It's been a very confusing playoffs season in the NBA this year when it comes to the Eastern Conference finals. The Western Conference in recent years has been the more competitive conference, and it was weirdly expected that if any lower seed was to dethrone a top contender, it would come from the West. But in a shocking conference semifinal, it was a team in the East that came out with the upset. Even though the Celtics were the fourth seed, everyone considered them to be too old and injured to deal with the high power Cavaliers team.
But the upset isn't the fact that the Cavs lost the series, it's more about how they lost it. They lost two games at home by 28 and 32 points. Now that's a bit pathetic, if you ask me, considering it's a team that had the best record in the league the last two years. Not only that, but considering how they choked last year against the Magic, we all thought that LeBron and company would come out with more fire this year. But after their four losses, the team was only as good as their top player. LeBron gave up, his attitude toward the serious became lackluster and complacent, and his team seemed to follow suit.
Whenever it comes time to put up or shut up, LeBron James seems dig a tiny hole and stick his head into it. He could very well be the least clutch super star in the history of the NBA. Unlike the likes of Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson, James doesn't have that finisher mentality, that little pain in the back of your head that says "You better leave this all on the court, no matter what the scoreboard says." I have the feeling that LeBron got to the point where he figured that winning this series didn't matter anyway, why push it to a game seven; he can just finish the season and start getting ready to signing the biggest free agent contract in NBA history. He realized that he has something coming to him no matter what, and by the time they went down 3-2 in the series, it became more about him staying healthy for next season and getting that big payday.
That being said, the conference finals have been just as surprising. The Orlando Magic, a team that has cruised through the playoffs in dominating fishing, is now struggling to barely keep afloat. The two games at home were good games for them, considering they kept the lead for most of the game, but towards the end they had a bit of a meltdown and lost both games at home. Finally in game three, the game just seemed to get out of hand, and they ended up losing by 23. But this is a team that lives and dies by the three point shot, and if shots aren't dropping, it's hard for a team to win games, especially if its top three point shooter and one of the higher paid players in the league, Rashard Lewis, has been struggling greatly throughout the series. But there were some very good plays in game four from the likes of Dwight Howard, and there are many bright spots on this team.
So should we choke up the Celtics' play to other elite teams' choking? Personally, I'd say yes, two teams as good as Cleveland and Orlando should not be manhandled by an older, more injury-prone team. But then again, being a Lakers fan, I have a biased opinion on the matter. The end game here is that the regular season means absolutely nothing except getting into the playoffs. Once you get in, it is more than likely that nothing will go according to plan, and teams that you didn't expect to possibly be able to lose are defeated in embarrassing fashion. This is why we love the playoffs!