Aside from benching LeBron James for conduct detrimental to the team, there is nothing Mike Brown can do in these playoffs to prevent the Cavaliers from winning the NBA title. Nothing. He didn’t go from being a good coach in game one to a bad coach by game three, and he didn’t start ‘coaching better’ late in the second quarter against Chicago in game four. The minutes divided up at the end of the rotation between Hickson, Z and others aren’t going to decide anything, and whether he goes big, goes small, schemes plays to get Shaq 12 shots or 8, none of that’s gonna matter in the end anyways. There’s also nothing an NBA coach can do to ‘work on FT’s’ and by no means should a professional coach have to inspire ‘effort’ with a pregame Knute Rockne rendition prior to tip-off. For the Cavaliers, their eventual fate will be decided by something much simpler than all that: effort.
When the Cavaliers have their minds right, and play hard for 48 minutes, they can beat anybody. When they don’t, they can lose to the 16th best team in the playoffs. They played hard for 18 minutes on Thursday and they lost by two…they played hard today for 35 and they won by 23. Give Mike Brown credit for the win, blame him for the loss, whatever you want to do…all that’s irrelevant.
Whether we want to admit it or not as Cavs fans, there’s nothing more that anyone can do to make this team win…they just have to take the court and win. Sunday they did win, and the reasons are as simple as ‘see hoop, make basket.’ Instead of shooting the 35 three-pointers they took in game three (14 of 35), this time the Cavaliers only elected to shoot 25 - and made 12 of them.
Instead of going 1 for 6 from three point range himself in game three, this time Antawn Jamison went 1 for 3, and shot the ball at a clip of over 50% for the first time this series (9 of 16 from the field) to finish with 24 points (which was also the first time Jamison scored over twenty during this Bulls series after posting previous marks of 15, 14, and 19 respectively). And Jamison has to be that threat that can score 20 plus. He can’t fade away behind a flurry of sweeping hook shots, he has to be the aggressive scorer that he was brought here to be if the Cavs are going to accomplish their ultimate goal…which he was today, kudos (he also finished with 7 boards and 2 dimes).
Mo Williams, likewise, played like the guy he needs to be for this team today as well. Sure, you’re going to give some things up with Maurice defensively, but if he can get you close to 20 points (19 today) on only 10 shots, and shoot 50% from long range (3 of 6 from three) you’ll take that all day - even if he also felt it necessary to step into the ‘let’s brick our FT’s party’ for a couple of charity clanks today also. Because if you get what you got from those two guys, well, you know what this guy’s gonna give you…
Reportedly, that guy had some type of look in his eyes earlier today that caused the ABC team to report on it repeatedly during the broadcast. I didn’t know what all that was supposed to mean, but if it in anyway ties into the fact that LeBron has now scored over 35 for the third straight game, I hope he keeps looking at people like that. There isn’t much you can say about LeBron’s effort from the Cleveland perspective, other than, well, thanks man, keep it up. A triple double that reads 37- 12 – 11 is impressive enough, but if you throw in the fact that it only took him 17 shots to get to 37, that makes you kinda sit back and say, huh. Couple that with the fact that he was 6 of 9 from three point range (remember waaay back to two or three years ago when his jumpshot was some type of fatal flaw according to most talking heads? yeah, I forgot that too) and he posted that ‘monster triple double’ while sitting out the equivalent of an entire quarter (he played 36 minutes) and there’s nothing more you need to say. Just be glad he’s on your team.
As for the rest of that team, Parker gave you 30 minutes you had to be pleased with today scoring 12 on 4 of 7 shooting (and topped double figures for the first time this series as well – another quality ‘coach up’ over the last two days by Mike Brown) and Hickson got into the game for 17 minutes of burn to net 10 points and a couple boards in his own right. Delonte and Moon didn’t really do much offensively (combining for 8 points in 30 minutes) but if you want to credit them some for slowing down Rose and Hinrich you can. After those two Bulls went for 30 and 27 last time out, Rose finished this one with 21 and Hinrich was 3 of 13 for 10. No Bulls player scored more than 21, and tip your hat to the long haired goofball from Florida who also had that many points, while grabbing a game high 20 boards. Shaq had six points and seven boards in less than 20 minutes, and while he was mostly ineffective during the first half, he did make a couple big plays defensively early in the third to help ignite the Cavs run out of the locker room that got the lead up over 20. And lastly, Z didn’t really play today, but that really shouldn’t matter to anybody…they didn’t need him to.
What matters is that the Cavs are now up 3-1, and come back to the Q Tuesday with the opportunity to close things out a lot sooner than the favorite out West looks to be finished with their first round homework. Here’s hoping the Cavs get it done quickly, I’m tired of watching Joakim Noah fix his ponytail.