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No man is an island

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The most surprising result after the first 8 games of the playoffs was the Pacers winning against the Cavaliers 98 – 80. Cleveland had a season full of drama, ups, and downs and they were a bottom-ranked defense for most of the year. The Pacers, on the other hand, surprised everyone and significantly overachieved expectations for these seasons, most experts and reporters did not see them in the playoffs.

With all that being said, Cavs are considered heavy favorites to win this series. For instance, ESPN's panel has them winning unanimously, predicting between 5 and 7 games in the series.

The reasoning is simple. Who is the best player on the court? Number 23 on the Cavs. He isn’t just the best player on the court, he is one of the best to ever play the game. We have seen the Cavs flip the switch in previous seasons so it’s rational to assume that they will improve and that their regular season performances have to be taken with a grain of salt.

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Here’s the thing. The Cavs were designed to be a high-powered offense and try to outscore you. The scenario for them is ‘’if only we can get to be a 10th to 15th ranked defense, the offense will take care of the rest”. That’s why this score is indicative. Limiting an opponent to 98 would imply the scenario is working. But to score only 80? As spectacular as he is, LeBron can’t do it himself. He played for 44 minutes and had a triple-double (24 pts, 12 ast, 10 reb). We have seen him do more, but if you want to be competitive relying on LeBron to score 40 every night is not a viable strategy in the playoffs. He made it clear he has no intention of playing for a team that relies on him that much.

The last two times LeBron was leaving a team he was disengaged during his final few games on those teams. If he doesn't believe his team can go all the way, LeBron won't go 110%. Last night he had his first field goal attempt at the end of the first quarter. It may be he wanted his teammates to realize they need to step up and that he can’t do it alone, that wouldn’t be a first for LeBron. The second option is he wanted to see how competitive the roster around him is. Cavs won’t be able to change a lot in the offseason and if they want to have a chance of keeping a man who sees every season as a ring or bust proposition, this had better be an exception and not the rule. Keep an eye on that in the games to follow.

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