Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Needed Lessons

With the results of last night's game two coming after our deadline, my educated guess says that the Cavaliers will have played a much closer game against the Detroit Pistons.

Not much of a limb to go out on I know, but truthfully I was not disappointed or frustrated with Sunday's 113-86 loss. I truly believe that it was exactly what needed to happen.

You only wish that game one did not have to come so soon. The best playoff win in team history since the Miracle of Richfield and barely any time to savor it

And not that the quick turnaround was the reason for the loss. The Detroit Pistons are a very good basketball team. No one outside of the Cavaliers locker room believes the team can win more than one game let alone the series against the two-time Eastern Conference champions. You have to even wonder how many inside that locker room believe that as well.

There is more talk about whether New Jersey or Miami have the best chance to compete with Detroit or if Dallas or San Antonio could best push the Pistons to the limit in the finals, then if the Cavaliers can make it past game four or five.

Detroit has the best starting five in the league and this season's best record to go with it. They nearly won a second straight title last season and are determined to step from underneath Larry Brown's egoistical shadow to prove they can do it without him. And despite all that success, they are angry and have made themselves feel slighted by the masterminds who schedule which teams play on which network. Champions with a chip on their shoulder. This is not a team nearing the end of their run waiting to implode like the three-time champion Lakers a few years ago.

So as strange as it sounds, if they weren’t going to win, I was hoping for a blow-out rather than a close loss when I turned on ABC on Sunday. There is nothing quite like a slap to the ego to motivate. LeBron James is not the type of player who will just turn the other cheek. He will come back focused and more determined to make a difference.

Honestly, it may not make a difference. The Cavaliers just don't have the horses to make a run at the Pistons. Like I said, if they win two games in this series, it will be more of an accomplishment than anyone expects.

Before the Washington series, all we heard from the national media (and even some of the local media) was that the Cavaliers had no playoff experience. Even though the team had 50 wins to the barely .500 Wizards, it was said over and over Washington was the better team. Once they won, it was that they were fortunate to beat a bad team that played poor defense thanks to three last second shots.

So which is it? Are they underachievers who got lucky in the post-season beating a team that they should have? Or are they a team that has learned how to win close games.

Call me a dreamer, a homer and shill. LeBron James is something different. It took Jordan four cracks to get out of the first round. It took the team of Price, Daugherty and Nance years to get out of the first round. I understand beating the Pistons is next to impossible, but I expect James to will this team to making the rest of the series much more competitive.

Can they beat the Pistons? Of course not. There is absolutely, positively no way the Cavaliers can pull this off. Upsets don't happen in the NBA after the first round. There is a pecking order in this league and you have to wait your ordained turn.

But there is no better team for LeBron to learn how to take his team and his game to the next level. The Pistons are the best the NBA has to offer. And that is exactly what he needs right now.The first round success was no fluke, it was the start of something very special.