The Boots are my form of reporting current information from the sports world. Boot Ups and Boot Downs are assigned to various events, people or stories as I first used in my e-mail based Sports Report. For possible topics in future articles, e-mail us at Tips@WaitingForNextYear.com.
Boot Down: The New Curse – I’m the youngest member of the WFNY staff and I’m still only an undergrad in college. I grew up on the Cleveland Indians, without a Browns team both figuratively and literally, and not much hope on the basketball court either. I also grew up alongside LeBron James.
James was in high school when I was back in middle school, both in Akron. My brothers and him had some friends in common and I used to go to the majority of his games at the JAR. He was a new star that people just always levitated toward. He was a new shining hope for the city of Akron and then, the entire region of Northeast Ohio.
But here we are, in the middle of May in 2010, his seventh year in the NBA, on the brink of elimination in the playoffs. It is a trying time and definitely the most pressure-packed moment in Cleveland Cavaliers history. Tonight’s game six could signal James bolting for a new team, or could be the start of an incredibly improbable comebacks.
All I know with my short personal history of Cleveland sports torture and with my knowledge of James, is that this all just flat-out sucks. Game five was miserable and I know we are all pissed off about it. But the Cavaliers still have a chance tonight. They would then have one last chance at home Sunday if they are successful in Boston tonight. Please, please, please just give us something to be proud about.
For if not, and the Cavaliers are eliminated, the 2010 season will go down in the record books as one of the most disappointing teams in Cleveland sports history. Yes this team had a decent regular season run, but even the concept of being eliminated in the second round in six games to the Boston Celtics was not on anybody’s mind when the Cavs made their final move for Antawn Jamison back in February.
There are a lot of things that could happen immediately after a playoff series loss. LeBron could leave town, Mike Brown could certainly be fired as coach and the entire roster might be up for grabs. Sure, this fragility might be affecting the current chemistry of this team, but we are Clevelanders who just desire something to support out on the court. Please don’t let this become yet another failed stretch for a team never quite good enough to win it all.
Boot Up: The Historical Optimism - On a much lighter note, there is a very cool website called WhoWins.com. This trademarked site is a statistical database of seven-game series historical information for all different sports. In the case of where the Cleveland Cavaliers stand right now, it also presents some conservatively optimistic forecasting. Take a look:
Road teams up 3-2 in NBA Quarters (Conf. Semis) win game six… 17/28 times (.607)
Road teams up 3-2 in NBA Quarters win series… 21/28 times (.750)
Road teams up 3-2 in NBA Playoffs seven-game series win game six… 49/77 times (.636)
Road teams up 3-2 in NBA Playoffs win series… 57/77 times (.740)
If you look back at my chat with Mark Cameron from yesterday, I gave the Cavs about a 25% chance at winning game six. If they were to win game six, I then guessed that with momentum and an extra day of rest, I would give the Cavs about an 80% chance at actually winning game seven at home. The numbers conclude I’m not too far-off with NBA historical averages equal to 36.4% and 71.4% in these two cases.
So there’s your statistical optimism for the day. According to historical fact of NBA Playoffs past, the Cavs have between a 36-40% chance of winning game six tonight in Boston. If they do win tonight, the odds shift back heavily in Cleveland’s favor as I predicted earlier, with a game seven predicted win percentage between 63-72%.
This means that overall, the Cavaliers have about a 1-in-4 chance overall of actually pulling off this turnaround. It would be unexpected, it would be incredible and it would be absolutely shocking to many, but historically it really isn’t that rare. It’s pretty cool that we are able to have access to this information and I hope this left you in a slightly better mood for a Thursday afternoon. Just trying to report the facts as always y’all…
Boot Down: New York’s Feeble Attempts - I have been meaning to touch on this for a while, but only after some pleading from my Aunt in Manhattan did I finally decide to go down this road. But take a look at the New York Magazine’s recent spread about LeBron James and his possible dash to the Big Apple.
It’s sad and it’s beyond rationalization. I think that as Clevelanders, we all understand that this LBJ 2010 thing has been about as big of a media story as possible from the sports world without any games going on. We also all are probably mentally prepared for the circus that’s about to happen pre- and post-July 1st with the free agent deadline. LeBron’s going to play it just like he always planned, no matter what happens to the team this year.
But in the end, how low is it for one magazine in the New York era, not really known for sports coverage, to absolutely trash NE Ohio like this? It’s certainly a way to grab LeBron’s attention, but probably not in the most polite way. Article titles range from “Your Other Potential Employers All Have Warts” to “Winning a Championship in New York Is Like Nothing Else” to a very elegant slide show with Senator James at the NYC 2022 Olympics.
All in all, I’m just sick and tired of all of this free agency talk and this just makes me even more disgusted. Find me a New York Knicks fan that really believes in this and thinks that this is the proper way to handle media with the potential impeding doom for an entire city. Only then will I ever give any credit to this sort of journalism.
Boot Up: A Few Noble Men – Yesterday was a rough day for Cleveland sports fans everywhere. It all started off with the usual collection of stories from beat writer extraordinaire Brian Windhorst (here and here). Then we got off into a rough round of zingers from Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Harper, et al around the blogosphere. It was rough for LeBron, the Cavs and all of the fans of this organization.
Then came a counter-punch of articles reacting to this strong blow to the legacy of James and the Cavaliers franchise. Credit is due to the very fair video created by Kevin Arnovitz, the confused/unknowing conclusion by Bill Simmons, the historical lesson by Neil Paine and the calm reporting of our very own Andrew yesterday. It was a day of back-and-forth comments everywhere from articles to comments with these being just a select few.
In the end however, the people that impressed me the most were the ones that stayed above the melee. People like Windhorst, Arnovitz, Paine and Andrew understood the consequences of what was going on, but also placed it with the perspective of recent Cavaliers success. Yes, this team and LeBron deserved criticism, but not at the level that was going on yesterday morning for just one miserable playoff game.
(Top photo of LeBron James above via Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters and New York Magazine cover shot via Jeff Skopin/1050 ESPN New York)
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.