Some quick thoughts heading into tonight's Game Five versus the Boston Celtics:
- The Cavaliers cannot head into this game expecting to win Game Six in Boston. If they come out with that mentality, it will be too much of what we've seen in Game One, Game Two, and Game Four: lack of urgency, lack of the killer instinct. Two out of three times, this lackadaisical approach has resulted in a loss.
- This game is pivotal. With a victory, it ensures the Cavaliers home court advantage for the rest of the series. They'll have a shot at the series in Game Six without the pressure of another game played in Boston. Even if they lose, they'll come back home to Cleveland for the series decider and a home crowd on their side.
- Stat that needs to change: Zero . As in zero second chance points ! All that screams to me is that the Cavaliers simply got out-hustled. Unacceptable. Just a lack of effort and execution. At the very least, we Cleveland fans demand effort from our teams. If everyone played their hearts out like Joshua Cribbs does when he suits up for the Browns, I would accept the final score knowing that our team left everything on the field/court. Zero second chance points does not tell me that story.
- Stat that needs to change II: 43 . As in 43 minutes played by Anthony Parker . Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Anthony Parker fan. He's a great shooter, lengthy defender, and hardworking role player. He just doesn't need to be playing 43 minutes in a playoff game. Mix it up. Put in the more athletic Jamario Moon to throw Rondo off a little bit. Now if Parker were shutting Rondo down, I'd be praising the 43 minutes. But, uh, Rajon Rondo only had one of the best playoff performances in Celtic history. So, uh... bad call, Mike Brown .
- Speaking of Mike Brown, is there a developing tiff between this Cavalier team and their head coach? I happen think so. Two things that stuck out to me:
- LeBron James telling the media that he should guard Rondo. If you really believe that is the first time LeBron had the idea of guarding Rondo, then do me a favor and give the Tooth Fairy my regards. You know LeBron and Brown had discussed this earlier. Brown went with a different game plan. Now LeBron is turning to the media, and basically hinting that "hey guys, if it were up to me, I'd do things differently, OK?"
- Shaquille O'Neal refusing to speak to the media after the game. Never one to turn down a soundbite, Shaq must have been a bit peeved that, on the night of his best performance of the series, Mike Brown didn't to put him back in during the fourth quarter. Shaq even asked the coach to put him back in. Brown declined. Shaq then declined to talk to reporters. I think he was pissed.
- "Mike Brown is coaching himself out of the NBA." — Woody Paige, PTI 5/10 (via @arzupancic )
- Now I don't know much about NBA coaching. But I do know that watching the Cavs attempt to run an offensive set leaves me feeling awkward. That can't be a good sign, right? Seriously though, when I watch other teams, I never get that awkward feeling that the offensive plays feel so forced and unnatural in their timing that I know it won't bode well. It's like watching Michael Scott make a move on a girl.
- The awkward offense, combined with the teams lack of intensity, lack of focus, Anthony Parker's 43 minutes, the developing tiff between the team and coach, all make me want to agree with Woody Paige on this one.
- With all that said: I think the Cavs win tonight. In their previous two losses this postseason, they have rebounded and responded with their best playoff performances. I don't know why they need a loss to play with that level of intensity, but so far it's worked. I see them coming out strong again and getting the victory.
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