Cavs Stay Alive, L.A. Looks To Close
Just when I say LeBron James hasn’t carried his team through adversity quite like Kobe Bryant has throughout the Western Conference playoffs, James goes and drops a triple-double on Orlando to pull Cleveland within 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
I’m still skeptical (but hopeful) of Cleveland winning the next two and advancing to the Finals, where a matchup with Bryant for all the marbles will make great theater. But that figures to be an improbable feat if it’s going to take two more 37-point, 14-rebound, 12-assists performances from James. It becomes an especially difficult task considering Saturday’s Game 6 is in Orlando and the Cavs not only haven’t figured out the Magic but have yet to win in Orlando.
What makes me most pessimistic, though, is how the Cavs played one of their best games of these playoffs and still needed a huge fourth quarter from James to pull away, still only won by 10 at home and still squandered a big lead, this time 22 points.
And for all of James’ dominance in the fourth quarter, many of his 17 points in the final period came on jump shots. If those aren’t falling in Game 6 the Cavs are in big trouble.
Aside from that, Thursday night was the first time that James got some much-needed help from his teammates. Mo Williams poured in 24 points, Big Z scored 16, Delonte West finished with 13 points and Daniel Gibson had 11 off the bench. I doubt all four of those guys have similar performances when their backs are against the wall on the road. I doubt Cleveland goes into Orlando and shoots 50 percent and builds another 20-plus point lead, let alone hang on for victory after blowing it.
James is a special, special talent and leading his team to the NBA Finals after trailing 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals would be his most impressive feat yet. I’m rooting for him. I just don’t see Cleveland getting it done.
A friend of mine who covers the Nuggets text messaged me last night and asked if I thought Denver could beat L.A. in tonight’s Game 6.
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