I don't only raise this question because the Cavs trail the Magic 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals; no, in fact I've been asking this throughout the season. Sure a team with LeBron James and a bunch of nice role players can sweep the Pistons and Hawks of the world, but not a high quality team like the Magic.
So, what's the answer to the question I raised? Are Mo Williams, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, and Joe Smith enough help for LeBron? Enough to come back from 2-1 deficit and then beat either the Lakers or Nuggets?
Well, as you've probably guessed, I don't think so. Williams, West, Big Z and Varejao are exactly what I said they are -- "nice players." But think about the championship teams of the past two decades: Jordan had Pippen...Kobe and Shaq...Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili...Garnett, Pierce, and Allen (see what happened to the Celtics without Garnett)...Billups, Hamilton, and Wallace...you get the idea.
Are Williams and West comparable to Parker and Ginobili? No.
How about Pierce and Allen? Nope.
But the Magic, on the other hand, have Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu to complement Dwight Howard. And, as you can see, the formula is either two megastars or three legitimate all stars. LeBron needs a Dirk, or someone like that. Vince Carter would have been a nice addition at the trade deadline.
Now this is not to say that it's impossible for the Cavs to win it all; of course it isn't. The chance remains. But Orlando is at home again for game four, and I think it's a must-win for Cleveland. Game three wasn't only the fault of his teammates...LeBron, despite surpassing the 40-point barrier once again, had a terrible fourth quarter. One in which he missed five free throws and turned the ball over twice under the three-minute mark.
So he's not perfect, but none of his role players stepped up like Mickael Pietrus, Rafer Alston, and Marcin Gortat did for Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy. People have been attacking Van Gundy throughout the year (comments about Shaq, poor late-game decision making), but his boys continue to get it done. He deserves some credit, at the very least.
With all this in mind, it's not as if Kobe Bryant has spectacular help with the Lakers. However, it's a bit different when your top supporting players are frontcourt guys like Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. That's a perfect complement to a team centered on a backcourt player of Kobe's magnitude and ability.
I've been taking the Lakers all along, and I'm sticking with them as my NBA champion. LeBron will need some virtuoso performances from Mo Williams and Ilgauskas to come away with this Magic series, and I'm not sure that he'll get them. We'll have to wait and see.
Kobe/LeBron in the Finals would be nice...wouldn't it?
(The Red Sox are the new Yankees. How did they make the transition? "JFro," aka John Frascella, is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land."
It's the first full-length book centered on Boston Red Sox's popular
general manager Theo Epstein. Preview or purchase it online at Amazon.com, Barnes
and Noble or Borders. It's currently stocked in Barnes and Noble stores
throughout the U.S. Also, check out John on Twitter.)