Monday, May 14, 2007

An important game

As I am writing this, the tip-off of Cavaliers-Nets Game 4 is minutes away. Great time for some last-minute thoughts:

A must-win for the Cavs? Tonight's game probably can't be classified as that. Not when they're up 2-1. But it's one of those "They'd better win if they know what's good for them" games.

A Nets win, of course, ties the series. It also makes Game 5 in Cleveland a crucial hinge-point in the series. If the Cavs lose tonight, all the pressure is on them to win Game 5.

Back-to-back sweeps was too much to ask. Even the mighty Pistons couldn't pull it off. But I don't think it is too much to ask LeBron and Co. to close out the Nets in five.

Saturday's 96-85 loss was your classic Cavs defeat: The team took the floor with no energy, let the Nets scamper out to a 15-4 lead, clawed back to within two at halftime, then let New Jersey score the first eight points of the second half. The team was listless, looked sloppy at both ends of the floor and allowed New Jersey to outrebound them by 13.

That should never happen to the Cavs, a very good rebounding team with top-notch low post athleticism, against New Jersey, who counts rail-thin scrapper Mikki Moore as their best big man.

If the Cavs win the rebounding battle at both ends of the floor, chances are they'll win tonight. If they let themselves get pushed around again -- and LeBron doesn't crack the 20-point barrier again -- it might be a long plane ride back to Cleveland.

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