Monday, May 01, 2006

Wizards 106, Cavaliers 96

If Game 3 was a reasonable facsimile of Game 1, then Game 4 on Sunday was a carbon copy of Game 2.
The Cavaliers came out focused and poised for the first half, jumped out to a big lead and went on cruise control. Gradually, their handle on the game eroded, and the Wizards, by far the more experienced playoff team, sensed it.
Cleveland held an 11-point lead at the half, but as they so often have done this season, came out for the second half with all the vigor of tree sloths.
The lead had melted into a tie by the end of the third quarter, and the Wizards owned the fourth.
As in Game 2, the Cavs committed dumb turnovers, dumb fouls, and were altogether outclassed by Washington down the stretch.
To use a baseball paraphrase, LeBron James kept trying to score a five-point basket when the Cavs fell behind, recklessly crashing into opposing players for charges. At one point, with the clock winding down, he found Damon Jones wide open in the corner, and fired a flameball past him and into the stands.
There is a difference between being desperate and playing desperate. LeBron -- and his teammates -- were doing the latter in the fourth quarter.
The series is once again tied, which isn't bad in of itself, considering the Cavs are a missed Gilbert Arenas three-ball from being down 3-1. On paper, they did what they needed to do. They took a game in Washington after losing one in Cleveland.
But it's frustrating because a better, more composed Cavs team would have held onto Sunday's lead, and would be coming home up 3-1 with a chance to close the series out on Wednesday. Inexperience is the main culprit. No matter how well the Cavs play, it won't change the fact that they have a rookie head coach and a 21-year-old floor general.
But that milk has been spilled. The only thing we can do now is look ahead to Game 5. I said it before and I'll say it again: the Cavs MUST win Game 5 to have any prayer of winning this series. If they lose Wednesday, the Cavs would have to win Game 6 back in Washington to keep the series alive for a Game 7.
Considering it took a razor-close finish for the Cavs to take Game 3, anyone want to guess how hard it's going to be to win Game 6 there?

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