Is it just me or did the Cavaliers do their best Raptor impression during the last series with the Celtics?
I’m not trying to take a swipe at the hometown team, nor am I trying to take a swipe at the Cavaliers, but there were parallels that were hard to question and the parallels will continue for these two franchises moving into the big free agent summer of 2010.
The Cavaliers were favoured against the Celtics and were expected to waltz all the way to th NBA Final series. The only bump in the road was expected to be the Magic from Orlando.
The Cavaliers were led by their superstar de jour: Lebron James. He did everything a superstar was supposed to do during the regular season, but was criticized heavily during this series. He didn’t put in the effort Cleveland fans have become accustomed to. His heart and defensive ability came into question, despite scoring a triple-double in the decisive game 6.
Does this not remind you of The Raptors superstar de jour: Chris Bosh? Who played incredibly well during the first half of the season. Not MVP well, but well enough to lead his team to the playoffs. And then the second half of the season happened and he wasn’t quite the same. He was a little tentative, not aggressive on the defensive end and his heart was called into question. All of this, despite leading his team in scoring and averaging a double-double all season long.
Both are superstars that did not lead the way a Kobe or Jordan led. Both put up amazing individual numbers, but neither could lead their team to the collective goal of winning.
Other elements were similar too.
There was the big acquisition of Shaquile O’neal that never really panned out for the Cavs. He was injured for parts of the season and looked old out there on a regular basis. He wasn’t the same player he has been in his career and was absolutely outmatched by Kevin Garnett on the defensive end in the Celtics series. He was a bust of an acquisition that was supposed to put the Cavaliers over the edge. There was no player that was more disappointing this season than Shaq.
Kind of reminds me of Hedo Turkoglu. The player that was supposed to put the Raptors over the hump. The big playoff performer of just one year ago. He added little in the way of leadership, looked lost on offense and his only success was his penchant for one worded interviews.
Former Raptors were even a part of the Cavaliers failure this playoff season. Anthony Parker played good in spurts for the Cavs but he was overmatched as a starting 2 on a team that was supposed to have championship visions. He was overmatched much the way he was last year as a starter on a Raptor team that missed the playoffs. A great player, one of my favourites, but not a starter in this league.
Jamario Moon was out there tossing up inadvertant three balls, much the way he did when he was a Raptor. In fact, he took a ridiculous three for an air ball in that decisive sixth game and that was the sign, to me, that the Cavs were done. No team is going to win with Jamario Moon taking three balls.
The coaching of both teams has been called into question all season long. Is Mike Brown the right coach to lead a team to a championship? Has he lost the ears of his team?
Jay Triano has been heavily criticized as well. He hasn’t made the playoffs as a head coach and he lost the locker room this season as Turkoglu’s antics damaged th chemistry of the team.
Will either be back? Only time will tell.
The Cavaliers are channeling the Raptors both on and off the court as well. Danny Ferry is a solid GM. He brought in a number of pieces to compliment LeBron, but hasn’t found the right mix. This past season he seemed to be playing a frantic game of chess trying to put the right pieces together. Adding Shaq and then later Antawn Jamison were good moves for the regular season, but Shaq is old and very “foulable”, since he still can’t hit a free throw to save his life and Jamison has still not had extensive playoff experience. Clear in hindsight, I suppose.
Very reminiscent of Colangelo’s juggling act in Raptor Land. Jermaine O’neal? Looked good at the time but busted completely. Turkoglu? I suppose one could argue the jury is still out on that one, but it looked pretty bad this year. Belinelli, Jack, Derozan, Weems, Johnson? Lots of moves that had varying degrees of success and failure, but the mix did not equal victory.
Now both franchise’s find themselves on the verge of the biggest summer of their existence. Both teams are in a position to lose their greatest assets. Lebron and Bosh are the architects of their future success in the league. Wil they stay? or Will they go? If New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has anything to say about it, both will be Knicks next year. But, many pundits have looked at Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Chicago as possible destinations as well. There is also a possibility they will stay as both players like their team and city.
Lebron turned Cleveland into a team to be reckoned with during his time there.
Bosh brought the Raptors back to respectability since his arrival.
No one knows what will end up happening. Now both teams’ fans play the agonizing waiting game. They will put faith in their respective GM’s to make the right call. Both teams will be anxiously waiting for news from Twitter, the papers or the stars themselves for the next two months. It will be excruciating.
Fans in Cleveland and Toronto will be united in their agony of waiting to see where the chips fall.
Where they fall could have serious repercussions for these two franchises.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald