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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.