The Cavs slogan for this postseason is "Rise Up." After the first three games of the NBA Finals, most of us will settle for "Show Up."
The Cavs haven't exactly impressed with their first impression on the NBA's biggest stage. Coach Mike Brown kept his best lineup off the floor for most of the first two games, choosing to go with Limping Larry Hughes over hot rookie Daniel Gibson until Hughes' foot fell off. In Game 2 the Cavs fell behind by the third-largest halftime margin in NBA history, 25 points. In Game 3, Anderson Varejao took a shot against Tim Duncan that Varejao's Fathead image would have had a better chance making. And in that third game -- the Cavs first chance to play a Finals game in front of the home crowd -- San Antonio managed the third-lowest winning total in an NBA Finals game.
Of course when Brown finally started Gibson, the rookie sensation matched Hughes' 1-for-10 from the previous two games. Of course when the Cavs got plenty of wide-open looks from 3-point land, they made just 3-of-19, reminiscent of Ohio State's 3-point meltdown against Florida in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship back in April, when the Buckeyes went 4-for-23 from behind the arc.
If this is what we've been waiting 37 years for the Cavs to do, bring back the Ted Stepien days.
Whereas downtown streets were clogged until nearly dawn after the Cavs knocked out the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the postgame festivities after the first NBA Finals game ever held in Cleveland consisted of getting out of Dodge as fast as possible. Within an hour, streets surrounding The Q were as empty as a Cleveland sports championship trophy case.
So now instead of a celebration Game 4 is looking more like a burial. The Cavs are so far gone they're not even on life support any more. The Spurs will be bringing the hammers and nails, the Cavs the coffins. Not exactly what we wanted to Witness.
But then again, what else do you ever see in Cleveland?
There is hope. Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic were swept in his first NBA Finals appearance back in 1994. Magic Johnson's teams were swept twice. That's what we always tell ourselves in Cleveland, though -- there is hope. We're still waiting for next year, for 43 years and counting.