, they might not make it out of The Q alive.
“I just have confidence in our team,” LBJ said. “It’s nothing against the Wizards. They’re a great team, but they’ve got to beat us three straight games. I just don’t see that happening. I’m held accountable for out team’s actions, and I’m going to make sure our team maintains focus throughout the next game, and if it has to be, beyond that.”
You never pick against LeBron and with that attitude, why would you?