Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 NBA Playoffs ~ Eastern Conference Semi-Finals ~ Cavs vs. Celtics

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals vs. Boston

5/1 Game One @ Cleveland ~ W 101-93
5/3 Game Two @ Cleveland ~ L 86-104
5/7 Game Three @ Boston ~ W 124-95
5/9 Game Four @ Boston ~ L 87-97
5/11 Game Five @ Cleveland ~ L 88-120
5/13 Game Six @ Boston ~ L 85-94

In the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Cavaliers faced the Boston Celtics with Game One taking place in Cleveland on Saturday (5/1). The Bulls series went as expected, with Chicago taking one at the United Center. The Cavs didn't play with the intensity that I was looking for, but I'm hoping that changes for the Celtics series. It has to. The Celtics are going to play physical and they’re going to do all the things necessary to beat the Cavs. Afterall, the Cavaliers are the only team in the NBA to advance to the Conference Semis five straight seasons and their 65 games of postseason experience is the most in the league over that span.

Two years ago, Cleveland faced Boston in the same series...the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Boston was the #1 seed, Cleveland the #4 seed and the Celtics had home-court advantage. How did that series end? Boston won in seven games and went on to win the NBA Championship. This year, the seeding is reversed...Wow! Isn't that poetic? Let's hope the Cavs take care of business (preferably in less than 7 games) so we can move onto the Conference Finals.
Let's Go Cavs!


My mom and I attended Game One together.

Yes, we are wearing matching Cedric Jackson t-shirts. Cedric is a former Cleveland State player who played for the Cavs over a 20 day span this year. The Cavs got these in last week and Steve swooped up a bunch before they went out for donation. I kept a few for my family and gave the rest to CSU men's basketball. Kinda totally awesome, yet funny at the same time...

Moving on to Game One…Let’s just say, it was a game that aged me a few years. Cleveland trailed through most of the first three quarters and by as many as 11 points, but momentum shifted at the 5:16 mark of the third. Mo Williams threw down a massive (and first of his Cavs career) dunk over Paul Pierce…sending the 20,562 in attendance totally nuts and giving the Cavaliers new life. Mo would go on to score Cleveland’s next six points and the Cavs would go on a 21-9 run and take a one-point lead heading into the 4th quarter (79-78).

LeBron went on to score 12 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavs outscored Boston 22-15, including 7-0 in the final 2:16, to win 101-93. LeBron (bad elbow or not) finished with 35 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The Cavs desperately needed this win to keep home-court advantage alive. I was glad they did :)
I expect this to be a very tough series and am looking foward to some exciting games. Game Two is Monday and my brother Sean (my typical gameday companion) will be in attendance with me. It was very nice of him to give up his seat for these first 4 home games, but I expect that he will be staking his claim for the remainder of the playoffs. I don't blame him.

On Sunday afternoon at a packed Rhodes Arena in Akron, OH, LeBron James received his second straight Most Valuable Player award – taking 116 out of 122 first place votes and winning in the biggest runaway since his teammate Shaquille O’Neal took the honors in 1999-2000. LeBron’s numbers, as always, were off the charts in 2009-10. He averaged 29.7 points, 7.3 boards and a career-high 8.6 assists.


There’s little to be said about Game Two of this series…The Cavs play uninspired basketball and I was saddened by the loss. We saw David Stern present LeBron with his MVP trophy, by which LeBron followed with a very un-MVP performance.

Amy and I did go to happy hour before the game and that was fun.

I guess Sean and I made the most of it and we did get another UGLY t-shirt. Really, really, really ugly.

Anyway, the Cavs were down by as many as 23 points and despite a few minutes of good basketball in the fourth quarter, eventually fell to the Celtics 104-86. When it was all said and done, the Celtics had stolen homecourt advantage from the Cavs. I’m expecting the Cavs to perform tremendously better during games 3 and 4 in Boston, and whether they like it or not, we’re demanding three more wins and will be cheering from home!

Despite the loss, Sean and I still waited around for Steve to drive us home. He met us after work at The Harry Buffalo...our pregame and postgame bar of choice.


