Cleveland Cavaliers-Orlando Magic: What We've Learned So Far
Take two games decided by a total of two points in which both came down to the final shot and there's going to be some excitement.
But I don't think anyone outside of Orlando expected the Cavs to be heading to Orlando with the series tied 1-1.
We all expected a 4-1 or maybe a 4-2 series victory by the Cavs, but nothing that was going to be too strenuous.
We were all wrong.
We learned this series is going to be an all-out war and whoever wins will have earned it.
Here are a couple other things we learned:
1. This series is going to seven games. It just has that feel. There's no doubt.
2. For those of us that didn't already know or believe, we certainly do now. LeBron James is absolutely unbelievable. Throughout the playoffs and especially this series, LeBron has elevated his play to another level that very few players have attained in the history of the NBA.
Michael Jordan was there. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird pushed each other there. Kobe Bryant and Shaq got there together. Meanwhile, LeBron's getting there all by himself and it's a blast to watch.
3. The Cavs go as Mo Williams goes. LeBron is constant awesomeness (if that's even a word), but as good as he is, he can't do all of it on his own (just most of it.) Moe is the guy that determines how the Cavs do against other good teams.
In Game One, Moe was definitely subpar shooting 6 for 19 from the field. In the second and third quarter of Game Two, Moe Williams was terrible. He couldn't hit a shot. Not only was he not creating for his teammates, but he was constantly (along with everyone else for that matter) getting burned with the pick and roll.
The Cavs gave up a huge lead and just like that, they were in trouble. Late in the fourth quarter, Mo hit a three to tie the game and had a nice running shot too.
These shots were huge and along with LeBron doing his thing, this put the Cavs in position for that epic buzzer beater. For the Cavs to win this series, they need Mo to play All-Star caliber basketball.
4. This has nothing to do with the game, but I feel it needs to be said. What the hell is Stan Van Gundy wearing? Every game he wears a different flavor of the same thing: a suit coat with a skin hugging dry fit type shirt.
Now, could someone please explain to me why an obese man would wear a shirt that advertises his uhh..err.. fatty areas? It makes no sense. There are plenty of fat coaches in sports, but most of them have the brains not to wear a suit or some baggy clothes.
5. I think we are also learning what kind of impact LeBron has not just with his play, but with his words. Example: LeBron says to play Sasha Pavlovic. Pavlovic goes from not playing at all in Game One to playing 22 minutes in Game Two.
How much pull does LeBron really have on Mike Brown? And is that a good thing? The coach should be in charge of who plays and how much. A great player and leader-like LeBron can lead, that's fine.
However, if he has that kind of power, then I think it has gone too far. But then again, do the Cavs have to give Lebron that power if they have any chance of resigning him in 2010?
6. The coach of the year is being out-coached. Van Gundy is making Brown look like a bird flying into a window. Cleveland's defense is arguably the best in the league and is a big reason they are in a position to go to the finals. Unfortunately, the defensive strategy in this serious has been flat out dumb.
The Magic are a tall team. They have three guys 6'10" or over and two of them (Lewis and Turkoglu) can play on the perimeter leaving Howard in the middle. Brown puts Big Z, who has the lateral movement of a cable car, on Howard, who is one of the most athletic big men in the game.
On the outside, Cleveland double-teams every chance they get, which is good against most teams. Double-teaming against a team that lives off of open three pointers, it is completely ineffective. Why not play a good man-to-man defense and help when the Magic get penetration in the lane? Yeah, they'll get some open three's, but at least they'll have to earn them.
Then, there's the pick and roll. This has been the Magic's bread and butter all series. They run the high screen, force a defensive switch, and before you know it, Mo Williams, 6'2", is guarding the 6'10" Rashad Lewis.
Yeah Mo, good luck blocking that shot. Brown needs to use the good old fashion hedge. With some good help defense on the weak side, this would completely shut down the pick and roll.
Also, in the last three minutes of both games, Brown and the Cavs have completely scrapped the offense. They just put LeBron at point and clear out. LeBron is great, but there's no doubt moving the ball around and finding LeBron in a position where he's better eqipped to score is more effective.
It's the coach's responsibility to put their team in an offense, but when things get tight, Brown panics and relies on LeBron WAY too much.
7. The last thing I'm going to mention is the bench play. We've learned that the Magic's bench is better than the Cavs' bench. There's nothing the Cavs can do about it. It's just the way it is.
If the Cavs are going to win this thing, it's going to have to be with the guys who start the game.
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