LeBron’s buzzer-beater saves Cavs’ season…

…and maybe the franchise itself.

When the home team loses Game 1 of a seven-game series at home, they usually come out strong and focused in Game 2, and that’s exactly what the Cavs did tonight. They actually built a 23-point lead, and looked like they were on their way to an easy win, but the Magic slowly but surely chipped away at the lead. It was 12 at halftime. Then it was six at the end of the third quarter. The Magic just kept coming.

Orlando had the ball with 0:13 to play, tied at 93-93, when Hedo Turkoglu ran the clock down, drove into the lane and hit the go-ahead bucket with 0:01 to play. He should have taken that extra second, because on the next possession, LeBron caught the ball at the top of the key extended, fading away, and rattled home the game-winning three. I’m amazed that he was even able to get open that easily, but he simply walked into Turkoglu, shoved him a little (nothing illegal) creating the space to catch the ball and shoot. I bet Stan Van Gundy would like to have that defensive possession back and double-team LeBron instead of having Rashard Lewis guard the ball out of bounds. With only 1.0 seconds remaining, there wouldn’t be enough time for the passer to get the ball back and get off a shot.

The Cavs were very fortunate to escape Game 2 with the series tied, and the win might breathe new life into a team that is playing with very little consistency right now. The Magic are simply a bad matchup for the Cavs. Dwight Howard is a tough guard down low and the versatility of Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis is causing fits for the Cleveland forwards. And Stan Van Gundy has outcoached Mike Brown thus. He swapped the matchups for Dwight Howard (putting him on Varejao) and Rashard Lewis (putting him on Ilgauskas) to allow each defender to play to his strengths.

Typically, when a team loses a heartbreaker like this, they are a little hungover in the next game, but this Magic team is mentally tough, and they will keep coming at the Cavs. Cleveland will need to play 48 minutes (and maybe more) of good, solid basketball in order to get a win in Orlando.

I can’t imagine what Cavs fans went through over the last quarter of this game. They’re fooling themselves if they think it’s a sure thing that LeBron is going to stay next summer. The Cavs need to get to the Finals, and if they flame out against the Magic, I’d fully expect all the LeBron-to-NY/NJ rumors to start back up again. The city of Cleveland cannot afford a Cavs’ loss in this series.

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