Part I – I could expound at length on the obstacles, perils, & pitfalls facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in their championship quest. Instead, I will employ simple yet subtle wisdom, courtesy of Lao-Tzu:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
Doesn’t that just say it all, and with such elegance? Founder of the ancient Chinese philosophy Taoism, Tzu emphasized unassertive action & simplicity in achieving one’s goals.
Before battling it out for LeBron’s favor to lay foundations for future dynasties in the off-season, before the Cavs hoist a trophy at center court, before they defeat the best of the West in the Finals, before they earn that right in the Eastern Conference Finals – they must down Chicago’s Bulls – no small task despite their 8th seed status – in a best of seven series.
If their steps so far are any indication, expect joy in Cavland, Ohio for several weeks to come.
The first match-up on April 17 saw LBJ & his cabinet besting Chicago 96-83 behind strong play from all quarters. James displayed his usual puissance, dishing five dimes & snagging six boards, but needed 19 total shots to clock only 24 points. Joining LeBron in double-digit scoring were Mo Williams, (19 points on more respectable 8-14 shooting) Antawn Jamison, (15 points & 10 rebounds) and Shaquille O’Neal, who had 12 points. Shaq summoned up something of his younger more dominant self, combining five rebounds, four assists, & three blocks with those points.
Chicago got a marquee game from point guard Derrick Rose, whose 28 points, seven boards, & 10 assists showed why he is a talent to be reckoned with. However, the Bulls seemed bereft of any other reckonable talents, as only Luol Deng (12 points on 5-15 shooting) & Joakim Noah (10 points, 8 boards, & 3 blocks) chipped in anything of substance.
Keep this in mind when considering game two of the series. Instead of a single Bulls player (Rose) supplying all the offensive firepower, Chicago obtained stellar efforts not only from Rose, (23 points & 8 assists) but also from center Joakim Noah (25 points & 13 boards) & from small forward Luol Deng. (20 points, six boards, five assists) Exactly the sort of danger Chicago poses in a seven-game stretch, this high-power, high-velocity three-headed monster certainly inspired a Bulls fan to think there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, that light turned out to be a monster game from LeBron, bearing down on Chicago with all the mercy of this guy. Shooting nearly 70%, James notched a huge 40 points, coupled with eight assists & eight rebounds. Leading Cleveland to a 112-102 victory, he keyed three other Cavs (Jamario Moon, Jamison, & Williams) to double figures scoring.
Two games played in Cleveland, won handily by the Cavaliers. So sports fans, stay-tuned for recap of both Chicago games, & the crucial return match/fifth game in Cleveland.