The Eastern Conference Finals is over. Chalk it up. Buy the tickets for the Finals. That's it.
At this rate, we won't even see a Game Six in Orlando.
The better team—the best team?—is going to win the next three games handily and return to the NBA Finals, hungry to prove they're ready this time after being swept out by a powerful Western Conference team last time.
The only problem? It's sure not going to be Cleveland.
Unless the Cavaliers do something dramatic in the next couple of nights, they're going to find themselves losing by 20 or 30 in Orlando and wondering what happened to their cruise to the title.
Don't believe me? Let's look at the facts. The series is tied 1-1 after two games in Cleveland, where the Cavs went 44-1 in meaningful games this year in the regular season and the playoffs (that season-ending loss to Philadelphia doesn't really count). They won their regular season games by an average of more than 14 points and won their first four home playoffs games by a staggering 19.25 points.
Against Orlando? They're struggling just to break even.
For those of us who forgot, Orlando quietly laid a beating on the presumptive champs during the regular season, winning by 11 and by 29 on their home court. Meanwhile, the Cavs managed to squeeze out a four-point win in Cleveland on St. Patrick's Day.
Is this starting to sound familiar?
The Cavs don't seem to have any answer for the Magic. Cleveland is excellent at forcing shooters out to the perimeter, but with a team like Orlando, that's where they want to be. They're shooting close to 45 percent from behind the arc, which draws defenders out from the paint and allows Dwight Howard to clean up inside.
But what about that amazing buzzer beater last night, you say? I suspect that's exactly how the Magic would like it to be. Game 1 came down to a game-tying attempt, too. Is anyone talking about Delonte West's heroics now?
I didn't think so.
Tight games that come down to the wire tend to be 50-50 propositions, no matter which clutch shooter has the ball. I felt as confident in a Magic win last night with LeBron taking the shot as I did with Delonte West taking the shot in Game One. You may as well have tossed a coin. Game One? Tails. Game Two? Heads.
If the Cavs are going to rely on 50-50 odds instead of the .805 win percentage they had this year, don't be surprised if they end up watching this year's Finals from home.