LeBron James and The Cavs: Most Valuable Panic

Samuel Bell JrSenior Analyst IMay 26, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24:  Mo Williams #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during the game against the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

According to Cavaliers guard Mo Williams, the Cavs are the best team in basketball. Williams was quoted as saying simply, "we're the best team in basketball."

If you watched the Cavs throughout the regular season, the man has a point. If you watched this team go 8-0 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the man sounds like he may be gloating a bit.

However, if you've watched them in the East finals against the Orlando Magic, the man may just be plain delirious. The best team in basketball wouldn't be down 2-1, and could've been 3-0 if it weren't for an insane shot by LeBron James would they?

The best team in basketball wouldn't be so upset by their under-performing ways that they chomp at the bit to say how great and confident they are, despite the fact that they have sore hinds from the Magic kicking them would they?

That's what Williams and the Cavs want us to believe.

They want us to believe that resting on their regular season and first two round of the playoffs laurels is quite enough.

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They want us to believe that being down 2-1 and not playing their best basketball in all three games somehow means that they should talk smack for no apparent reason.

Oh, but there is a reason.

Intimidation, and the word that any athlete shivers upon hearing: panic.

Nobody has to tell the Cavaliers that they could easily be staring at a 3-0 hole right now. They know that.

Somebody does need to tell them that they should be quiet and just go win a game or two. When you win as many games as they did in the regular season and dominate two playoff teams the way they did in rounds one and two, we need more effort.

How about heart? Determination anybody?

Or maybe the Coach of the Year, Mike Brown, needs to figure out that his match-up scheme is not working and he needs to play these guys straight up?

Nope, just keep doing what has you in a hole to a team that you were supposed to be far superior to.

To quote Green Day, "my shallow heart's the only thing that's beating."

LeBron seems to be the only one determined to make a trip to the Finals, and guys like Mo Williams shouldn't be saying anything.

He looked like Zab Judah after he was getting a beat-down from Floyd Mayweather, Jr after he was elbowed by Anthony Johnson.

You could see the look in his eye and couldn't help but think, "this guy might pull a Carmelo Anthony and just swing on somebody and then run because he knows he just did something really stupid."

Fortunately, he made his free throws and didn't have to guard Johnson afterwards by virtue of his trip to the locker room.

Then Williams has the nerve to say the things he said donning sunglasses that he looked like he borrowed from Lauren Conrad?

To refer to text message vernacular, SMH.

With Game 4 on the horizon tonight in Orlando, the Cavs need to rebound like Dennis Rodman. They need to show us that they are who we thought they were, and that Orlando simply just isn't better than them.

Here's three things Cleveland needs to do to win tonight and avoid falling in a 3-1 hole.

1. Get a body on Dwight Howard

Howard's performance in Game 3 was more impressive than LeBron's. You ask why? Here goes:

Howard had 24 points and 9 rebounds in just 28 minutes. He made five of eight from the field and despite being a historically bad free throw shooter, he went 14-19 from the line and knocked down shot after shot when it mattered in the fourth quarter.

James did have 41 points in 42 minutes, but he only made 11 of his 28 shots for a putrid 39 percent field goal percentage, and he went one for eight from the 3-point line and missed more free throws than Howard when his team needed them.

It's time for James and his running mates to step it up.

Howard is way too fast and strong for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and it's just getting ridiculous watching 'Z' try and guard him.

I actually feel bad for him, because it's also taking a toll on his offensive game. The Cavs need to send more bodies at Howard, and do it fast. At least make Hedo Turkoglu make shots with hands flying in his face.

2. The "LeBronnaires" need to get it going

James has shown one thing so far in his career time after time again: he cannot do it all alone. None of us expect him to.

Except for maybe his teammates.

LeBron needs help from his role players, and he needs it desperately. When James scores over 50 points and still loses, that's a horrible sign. It means that nobody else was making shots and felt he had to do it alone.

Williams, Anderson Varejao, Ilgauskas, Delonte West and that bench have to get it going or else. In Game 3, the Cavs bench scored eight points.

Mickael Pietrus scored 16 by his lonesome for Orlando, doubling the Cavs bench total. That has to stop for the Cavs to win this series. Beside Joe Smith, nobody on that bench has been good.

At all.

3. Mike Brown has to make better adjustments

After a couple of games in a series, teams make adjustments and they show on the floor. The problem for Cleveland is that they don't seem to have made them.

We all know Rashard Lewis, Turkoglu and Howard cause match-up problems for any team, but to this magnitude? Playing James on Rafer Alston has not worked for Cleveland, and Brown needs to stop that strategy before it costs him the series.

Varejao cannot guard Howard because he's too small and can't guard Turkoglu because of Turk's versatility. Nevertheless, I would take my chance leaving him on Hedo.

Turk hasn't played his best in this series, and I would force him to beat me.

Playing Z on Howard, Varejao on Turk, James on Lewis, West on Lee and Williams on Alston is the way to go. Doubling Howard with Varejao and Z off of Turk and allowing defensive rotations is worth a shot.

Turkoglu has to get hot and make the defense stay at home. Brown has to stop trying to employ the "Kobe-strategy" against Rajon Rondo from last year's NBA Finals when Bryant would help off of him because his lack of a consistent jump shot.

It didn't work for L.A, and isn't working for Cleveland because unfortunately for them, Alston's making shots.

The Cavs need to regroup and employ the winning attitude that brought them over 60 wins and a 8-0 run in the playoffs. They cannot get themselves into making bravado- laden statements to the media.

They have to go out and prove it, or else that dream final that Nike is so vehemently pushing may just feature one of its' participants.

Or maybe neither.