Thursday night, the general consensus is that LeBron James officially had “The Moment.” You know which moment; the one Cleveland spent the first overall pick on, the one that Cleveland fans (and frankly, anyone who cares at all about basketball) have been waiting for ever since. On Thursday night, to the ever-increasing horror of the Palace crowd in Detroit, LeBron realized that there is literally nothing he can’t do on a basketball court.
That’s really the only explanation for it. How else can you account for scoring 29 of your team’s last 30 points? More importantly than that, however, was the way he scored those points. He hit square-up jumpers. He hit running, sideways fall-away jumpers to get away from two defenders. And when he wasn’t doing that, he was lowering his shoulder and taking it to the rack hard enough to make you wonder what in the hell that poor rim ever did to him.
The result of all this could only be described as domination, complete and utter domination. Not the “Randy Moss on a rookie CB” type of domination, either. Not even “Johan Santana pitching against the D-Rays” does it justice. Detroit was genuinely scared of LeBron. Every time down the court, you could see them seem to say “Oh no. He’s going to do it again.” For the past four years, everyone has looked to LeBron in those types of situations and said “I wonder if he can do it again.” In Game 5, he left no doubt.
Beyond the physical domination, you could also see LBJ’s psychological domination over the Pistons. When LeBron cut to the hole, they shrank back. The game-tying, highlight-reel dunk he delivered? Watch the replay and you’ll see Tayshaun Prince, shotblocker extrordinaire, cowering off to the side. Not that you can blame him. With the way that game was going, can there be any doubt in your mind that attempting to stop King James on that particular play would’ve resulted in A) a posterization so vicious that it would’ve made Baron Davis’ stuff over Kirilenko look like a layup drill, and B) a three-point play to give Cleveland the win in regulation?
Actually, thanks a lot, Tayshaun. Had you stepped up and fouled LeBron, we wouldn’t have been given the benefit of overtime.
With all that said, I was one of the millions who tuned in tonight to see how King James would follow up his epic performance. Instead, they got “Boobie.” Yeah, that would be Cavs guard Daniel Gibson. To say the rookie from Texas had a big night would be a bit of an understatement. Scoring 31 points in a playoff game is no small feat. Scoring 19 in the fourth quarter alone was impressive. But to hit all five of your threes, seven of your nine shots overall, and go to the line 15 times (converting 12 of them) in an elimination game? That’s the kind of coming-out party that gives you nickname status in my book. Goodbye Daniel Gibson, hello Boobie.
Game Six wasn’t in doubt for much of the second half, which obviously robbed all us viewers of the drama we’d hoped for. Personally, though…I rather enjoyed Rasheed Wallace’s freak-out in the fourth quarter. Rarely have I seen someone, anyone, foul out of a game and then pick up two technical fouls. I guess if you’re going to lose it in your team’s last game, you might as well go for broke. And let’s face it, in terms of sheer insanity, ‘Sheed did leave it all on the court tonight…although I’m not entirely sure that’s what Flip Saunders had in mind.
So do these Cavs have what it takes to beat San Antonio? I have no idea. What I do know is that the prospects for the Finals got a little big brighter tonight. Duncan and Manu? I’ll see that and raise you King James, Z, and Boobie.