Forgive me SoD nation (commonwealth? province? Hooverville?), as I may not be bringing my A-game to this Nightcap. The reason? Today is the 14th anniversary of Mario Elie’s famed “kiss of death” – the pain is still real.
With that understood, let’s soldier on to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals:
Magicians 107 Cavs 106 – Now here’s a surprise. Despite a stunning 49 point (on 20 of 30 (!) shooting no less) performance from LeBron AND a 16 point first-half lead, the Magicians overcame it all and took a 1-0 series lead in the East Finals. Although Cleveland is the league’s top defensive team, the Magic still managed to shoot 55% from the field, and 45% from three point range. Dwight Howard led Orlando with 30 points, including a dunk in the first quarter that actually tore down the shot clock. The Cavs led by two until Rashard Lewis hit a contested three pointer with 14.7 seconds remaining in the contest. In the final seconds both Delonte West and Mo Williams missed shots that would have won the game for Cleveland.
This loss would appear to change the entire tone of the series. In addition to being their first loss, it represents the first true adversity faced by Cleveland in these playoffs and is just their 3rd loss of the year at Quicken Loans Arena. What the Cavs cannot do is expect LeBron to score 49 points every game. For as great as the King may be, he needs SOME support out of his bench if Cleveland is going to take over this series – on Wednesday the Magic bench outscored the Cavs bench 25-5.
Game 2 is Thursday. Should be interesting to see if the Cavs respond like a champion or not.
J.J. Watch – It appears in his infinite wisdom, Stan Van Gundy opted to give our precious J.J. a night off. Oh wait – that’s a DNP-CD. Definitely not good news for Redick.
On a closing note – Mario Elie can burn in hell.