After watching Mike Brown get out coached in game 1 by Stan Van Gundy, Cleveland fans had to be nervous about the rest of the series. They had good reason to be nervous considering they were up 33-19 and allowed the Magic to come all the way back and win the game by 1 point.
Then came game 2, and once again the Cavs jumped out to an early lead with the score 33-16 at the end of the 1st quarter. And once again Orlando stormed back, except this time Cleveland was the team to hit the game winning shot.
Hedo Turkoglu dribbled into the paint and hit a jumper with a little over 1 second left in the game. During the final timeout called after Turkoglu’s shot, the entire stadium had been quieted as if the shot had sucked the life out everyone in attendance. Many left thinking “how did the Cavs give up another lead and why are we in this position again”.
Then instead of Cleveland going down 2-0 in the series Mo Williams hit Lebron James at the top of the 3-point line on an inbound pass. With the clock going down James rose above Turkoglu to hit the game winning three pointer and tied the series up at 1 a piece.
Last night in game three we had a chance to see Cleveland come back from behind, however they just didn’t get enough help from their supporting cast, again. James had 41 points but the rest of the team only put up 48 points, with 8 of those points coming from the bench.
Once again the problem besides the lack of offensive help for the Cavs, was there lack of rotation on defense. They played the Magic a little bit better from the three-point line holding them to 35 percent, but still allowed a lot of shots to go uncontested.
Many experts are saying that Cleveland has no answer for Dwight Howard, but realistically what team does? Coach Van Gundy has taken on the coaching mindset that Lebron is going to get his points we just have to stop everyone else.
This is the same mindset Coach Brown needs to adopt. Allow Howard to get his and concentrate on everyone else; otherwise Cleveland could find themselves down 3-1 on their way back to Cleveland for game 4.
Tonight game 4 of the western conference finals takes place, with the Lakers ahead 2-1. Both teams have played well down the stretch, but have lost their individual games based off of poor execution in minor areas.
For Denver the other night, the missed free throws added up, plus another steal from Trevor Ariza in the last minute of the game. A hot Kobe Bryant who went for 41 was an advantage for the Lakers versus the 21 points by Carmelo Anthony who had just 3 in the second half.
Melo won’t have another game like he did in game 3, and Denver will make some adjustments to counter the small mistakes they made in game 3. If they continue to get help from the entire team including their bench, where JR Smith started to show a little life scoring 10 points on Saturday night, they’ll be able to continue to compete with the Lakers in game 4 tonight.
The key for the Lakers will be to not become complacent, and to continue to play the Nuggets hard. Throughout the playoffs they’ve been inconsistent game to game, and the Nuggets are the wrong team to try and turn it off and on against. They will need someone else in addition to Kobe to step up defensively for the Lakers.
Ariza’s been big his steals, but he and Kobe have really been the only playmakers on defense. Andrew Bynum could be a force, but he keeps finding himself in foul trouble, and Derek Fisher just isn’t as young as he use to be. He can’t run all day like he did early on in his career, and his minutes are limited.
If they can get some toughness from one more player and maintain their consistent play they’ll make Denver have to work hard to earn a shot at making it to the finals. Game 4 promises to be another wild west shootout.