by Jack Maidment
The word best used to describe the Cleveland Cavalier’s Playoff performance thus far? Ease.
After completing their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks last night, LeBron and co have become the first team since the Miami Heat many moons ago to dispatch their first and second round opponents in the absolute minimum of 8 combined games.
Some of the games may have been close at times but the outcome for each one rarely looked in doubt.
The Detroit Retaliation that was predicted my many never happened. Instead of the dormant talent and experience rising up in the face of the challenge, it preferred to stay sleeping, confining the Pistons to an embarrassing first round exit.
The Atlanta Hawks couldn’t be much more different than the Pistons. They are young and are clearly progressing, yet the outcome was the same: getting past the Miami Heat in the 1st was an entirely different proposition to facing LeBron in the Conference Semis.
If you look up ‘stroll’ in the dictionary there is likely a picture of Detroit and Atlanta united by their collective trouncing. Yep, they were trounced.
Despite the fact that the Cavs would have you believe that they have worked hard against tough opposition to get this far, the reality is that they could not have made it look much easier.
Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week, right?
The very best make the game look easy. Effortless. Jay-Z, Alex Ovechkin, Barack Obama, Lionel Messi. We know that what they are doing is difficult, sometimes impossible, but their success is rarely doubted.
However, the Cavaliers are not at the top yet, and they know it. As the top seed, their route to the Conference Finals has been as stress free as possible. Atlanta and Detroit are not the Boston Celtics or the Orlando Magic. At all.
For LeBron, the playoffs really start now. Against teams that have the ability to take you to the last possession every game, no matter where it is being played.
The ease of progression has led Cleveland to constantly defend its preparation going into the Conference Finals and also The Finals themselves. Playing mediocre teams can hardly get you ready for battling the Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers, can it?
They say rest is the bonus that every team would prefer over hard fought 7 game series. They say that they will be ready.
They probably will be, but there can be little doubt that the Cavs will find it difficult to come out firing like the winner of the other Semi which will go at least 6, probably 7.
Rhythm is important in all things. Finding the groove. The Cavs will have to find theirs real fast in the Conference Finals.
Do the Cavaliers have ‘it’ on tap? We will soon find out.