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Cleveland Cavaliers: Of Leprechauns and Losses

By George Thomas Published: January 8, 2009

There was a surreal moment in the Cavaliers locker room post game last night.
With the game over at approximately 9;20 p.m. LeBron James did his media availability early and was set to get out of there.  Then he and everyone in the room started to pay attention to the Celtics-Rockets game that had been background noise.
Everyone remained focused on that screen - shot-to-shot, call-to-call.  But did so in a casual kind of way,  a way that bodes well for the team in this one.  Case in point:  Delonte West emerges from the tower room clad in nothing but a towel and quickly allows it to slip revealing as one Forrest Gump would say his BUT-TOCKS.  Sophomoric?  Yup.  Funny?  Absolutely.
They're loose, having fun and have nothing to lose.
I don't know that you could say the same about the Celtics and there are doubts coming from some quarters of Beantown in the wake of their loss to the Houston Rockets:

The Year of the Celtic seems like a fading memory as the team's trademark strong finishes have turned into late-game collapses, a reversal of form as well as fortune. The Celtics also squandered late chances in a 114-106 overtime defeat in Charlotte Tuesday, continuing a trend that began with a Dec. 25 loss to the Lakers, the start of a road trip that broke not only the Celtics' 19-game winning streak but also their spell on the opposition.
The Celtics are banged up - Kevin Garnett is injured and they're seeking redemption.  Yes, you read that right.  R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N.  That's a curious state for the defending NBA champions to be, but what else can you take from Paul Pierce's words:
Cleveland is the team we put out of the playoffs (last season).  They are the best home team in all of basketball so they’ve been looking forward to this. We’re going to get their best punch. The way they’ve been playing at home has been unbelievable but the way we’re playing, this is a great way to get back on track.
Which team will show up?  The Celtics that won 19 in a row earlier in the season or the one playing now, that could be the equivalent of a caged, cornered animal seeking a way out?
Here's what's clear to me:  The Celtics high on adulation and bling for the first meeting of these two teams on opening night of the season, aren't that team right now.  They likely may be again this season, but right now?  They're the equivalent of a lost puppy looking for its home.
The Cavaliers certainly aren't the same team.  Prior to the season they added a little Mo Williams, discovered the talent of Delonte West and the brute force of Ben Wallace and added a mountainous dose of team chemistry and voila - a championship caliber basketball team.
You could tell that LeBron James wasn't happy to be playing Boston opening night after they were the team to send the Cavaliers packing from the Eastern Conference semi-finals last year.  He certainly wasn't thrilled by that loss.
I suspect that indignation will be put on full display when the Cavs take the floor tomorrow night.
It's like James said last night:  "I can't sit here and tell you it's just another game."
It's good that James knows that because I'm betting that all of Northeast Ohio feels the same way.
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