Four passes as the Cleveland Cavaliers are on the brink of elimination at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
1. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals seemed like a prime spot for Cleveland Cavaliers’ coach Ty Lue to be out dueled by Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
And with the Celtics on their home court, Boston had no problem making Ty Lue play the role of the fool.
On a night the Cavs were struggling to make shots, one might think Ty Lue would’ve employed a heavy dose of Kyle Korver, who’s been the Cavaliers’ second-most consistent scorer the past couple of weeks.
But one change to Brad Stevens’ lineup apparently sent Lue into a mind warp.
Korver, who didn’t play in the first quarter, couldn’t get in the game during the early going because Stevens relegated Semi Ojeleye to the bench by starting Aron Baines and brining Marcus Morris off the bench.
Lue had been placing Korver in the game at the same time Ojeleye entered, but wth Stevens’ change, the Cavs’ coach could figure out a way to get one of the greatest shooters in NBA history into the contest.
"“It kind of threw us for a loop,” Lue said, via AmicoHoops.net."
Talk about disappointing. The Cavs are fighting for their lives and instead of being pro-active, Lue was re-active in Cleveland’s biggest game of the season.
Korver played 19 minutes, scoring seven points. His two 3-pointers equaled the total sum of any other member of the Cavaliers.
The Cavs were 9-of-34 from 3-point range. George Hill, who played awful, is often referred to as the “Bellwether,” meaning if he plays well, the Cavs win. If he doesn’t, they lose.
Three-point shooting is another bellwether. If the Cavs make just nine 3’s, they’re probably not going to win the game.
2. Kevin Love had a solid night with 14 points and seven rebounds, but his evening was derailed by a bad second-foul call early in the game. He was clearly in a rhythm, and removing him from the game zapped whatever mojo he had working.
Hey, Ty, you didn’t have to pull him there. He still needed four fouls to foul out!
More on Love: He’s been atrocious from downtown. Love’s 35 percent conversation rate from behind the arc is a career low. He’s a career 42 percent 3-point shooter in the postseason, and shot 42 percent from downtown during the regular season.
His play has been inexplicable.
Now as the clear No. 2 option, one might think Love would look like the player Cavs’ fans were so excited to pry away from the Timberwolves.
Instead, great games are rare, and it’s usually a coin flip as to whether he’ll be decent, or just plain bad.
3. Anyone else get annoyed of the “tired” LeBron storyline that emanated during the game?
Duh, LeBron’s fatigued. He’s no longer a young whippersnapper and he’s just played his 98th game of the season. James scored one measly basket in the fourth and was 1-of-6 from 3-point range. He’s committed more turnovers (13) than assists (8) the past two games,which is indicative of James being less active.
And while fatigue may have played a role, this just looked like one of those games where James had checked out.
Did he read the tea leaves on this one and think it’s better to save himself for Games 6 and 7?
He’d certainly never admit it, but it will be interesting to see how he performs with his back against the wall.
4. This series isn’t over. Just ask the 2016 Golden State Warriors. If the Cavs handle their business at home, anything can happen in Game 7.
It’ll also be interesting to see how the young Celtics respond. There’s a lot of youth on that team who’ve never experienced being one step away from The Finals. Do they close it out, and accelerate toward what many predict: A new Boston dynasty? Or will inexperience get the best of them.
LeBron will have something to say about that. As goes LeBron, so go the Cavaliers.