I will be the first to admit, I didn't foresee the Cavs falling into the position they did tonight. I had been so impressed with the way the Bulls had been taking care of their business and frankly, I wasn't sure karma was on the Cavs side. But they had the easier final game, which is what it came down to, and it played out that way. The Bulls do not deserve to be No. 5 and neither did the Cavs, but everybody knew the score for a long time.
Plus getting the banged up Wizards in the first round is a double bonus for the team, which will be much discussed in the coming days.
I still think the Cavs underachieved during the regular season and, to a man, those in the organization would agree. But their position in the playoffs, No. 2, is a significant achievement. So are two 50-win seasons. Only five teams in the league -- Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix, Detroit and the Cavs -- have done it over the last two years. Does that make the Cavs an elite team? Perhaps. Will a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals? Indeed.
In the end, the Cavs had a chance and they took advantage. Now they have a great chance for a playoff run. Will they take advantage? It is yet to be seen.
What I will remember from tonight was being in the locker room after the game. It was surreal and bizarre. The players were openly cheering for the Nets, especially LeBron "It doesn't matter who we play" James. He was antsy and acting as if he was on the Jersey bench.
When Ben Wallace made a layup he chirped: "You gotta foul that guy, man!"
When Ben Gordon was backing down Vince Carter he pleaded: "Stay home, Vince, stay home baby!"
The best was when Bostjan Nachbar drilled two 3-pointers, LeBron was like: "Buh, buh, buh, Bostjan!" and "That was an eyeball sammich."
Donyell Marshall, Larry Hughes, Eric Snow, and Daniel Gibson were all at their lockers watching but the rest of the team was in the trainer's room. After each Nets' big basket, you could hear an audible roar from behind the wall. Next door to the locker room is the Cavs family lounge and everyone was packed in there and going through the same emotions.
It was the definition of not having control, yet still quite intense. The Cavs had just won a key game, their fourth straight, got their 50th win, broke a franchise attendance record and it could've easily turned very hollow very fast with the massive difference between No. 2 and No. 5.
I remember two years ago in Toronto when the Cavs beat up the Raptors to finish with their first winning season in seven years on the last night of the season. They tied for the eighth playoff seed at 42-40 (which would be sixth this year) with the Nets and lost on a tiebreaker when the Nets came back to beat the Celtics in the fourth quarter. The locker room was dead. Tonight it was wired and alive, just like the Cavs themselves.
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