Thursday, April 30

Meanwhile, the Cavs continue to relax

Since the Cavs are in idle right now, waiting for the conclusion of the Atlanta-Miami series to produce their next victim, the media coverage of the Cavs has focused on the admittedly mundane topics of how they're spending their off-time and trying to stay sharp. Right after the sweep of the Pistons, there was some discussion about whether the Cavs getting "rusty" was worth the extra rest they have earned.

Please. It's so, so, so worth it. These guys have played 86 games now, and NBA games are rough. Playoff games in particular - watch these guys beat each other up and then ask yourself if Cleveland's players, weary from a long season, would be better served by playing three more bruising games, or by letting their bumps and bruises heal and shooting a few J's each day to keep their shots on point. Ask Boston's veterans how much they're enjoying Chicago taking them to overtime every night. I thought so.

I predicted Atlanta-Miami to go seven games, and with the Hawks now up 3-2 and preparing for a Game Six at Miami, we're certainly on pace for such a finish. Of course, if Dwayne Wade's back continues to trouble him, the Heat might just be bounced after six, which would see the Cavs open the second round Sunday, seven days after closing out the Pistons.

Now, it appears Miami has some extra "motivation" to stretch this to seven. ESPN's Daily Dime reports that:

The Hawks' [Josh] Smith may have provided some added motivation for the Heat by trying (and missing) a between-the-legs dunk on a fourth-quarter breakaway. Wade said his team was "very insulted" by it.

"They turned it into a pickup game, really trying to embarrass us at the end," [Erik] Spoelstra said. "[But] they pretty much pounded us in every way you can. They scored 12 straight baskets in the second quarter, so we can say what we want, but they did a number on us."

"I spoke to [Smith], and we'll keep it in-house" said Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who has had many such discussions with the mercurial forward over the past five seasons.

Oh, really, Dwayne, you were "very insulted" by it? Get over yourself. You know when teams don't do things like that? When they're not up 20, that's when. You don't want the other team trying circus dunks on the fast break, then play better. I personally found it rather amusing, and I imagine so did anyone not wearing a Heat uniform or under 90 years of age. Of course, NBA players like to get on their high horse about stuff like this and play the "disrespect" card liberally. The first part of Coach Kumar's comment doesn't make much sense - how does "turning it into a pickup game" constitute an effort to embarrass you?

I still wonder how much motivation this actually provides. These guys are serious competitors and want to win very badly no matter what - I really doubt they go out there thinking about Smith's dunk, and even if they did, I fail to see how this improves their basketball skill. Of course, as a Cavs fan, I hope the Heat do force a Game Seven and prolong the Cavs' fun little vacation another day.

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