We might just have a series on our hands in the Eastern Conference Finals. While it is true that none of the games have been closer than nine points, which was in Game 4 on Monday night, the series is now 2-2. And with LeBron James and the Cavaliers now looking like they are up for the fight, we just could have a couple of very close games coming up as the series heads to Boston for Game 5 on Thursday.
How did we get here in Game 4? Two key things took place on the night in Cleveland. For starters, the Cavs as a whole raced out to a massive advantage after the first quarter. The score after the first buzzer was 34-18. That sixteen point gap was something that the Celtics, despite ‘winning’ all three of the remaining quarters, could never quite pull back. They did do their best, but the damage had been done. They will not be able to do that sort of thing and still win this series.
The second key to the Cavs’ success was another monster night from start LeBron James. This was a night where his sidekick Kevin Love didn’t offer much more than a ton of fouls, but the King still thrived under the pressure of the must-win situation. In scoring 44 points, he not only was able to help tie up this series. He also was able to pass the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for points in the postseason. Time and time again, the ‘power’ guard bullied his way through switches and took advantage of mismatches to lead the team toward a victory they had earned in the first quarter.
There will be comments made in both directions about whom the pressure will be on, but really it will be both teams. The Celtics and the Cavaliers both will not be looking to go down 3-2, putting them in a tough situation where they will be required to win two games in a row to make it to the NBA Finals. But if you were going to go out on a limb here, you have to say the Celtics will be under the most pressure. They might not have ever blown a 2-0 series lead to lose the series, they might not have lost at home in these playoffs, and they might have the best coach in the league, but they will playing a team that have been in these situations with the greatest player in the world. And they will be doing it at home, knowing full well that a loss means they could lose the series in Cleveland the following game. Grab your popcorn, it’s going to get good.