2010 NBA Playoffs: The Game Five That Changed NBA History
There was the occasional scribe or announcer that mentioned the outside possibility of the Orlando Magic representing the Eastern Conference but that was the end of it. Not only was no one else given a chance, they weren't even mentioned by name.
LeBron James, or the King as pundits enjoy calling him, was the NBA's second coming.
The only argument anyone gave was the possibility that Kobe Bryant may still have enough in his tank to challenge "The King" for the throne of the NBA's best player. The fans at the "Q" chanted "MVP, MVP, MVP" almost every time James touched the ball during the short first round series versus the Chicago Bulls and again during Game One of the second round against the Boston Celtics.
It was as if everyone had had a glass of the proverbial Kool Aid.
Enter the Celtics.
Although this championship squad, only one season removed, has a seasoned lineup of at least three future Hall of Fame inductees they were simply an afterthought.
"King" James would treat those men in green as a mere speed bump on his pre-ordained trip to his personal promised land.
Well someone forgot to tell James and Co. about what may be the best team in this year's tournament. And a team is exactly what it is.
Make no mistake, there may be more talent on a few squads in the league, but none of them have the chemistry or the team concept down like the Boston Celtics.
They forced their collective will on the Cleveland Cavaliers to the point that the Cavaliers quit.
Yes, they simply quit.
Why did that happen though. Did you notice the "King" breathing hard and grasping his shorts as he bent over early on in that Game Five contest?
It has since been suggested that he was experiencing extreme stress from the heavy load of carrying his team and I agree with that explanation completely.
I never saw James look like that in any game before. He was having trouble getting air and was not having fun the way he normally has in the recent past. Against Chicago, as an example, LeBron was still jumping into chest bumps and flying by teammates with high fives even after playing 40-plus minutes.
Against a methodical Celtic team he felt trapped as a leader unable to answer the bell and the end was written in stone to the point that the deciding Game Six was a mere afterthought as his teammates looked to him for answers he had no clue how to give.
Enter the Eastern Conference Finals and the Orlando Magic.
Dwight Howard would surely get past the Boston team just as he and his team had last season.
Of course, short memories had already forgotten that Kevin Garnett wasn't in that series last year or that Rajon Rondo had since matured into possibly the best point guard in the league.
Kendrick Perkins has muffled Howard's greatness on his own, leaving Garnett to have his way against an outclassed Rashard Lewis and Rondo to run circles around Magic counterpart Jameer Nelson.
The Celtics are putting on a show that is spelled T-E-A-M, and finally the "experts" are beginning to notice.
Going into the hostile environment of the TD Garden does not bode well for Orlando, and Boston no doubt senses the kill.
The Magic are done. The rest of this series will go the Celtics' way just as the Cleveland series had.
The two missed free throws by Vince Carter, the frustration on the face of Howard and J.J. Redick's knuckleheaded blunder of advancing the ball before calling a timeout are all indications that Orlando has reached the same fork in the road that Cleveland did.
Yes, Game Five has already changed the history of three teams.
Will the Cavaliers and Magic be joined by the Los Angeles Lakers as well? It won't be long now before we find out.
What we do know for sure is that the Lakers had better bring more than a group of NBA stars with them because when they arrive they will be looking square into the eyes of a championship team.
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