Idle for a week, Cavaliers ready to resume quest
They’ll face the Orlando Magic in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.
By BRIAN WINDHORST
THE PLAIN DEALER
CLEVELAND — It has been 45 days since the Cavaliers lost a game with their standard lineup, but it was one resounding loss. Now they get a mega rematch.
The Orlando Magic will be in Cleveland for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday after a resounding 101-82 Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics Sunday night. With it, they will bring a significant amount of momentum — not just because they scored a road upset of the defending champs to make their first conference final since 1996.
The Magic gave the Cavs their worst loss of the season, by 29 points, on April 3 to win the season series, 2-1. There were extenuating circumstances, as the Cavs played terribly on short rest after a late flight from Washington. The Magic were rested and played great, shooting better than 50 percent.
That loss served a purpose for the Cavs. Coming off a 13-game winning streak, it demonstrated they could not let their guard down just because they had been playing well. They are in about the same position now, with an eight-game playoff winning streak, a franchise record season for wins and three weeks of feeling unbeatable.
After the Cavaliers practiced Sunday, LeBron James began shooting from behind the backboard at a basket about 40 feet away.
After missing on his initial attempts, his arcing shot swished cleanly and his teammates roared and applauded. James threw his arms in the air and walked to the locker room at Quicken Loans Arena.
While the Magic and Celtics were preparing to complete their grueling seven-game series, James and the Cavaliers were enjoying the benefits of sweeping their way through to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Cavaliers, who haven’t played since May 11 when they finished off Atlanta in the conference semifinals, are itching for some competition.
“If you all want to put on some uniforms and play with us, that’s would be OK,” center Ben Wallace joked with reporters.
“We’d rather play than practice,” he said. “You come in and beat up on your teammates every day. It’s tough.”
The Cavaliers are 8-0 in the playoffs, having swept Detroit in the first round.
Cleveland was off for eight days between the first and second round, and the layoff had no effect. The Cavaliers’ average margin of victory against the Pistons was 15.5 points. The average margin of victory against the Hawks was 18 points. All eight of Cleveland’s postseason wins have been by 10 points or more.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown knows his team must deal with the way the schedule falls.
“We’ll take whatever comes our way,” he said. “I don’t know if it benefits us or doesn’t. In order to try to be an NBA champion, you have to go through a lot of different scenarios.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.