With Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals coming to a close, Quicken Loans Arena was nearly empty. Fans were running out of the Q, fans were turning off their television sets, and/or rushing to the nearest bathroom to vomit.
Many things were running through a Cleveland Sports fans mind at the time. First, when will we win a title? Second, where will LeBron James be next year? Last, do we have any chance of winning this series.
Last night was an absolutely pathetic performance by the Cleveland Cavaliers. They went into the game thinking this will be one of the most important games in franchise history. They were leading after the first quarter 23-20. Everything seemed good. Then at halftime they were down 50-44, but still a game perfectly in reach. Then came the third quarter when Ray Allen opened the half with two straight three-pointers. From there everything went downhill.
What is a coach's job? Motivate players to play well in big games. Especially a game that can decide whether or not you will continue to play well in the playoffs, and advance. A coach is also supposed to fix things that aren't working. If a line-up isn't working, then the coach needs to fix this. A coach is to keeps his players playing hard, no matter the score or circumstance. Lastly, a coach is to keep his players focused, and make sure they are only focused on the game.
Phil Jackson can do this. Alvin Gentry can do this. Stan Van Gundy can do this. Doc Rivers can do this. Mike Brown can't.
Brown is a defensive-minded coach in practice and during a game for the most part But last night, he made no effort to motivate his team during timeouts, before the game, or at halftime. If line-ups weren't working, Brown kept them in the game. His substitution methods made no sense. Zydrunas Ilgauskas used to be a great player, but now he is nothing. Brown played him out of pure sympathy for the man. Also, Delonte West is one of your best players in the playoffs this year, and he got just nine minutes of playing time.
On to the next subject.
Last night it looked as if he was trying to simply throw the game away because he was being paid to. He shot just 14 times last night. And had 15 points. This guy is the MVP of the league. Show us why you got this award LeBron. LeBron was terrible on the offensive end. He took the ball aggressively to the hoop maybe three times, and scored it once. The rest of his shots were outside jumpers, and that is not his game.
LeBron has now put Cleveland in a very hard position, with their backs against the wall. They are down in the series 3-2, and the next game, which is Game 6, is going to be in Boston. It's hard to win on the road, especially in Boston.
If the Cavaliers lose this series, there has been talk about James leaving Cleveland. But what has Cleveland given LeBron? Royalty. Money. Fame. All-Stars to win a title with. If LeBron leaves and blames Cleveland for not being able to win, then he will become a hated man in Cleveland because they gave him everything. He was in perfect position to win it this year, but he screwed up. Last night, 38-year-old Shaquille O'Neal was busting his butt out there trying to keep his team in the game. 34-year-old Anthony Parker was trying hard to hit shots when his team needed it. Antawn Jamison was trying his hardest to defend a very talented Kevin Garnett, and score on the offensive end. James simply wasn't trying last night, and this game will be blamed on LeBron. His starting line-up was playing hard out there, and he just wasn't there mentally.
If LeBron were to leave and go to another city, and he has a performance like this in a game, he would become a very hated man. The perfect example is New York. LeBron will go from fan favorite to public enemy. If he stays in Cleveland, then Cleveland will simply not hold a grudge and forgive him because the city is so desperate for a win in something.
The Cavaliers were so confident in themselves that they though nothing could get in their way. Oh something is in their way, and it's HUGE. It's the Boston Celtics.
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