We watched games 3 and 4 at home. Game 3 was incredible. The Cavaliers quieted the Celtics crowd immediately, opening up a 21-point lead behind LeBron’s 21-point quarter. Boston never got closer than 16 points for the rest of the night, with the Wine and Gold avenging Monday’s loss in style – demolishing the Celtics, 124-95, on Friday at the Garden and handing the Celtics their worst home postseason loss ever. The win was also the Cavaliers first playoff win in Boston since 1992. LeBron finished with 38 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists and Cleveland had regained home court advantage. I was feeling good.

We're all banded together!

During the game, a gigantic storm blew through Lakewood. There were extremely high wings, golf ball sized hail and a tremendous amount of damage. We were lucky not to encounter any tree damage, but my mom was not. Their street was hit pretty hard and they had a large limb fall on their fence.


Not only was Sunday Game 4, but it was also Mother’s Day and my mom’s Birthday! I started the day with brunch with my sister and my mom. We’ve made it a Mother’s Day tradition and it’s always so nice. This year we met at the Union Club.

Following brunch, my mom, Rich, Sean & Alex met at our house where we watched Game 4…It was a much different story than Game 3. During much of this series, Boston’s Rajon Rondo has been the best player on the floor and in game 5, he was unstoppable, finishing with game-highs in points (29), rebounds (18) and assists (13). It was a very impressive performance.

Mom's Birthday/Mother's Day Celebration! Cavs attire required.

With the series tied at two games apiece, the action shifts back to The Q on Tuesday night, where the Cavaliers will look to rebound with another win. Let’s go Cavs!


What is going on?! I have few words to say about Game 5, other than the obvious. It was awful! I thought Game 2 was the worst performance I’d seen, until I saw Game 5…Boston handed the Cavs their worst home playoff loss in history with their 120-88 win. This could be the end of a nice, but incomplete ride and we may have witnessed LeBron’s last game in Cleveland, but I must…stay…positive.

In this postseason, it seems like the only thing that has truly motivated the Cavaliers is having their back against the wall. Well Cavs…meet the wall, because that’s what Game 6 and 7 are…a really big wall. The Cavaliers head to Boston with their season on the brink. They rebounded well in Game 3 and will be fighting for their postseason lives when they return for Game 6 at the Garden.

Sean and I after Game 5…Clearly we were not very happy.


Well, game six proved to be another disappointing night. Once again, a Cleveland sports team disappoints its fans…it's just what happens to pro sports teams in Cleveland. They can't win it all. In 1964, the Browns won the NFL Championship (not the Super Bowl). Since then, Cleveland sports fans have seen Red Right 88 in 1981, The Drive in 1987, The Fumble in 1988, The Shot in 1989, Game 7 in 1997…and now the 2009 and 2010 NBA Playoffs…This isn't anything new.

Cleveland is home to the longest drought of championships by any city that has at least three professional sports franchises, so the truth of the matter is that this is the reality of our city. Great season by the Cavs, disappointing finish. Only In Cleveland can a team finish with the best record in back-to-back regular seasons, and have the MVP on its roster, and not even make the Finals.

2008-2009: Best record in the league, MVP, out in the conference finals. 2009-2010: Best record in the league, MVP, out in the conference semifinals.

The 2010 NBA Playoffs make no sense. It defies logic.
Only In Cleveland.

If you aren't from Cleveland, you can't possibly understand. Don't try to understand, because you can't.

Now we look forward to July 1, 2010…Will LeBron stay or will he go??? Thousands of jobs are at risk. The weight of the city is in his hands.

Friday, April 23, 2010

2010 NBA Playoffs ~ Round 1, Cavs vs. Bulls

It's that time of year again!!!

Back in the day, April-June was the time of year when we would unwind and get ready for summer. We'd do yardwork, grill out, etc. etc. That was also when the Cavs won 17, 29, 30 games a year and didn't have a chance at making the playoffs, let alone winning a series. Well times have changed and now our lives happily revolve around the NBA Playoffs, with hopes and dreams that we'll be consumed through June and transition smoothly into summer! The yardwork will just have to wait :)

Similar to last year, our beloved Cavaliers finished with the best record in the NBA (61-21) and secured themselves home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. We're hoping last year doesn't repeat itself and the Cavs not only make it through the Eastern Conference, but they win the NBA Championship! We're looking forward to an exciting few months...

In the first round, the Cavs faced the Chicago Bulls. As with every Cavs game, Steve was working so I used our tickets to go with friends. It's always a great time...

