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So Many Questions, Only One Answer

Jay-Z was at Quicken Loans Arena last night with a front row seat to LeBron James’ remix to “The Takeover.” James’ fourth quarter in Game Five was his best performance yet, topping anything else he has done this series or his 48 Special against Detroit in 2007. Last night’s performance was on par with Jordan’s 54 points in 1993 against New York and Kobe’s 48-point 16-rebound performance to close out Sacramento in 2001. Right up there with Bob Gibson’s entire 1968 season, Babe Ruth’s 1927 season, Homer Simpson’s performance in seasons three and four, well…you get the point - it was the polar opposite of Carl Lewis performing the National Anthem.

LeBron’s feat is beyond superlatives, I certainly don’t have the words to describe it*. Unsung in all the hype surrounding it is Mike Brown’s decision to put him in the high post made it much more difficult for Orlando to double-team him without leaving a Cleveland shooter or cutter open. For the first time this series, Stan Van Gundy was on his heels as he took LeBron’s best shot after withstanding it repeatedly. It’s like Ivan Drago being cut in Rocky IV. The Magic have shown a legitimate weakness.

*I wish David Halberstam was still around, but Joe Posnanski does a great job.

At this point, the pressure is on both teams. The Cavs are still down 3-2 going back to Orlando for another elimination game. LeBron has to be exhausted after carrying 11 other men on his back for five consecutive games. Will it continue to show, as it did in Game Five even as he turned Orlando into one of the hometown teams from an AND1 mixtape tour? Can Mo, Delonte and Boobie (who just shed a derogatory twist of that nickname my friends and I have been calling him) continue to hit shot, especially open looks? Can Cleveland’s defense continue to keep Hedo Turkoglu’s playmaking ability in check? Will Wally continue to do a serviceable job defending Rashard Lewis? All of this remains to be seen – but these are questions that will be answered on the court.

Orlando has a different form of pressure to overcome. They have to close this series out in Game Six, because they have to know their chances aren’t good in a Game Seven at Cleveland. Can a team that relies so heavily on the three point shot continue to beat more conventional style teams? Does Dwight Howard’s attitude and its lack of appreciation from referees hurt them once again? And the biggest question that remains – will coach Stan Van Jeremy blow another 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals? Yes folks, he has been here before. He held the same lead against Detroit in 2005, a team that proceeded to lose the next two games. Dwyane Wade had suffered a rib injury, which played a large part in the Heat’s demise. Shaquille O’Neal didn’t seem to think so; the Big Fella himself called Van Jeremy a choke artist earlier this year*. If Orlando loses this series, it could solidify that reputation and O’Neal can give himself another nickname – The Big Shaqrodamus.

*After seeing Shaq at Amway during Game 4, does anyone think he’ll show up with a choker around his neck and a shirt that says “Who will be Orlando’s next head coach?”

There are so many questions surrounding a series that has provided enough drama to make an NBA Finals series anti-climatic, with no answers just yet. Game Six is 24 short hours away, and I’m giddy to see the answer to the final question I have – what can LeBron James possibly do for an encore of Game Five?

- Patrick Bauch

1 comment:

  1. nice article, like i said in my article only 8 teams have came back from 3-1 i think were the 9th.