By Don Collins
(Collins – below left, with Bre Moorer and Randy Norman)
Sheesh. I was wrong. Not about LeBron James. He’s been his usual brand of excellence. You could argue this is the best he’s ever played. No, I was wrong for another reason: the state of the Cavaliers. I want to issue a public apology to the Indiana Pacers. On my podcast, Can’t Be Stopped, I was making predictions and I chose the Cavaliers (like any normal human being outside of the Hoosier state would) and I said they would dispatch them in the minimum four games. I never would have imagined what would happen next.
I was able to get a first-hand look at the Cavaliers’ first attempt to eliminate the Pacers. I was fortunate enough to be in Indiana for Game 6 and from the beginning it was clear that Indiana would not be going quietly. The mere fact that it was even in a Game 6 was unfathomable going into the series.
Indiana did not get swept. In fact, they were the better team the entire series. How is it possible, you ask? It was a continuation of what they had done all year. Indiana was 3-1 against the Cavs going in and I was blind to the fact that they had handled them up until LeBron used his powers to somehow will his team to victory.
I was able to see just how poorly this Cavaliers team can perform. Game 6 ended with a final score of 121-87. LeBron finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. The benefit of going to the game live was that I was able to see plain as day that no one else contributed statistically. On television, you often just get to focus on the bottom line. LeBron is producing, and they will show a graphic totaling the rest of the team’s stats. Being in person, I was able to see the whole scope of how Indiana attacked them and vice versa. Reading the program for the evening showed the disparity of the series: LeBron was averaging 34.8 points per game and the next highest was Kevin Love with 11.8. That is insanity.
The other thing that makes going to an NBA playoff game in person so special is just the atmosphere. Most 34-point blowout wins on television are causing me to change the channel. Being present changes so much due to the energy level of seeing the home team destroying the other team. I had never been to a Pacers’ home game and I can say that while I still love Bulls’ home games the most, Indy was an excellent venue.
LeBron did his job, however, in the long run and they sent the Pacers home for the summer, but I will not underestimate them in the future. I learned that just because a team isn’t in the regular rotation of TNT games doesn’t mean they can be taken lightly.
Indy coming to play for 7 games has repercussions going forward. I normally do not doubt LeBron but seeing how much energy he spent while getting hounded by Indy makes me worry about the chances he keeps his Finals appearances streak.
Lebron is functioning at the height of his powers and I don’t know if he can keep this pace up. Or if it would even matter as the teams get better. Especially with the Raptors looking legit this year. Time will tell.