Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics: Game Three Preview
Is there anything more frustrating than being a Cleveland sports fan? It is like a long, looping dream that always ends by being startled awake.
In 2009, the Cavs had the best record in the regular season. They were outplayed in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals by Orlando but still snuck out of town tied at a game apiece.
In the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Cavs have been outplayed in the first two games by Boston, but are going to Boston for Game Three tied at a game apiece.
One thing I do not do as a Cleveland fan is make excuses or play the what-if game. LeBron James is out there, he is the leader of a very good team and he needs to do what he did all year long.
What LeBron James does is hide the weaknesses of the players around him. It is a testament to his enormous talent and leadership. He has an elbow injury, that much is obvious, but the time for attention is over.
It is championship time, so if you are on the court then you need to do what you have done all year long.
Forgetting about LeBron for a moment, let's look at the stats from Game Two.
The Cavs scored 12 points in the third quarter. In the biggest game of their season, after a halftime break, the No. 1 seed in the East scored 12 points in the third quarter. That is unacceptable for a team that has a great shot at a title.
Mo Williams made only one of his nine shots. He scored four points and dished out seven assists. Rajon Rondo, the starting point guard for Boston, made five of his 10 shots for 13 points and he dished out 19 assists.
Williams was good for 18 points with his numbers, while Rondo exploded for 51 points. The Cavs cannot compete in the series if they do not rectify this point guard issue.
Mike Brown was thoroughly outcoached last year by Stan Van Gundy, and in the long, looping dream of Cleveland fans, it is happening again. Brown never even tried a zone last year to stop all of the outside shooting by the Magic.
There is no need to make the same mistake twice. If Williams cannot make shots then he is obviously a defensive liability. Go to a zone to protect your team from the quickness of Rondo. Start Jamario Moon on Rondo to make him go through a bigger player.
Delonte West played 31 minutes and took four shots. J.J. Hickson played 19 minutes and had 13 points. Loyalty is only a word; results are what you need when adversity beckons. The Cavs cannot afford to play West that long in this series for so little return.
Shaquille O'Neal took 10 shots in his 18 minutes. He only made four shots and he does often bog down the Cavs offense as he pounds the ball into the court and makes his move. If the big man looks sluggish at the start, get him out of there.
The Cavs shot 40 percent from the field in Game Two. They made 19 percent from three-point range and were an awful 68 percent from the free throw line. Those are the numbers you should see in an 18 point loss.
With LeBron at less than 100 percent, he is not able to mask the weaknesses of the role players around him. Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson were the only other players in double figures in Game Two.
Going forward for a huge Game Three on the road, Mike Brown needs to adjust to what Boston is doing well. Rondo needs to go against the length of Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. Mo Williams and Delonte West need to make shots or they need to sit on the bench. Shaq and Anderson Varejao were good for 17 points in Game Two when they need to be in the 25-30 point range.
Rajon Rondo was the best player on the court in Game Two and LeBron James needs to take that as an insult. James was the MVP and he looked like a Dirk Nowitzki MVP winner. The Cavs need him to be a Michael Jordan MVP.
If he's hurt then don't play. If he does suit up to play then he needs to give us his best shot. Game Three is a game when a superstar has to put his team on his back and push them to a crucial win.
It is going to be tough. James was healthy last year and he was not able to will his team to a win on the road against Orlando.
He looks to be nicked up this year and the Cavs are in the same spot. They are on the road, tied at a game apiece, and this long, looping dream is turning into a nightmare once again.
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