I have no personal connection to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy after their season-ending Game 6 defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
Considering the Cavs’ strong play over the course of the entire season, and the occasionally mediocre play of the Boston Cetics, this series result is obviously shocking. These guys were widely considered locks to make the NBA Finals this season, but they’ll have to no fewer than one more season to make a championship a reality.
Outshining the team’s loss, however, is the status of LeBron’s future with the team; Thursday’s Game 6 may have been his last game ever as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On the one hand, it looks as if this roster is simply incapable of bringing home the hardware in June. Many of the players are on the back end of their careers (Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Parker, Zydrunas Ilgauskas), and next year they’ll all just be another year older. It might be time for LeBron to hop town and get a new start somewhere else. He has to cut his losses some time.
On the other hand, he would be leaving on an incredibly sour note. While his post-game exit was much more cordial than last year’s debacle, he will abandon this Cleveland team and fan base, both of which have been his biggest supporters since his first campaign in the league back in 2003. In addition, he may feel the job isn’t done until he brings back a title for home state of Ohio.
So it’s not yet clear what he’s going to do, to be sure, but he’ll have a lot of thinking to do. This 4-2 series loss to the Celtics is just another knot on the string of heartbreaking defeats Cleveland has experienced over the years — not only in the NBA but also in the MLB and NFL. Perhaps this city is just destined for troubling losses.
Taking a backseat to LeBron’s situation, though, is the fact that the Boston Celtics are actually moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face the Orlando Magic in a rematch of the 2009 second round. Everyone assumed they were chopped liver, but the road gets no easier from here on out. Orlando hasn’t lost a game in the 2010 postseason yet, and they’ll be gunning for the Celtics to get a shot at swiping a title from the Lakers (or Suns).
Kevin Garnett will play against the Magic this year after sitting out the series in 2009. Height matchups were a problem for the Celtics last year, so Garnett’s presence will help in that regard.
At any rate, the one second-round set to go more than four games was less exhilarating than expected, and has so many broad implications. We, as NBA fans, can only hope that the next two rounds deliver on the promise of greatness established so far.