Round One vs. Chicago

4/17 Game One @ Cleveland ~ W 96-83
4/19 Game Two @ Cleveland ~ W 112-102
4/22 Game Three @ Chicago ~ L 106-108
4/25 Game Four @ Chicago ~ W 121-98
4/27 Game Five @ Cleveland ~ W 96-94

This year's theme is "All Together"

My friend Britt and I attended Game 1 together. We had an awesome time and received our free "All Together" and also "All Ugly" t-shirts. Cavs won 96-83.

My friend Maggie attended Game 2 with me. I've know Maggie since high school and we lived together in college, so it was nice to catch up. It was a great game and we were very happy to see the Cavs pull out the 112-102 victory. We also got free Mac n' Cheese. Free stuff is always fun!

We had a mini watch party (...also tried to watch some of the NFL Draft) at our house for Game 3 with Sean, Britt and Lia. It was a disappointing game and we were sad to see the Cavs fall 106-108...Steve was particularly sad because this loss also meant that he'd have to work Game 5 in Cleveland on Tuesday (4/27), but I'm hoping for a series-clinching Game 5. Go Cavs!

Steve and I watched Game 4 at our house and we were in awe at how great the Cavs played. They truly looked like a CHAMPIONSHIP team! It was pretty exciting. LBJ was magical as he recorded his fifth career postseason triple-double with 37 points, 12 boards and 11 assists, including his buzzer beating half court jump shot to end the first half...really awesome.

Alex and I went to Game 5 together and we had a really great time! We never get a chance to hang out without Sean & Steve, so it was nice...No offense boys!

This was a game that was too close and we were on the edge of our seats. Thankfully, the Cavs pulled through and won 96-94. Despite Lebron's near triple-double (19 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists), I felt like I was watching Jekyll and Hyde. After Game 4, I was so relieved…The Cavs seemed driven and ready to win. LeBron was phenomenal and I couldn’t wait for Game 5...but they looked like a completely different team! I am so excited about this Cavalier team. They are the best Cavs team ever and I believe they are the best team in the NBA…I know the greatness they’re capable of because they showed it in Game 4. I just want them to play like that all the time :) It’s a simple request.

I'm glad this series is over...BRING ON BOSTON!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Men's Final Four ~ April 2-6, 2010

For the second year in a row, we had the awesome opportunity to attend the Men's Final Four. The tickets were a very special Christmas present from Steve's parents who have been lucky enough to get them through the ticket lottery.

This year's Final Four was held in Indianapolis, IN which is less than five hours from our house. We had originally planned on staying at a hotel near the airport due to the exorbitant cost and unavailability of downtown hotels, but just 5 days before we were scheduled to leave, I received an email from the Fan Housing Group. Apparently, the NCAA had released 60 rooms at the Crowne Plaza which was only one block from Lucas Oil Stadium and close to tons of restaurants & bars as well as the Convention Center. We couldn't resist! Being so close to the action made us even more excited and by Wednesday we were both itching to leave! 

On Friday night we made our way to Indianapolis and arrived at approximately 10:30 pm. We checked into our hotel, which was also the Butler team and fan hotel (awesome!) and then headed out for a few drinks to see what the city of Indianapolis was all about. We were immediately impressed with the vast number of bars and restaurants in the close vicinity to our hotel and Lucas Oil Stadium. Also within very close walking distance was Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. We turned in early that night since we knew we had a long few days ahead of us.

As I have done a few times in the past, I planned a pub crawl through Indianapolis. In total, we visited 27 bars and restaurants, all of which were within about ½ mile of our hotel. On Saturday, we started at the Ram Restaurant & Brewery because it was the host restaurant for the Butler Bulldogs.

After a quick bite to eat, a Bloody Mary for Steve and a beer for myself, we ventured around the city with my map in hand. This is exactly where Steve loves being married to such a compulsively organized person!

The city was electric and eventually packed! After stops at Alcatraz Brewing Company, Champps, BW3, O’Reilley’s, Wild Beaver Saloon, Buffalo Wings & Rings and Have a Nice Day Cafe it was finally time to head to Lucas Oil Stadium.

With a 6:07 tip, we watched as Butler took on Michigan State in the first semi-final. It was a very exciting game that came down to the wire. Eventually, Butler held on to win 52-50. We were so excited and proud to see a Horizon League team (also Cleveland State’s conference) in the Championship game. With an enrollment of just over 4,000, Butler would be the smallest school to ever play in the National Championship game.

