USA Today Images

A Boring Game 5

Cleveland doing what Cleveland does when they aren’t in Cleveland.

May 24, 2018 - 10:19 am

Cleveland-Boston Game 5 answered the question: yes. Question being: is it too much to ask to have two exciting conference finals games in a 24 hour span. Because Boston’s 96-83 win was not exciting. It was actually pretty boring. 

Don’t get me wrong. Boston is good. Jayson Tatum is becoming a star before our eyes and that 24, 7 and 4 performance in Game 5 of the conference finals when he turned 20 less than three months ago, is macho as hell but let’s not confuse his great performance with a great game. Because that was not a great game.

Boston did what they do at home in the playoffs – they won. Cleveland did what they did on the road in this series – disappear. I don’t get it. The home team has won in a blowout in five straight games. And I don’t get it. I know there’s somewhat of a homecourt advantage, but it’s not like it was back in the old days when every arena was weird and creaky and you had to travel by train and the Boston Garden had terrible visitor’s locker rooms and dead spots on the floor. 

Teams are chartering jets, staying in 5-star hotels, and the arenas are all fairly modern. 

In other words, there’s really no excuse for Cleveland no-showing the way that they did. It’s not good enough to just say that it was a road game and use that as the explanation for why they shot less than 27 percent from three. Kevin Love: 2 for 7 from deep. Jordan Clarkson: 2 for 7 from deep. J.R. Smith: 0 for 4 from three, 1 for 6 overall, 2 points. Tristan Thompson: 1 point. George Hill: 7 points. Three guys in the Cavs starting lineup had 10 points. Not each. Total. Three starters combined for 10 points. 

But that’s just Cleveland doing what Cleveland does when they aren’t in Cleveland. 

And LeBron finally did what he never does – he looked tired. For a second, it looked like leading the league in minutes in his 15th season and then leading the league in minutes in the playoffs, and having to strap a whole team to his back and carry them through the first two and a half rounds of the playoffs might finally catch up to a guy. Maybe. Possibly. 

If I’m LeBron and I see three of my teammates in the starting lineup combine for ten points, I’m just going to nap it out on the floor. Just curl up on the parquet and get some shuteye, because that’s clearly what the rest of the crew is doing. How is it possible to have three guys combine for 82 minutes and manage just 10 points?!?  

LeBron still had 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists and shot 50 percent from the field. And he wasn’t going to admit that he was tired, even if he felt it. "I had my moments. I think everybody at this point is tired or worn down."

And then later rejected it completely: "I'm fine. I didn't mention fatigue, [the media] did."

No matter who mentioned fatigue, there’s a chance it might be a factor. I don’t care if the guy is 35 or 25, given that workload and the fact that he has to carry the other four guys on his back up and down the court every night would gas anyone out. Including the guy who spends 7 figures annually on taking care of his money maker. And knowing that, knowing there might be the possibility that the cyborg that goes by the name LeBron James might be in need of a charging station, if there was ever a game to make sure the shot-blocking, three-hitting machine, Kyle Korver, got plenty of minutes, it was last night. But he only played 19 minutes. And didn’t enter the game until the second quarter, when they Cavs were already down 32-19.

And if that was confusing, Ty Lue’s explanation was even more confusing

Wait. What? Brad Stevens not playing Semi Ojeleye. Semi Ojeleye threw you for a loop? What does that even mean? Ty Lue has forgotten more about basketball than I’ll ever know, but if I’m him, I’m not going explaining my moves based off what Semi Ojeleye did. 

Since when did Semi Ojeleye become the determining factor in anything? I know teams like to play matchups, but we’re matching up with Semi Ojeleye now? Don’t get me wrong. Nice-ish player, but not exactly someone that I’m building my whole game plan around. I’m not trying to scheme against Semi Ojeleye.

How did Ty Lue, who seemed to come up with scheme in Games 3 and 4 to get his guys going and lock up Al Horford just get turned inside out by Semi Ojeleye?

I know Brad Stevens is a genius, but he can do mind control too? Did someone on the Cavs coaching staff really say, it would be great to get Kyle Korver, one of the all-time great three point shooters into the game, but damn, Semi’s not out there, so we can’t.

Does that mean that if Stevens doesn’t play Marcus Morris, you’re not going to play LeBron? If I’m Stevens, I try that in Game 6 just to see what happens. Because as weird as this series has been, it might actually work. And as boring as this series has been, it might actually be interesting.