When things are going well, you never expect it to last, especially in Cleveland. When things are going poorly, you never think it will end, especially in Cleveland.
Witnessing the remarkably similar trajectories of the Cavaliers and the Indians lately, it seems like each team is stuck in an endless loop of missed layups and strikeouts. The only reason to keep watching is because, like pounding your head against the wall, it feels so good when you stop. That’s what happens I guess when you have a supposedly playoff-caliber baseball team playing sub-.500 ball because it can’t hit and a playoff basketball team in danger of being swept because it likewise can’t hit.
To appreciate the depths of the Indians' offensive struggles, just know that David Dellucci is now batting third. To appreciate the depths of the Cavaliers struggles, just know that the only person shooting worse against the Celtics than LeBron James is Anderson Varejao.
It would be nice to think that this is just a rough patch that will straighten itself out. To be sure, for every valley comes a peak. But if that’s the only lesson to be learned from this stretch, then the disappointment is bound to linger. The parallel struggles of these Cleveland teams are as revealing of their fundamental flaws as they are frustrating.
For the Cavs, James may have picked a vastly inappropriate moment to suddenly go cold, but he hasn’t suddenly turned into the basketball version of Travis Hafner. He’ll be fine. You know it, he knows it, and the Celtics know it. The only real question is whether it’s in time to salvage the series. If not, then undoubtedly it will be in time for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. But even as James will come out of it, that doesn’t mean that the Cavs will suddenly emerge as a serious NBA title threat. There still remains the matter of the relative merits of head coach Mike Brown.
You know that a theory has entered the mainstream when the guy in your office that still plays way too much Dungeons & Dragons is now talking about the Cavs’ offensive schemes under Brown. In the past week or so, people who couldn’t tell the difference between Delonte West and Jerry West are suddenly insisting that the extent of Brown’s knowledge about offense begins and ends with giving James the ball and telling him to make something happen.
Actually, that isn’t far off. Too often it looks like the only reason that anyone other than James scores is because James is an unselfish player with an amazing basketball IQ and an uncanny ability to find the open man he can’t even see. If James were like Gilbert Arenas, no one else on the team would average more than six points.