Tuesday, May 22, 2007
It's not the shot that was the problem for the Cavs in their Eastern Conference finals opener against the Detroit Pistons Monday night. It's the Cavs' attitude.
That, and the fact that it was a Cleveland team taking the shot to try to win a playoff game in the final seconds. Which is why when Michael Jordan takes The Shot it is capitalized, and when Donyell Marshall takes the shot it is not.
Just remember, LeBron James driving the lane, drawing the attention of the entire defense like he's a magnet and the opponents are made of metal, then dishing to the corner for a game-winning three-ball try is an established part of the Cavs' repertoire. James connected with Damon Jones on such a play to beat the Toronto Raptors by a point last March, just a few days after matching up with Flip Murray on almost the exact same play in a win over the Chicago Bulls. Then there was Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs last year, when Larry Hughes found Damon Jones alone in the corner for a 23-footer to decide the series in the Cavs favor by a point.
All three treys came on the road with less than five seconds to go. So don't pretend LeBron's pass to Donyell Marshall was a surprise. It's part of a pattern.
Of course, so is not winning a championship since 1964. But maybe that's got something to do with the attitude being displayed after the Pistons took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, giving them an 86.4% chance of advancing to the NBA Finals based on past results (which of course are no guarantee of future success).
Consider LeBron's comments. Apparently he hasn't figured out yet that he doesn't live in Cincinnati, he lives in Cleveland, since he said, "We're OK with this loss tonight." And head coach Mike Brown said it's only one game. Well guess what, Coach, there might be only three more left with that line of thinking. Even Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the elder statesman of the team who might very well be running out of tomorrows, took the loss in stride: "I'm disappointed we lost, but we've got a lot of bullets left."
That's good to hear. Usually our teams have no bullets left after they shoot themselves in the foot every time they get into the playoffs.
Let's face it, Charles Barkley is right. The Cavs need a point guard and the Cavs need a shooting guard. To surround LeBron James with average-to-decent players, ask him to do everything, them blame him when he can't, is ridiculous. Sure, we'll hear the same rhetoric every time, that LeBron made the smart basketball play, that LeBron trusts his teammates, that LeBron would do it again next time, etc., etc. But he can't do it all, and he won't do it all. Why do you think Donyell Marshall's on this team? In two seasons with the Cavs, he's tried 666 treys and 498 regular field goals. It's the 3-pointer, stupid!
But if your 3-point shooter can't make the 3-pointer, and your superstar still takes the blame after coming within one assist of a triple double -- well, then your probably a Cleveland team. And just think, if Donyell Marshall hits the trey, LeBron gets his triple double.
Instead, we're left with the old college try and a 1-0 deficit.
So debate the pass vs. the shot all you want. Rail against our bad fortunes. Curse the Detroit teams that have had our number of the past few years. But what you should really be concerned about is the attitude that a team in Cleveland can just take a close loss instead of being upset that it didn't step on its foes throat when it had the chance. After all, second chances here are few and far between.