Maybe the world isn't coming to an end after all? After the Boston Celtics beat the Cavaliers in Game 6 last Friday, it seemed the writing was on the wall. The Cavaliers collapsed. LeBron quit and would be on the first bus out of town. Mike Brown would be fired and a whole new coaching staff would need to be hired. Dan Gilbert would sell the team and line up to by his hometown Detroit Pistons.
It almost seemed as if the Cavaliers should fold their tent now and go home, saving everyone the trouble.
Then something happened. Something no one expected - well I did - but most did not. The Boston Celtics started dominating the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.
It's not over, not by a long shot. Could the Celtics performance so far have an impact on LeBron James and his view of Cleveland? It's hard to tell, we really don't know what the reasons behind his performance in Games 4, 5 and 6. Suddenly it doesn't look like a Cavaliers collapse now does it?
No, the Boston Celtics look like the team that won the NBA Championship in 2008. In fact, they look better. In 2008 Rajon Rondo wasn't the scoring, rebounding, assist-dishing machine he is now. It has added a 4th dimension to the Celtics they didn't have.
Rondo is also the leader of the Celtics - at least on the floor. He drives the Celtics bandwagon after a season long battle with the aging stars. It came to a head a few months ago when Rondo came out, during a period of Celtics' struggles, and talked of issues in the locker room - personal agendas he would say at the time. Many thought he and Kevin Garnett were battling for team leadership rights.
During this time, the Celtics lost a home game, it might have been to the Wizards, and Garnett and Rondo were at the interview table afterwards. Someone asked Rondo about his comments. Before he could answer, Garnett interrupted, "We handle our business behind closed doors - not in front of y'all". I'm paraphrasing, but it was something to that affect. The two got up and left. From that point on the Celtics locker room was once again unified.
Sure, I sidetracked a bit, but I think it is important to look at a little history when discussing the present. As for the Celtics beating the Magic - in Orlando - twice to take a 2-0 lead, should we really be that surprised? I thought Orlando had a better team in 2009 than they do now. That team needed 7 games to take out Boston, a Celtic team playing without KG, playing with a hobbled Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. This Celtics team is healthy, and very, very hungry to cement its' legacy.
Where does LeBron James fit in to all of this? Somewhere, LeBron is watching the playoffs, contemplating his next move. I'm sure he was bitterly disappointed, as we all were, and doubts about the Cavaliers ability to win crept into his mind. If he watched Boston's dispatching of Orlando, however, those doubts should be eased. It's not that the Cavaliers are so very flawed that they can't get past an aging shell of a champion. Not at all.
Like the late-80's Bulls, and Pistons before them, the Cavaliers simply need to keep taking steps. Boston is the real deal. Their five consecutive playoff wins, three on the road, has proven that. The Cavs lost to a better team, and a team playing better.
LeBron should take a hard look at the Cavaliers, now that Boston's proof is in the proverbial pudding, and consider a change of venue would not be in his best basketball interests. The Cavaliers have many of the pieces in place, all they need is a little more tinkering and some luck. Should James return, a healthy LeBron James, the Cavaliers would once again be a contender to win it all. Isn't that the point?
Perhaps some day in the next 6-8 weeks, we'll be looking back at what Boston is doing to Orlando right now and thank them - as hard as it might be.