Saturday , May , 23 , 2009 Oly Sandor

LeBron James’ game two buzzer-beater can’t hide Cleveland’s deficiencies

LeBron James' game two buzzer-beater can't hide Cleveland's deficienciesWe’ll remember ‘The Shot’.

With one second remaining in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James hit an impossible three-point shot to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 96-95 victory over the Orland Magic.

The play seems significant for two reasons. First, the series is tied one-one heading to Orlando. Second, Cleveland, after narrowly avoiding a two game deficit, appears to have momentum.

However, accepting this analysis would be deceptive. Here’s the real issue for Cavalier fans: James’ heroics will undoubtedly overshadow the club’s shortcomings through the beginning stages of this series. And this is a problem.

After all, the odds on favorites have blown leads, played marginal defense, and left the bulk of scoring to their superstar. In a surprising twist, the roles have been reversed in the Eastern Conference Finals; Cleveland looks like the startled underdog, while Orlando seems poised and confident.

The knockout punch has been missing. For example, in the first two contests, the Cavaliers have blown double-figure leads in the second half and allowed the Magic back in the game. Worst of all, these lapses occurred in Quicken Loans Arena, where King James’ squad lost one regular season match all year.

Cleveland’s trademark defense has disappeared. In game one, they surrendered 107 points, including 59 in the second half. On Friday, down the stretch, the little-used and defensively-challenged Sasha Pavlovic was guarding closer Hedo Turkoglu. The Magic swing had five points in the final minute and almost single-handedly won the game.

Their balance has disappeared. James has scored 83 of Cleveland’s 202 points in the series. The second-highest scorer, Mo Williams, has tallied a combined 36 points on 13-of-40 attempts from the floor. Most troubling, is their lack of movement in the half-court. Too often, James’ supporting cast has stopped and waited for him to create opportunities.

‘The Shot’ was memorable. But it could be meaningless if Cleveland doesn’t make adjustments for game three.

Got thoughts on ‘The Shot’? Was Cleveland lucky? What must they change to win game three? Get at us with thoughts and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of webcoderguy.