Let me start by giving credit to the Boston Celtics. Largely dismissed for much of the season, the Celtics rose from the ashes and played with the heart of a champion. If there was a loose ball to get, they got it. If there was a big shot to hit, they hit it. If there was a rebound to get, they got it. Full credit to Boston for putting their foot on the Cavaliers' throat and ending the series when they had the chance.
Now for the Cavaliers. LeBron James will get all the focus - he's the man and it comes with the territory. Tonight was about many of the problems that have been a part of the Cavaliers for years now - sloppy offense, horrible free throw shooting, and a half-court defense that gets chewed up by quality offensive teams.
LeBron is special, even with the issues that will likely arise in the coming days. Even so, James needs help. Once again, he didn't receive any. Yes, Mo Williams had a solid night, but as has been the case with Mo, it lasted just a half.
Antawn Jamison, brought in to be that offensive punch from the PF position that the Cavaliers had lacked, was largely ineffective for the series. It was especially so tonight when Jamison scored just 5 points on 2-10 shooting.
Mike Brown, who spoke of lineup changes in tonight's game, stayed with the same lineups, the same rotations, that have struggled for much of the playoffs. The Cavaliers didn't go 'small' until the 3:50 mark of the 4th Quarter. In the end, Brown's insistence to stick with an offense that ran through Shaquille O`Neal was part of his undoing this series - and might be his undoing as the Head Coach of the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers rebounded better - 48-37, but most of that was countered by 24 Cavaliers turnovers. When it mattered most, the Cavaliers were at their sloppiest. Even down the stretch, when the Cavs needed a rebound, they couldn't come up with it. Sometimes that's how it goes when the focus isn't there.
LeBron James, for his part, showed up with much more effort, but was clearly bothered by something. He did end up with a Triple-Double - 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists, but 9 turnovers - many unforced - told the tale. What was wrong? We'll soon find out.
I will say this, ligament tear or not, LeBron James played like a guy that was hurting. Everything was left handed. LeBron dribbled left-handed, when he did chose to attack the basket, he shot left-handed. LeBron James is the greatest player on the planet with his right-hand. He's a very good player left-handed. Big difference.
There will be plenty of talk the coming days about Why. Why did the Cavs lose the series. Why did a locker room that was so close for so much of the season come unglued. Whatever the reason, whatever the answers, we've seen this story before, and we've seen the ending before. Perhaps it is time to shake the tree a bit.