Between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Magic are the better team. The Cavaliers have the best player, however. That player is LeBron James, who, predictably, did exactly what NBA Commissioner David Stern was hoping he would. His Majesty notched the fourth triple-double of his playoff career with 37 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists, taking over late with, predictably, a little help from his official friends.
James, entering this must-win Game Five, did not want to have to score a ridiculous amount of points for his team to win. What he failed to realize is that his supporting cast is so paltry that Cleveland only wins if he goes crazy.
The Cavaliers do not run an offense. They have one play, which is called ‘let’s-give-the-ball-to- LeBron-and-hope-he-scores.’ On this night, it worked. James had a hand in 32 points in the fourth quarter; he scored 17, and dished assists that amounted to 15 points by his teammates.
The only reason they scored any points in the fourth quarter was because the Magic converged on his continuous drives and left them open. This was a good decision. How were the Magic defenders supposed to know that the likes of Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson would reward James? They hadn’t in the previous four games. This was a freak accident, and will not happen again.
Holding a six point lead late in the fourth quarter, the player ran the play, drove into the lane and initiated contact with Orlando’s center Dwight Howard. Howard was straight as an arrow, and did not commit a foul.
James ran right into him, and clearly should have been called for an offensive foul. Yet, a whistle was blown, as one of Stern’s cohort’s followed continued to follow his orders, on Howard. It was his sixth foul, disqualifying him for the remaining two minutes. To make matters worse, James’ shot went in.
After the Cavaliers ten-point win that forced a Game 6 in Orlando, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and the infamous Charles Barkley weren’t impressed with the victory. Smith repeatedly asked Reggie Miller, who is clearly salivating over the possibility of a Cavaliers-Lakers finals, “Can LeBron do this two more times?”.
It was a simple question, one Miller did not answer. Barkley chimed in saying, “If he does that two more times, Orlando shakes his hand.” This was Smith and Barkley’s way of saying that there is no chance he can duplicate this performance. Here’s the problem for Cleveland: LeBron will need to prove Smith and Barkley wrong to win the series.
The Cavaliers held a 22-point lead in the first quarter. Even at home, this was not a safe margin. The Magic turned the tables in the second quarter, and climbed within one on a three-pointer by Rashard Lewis at the halftime buzzer.
This further proved that Cleveland doesn’t have the talent to keep up with Orlando. Yet, they regained their composure, and were down only one entering the fourth period. This is when the play went into full effect.
Orlando did not have an answer for James, but that does not mean even though Cleveland’s tactic managed to pay dividends that it is a recipe for prolonged success.
The Magic, after making seventeen three-pointers in Game Four, were surprisingly outscored in this department, managing to drain only eight-of-25 attempts, while the Cavaliers canned nine.
They were not at their best, yet they managed to overcome a huge early deficit, exploit many Cleveland weaknesses, and prove why, even with this loss, they are vastly superior.
Orlando heads home, to the friendly confines of Amway Arena where a one-play offense goes to die.