The Cavaliers might be on to something.
They certainly have struggled in the last part of the regular season and early portion of the playoffs with maintaining leads in the fourth quarter. The epic game was in the regular season when they led by 26 points in the fourth quarter on April 9 against the Atlanta Hawks and eventually lost in overtime. They gave up a lead and lost to the Hawks in the previous game, as well.
In Game 1 of the playoffs, the Cavs lost a double-digit lead and then nearly lost the game in the fourth quarter quarter to the Pacers as C.J. Miles missed a 17-foot jump shot at the buzzer to allow the Cavs to escape with a one-point win.
Whether it is lack of focus, disinterest, being "too cool" as Tyronn Lue said, here's where the Cavs could learn something.
In Game 3, they tried something different. Instead of building a big lead, they built a big deficit--as they trailed by as much as 26 points in the second quarter. They trailed by 25 points, 74-49 at halftime and then staged the biggest halftime come-from-behind win in NBA playoff history.
The big deficit seemed to wake them up.
Whether they were embarrassed or the Pacers thought they had the game won, the Cavs looked like a different team when they came out playing defense to start the third quarter. After giving up 74 points in the first half, they held Indiana to just 40 points in the second half.
A disclaimer here: Now, I would much rather have the Cavs build a lead throughout the game and close it out, but they have to stay focused on the task at hand.
There is no question the Cavs have a better team player per player this season than they did in their championship season a year ago. Just the additions of Kyle Korver and Deron Williams alone should be enough to allow the Cavs to breathe easier.
However, they have to play. They cannot just show up and think their opponent is just going to lie down and let them win. It would be best if the Cavs would come out and play with focus and determination for all four quarters, but if spotting their opponent a lead causes them to re-calibrate, I'm all for it.
The Cavs have a chance to sweep the Pacers on Sunday and then sit back and rest up for the next series with the winner of the Raptors and Bucks. The Pacers are a discouraged team and the Cavs could come out and put them away early--that is if they decide to play for the entire game.
Let's see how they approach Game 4.