The jinx e-mails were expected; the Magic's dominance was not
Yes, the jinx e-mails come in steadily now. That was inevitable. The Cleveland Cavaliers are down 3-1 to the Orlando Magic. They are one loss away from elimination ... and from extending the interminable Cleveland championship drought by one more season. They are one loss away from crushing my hometown city's unbreakable heart for the 45th consecutive year.
Yes, the jinx e-mails come in steadily now. The "this is your fault" e-mails. The "you are not welcome back in Cleveland" e-mails. The "how could you do this to your hometown?" e-mails. I wrote the
Of course, I also wrote a
I also wrote a
This is not to shirk the blame. I am well, well aware Cleveland sports have their own haunted history with
So, sure, I have lived the
But I also understand that this series has not been about jinxes. It has not been about Cleveland curses. There have been no fluky plays, no interceptions in the end zone, no fumbles at the goal line, no errors in the ninth inning, no third-base coaches inexplicably holding up runners, no 98-yard drives in the final seconds. No, the Magic have flat outplayed Cleveland through four games.
The games have been close, but the sense of purpose has not. The Cavaliers have mostly been a one-man team with
Meanwhile, the Magic have come at Cleveland with a flurry of offensive weapons -- the Cavaliers' defense has been bewildered. One minute, it's
The Magic have played otherworldly basketball and, more to the point, the Magic have controlled these games. And by control I don't mean the score -- the Cavaliers have had leads in all four games -- I mean that the Cavaliers' main defensive posture this whole series has been, "I hope they start missing some shots." As James points out, Cleveland has not had a single big stop the entire series.
The series isn't over, of course, and there's a chance that the Cavaliers could find something at home in Game 5 that could change the complexion of things. History says it will be tough: Orlando has owned Cleveland the last three years or so, now having won 11 of the last 15. Many people have pointed out that only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 playoff deficit -- and no team has done it in a conference finals since 1981. This Orlando team seems too diverse, too spirited and too confident to lose three games in a row.
But that's what is left for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They had the best record in the NBA this year. They swept their first two series. They held opponents to 91 points per game -- two points fewer than any other team in the league. They have the best player in the world. And so there are two possibilities: They will find a way to slow down Orlando's attack, find the rhythm that made them so dominant during the season, find the second and third option to go with James. That's the first possibility.
And the second possibility? I can find a disguise for when I go back to Cleveland.