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CLEVELAND — Signs all around Cleveland implore the Cavaliers to “Rise Up!” — the team’s motto this season.

And if the Cavaliers are going to win their first championship, they’ll have to rise up further than any NBA team has ever done.

Cleveland is facing a 3-0 deficit against the San Antonio Spurs in the finals. No NBA club has won a series after dropping the first three games, forcing the Cavs to look elsewhere for belief.

“Red Sox-Yankees,” centre Zydrunas Ilgauskas said Wednesday. “I thought about it this morning.”

True, but Boston had a powerful offence back in 2004. These Cavaliers have one of the worst that’s ever played on the NBA’s biggest stage.

A loss Thursday could leave Cleveland as the most inept offensive team ever in the finals. Baltimore managed only 376 points (94 per game) while getting swept by Milwaukee in 1971, and the Cavaliers have scored just 240 (80 ppg) through the first three games.

The Bullets shot 38.4 per cent in that series, also a finals-low for a four-game series. Cleveland is hovering right at 40 per cent, with superstar LeBron James hitting less than 37 per cent of his shots.

The Cavs were competitive for the first time in the series on Tuesday night in their 75-72 loss in Game 3. But even though Cleveland did plenty of things right, Ilgauskas and forward Drew Gooden both pointed out that the Spurs pulled out the victory without even playing their best.

So hopes of winning the first title by a Cleveland pro sports franchise since 1964 now look impossible. For now, the Cavs’ biggest goal is to avoid becoming the first team to be swept in the finals since the Lakers beat New Jersey in 2002.

Basketball

Down 3-0 in NBA finals, Cavaliers searching for a way to `rise up’



The Spurs are on the verge of a championship sweep and nobody is watching outside of San Antonio and Cleveland.

Even die-hard NBA fans are having a tough time turning on the tube for this series, making this the lowest rated Finals in history.

The NBA has struggled generating national interest in the Finals over the past decade.

Watching the power house teams of the Western Conference reign supreme over the lackluster Eastern Conference squads has made the Finals as fun to watch as looking at paint dry.

Many critics have argued that the league needs to change the current playoff format and re-seed teams, similar to the what’s done in the NHL, to create competitive balance on the court. A novel idea which would possibly match up the best-of-the-best vying for the championship trophy.

Instead of seeing the NBA’s cream-of-the-crop duke it out, we are forced to watch the Spurs steam roll over LeBron and his crew of second-tier role players.

A Cavs loss on Thursday night will mark the second time a team has been swept out of the Finals in the past five years.

New Jersey posted a goose egg in the win column in 2002 against the Lakers.

Heading into this season, the Eastern Conference has compiled a record of 17-27 in the Finals since 1999, winning the title twice with Detroit in 2004 and Miami in 2006.

During this run the television ratings have plummeted as the Western Conference teams continue to excel in the regular season and in the playoffs.

The superior play from the teams left of the Mississippi River has produced an anticlimactic championship series, providing a valid excuse for fans to ignore the NBA in June.