NBA Playoff Predictions, 2010: I Was Wrong About the Celtics
I was wrong. I was 100% wrong. I thought the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to win Game 5, and there was no doubt in my mind about it. But they didn’t show up, and the Boston Celtics played great basketball. Now the Cavaliers are facing elimination, and I don’t know what to think of their chances to win Game 6 and stay alive in this series.
Part of me wants to predict a Cleveland Cavaliers victory in Game 6, but that’s the part of me that still believes this is the same Cleveland Cavaliers team from the regular season. Clearly, that isn’t the case anymore. With LeBron playing more like the LeBacle, and Mo Williams getting lit up like a candlelight vigil, this Cavs team is playing less efficient offense and more porous defense than anybody is accustomed to seeing them play. So I just can’t bring myself to go with Cleveland, even though in my heart of hearts I can’t believe this team can go out like this in second round without even seeing a Game 7.
That being said, in my heart of hearts, one has to recall how disappointed in this team everyone was a year ago. While the Orlando Magic was a formidable team, it was the lack of execution combined with the multitude of poor strategic decisions that really had everyone questioning Cleveland’s basketball supremacy. Forget the fact that the Cavs lost that series; just recall that Zydrunas Ilgauskas was shooting three-pointers, Rashard Lewis was being defended by Ben Wallace, and LeBron James was guarding everyone but Hedo Turkoglu for long stretches of the series. It was a strategic clusterfuck of ideas, and it’s hard not to remember them when we see some of the same things happening in this series against Boston.
When you think about it, the Cleveland Cavaliers have not beaten a proven playoff basketball since they beat the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Conference Finals back in 2007. Many would argue that 2007 Cleveland team was much worse than the squads LeBron James has had in subsequent seasons–most especially these current 2010 NBA Playoffs. And yet here we are, three years later, and Kings James and the Cavs have failed to beat one proven playoff team since then—unless you count beating last year’s 8-seeded Detroit Pistons in the first round—but of course we don’t count them!
The only thing giving me any reason to believe that the Cavaliers can stave off elimination tonight is to go back to my original line of thought that had the Cavaliers winning Game 5, which was that the Boston Celtics would not be able to stay fresh in their third game in five days, which is what Game 5 represented. That theory was debunked by the mid-way point of the third quarter, as the Celtics started routing the Cavaliers out of their own building. So do I really believe that in Game 6, which would be the Celtics fourth game in 7 games, that the Cavaliers can pull out a win because the Celtics aging veteran leadership will be tired?
Nope. Not even I, the originator of that bullshit theory, can buy such crap.
Outside of the fact that Kevin Garnett has already labeled the stakes of this Game 6 as “do or die” for the Celtics, the Cavaliers themselves are at a disadvantage with the short (ala typical) turnaround leading up to Game 6. Since the unveiling of the injury, LeBron James has played great when has had at least two days between games. But with a mere one game between playoff games, LeBron has looked LaBaffled, shooting just 17 for 47 from the floor and 0 for 13 from behind the arc. Needless to say, things don’t look too good for the Cavs when LeBron only has one day between games.
Thus, my official prediction is that the Boston Celtics close this game out tonight! Sure, I’m putting the kiss of death on the Celtics, and at the same time I’m flip-flopping back from my “definitive” stance that the Cavs were going to win this series. But that’s what sports are all about; scanning the playing field, and reevaluating your plan of attack. Cleveland Cavalier fans can only hope that their beloved basketball team will reevaluate their game plan; otherwise, for the first time this series, I’ll be right.