I usually write for a football blog – the soccer kind, not the American version. That generally requires me to knock out an article once a week or so. There’s no such luxury of downtime when writing about the NBA though!
After tying up the series, the Cavaliers hit the road and headed up to Boston for game 5. Unfortunately, they seem to have left the real LeBron James behind though, as the bloke in the 23 jersey was not the James I know and love.
I stated in my last piece that LeBron James is the greatest sportsman in the world. Well I stand by that wholeheartedly but even the greats have their off days. Don’t get me wrong, he still put the points on the board and dragged the Cavs to an almost competitive performance for three quarters, but the guy just looked shattered and made too many sloppy mistakes.
This can be forgiven to an extent since he’s probably worn out from carrying an under par team on his back all year but if the Cavs have any hope of seeing a game 7 then James needs to set aside some R&R time because the weight of the Championship seems to rest solely on his shoulders.
As I’ve stated before, if there’s one man that can pull off an upset in the conference finals, it’s LeBron James. It’s happened before and there’s always the potential for him to turn a series around again. As a Cavs fan in the UK I usually watch games the evening after they’re screened. When things aren’t quite going our way you can almost see a switch flick in James’ head and I’ll turn to my wife and say “That’s it, LeBron’s had enough” as the King proceeds to destroy the backboard and rain down buckets.
Can he pull off such a feat when we need it most though? Perhaps if he hadn’t racked up more playing time than anyone else in the NBA then it’d be a possibility. At the moment he looks somewhat beaten down and lethargic though. He still has the ability to explode but his fatigue and frustration is becoming clearer and clearer as the postseason drags on.
J.R. Smith was non-existent in game 5, as was Tristan Thompson. Kevin Love had a slightly higher work rate but other than a spell of great defensive prowess early on, he too was generally ineffective. Larry Nance Jr. came away with more scratches on his arm (caused by a bit of handbags with Marcus Morris) than points on the board and Kyle Korver and Jordan Clarkson did their best to hit a few three pointers but found themselves crowded out all too often.
The main thing in Cleveland’s favour is that game 6 sees the teams return to the Q and a home town crowd does a lot to lift the guys’ spirits. Especially JR who also tends to follow up a disappointing performance with a much better one at the next outing.
So the Cavs are on the back foot again and for the most part were the masters of their own downfall. Take nothing away from the Celtics, they got in our heads and defensively made a mockery of us. The fact that they were shooting around 38% from the floor is testament to the hustle they created and they walked away from the TD Garden as worthy winners.
Game 6 beckons and LeBron and Lue have some thinking to do. Motivation and a winning mentality is crucial in the world of sport. The Cavs had both of those things in abundance just a couple of years ago and have even shown sparks of brilliance this season. The question now is whether they can learn to share the workload and re energise themselves in time for the next meeting in Ohio.