The Cleveland Cavaliers—Frauds or Victims of a Bad Matchup?

Bobby Ryan Jr.Correspondent IMay 28, 2009

CLEVELAND - MAY 20: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers sits on the sidelines with teammates Wally Szczerbiak #10, Mo Williams #2 and Delonte West #13 during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic during the 2009 Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 20, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After watching the first four games of the Cleveland-Orlando series, I have one lingering question in my mind:

Were the Cavs frauds for the first 90 games of this season, or is this just a bad matchup?

I will be honest with you—I'm not sure. I tend to lean toward a bad matchup, but at the same time, I see Cleveland do things repeatedly that have absolutely nothing to do with a matchup.

We all know the numbers for the Cavs this season:

  • 66 wins and 16 losses
  • 39 wins and only two losses at home during the regular season.
  • One of those losses was the last game of the year when they rested their starters.
  • Eight wins and zero losses through the first two rounds of the post season.

Those were the numbers prior to this series with the Magic. The numbers in this series are totally different:

  • One win and three losses
  • One win and one loss at home
  • Their one win very easily could of been a second loss for them as LeBron nailed a last-second shot to win the game

So which is it? Which one is the aberration? Can anyone even say with any certainty at all?

I'm not sure, but I will do my best.

If I had a gun held to my head and had to choose which it was, I would lean towards a bad matchup.

I mean, you don't win 66 games in the regular season and breeze through the first two rounds if you are frauds. I have seen way too many good, no, great things from this team over the entire season.

I have witnessed the Cavs dominate teams on the defensive end. I saw Mo Williams be the sidekick that LeBron needed and wanted ever since he entered the league. I saw Anderson Varejao and Zydrunaus Illgauskaus clean up the glass down low versus other team's big men. I saw Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak bury big shots all year long.

You just can't tell me that those things were fake.

Here's what it all boils down to.

For one reason or another, no one really knows why, one team in any sport just sometimes seems to have another team's number.

Being from Boston, I know that even when the Patriots were dominating the entire NFL, they struggled with the pathetic Miami Dolphins.

Last year when the Red Sox were making the American League Championship, I saw them struggle versus the Toronto Blue Jays every time they played them, even though they were the much better team.

Last year when the Boston Celtics won their 17th title in NBA history and absolutely dominated the competition during the regular season, I saw them struggle versus the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.

It happens. It's a head scratcher, no doubt about it.

In the end the Orlando Magic propose many bad matchups for the Cavs.

Whether it is Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu, Cleveland doesn't have enough players to match up with those two consistently. There is only one LeBron, and therefore, he can only cover one of them at a time. He may be a freak of nature, but he's also human.

Big Z is a more than formidable big man. Actually, I think he's one of the most underrated big men in the NBA. However, he has no prayer against Dwight. He isn't quick enough, athletic enough, agile enough to cover him.

Due to the two points mentioned above, the Magic have absolutely devastated the Cavs on the most basic play in basketball—the pick and roll.

The Cavs simply have no answer for it.

Whenever the Magic need a bucket, everyone in the basketball world knows what's coming—the pick and roll, with Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu performing it to perfection. Every time they run it, Cleveland gets killed.

Whether the Magic score or not, they always get a good look. If LeBron goes under the pick, Hedo steps up and hits the jumper. If he goes over the pick, Dwight dives to the hoop, making another player rotate to him. If they don't, Dwight gets a dunk.

If they do rotate, that leaves the man they were guarding wide open on the three point line for a open look.

At this point of the series, after four games, it wouldn't surprise me if Mike Brown wakes up in cold sweats at night, blurting out "No more pick and rolls. Please God!"

If the Cavs are going to win this series, they are going to have to completely revamp their core fundamental beliefs. That isn't always an easy thing to do, especially when you're this late into the season.

Last night we all saw Kobe Bryant dominate the Nuggets and lead his team to a victory, giving the Lakers a 3-2 edge in the series.

He dominated all right, but in a different way than usual. He didn't score 40 plus points. He didn't take 25 shots. Nope. He took 13 shots and scored a measly 22 points.

If you told Denver before the game Kobe was going to take only 13 shots and score 22 points, they would of loved it.

It was how he scored the 22 and played when he wasn't shooting that led his team.

Kobe dominated the game by dishing out eight assists and getting his struggling teammates involved. Lamar Odom had a big game because of this and Shannon Brown made big plays down the stretch. Pau Gasol was able to get going to balance the effort.

There's more to dominating a game than scoring. LeBron needs to dominate tonight in ways other than scoring 40 plus. In fact, he has scored 40 or more three times this series and the Cavs are 0-3.

That says something.

He needs to get Mo Williams going. He was a huge part to their success this year. If they want to win, they need him to play well.

They need Big Z to give them solid minutes. Whether it's scoring 15 points or grabbing 10 rebounds, the Cavs need something from him other than what he's done so far.

Delonte West played well in game four in stretches. He had his post game going and was knocking down his jumper. Unfortunately, late in the fourth quarter and overtime, he disappeared completely. He is much too valuable to the Cavs to disappear when the game is on the line.

The role players, Varejao, Gibson, Wally and Pavlovic absolutely, 100 percent have to step up tonight. It's not a secret that in the NBA role players play much better at home. Well, the Cavs are at home tonight, so they have no excuses.

If the Cavs are going to go back to Orlando, they are going to have to win as a team, not as a one-man show.

Are they capable of it?

Well, that is up to LeBron.


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