Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cavs clincher demands satisfaction

This guy! 
Thursday night's semifinal series finisher putting the Cavaliers over the bastard-tough Bulls was by no means the most exciting Cleveland sports victory I've ever witnessed. It had no moments that will be burned into the brain forever, like Kenny Lofton sprinting home from second on a passed ball or LeBron James historically dropping 25 straight points on the Pistons. 

What the win did bring was a warm feeling of satisfaction, which may end up becoming more fulfilling than a few "I remember when" highlights. This Cavs squad has overcome a post-season filled with adversity. Really, it's been a season of strife and injury woes, of newbie coaches on the hot seat and silly TMZ-worthy non-stories about superstar players writing passive-aggressive tweets about their teammates. Remember when the Cavs were 19-20, James was rehabbing in Miami, and rumors of David Blatt's firing were sizzling across the newswires?

If this resilient roster remembers the bad times, then maybe those memories have given them strength in the face of long odds. The Cavs were not derailed by Kevin Love's shoulder, Iman Shumpert's groin, Kyrie Irving's everything, J.R. Smith's knuckleheadedness, or LeBron's missing jump shot.

Instead, they powered through, even when Irving was snipered by the most innocuous of plays during the second quarter of Game 6. Cries of "woe is us" permeated through the Twitter-sphere when the star point guard limped off, and yet the Cavs were able to clamp down and triumph over that setback as well.

James was part of the upheaval; even with his frustratingly spotty shooting he still managed a near triple-double. But James should not be the story as we write the epilogue on Round 2 of the Easter Conference playoffs.

It was the bench that fired the Cavaliers' furnace in Chicago: Tristan Thompson, who's elevated himself to mythical near-Rodman status with his recent rebounding; Matthew Dellavedova, a season-long fanbase scapegoat who's become this team's most unlikely post-season contributor. Perhaps most satisfying was the play of Iman Shumpert, who took a clothesline from hell flagrant from Nikola Mirotic and came out the other side focused and fighting.

That's the type of poise and toughness that makes for a championship run. And in a messy game without any real "wow" moments, it's those attributes that have brought a contented smile to at least one Cleveland sports blogger's face.