ATLANTA -- It wasn't easy, but it wasn't that tough either. When the final buzzer sounded in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal, though, it was the Cavs again raising their arms in victory for the eight straight game, thanks to a stingy defense that held Atlanta to 31.5 percent shooting (15.4 percent from three-point range) and some clutch shooting by
If patience is a virtue, the Cavs certainly hope they are blessed with it. With Boston and Orlando locked into what seems destined to be a seven-game series, Cleveland is faced with the possibility of not playing again until early next week. This on the heels of the nine days they had off between their brooming of the Pistons and the opener of the Hawks series.
"We have to manage our time correctly," said West. "I'm not sure if there is a right way to do that. We have to get in some days of rest and also get in some days with a good sweat."
There are advantages and disadvantages to a prolonged break between series. On the plus side, veterans get much needed rest.
"I've got a broken leg," said center
Further, practices become more intense. When you are going up against the same players day after day, the playbook goes out the window. All that remains are five guys on one side, five on the other and whoever has the greatest will to score usually does.
"When you are only going against each other, it makes everybody better," said Wallace, a 124-game playoff veteran. "It's not about Xs and Os. It's about finding a way to score, however you can."
Of course, there are disadvantages.
"That third practice," recalled Wallace. "We were just looking at each other and saying, 'man, let's just play somebody else already.'"
It will be incumbent on the coaching staff to find a balance between overworking the players and keeping them sharp and avoiding rust before what will be a much more challenging conference finals. As an assistant coach,
"It's going to be a group effort," said Brown. "I'll figure out what we are going to do schedule-wise but I'm going to get some input. Whether I want it or not I'm getting input from [GM]
"We kind of do it by feel," Brown continued. "In the last round Z (
Complicating matters is the fact that for most of the week Brown will be preparing his players for two entirely different teams. Orlando has a low post-oriented offense that centers around
Which raises the question: who do the Cavs want to play? While most of the players said it didn't matter, James allowed a little of his personal feelings to leak out. When asked if getting another crack at Pierce, who went shot for shot with James in an epic Game 7 of last year's conference semifinals, a small grin creased his face.
"I'm a competitor," said James. "I thrive on going against the best. I love going against the best. You take your answer from that."