Can history smile on the Cavs?

Game 5 tonight at The Q, where the Cavaliers hope to stave off elimination against the Orlando Magic. Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from 3-1 deficits to win their series and move on. Eight teams, so it’s not impossible. But 182 teams up 3-1 have eventually closed out their competition, so history says the Cavs have only a 4% chance of moving on.
History, if you’ve been paying attention, hasn’t been too kind to the Cleveland sports fan. The Drive, The Fumble, The Mesa Blown Save — those are the lowlights of a Cleveland sports title drought that dates to the Browns winning the NFL championship in 1964. That’s 55 years of suffering, if you’re keeping track at home, and I know you are.
So, do the Cavs have a chance?
Yes.
Better than the historical average?
Yes, better than a 4% chance.
I’d put the Cavs’ chances at about 15% of winning this series, and here’s why: A win tonight puts some pressure — not all the pressure, as many have contended, but some pressure for the first time in this series — on Orlando.
The Magic have been playing with house money since their Game One victory in Cleveland. The Cavaliers had to struggle to tie the series on LeBron’s James’ buzzer-beater in Game Two.
Then Orlando won Game Three to get back in the driver’s seat. Was their pressure on Orlando that night? Not really, because it still had a Game Four at home immediately afterward to even the series in the event it lost Game Three.
That’s not the case if the Cavs win Game Five tonight. A loss by the Magic forces them to close the series out at home, or face a Game Seven at The Q.
Now, in order to put that onus on the Magic, the Cavaliers have to do something they have not since taking a 23-point lead early in Game One. That is, play like they are the superior team, the confident team, the team which believes it will dominate the series.
Orlando’s other-worldly shooting that enabled its Game One comeback put the Cavaliers on the defensive, both physically, and more importantly, mentally. You could sense the air going out of The Q as the Magic’s rally unfolded. It was as if Earnest Bynar trotted out to midcourt and dropped the football all over again, as if Brian Sipe threw another interception to Mike Davis on Red Right 88.
Delonte West, Mo Williams and the rest of LeBron’s so-called supporting cast were visibly afraid to shoot from that point forward. They shoot now, because they know they must, but only James is operating with the same energy and confidence he displayed during the regular season.
How do you play confidently in Game Five if your shots having falled in Games One, Two, Three and Four? You do it, because if you don’t, there won’t be a Game Six, let alone a Game Seven.
My prediction: The Cavaliers square the series with wins the next two times out, but surrender a spot in the NBA finals with a Game Seven loss at home.
It’s just too Cleveland for it to happen any other way.

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One Response to “Can history smile on the Cavs?”

  1. Dave Says:

    It feels like 55 years but it’s only been 45. Wait a minute, it feels like 105 years.

    – Dave

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