In a game the Cavaliers had to have, perhaps more so mentally then mathematically, they team with the best record in the NBA this season once again fell short. It surely wasn't for lack of trying, far from it. Playing what I consider to be their best offensive game of the series, the Cavaliers were outdone by another of the various weapons the Orlando Magic employ, Rafer Alston. If trying to defend Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis were not enough, Alston provides the Magic one more shooter, one more threat. While not known for being a dead-eye outside shooter, Skip-to-my-Lou definitely has a flair for the dramatic.
For much of the game, the Cavaliers looked like the team that won 66 games. Tough on defense, efficient on offense. Orlando did what it has seemingly done all season, use the three point shot to stay just close enough to make it a shooting contest in the 4th quarter. As has been the case this entire series, the Cavaliers lost that contest.
Thanks to LeBron James, and two clutch free throws, the Cavaliers were able to get the game into overtime, but again, as has been the case the entire series, the depth of the Magic was the difference. LeBron has looked worn out at the end of every game in the series, starting with the cramps in Game 1. Tonight it came to a nasty head with James turning the ball over 6 times in the 4th quarter and overtime combined. Maybe a full year of basketball is starting to takes its toll, but credit the Magic for hounding James, making everything he gets hard to come by.
LeBron had one more chance to make some magic of his own, a desparation 38-footer at the buzzer that would have saved the Cavaliers again. It missed, like many Cavaliers shots this series, James unable to do the impossible twice in the same week.
Mo Williams, he who guaranteed victory in Game 4, came out like a man on a mission, though his shot hardly backed up the talk. Williams ended the game is 18 points, only 6 after halftime, going 0-3 behind the arc.
We live in a society, especially as sports fans that love to look for blame. It just has to be someone's fault. Me? I prefer to give credit when it is due, even though it can be hard as hell to do. The Orlando Magic create matchup problems for the Cavaliers all over the floor. Having those matchup and taking advantage of them, however, are two different things. The Magic may not have LeBron James, but they have 6 guys that, individually, get just as hot, and be just as hard to stop.
The Magic shot nearly 45% from 3-point land, impressive by itself until you see they did it on 39 attempts. 17/38 from behind the arc is other-worldly. The Cavs made 5-19, meaning the Magic outscored the Wine and Gold 51-15 on three balls. That deficit is hard to make up.
This series to date has been decided by bad pass here, missed free throw there. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the Magic have made more plays, hit more shots.
So it has come to this, the Cavaliers on the brink of elimination for the first time in 2009. The Magic have been fresher, faster, and at times hungrier. If returning to The Q for Game 5 doesn't turn the tide, just a bit, it is going to be a long summer for Cavs fans. Again.