Bring on the Pistons!
That's what we're all thinking now, after the Cavs beat New Jersey in Game 4 of their best-of-7 series to take a commanding 3-1 lead. Heck, it's pretty much what the Cavs have been thinking all season long, ever since losing to the Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. That's why the Cavs seemed to sleepwalk through certain games this season, infuriating fans with losses to the Charlotte Bobcats (twice), Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks (twice), and Boston Celtics. That's why LeBron James said before Game 4 against the Nets that teams can't take plays off in the playoffs, but maybe you can do that a few times during the regular season.
But who in their right mind in Cleveland ever looks ahead?
That's why we'll all still be nervous Wednesday night when the Nets come back to The Q for what should be their final game of the season. Even though the Cavs have gone 7-1 in the playoffs, even though they've won 11 of their last 12 dating back to the regular season, even though LeBron James is averaging 28 points per game in the playoffs (most of anyone still playing), we're still worried that the Cavs will go back into sleepwalking mode with a snap of the fingers.
But even the biggest Cleveland sports cynic should be swayed by the evidence supporting the notion to mark this series against the Nets in the win column already. Consider:
* Teams in the NBA, NHL, and MLB with a 3-1 series edge and Game 5 at home are 407-38 all-time in those series, a 91.5 winning percentage.
* NBA, NHL, and MLB teams playing in a quarterfinals series with those conditions are even better, 92-3 all-time for a 96.8 series winning percentage.
* NBA teams with a 3-1 series edge and playing Game 5 at home are 112-2 all-time, a 98.2 series winning percentage.So there it is. Based on the history of this situation in the NBA, the Cavs have a 98.2% chance of winning. Of course, the inner beaten-down Cleveland sports fan in us will paraphrase Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber and ask, "So you're telling me there's a chance the Nets will win?" After all, we expect to get rivered here in Cleveland.
But really, there's only a 1.8% chance that the Cavs and Pistons WON'T match up in the Eastern Conference finals; just a 1.8% chance that the Cavs WON'T get their chance at revenge. After all, the Pistons are in the exact same situation as the Cavs: Game 5 at home, up 3-1 in the series. It looks LeBron and company should get their bags packed for a trip to Detroit.
And of course in the other half of the bracket lurks our Benedict Arnold, Carlos Boozer. His Jazz are also up 3-1 with Game 5 at home. So they are virtually a lock to make the Western Conference finals.
Boozer vs. the Cavs in the NBA Finals? Well, don't look ahead that much.