In the second semi-final game, we watched an impressive performance from the Duke Blue Devils as they beat West Virginia 78-57.

We knew that Butler had a challenge ahead of them, but despite the media criticism and doubt, we knew they’d be ready…They had won 25 straight games and had held all of their Tournament opponents to under 60 points. It would be an interesting game. We headed back to the Ram Brewery following the games to celebrate with other Butler fans.
It was a late night, but as Stephen would say, it was F-U-N!!

Sunday was Easter, but we really didn’t do anything to celebrate…We slept in after a late night and then headed to Shelbyville, IN to visit a casino and try our luck. We watched the Cavaliers/Celtics game, ate lunch at the Nascar CafĂ© then spent about an hour at the slot machines where we threw a few $$ away. Unfortunately, I did not encounter the same luck that I had last year in Windsor. Oh well…

After a short nap (I said it was a late night!), we headed back out for food and drinks and to watch the women's semi-final games. This evening took us to Ike & Jonesy’s, Claddagh Irish Pub, Tiki Bob’s, Kilroy’s Bar n’ Grill, Scotty’s Brewhouse, Coaches Tavern, The Pub Indianapolis, Jillian’s and Taps & Dolls and then finally back to our hotel. As you might have guessed, it was another late but great night!

On Monday we eventually met up with some friends who joined us for a few drinks before the Championship game, set to tip-off at 9:21 pm. We knew we had a long day ahead of us, so we took it slow…We started at Harry & Izzy’s, the sister restaurant of the famous St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. St. Elmo’s is famous for their amazingly hot shrimp cocktail. Steve has told me about this shrimp cocktail for years, so it was only appropriate that I give it a try. It was HOT (we were both wiping the tears away with each bite), but surprisingly really delicious!

Next we made our way to the Convention Center where we walked around BracketTown, a fan fest with activities, skills competitions, youth clinics, autograph sessions, etc. On our way we stopped at Champions, Shula’s Steakhouse and Pullman’s Restaurant.

After BracketTown, we met up with Russ and Mary (Russ works with Steve at the Cavs is a diehard Duke fan) and visited The Whistle Stop Inn, The Ugly Money, The Slippery Noodle and St. Elmo’s.

A few hours later, we all met up with Lori & Chris back at the Ram Brewery (they both worked at the Cavs, but have since moved to Tennessee…Lori is also a Butler alumni). We made one last stop at Rockbottom and then finally headed to the big game!

We were really excited to see Butler play in the Championship game, but knew they had a challenge ahead of them with Duke. At halftime, Duke held the lead over Butler 33-32.

We were walking around during halftime when Steve received a text from someone he works with. He had 2 lower level seats in a prime location (we had to take 3 escalators down to meet him!) When you’re sitting in a 71,000 seat venue at full capacity, the upper level seats are very high and they're aren't any open seats to move to. It was really neat to be able to sit so close to the action, especially for such a fantastic second half! The picture above is the view from our new seats...

Although Duke maintained the lead for nearly the entire game, it was close and never more than a 6 point differential. It was an epic game that would make any mid-major team proud and goes down as an instant classic. With less than 40 seconds remaining in the game, Butler closed to within one point. A defensive stop by Duke forced Butler to foul and with an intentionally missed FT, Butler was down by two with 3.6 seconds remaining and the ball. A shockingly close half court shot attempt by Gordon Hayward had us all on the edge of our seats, but it bounced off the back of the rim and Duke barely squeezed out the 61-59 win. It was an unbelievable game and we are so happy to have the opportunity to watch it in person. Truly a game that we’ll never forget!

We rose up early on Tuesday as Stephen had to get back to work the Cavaliers game that afternoon. Overall, this may have been one of the best times we have had together. Not only did we luck out with our hotel location and second-half seat location, but we also visited a new, impressive and entertaining city, met up with some old friends, met a few new ones, saw some absolutely AMAZING basketball, and of course had F-U-N together. That seems to be a constant with us :)

Who knows where our next adventure will take us…with the Cavs playoffs set to start during the next two weeks, we may be staying in Cleveland for a little bit while our life surrounded by basketball gets (hopefully) even more exciting! Go Cavs!!

2010 One Shining Moment ~ Luther's Version