Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All Eyes on 23

I don't know what shocked me more about Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semis. Paul Pierce showing up in a big way with a double-double or LeBron James suddenly going quiet in a must-win game. But all of a sudden, this series went from LeBron's coronation to his possible execution.

His loyal subjects booed him off the floor in possibly his last home game. His reputation as a superstar is under a red-hot glare while Boston is showing him how champions respond to pressure.

Game 3 had Cleveland feeling themselves after handing out the worst home loss in Boston playoff history. Then Rajon Rondo turned into Magic Johnson/Isiah Thomas in Game 4 (29-18 boards-13 dimes for his 4th career postseason triple-double) after his John Stockton/Bob Cousy impersonation in Game 2 (19 dimes).

Game 5 yesterday? My eyes just kept bugging out seeing the numbers. A 15-0 run for Boston in the 2nd quarter. LeBron struggling for numbers? (Perhaps hurting from that foolish 360 dunk he tried to pull in warmups) The Celtics pushing the lead to 15, 20 and then 30.

A 32-point knockout at home? In a must-win game? This was like Kano's fatality in Mortal Kombat and LeBron James and his bunch went out like some chumps.

Based on the postgame reports, I've seen that Cleveland is turning into Atlanta - a great team all of a sudden slowly imploding. This series has exposed several things: 1) LeBron is either hurt or just not a great leader, 2) Mike Brown is in over his head as a coach moreso than Doc Rivers, 3) The Cleveland bench forgot they've been in this position before.

That's a knock on LeBron that many have ignored because that's something you have to learn. Every great player had to learn to lead by example and demand his teammates step up to the plate. LBJ still has the point-forward mentality he showed in high school and even though he can take over games, at times he's not comfortable in that killer role.

He's not consistently aggressive and sometimes you gotta just say forget the triple double and start making plays yourself. Once you get going, everyone else will feed off that. It's the opposite of Kobe Bryant right now, who's better off letting Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum do the heavy lifting while he picks his spots to attack.

And where were his teammates? Antawn Jamison? Mo Williams? Delonte West? They froze up big time while the Big 3 of Boston had a dip in the fountain of youth (Jesus Shuttlesworth had 22 points?)

Game 6 is arguably the most important game for the legacy of LeBron James, the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland sports in general. Like I told someone on Twitter, if they don't win this year, forget about Cleveland ending a 46-year sports curse for another decade.

1964 was the last time they won a pro title and that was the Cleveland Browns winning before the Super Bowl was in existence. Willie Mays, MJ, John Elway, Craig Counsell and the 95 Braves laugh at this futility.

I still don't think LeBron is going to leave but he's a king without a crown right now. It's time to show everyone who the MVP is and add one more twist to this entertaining series. I predict either a triple-double or 40 points minimum.

Sidenote from Game 5 - that may have been the last solid game we see from Shaquille O'Neal (21 points and 4 blocks). Between him and Ken Griffey Jr.** last week, it's weird for me seeing my 90's icons go out like that.

**that situation is full of horse crap. 1) Anonymous teammates ratting someone out is still bush league in a sport known for handling internal conflict. 2) if Mariners' manager Ken Wakamatsu really wanted Junior to pinch-hit, he would've waken him up. The sadder story is that he has no home runs and only 5 runs batted in.

No comments:

Post a Comment