It’s time to panic Cavs fans!! The Celtics tied the series 2-2 as Cleveland returns home for game five.
Oh no! It’s The Drive, The Fumble, Red-Right 88, The Shot, The Jose Mesa Debacle all over again!
Alright…maybe I’m being just a bit facetious here. Believe me, I understand your distress. I lived every one of those aforementioned disappointments.
I, like you, entered the 2010 NBA playoffs with the same trepidation as you given the Cavs most recent history of collapsing at crunch time.
But let’s not get carried away here. Just as Cleveland fans should not have gotten overly-exited about the game three thrashing of the Celtics, it is not time to throw the towel in on the Cavs after the Celtics split the series in Boston.
The James Gang is in Cleveland again after accomplishing exactly what should have been expected of them. That is, they earned back the home court advantage.
Cleveland fans were kidding themselves if they believed that this series was going to be a sweep. The Celtics are a proud bunch who are just two years removed from an NBA Championship.
While Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen had begun to show their respective ages during the regular season, they are not going to go down without a fight.
Celtic point guard Rajon Rondo is a big time matchup problem for the Cavs. That should have been expected after watching career-journeyman Rafer Alston tear up Mo Williams in last year’s playoffs.
After all, “Skip-2-My-Lou” was actually cut by the New Jersey Nets this year after looking like the second-coming of Jerry West in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. The New Jersey Nets for God’s sake!
But the Cavaliers are the better team – and they will win this series.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that as big of a problem Rondo is for the Cavs, LeBron James poses an even bigger problem for the Celtics.
There was a time when Boston could get away with throwing Paul Pierce (and occasionally former-Celtic James Posey) at The King, and at least get a respectable duel. Those days are gone.
There was a time when the Cavs were unable to match Kevin Garnett’s scoring from the power forward spot. While Garnett is still capable of beating the Cavs on the low-block, the combination of Antawn Jamison, Anderson Verejao, Shaquille O’Neil, and J.J. Hickson more than counter that (historical) advantage.
While Allen still has the ability to beat anyone in a game of H-O-R-S-E as a spot-up jump shooter, he no longer includes in his arsenal the ability to consistently beat even my own mother off the dribble.
Just like there was consternation coming from Los Angeles after Oklahoma City gave them a scare…this too shall pass. The Lakers lack of a defensive presence at point guard allowed up-and-comer Russell Westbrook to run L.A. ragged. But eventually, the better team won the series (and the Lakers went on to sweep the Jazz).
So Northeastern Ohioans…before you have thoughts of throwing yourself off of the I-480 Bridge…check yourself.
Mike Brown and the rest of the team will learn to contain Rondo by turning him into a jump-shooter…LeBron will posterize Pierce, Tony Allen, or anyone else the Celtics choose to receive the punishment…and your Cavaliers will go on to win this series and face the Orlando Magic.