The Cleveland Cavaliers appeared destined to reach the 2009 NBA Finals. After sweeping the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds, the Cavs faced a young Orlando Magic team in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic are talented but not many league experts gave them much of a shot, especially considering that All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson was lost for the season.
However, what was supposed to be the last stepping stone to the finals has turned out to be a nightmare for the Cavs. Trailing 3-1 in the best of seven series, the only reason the Cavs weren’t swept was a miraculous shot by LeBron James at the buzzer of Game 2. If that shot didn’t go in, Cleveland would have gone from sweeping two teams to getting swept in the matter of days.
So, what is wrong with the Cavaliers? One player who can’t be blamed is LeBron James. Against the Magic, the superstar for the Cavs is averaging 42.3 points, 7.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He’s also shooting better than 50% from the floor and his defense has been above average.
One player who definitely deserves some of the blame is Mo Williams. The All-Star point guard for the Cavs is shooting just 32.4% from the field and 22.2% from beyond the three-point line. Those are huge drops from his regular season numbers of 46.7% from the floor and 43.6% on three-pointers.
Not only has Williams hurt his team on the floor, his mouth has hurt his team off the floor. The talkative point guard guaranteed a series win for the Cavs, which managed to add even more pressure to a team that was expected to reach the finals after winning 66 games in the regular season.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas hasn’t been very good in these Eastern Conference Finals. Anderson Varejao has been inconsistent. Ben Wallace doesn’t appear to be healthy and the rest of the bench unit is shaky. The only player who seems to have joined LeBron James is Delonte West. The team’s starting shooting guard is averaging 13 points on 43.5% field goal shooting.
If the Cavs want a chance to win the series, they’ll need to win Game 5 at home. If not, they will join us in spending the rest of the summer trying to figure out what went wrong.