Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good and bad, heading into Game 3

Well let's talk now about the Cavaliers-Magic series, where it stands now as the series heads to Orlando, tied 1-1, with the Magic now holding the home court advantage.

The good: LeBron James' amazing 3 pointer as the buzzer sounded last night gave new life into the team, pulling them from the feeling of inevitability that would accompany a team who just lost two straight at home in a seven game series.

The good: The excitement shown by the team as they celebrated like crazy. Except for one player, who I couldn't tell who he was, who stood there with one hand in his pocket the whole time.

The bad: Some Magic players seem to have taken the exhuberant display by the Cavaliers as a personal affront, like a player hotdogging after a home run. But in my opinion that is an invented slight, as any team would have been thrilled as the victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat materialized in one final second.

The good: A gut shot like the one LeBron delivered to the Magic can totally change the momentum of a series.

The bad: As Stan Van Gundy insisted, they have lost last-second games throughout the playoffs, and have bounced back each time. Games 1 and 3 against Philly and Game 4 against Boston both didn't unnerve the Magic.

The bad: I'm sure a lot of people, in both cities, feel like the Cavaliers are down, 1-1, like Bill Livingston said today. They have blown huge leads in both games, at times looking like the Cavaliers in LeBron's early years, with their famed 1-on-5 offense.

The good: At the same time, the Cavaliers have led something like 95% of the time in the first two games, as shown on the gameflow charts on ESPN (like this one from Game 2.) Despite blowing the big leads, and being disappointing overall, they have still played very well at times, and built big leads.

The bad: They couldn't hold those leads.

The good: LeBron James is playing amazingly well, although he had some major issues with his jumper, especially in Game 2, (before the game winner, obviously.)

The bad: Mo Williams and Delonte West have not been providing the options the Cavaliers need to keep their offense running at the levels necessary to beat a good Orlando team.

The good: Sasha Pavlovic gave a great spark to the offense Friday, and made some fine defensive plays as well.

The bad: He also had some noticeable defensive lapses. LeBron called out his focus to the media the other day, quite unusual, but like Terry Pluto mentioned, it must be an open issue for the team.

The good: Dwight Howard was neutralized in Game 2, due to the defensive adjustment by the Cavaliers.

The bad: But if Howard is on, it's obvious Z doesn't have the wheels to keep with him (and I'll be a dollar that Doug Collins talks about Z's "lateral movement" after Howard's first basket Sunday night.)

The good: We all know how good Mo and Delonte can be. LeBron James plays for the Cavaliers.