66 regular season wins, the leagues coach of the year, the leagues MVP. In the end, none of it mattered. If awards and honors paved the way for you to reach the NBA Finals, then yes, the Cleveland Cavaliers were the best team in the NBA in the 2008-2009 season. Problem is – it doesn’t, and the Cavs season will go down as a failure.
That will be the talk of the town as the Cavs season came to a stunning end on Saturday night in Orlando, as the Magic didn’t waste any time in making sure the Cavs didn’t have a chance, never going down by less than 11 in the second half in a 103-90 win that puts them in the NBA Finals starting on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the end, the Cavs losing three of the first four games was simply too much to overcome. Saturday night they failed to come out as the agressor, and paid for it as Orlando fed off the crowd and did what they usually do against the Cavs, kill them with threes as well as the inside play of Dwight Howard.
The Magic “Superman” had by far his best game of the series, putting in a whopping 40 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 4 assists. The tone of the series was Howard and the Magic long range bombers, as they had a field day vs the Cavs hitting big shots every time Cleveland appeared to be getting close to getting back into the game.
Orlando dominated the second quarter, which in the end was the Cavs undoing. They led by five at the end of one, but after they got within four early in the quarter, Orlando went on a big run to make sure there would be no dreams of a 7th game back in Cleveland Monday night.
A Rashard Lewis layup gave Orlando an 11-point lead with 7:35 left in the half, and then the lead just kept growing, as Howard ade a hook shot to make it a 12-point deficit for the Cavs, a Lewis three put Orlando up 13, a Howard slam made it 15, and then a Lewis jump shot with 10 seconds left in the half put the Cavs down 18. In other words – game.
The Cavs continued to try to get back into the game in the second half, and right away came out and made it an 11-point game after a Mo Williams three, a Delonte West layup, and a LeBron James three. But after a timeout by the Magic, they came right back and put things back in order with a Courtney Lee jumper, and then a Howard free throw and a Rafer Alston running jump shot to make it 64-48.
The third quarter would end 86-70, and the fourth quarter saw the Cavs never get any closer than 11 points. The final basket of the Cavs season was a James slam dunk after a steal, but that was almost laughable as it only made it a 13-point game with :33 seconds left. The Magic were able to run out the clock after a pair of turnovers to take home the win and advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in their history.
It will be a long flight home for the Cavs, who got 25 from James, and 22 from West. Overall they shot 44 percent, but were just 11-for-22 from the free throw line, and the Magic again were huge from three-point land, hitting 12-of-29. Needless to say, for a team that climbed so far during the season and the first two rounds of the playoffs going 8-0, the fall in Orlando is one that is tough to swallow and the toughest pill ever in the teams history.