When the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Chicago Bulls Monday night, it was the first time the team’s “championship or bust” goal looked to be in danger. Sure, it was just one game, but looking at everything surrounding it, the dynamic had definitely shifted.
The Cavs were without premier forward Kevin Love for the remainder of the year, and were also in the first of a two game suspension for J.R. Smith. Suddenly, it appeared as though Cleveland might not be able to survive missing crucial pieces, and with LeBron James having an inefficient game to boot, the team quickly looked as though it was mortal.
As we prepare for tonight’s Game 3 showdown in Chicago, the dynamic has shifted once again. Cleveland blew the doors off the Bulls in Game 2. James was an aggressive terror throughout the night, and doubts concocted from Game 1 were quickly erased. Though the series is now tied, anyone who believed the Cavs were in trouble is reversing their thought process.
Again, though, the series is tied. The Cavs aren’t in a position to eliminate Chicago tonight, and are taking the court in what will no doubt be a raucous United Center. There is still plenty of work to be done if Cleveland wants to move on to the next round, and despite the convincing Game 2 victory, many are of the belief Chicago is still very capable of stealing this series back.
If the Cavs want to prevent this, the formula is simple. They cannot let up, nor can they head to the Windy City with a thought process of “let’s at least win one.” The Cavs took the momentum in Game 2, and if they want to prevent the Bulls from throwing a counter-strike, they need to keep their foot on the gas by any means necessary.