All Eyes On LeBron James
You know, the city where those ultra-hyped Cavaliers never lose. As a matter of fact, until the Magic surprised them with a 107-106 nail-biting win on Wednesday, LeBron James and his teammates had lost two homes games.
Yes, just two.
Add the fact that rookie Courtney Lee is back, healthy, and playing sound basketball, along with a no-show from the quiet hero of the Boston series (J.J. Redick), and this is earth-shaking.
However, I'm not at all convinced that these Cavaliers are done. Not with their make-up, their confidence, and of course, their king.
Interestingly enough, though, James couldn't stop a game one disaster from happening, despite pouring in 49 points.
It wasn't like James was taking shots all over the floor, just jacking them up, either. He was playing straight-up efficient basketball.
He went 20-30 from the field, three of six on three's and even grabbed six rebounds and dished out eight assists. With the rest of his starting lineup all managing to chip in at least 10 points, you'd probably guess they had this game, for sure.
But if you had, you wouldn't have just been wrong. You would have been over-looking the core issue.
While Cleveland is a championship-caliber team, no doubt, they don't have the kind of depth needed to get through a tough series.
Without a true test, you never have to rely on your bench.
With over 40 allotted minutes from bench players on Wednesday, the Cav's got a total of five points. The Magic, on the other hand, notched almost 60 minutes of bench usage, and racked up 25 points.
When your bench gets out-scored that badly, the writing is usually on the wall.
This tells us two things.
First—Cleveland is a very good team and, despite poor depth on their bench, they still only lost by one point (however, they were at home).
Second—Orlando isn't too far behind them, and can definitely take this series.
Clearly, it's never as simple as one reason, flaw, or excuse. When it mattered, the pre-determined champion Cav's couldn't get it done.
There may have been a non-call or two that raised some eyebrows, but hey, it's the playoffs; that happens.
While all of that information is interesting and allows you to tell your friends exactly why you're putting the bank on the Magic to take this series, Rashard Lewis's clutch three-pointer at the end of the game was the real shocker.
After being heckled and hazed for much of his career as a soft player, Lewis was challenged by the media, his coach, and even his team, to step up and take hold of the big-time performer persona that he represents.
Just by non-verbals alone, it was obvious in Orlando's huddle who was getting the ball, and exactly what shot would be taken. It was Lewis all the way, and it paid off.
But he's just one man, and that was just one play. It's never as simple as that. At least, not when it should be.
It still comes down to who you're playing, where you're playing, and where your head is at.
Then again, when it comes to this season, especially considering we're dealing with a team led by the regular season MVP, it's never about what it should be.
If you had the luxury of hanging around and watching what followed the game, you'd know exactly what I'm talking about.
After the Magic won, all the cameras and eyes in the stadium were focused on LeBron James and his bruised and bloodied knee.
This is particularly interesting, considering the huge upset that has just taken place. Orlando players had to wait to be interviewed, because James was bent over, grabbing everyone's attention.
Talk about putting a player above the team. To be frank, it was more like putting a player above the game.
Regardless of the reffing, coaching, or depth of either team, it has become obvious that if LeBron James wants to get back to the NBA Finals, he may have to drop in a historic performance, or two.
And after what we've seen just in Game One, it's a certainty that all eyes will be on LeBron.
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