Post mortem: Magic 103, Cavs 90
The familiar refrain returns to the North Coast: ''Wait until next year.''
Yup, I'm sure everyone wanted to hear that line muttered. But this year, despite the record, the Cavs weren't the best team on the floor. Ultimately, the Magic possessed too much depth and presented too many matchup problems for them to overcome.
Tonight? Tonight was just what my mother would call a butt whooping. Orlando had both aspects of their game working tonight - inside and outside. Had they been able to score from upside down, they would have.
There was just too much Dwight Howard who scored 40 points and pulled down 14 boards. And there was too much success from the three-point line as the Magic shot 40 percent from the arc for the fifth game out of six.
The Cavs' bench was exposed in this series, as they were outscored from again. The margin was only four points, but there's no legtimate spark from the Cavs bench if you look at this team objectively.
Daniel Gibson has the capacity to do that, but has dealt with injury and has played inconsistently. Wally Szczerbiak's best days are behind him, ditto Ben Wallace. In the off-season Danny Ferry and his staff will have to come up with some answers to deal with that area.
First quarter: Magic 30, Cavs 25
Blown opportunities sum up the quarter for the Cavaliers. They had plenty of chances to capitalize on Magic mistakes on the offensive end. Right now it's a game to see which superstar lifts his team to victory. Both LeBron James and Orlando's Dwight Howard have 13 points.
The Magic are doing a tremendous job keeping the Cavs' guard from penetrating for shots. Mo Williams who delivered a sterling effort Thursday night stands 0-for-3 thus far. Has he lost the storke as quickly as he got it back?
What's evident is the energy the Magic have brought thus far. They do not want to return to Cleveland for a Game 7. Their sense of urgency is fueling them.
Game: Cavs vs. Magic - Eastern Conference Finals Game 6
Broadcast: TV: TNT. Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Magic: Hedo Turkoglu (F); Rashard Lewis (F); Dwight Howard (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G)
Injured-inactive: Cavs: J.J. Hickson, Lorenzen Wright. Magic: Jameer Nelson.
The Cavaliers looked to find the winning formula Thursday night when they beat the Magic in Cleveland. They freed LeBron James up to operate from the top of the key and when Magic players collapsed on him opening up passing lanes for him.
The only thing he needed was for his teammates to do what they did all year show up and hit shots. Mo Williams finally got his stroke back, scoring 24 points including six three-point shots.
They're loose. They're confident, but they don't win in this building very often - at least not in recent years. So we'll see what happens.
LeBron James on what he expects the Magic to do in Game 6:
They're going to try to use their home court as motivation and we're going to try to use that as motivation also. At this point you know everything about this team and they know everything about us. It's not like they're going to change a lot of things. You can't change a lot of things at this point. You just have to go out and try to execute.