Cleveland 96 Orlando 95
So LeBron James hits a deep three pointer with 1 second on the clock to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at 1 game apiece. I wasn't shocked when LeBron's shot went in (though I did set up in my bed just from the excitement of the moment) and I wasn't shocked when Hedo Turkoglu hit his shot that put the Magic up by 1. I was really shocked the Cavaliers won.
Most people who know me know that as a diehard Chicago Bulls fan, I hate the Cavs and I despise King James. But through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Cavs were playing like they were the best team in the NBA. I expected them to continue to play well considering Orlando barely survived the Celtics in a grueling 7 game series. I worked on Wednesday night but I came home to see the Magic getting blown out in Cleveland, where the Cavs had only lost twice all season. I tune in later in the game to not only see the Magic had gotten back into the game but would go on to win on a Rashard Lewis three. The next day, I came to the conclusion that the Cavaliers were rusty and they would come out angry in Game 2.
Or would an angry LeBron even matter to the Magic? I had a theory in the Magic/Celtics series that if they C's could put together back to back wins; they would gain the momentum they needed to beat the Magic and possibly upset the streaking Cavs. I was basing that idea solely on the fact they were the defending champions and I figured some of that experience would count, KG or no KG. The Celtics won Games 4 & 5. And then promptly dropped Games 6 & 7.
Could the Magic be on the aforementioned playoff streak I thought the Celtics could have gone on? Sure they took 2 of 3 from the Cavaliers in the regular season, but this is the playoffs. The regular season doesn't really count anymore. Right?
Again, after spending most of the evening grilling outside. I come in to see the Magic are down by 12 at the half. I turn back to the game for the final 4 minutes and the Magic have tied the game again. As the time ticked down, all the shots were falling for the Magic and the Cavs looked to be tripping all over themselves. A traveling call on the game's biggest superstar in the final minutes? Not Jordan-esque at all LeBron.
After Hedo hit the game tying three pointer, thoughts of Finals MVP flashed through my head. Not that I think the Magic could really beat the Lakers (or will it be the Nuggets?) but either he or Rashard would take the honors home considering how Stan Van Gundy refuses to allow Dwight Howard a chance to dominate (I don't buy those he rumors that he can't dominate). And when Hedo gave the Magic the lead, I thought the game was a wrap. With as well as the Magic were playing them, I really didn't think this Cavaliers team could go to Florida down 2-0 and come back 2-2. Maybe 3-1, but no way they take 2 in Orlando. It was around that time I looked at how much time was left on the game clock.
The first thing I said back in February when the Arizona Cardinals took the lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII was there was too much time left on the clock. I was right then and I was right this time too.
LeBron's shot will go down in NBA history. It's definitely one of the greatest shots I've witnessed. But I don't think this will change this series. I think we're finally passed the blowouts that have plagued these playoffs and gotten down to competitive basketball. I think the Magic's playoff streak does exist and I can see them taking Game 3. They're 4 and 2 at home these playoffs and it's going to be tough for the Cavs to win the 1 game they need down there. Game 3 will actually say a lot about who will come out as 2009 Eastern Conference champion.
Of course, the Cavaliers from the first two rounds could show up and win three straight games. I don't think the Magic have a chance against those Cavs. But chances are I'll be talking about a 2-1 Magic series lead come next time. As far as the Lakers/Nuggets, that's next article. The Nuggets really impressed me with the way they handled the Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Semis. And the fact that the Lakers aren't up 2-0 going to Denver might really cause problems for them. Unless they play like the Lakers from December/January. But I definitely don't think that version of the team will be making a comeback. Unless Andrew Bynum gets a bionic leg.