Before I get into specifics, I want to get one thing off my chest – I don’t want to end on a sour note since it is the end of another disappointing finish to Cleveland sports. With his team down just nine points with about 1:30 left on the clock, Mike Brown (or LeBron, or everybody) elected not to foul and try to win the game. They threw the towel in with more than a minute left in their season and continued the disappointment by jogging the ball down the floor and giving off to Anderson Varejao for a three pointer. No sense of urgency with your season on the line. No will to win with 1:30 still left to play. Disgusting.
24 turnovers for 27 points. That’s your telling statistic for Thursday night’s Game 6 loss to the Boston Celtics.
It wasn’t about energy this time. It wasn’t about desire or heart. It was about execution. Or lack thereof to be more accurate. LeBron James was active. He knocked down 8-of-21 shot attempts for 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists. But he turned the ball over nine times. NINE times. He was aggressive – for the most part – but there were obvious times where James gave up the basketball at uncharacteristic times. Yes, I realize that LeBron prides himself on being one of the most unselfish superstars in the game. But it’s Game 6, Bron. Be a little selfish!
And after all that was being made of the lack of production from Mo Williams, Mo came out fired up in the first half and put up a quick 20 points in the first half. The only problem with that is, Mo finished the game with 22 points. And he, too, coughed up the ball five times.
Antawn Jamison, who was brought to Cleveland to be James’ Pippen, was a non-factor on either end of the floor. Stretch-4 was just 2-of-10 from the floor (0-for-3 from three) and allowed the bigger Boston frontline to use and abuse him. He couldn’t guard Kevin Garnett. He couldn’t guard Kendrick Perkins. And, surprisingly enough, he had a hard time guarding Big Baby Davis. Enough said.
Shaquille O’Neal played gave another solid performance as the Big Fella went for 11 points and four rebounds. Like Jamison, though, he wasn’t the answer on the Big Ticket either. Garnett hit jump shot after jump shot in O’Neal’s grill but, to his credit, did what he could to slow Garnett down. He was big. He was physical. And he played a decent game within his role.
Anthony Parker was the one consistent player for the Cavaliers in this series. He played solid defense in the half court set – contrary to popular belief. Don’t believe me? Look at Rondo’s numbers when AP was guarding him in a half court set. He knocked down big threes and was the only Cavalier to play significant minutes without a turnover.
Delonte West was solid on defense, especially when he pressured Rondo outside the three point line. But he was awful on offense. He committed three turnovers in just 14 minutes on the floor to complete what was an up-and-down season for arguably Cleveland’s second best all around player. Certainly a disappointing effort from West.
And, finally, Anderson Varejao was great. He made outstanding basketball plays and was all over the floor providing the same energy he has provided all season long. He snagged seven rebounds and added just six points. But it’s not about numbers from Andy. He’s out on the floor for his energy and for his heart. And Lord knows he’s got a lot of both.
I really am baffled by the Cavaliers’ performance in these playoffs. They went from being so good to so bad in a matter of weeks. Turnovers. Miserable defense. Something was up with LeBron – and something was up with the team as a whole. This team was built for success in the postseason. It was assembled to provide Cleveland with its first team championship in 46 years. But it fell short…again.
That’s the life of a Cleveland sports fan I guess. I haven’t been around long enough to know how The Drive crushed the soul of Cleveland. I don’t know how it felt to have Ernest Byner rip your heart right out of your chest. And I can vaguely remember Edgar Renteria punching us in the gut one more time. But I have heard my Dad talk about each and every one of those instances like they were some of the most horrifying images he can remember. Now I’ve got my own memory. My own tease. My own let down.
There’s always next year, huh?
And let me leave you with one thought: Losing sucks. I think we can all agree with that. But what sucks more is that we’ll never know what would have happened if the Cavs had given max effort for six consecutive games.