Monday, June 11, 2007

Reality with a big slice of hope

Rewatching Game 2 this morning....and there's a lot to be said.

It's obvious, from watching the first three quarters, that San Antonio is more talented and more experienced than the Cavaliers. It's also obvious, from watching the fourth quarter, that we belong in the NBA Finals.

Last night we just didn't have that final push to win the game. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY thought we would have a shot heading into the final quarter. But then the rally came, and all of a sudden it was a game again. When the Spurs were hoping to give their stars a rest, they were forced to stay in a game they thought was long over.

But reality is setting in on these Finals. The Spurs are indeed a better team than the Cavaliers, but there is hope.

The Cavs are clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference. They proved that to the world this season. But if they want to win the Finals, it is going to take one of two things;

1) a rally over the next five games worthy of ESPN Classics
2) One more player to give LeBron that extra weapon.

We have plenty of players who provide plenty of support, but there's just one element missing. Are they enough?

We thought that Larry Hughes was that player. It turned out that Hughes is the guy who got us this far, but he's struggling as we reach the pinnacle.

Sasha Pavlovic has a future in this league, and he desperately wants to win. He has the drive, the desire, and the talent. But he lacks the focus. He's not yet polished enough to make the plays he's trying to make. He will someday, but that's not this week. Keep working with LeBron,'ll get there.

Daniel Gibson is still too much of a rookie to make an accurate assessment. I stand by my belief that he will be the Cavaliers' version of Scottie Pippen, but it's still too early to tell.

Drew Gooden is an excellent role player. He's exactly what we need him to be, and I am always happy with his performance.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is among the best centers in the league, but he's getting outplayed this week. With his age, he's going to be more of an anchor as time rolls on. Perhaps this is the area where we need to work on creating our much-needed additional element? That's not my decision to make, and I adore Z, but we're now at a point where we need to get the title. Can we do it with the team we have now?

The NBA Finals are a tremendous learning experience for us.

In 2005 we missed the playoffs by one game, and it hurt. But it gave us hunger to make the playoffs, and we learned from that hunger.
In 2006 we made the playoffs, and we were outplayed by the Pistons. Inexperience led to crucial mistakes, and we were eliminated. But we learned from that.
This year, we used our new found knowledge to take over the East and finally knock off the detested Pistons. But we're inexperienced with the Finals, and it shows.

If we fall in the Finals this year, we will learn from it. This team shows a great propensity to learn, and they will again.

Of course, this team also shows an ability to rise up when everybody counts them out.

Game 3 is tomorrow night, and this one is not over. We need to hold home court and win one in San Antonio. I for one, believe we still can. The fourth quarter last night gave me that hope.


Herringbone said...

Think about how these playoffs would have been with Michael Redd in the Cavs line-up...

All they need is some consistency on offense. I dont care about the San Antonio defense. Redd and James would have posed all sorts of match-up problems.

They need a 2-guard in the worst way next season.

Andy said...

The games have been anti-climatic and on too late. I turned Sunday's game off mid-second quarter. I plan on watching tonight and I hope the crowd at The Q gives them a big boost. I hope Cleveland is still pumped up for this even after watching those two ass-kickings on television.

@herringbone - you are right. The Cavs have been trying to fill that role for several years now and have come up empty. Here's hoping for one organic improvement (or two) - Sasha and Gibson, and one guy from somewhere else.

Go Cavs!