Monday, May 22, 2017

The myth, revisited

And so, once again, momentum stands revealed as the phantom it is. It is the Easter Bunny. It is Santa Claus. It is the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Remember all that jawboning about how LeBron James, the best basketball player in the solar system and several  adjoining solar systems, was on a mission? Remember Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, a 44-point embarrassment LeBron and the Cavaliers laid on the Celtics, in Boston?

Surely they were going to win Game 4 by 45, right? Especially facing a Celtics team with no Isaiah Thomas, in Cleveland?

Uhhh ... no.

In Thomas' absence, Avery Bradley hit the big shot, the Celtics rallied from 21 points down with 19 minutes to play, and the Celtics swiped Game 4 (in Cleveland!) 111-108. Imagine the shock for all those bloodthirsty Clevelanders who came to see a ritual sacrifice, and got instead a pie in the face.

But ... but ... I thought the Celtics were dead! Why is the corpse moving?

That sort of thing.

In any case, LeBron's mission was scrubbed, at least for this night. Likely he and the Cavs figured the Celtics were dead, too, especially without Thomas. Likely what happened in Games 1 and 2, when LeBron looked like Dad playing in the driveway with his 6-year-old, lulled them into thinking all they had to do was show up and the Celtics would run screaming.

Alas, that doesn't happen very often in the NBA, and especially at the conference finals level. The Celtics did not earn the top seed in the East by lying down in the road. And after getting ball-peened by 44, I imagine head coach Brad Stevens rather emphatically reminded them of that.

And Game 5?

Killer LeBron, fully awake again, will likely show up again. And everyone again will be talking about how he's on a mission.

Or not.

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