Monday, May 12, 2008

Déjà Vu???

With an 88-77 victory over the Celtics last night, Lebron and the Cavs evened their series at 2-2. Where have we seen this before? The answer: Not too long ago. Last year, down 0-2 to the Pistons, the Cavs came all the way back to win the series (4-2). This year, caught in the same situation, Lebron and the Cavs may be geared for a repeat performance. The similarities between the two series are uncanny. Last year, James uncharacteristically scored 10 & 19 points in the opening two games of the series. This year, the first team All-NBA player was held to a comparable 12 points in Game 1 & 21 points in Game 2. He was also held to a playoff record-low (in the shot clock era) 19% shooting from the field. But even down 0-2, Cleveland wasn't worried. And why should they be? They have clearly been in this situation before. Just as they had responded last year to Detroit, this year the Cavs returned home to the Quicken Loans Arena and took two games from the Celtics.

While James' shooting troubles have continued, he has managed the games well and spread the ball around to his teammates. In Game 3 James dropped 21 points and added 8 assists in a 108-84 rout. In Game 4, James scored 21 again and tied a career playoff-high with 13 assists in a more low scoring 88-77 win. James also came through in the clutch with a big 3 late in the 4th and a monster slam on the NBA's defensive player of the year, Kevin Garnett. The dunk proved to be the nail in the coffin and set the arena off. It was all part of Cleveland's 12-4 run to end the game. The Cavs played with more intensity in the 4th and seemed to want it more. The Celtics showed signs of panic and couldn't seem to get it going late in the game. They shot just 5-16 (31.3%) in the 4th.

With the series tied at 2-2 it has become a best of 3 series. A series that will feature two games in Boston, where the Celtics are 6-0 in the playoffs, and one game in Cleveland. In the regular season, the Celtics held the NBA's best record on the road (31-10). However, in the playoffs, the Celtics have yet to win a game on the road (0-5). They just cannot seem to play with any intensity away from Boston. With each loss on the road, there is more and more pressure for Boston to finally win one. But doing so in an arena as electric as Cleveland's may be an unlikely task in Game 6. This means that the team with the NBA's best record may be faced with their second Game 7 in as many series. Who would've guessed that? Few I'm sure.

The quesion becomes: Will Boston ever win a game on the road this postseason or will they rely on home court advantage to lead them to an NBA title? The fewest road games an NBA champion has ever won is 3. No team has never gone through a playoffs without a win on the road. It seems like a near impossible task. It would require Boston to go 16-0 at home and win four Game 7's. Imagine that! It doesn't seem likely for a team with a core of players that have always lacked the ability to go deep into the playoffs. But we will see. The other question in all of this is: Will history repeat itself for Lebron and the Cavs? They shocked the world with their unbelievable turnaround last year against the Pistons. Can they pull off an even more shocking turnaround this year? Well, they're halfway there. The Celtics showed they could bounce back against the Hawks in round 1, but the Cavs are much more tested and a much better team. Once they get rolling, they're hard to slow down. And we haven't even seen the best of Lebron. It could get very interesting if the King returns.

My Prediction: I've changed my mind. Lebron is just too good.
Cavs 4-3

Image taken from Yahoo! Sports

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