Brian Windhorst of the Akron-Beacon Journal, probably the most knowledgeable writer in the country about Lebron James, has an excellent article on ESPN discussing Lebron’s sudden resurgence over the past month. In the article, he questions what exactly it was that ‘set Lebron off’:
So then perhaps there was a column that proved to be the final straw. Maybe it was a private call from Wade or another peer. Maybe James’ bed at a posh Beverly Hills hotel was particularly comfortable. Whatever it was, something cracked Feb. 15 in Los Angeles.
I think it was none of those. On February 14th, the night before that game, I called up my brother. “I think that tonight was the best thing that could have happened to the Cavs”, I remember saying. The Cavs had just lost 99-98 to the Jazz – in Utah – on a terrible non-call at the last second when Sasha Pavlovic was clearly fouled at midcourt as he was running down the court to take what would have been the game-winning shot. They were furious, and had no problems stating as much to anyone who would listen.
The Jazz game was important for the Cavs, who seemed to only put effort into games against top-tier Western Conference teams for a while. This was a chance to beat yet another top Western team in their own arena – and it was stolen from them. Suddenly, the Cavs had something to prove… and this was compounded by tough losses to both the Bulls and Heat a week later. But the Cavs then went out to Dallas, and not only hung with the best team in the NBA on their own court, but had the game come down to the final seconds – only to watch Lebron miss two straight shots that could have tied the game. Again, I spoke to my brother, and once again, we agreed: This has the potential to be, combined with that Jazz loss, the spark that really lights the Cavs up for the rest of the year.
The Cavs went on to win their next eight games, and were surely looking ahead to tonight’s rematch against the Mavericks when they blew a 10-point lead to the lowly Bobcats before eventually losing in overtime last night. During those eight games, they took out a measure of revenge against the Pistons, beating them in Auburn Hills, and defeating Utah at home during Carlos Boozer’s return to Cleveland – while Lebron played absolutely incredible basketball.
Tonight, the Cavs have another chance to beat the Mavs and show that they truly are legitimate championship contenders. This is a huge game – for the Cavs as a team and for Lebron as their superstar. Tonight, we’ll finally see what the Cavs are really made of. A win tonight will put the Pistons and Heat on notice, not to mention the Mavericks, that Lebron wasn’t kidding when he said this is the year the Cavs go for the NBA championship.
A win tonight will show that when the Cavs are playing with some fire under them, they may be the best team in the NBA.
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