With the Cavs loss last night, the NBA world is on the edge of it's seat. The game five winner in a tied series goes on to win the series 83% of the time (per my ESPN radio trip this morning), what's more, Boston has gone 31-1 when they've been the game five winner in this situation (worth nothing the time they failed was last season though) while Cleveland has gone 0-4.
I don't buy into the team records mattering, and honestly, I think this is still one of those times ripe for an upset (if you view the Cavs coming back as an upset) because I still think Cleveland is the better team.
That being said, it's more fun to speculate about the Cavaliers losing and what that means to LeBron James. Most of the world, including myself, is of the opinion that if the Cavs get knocked out in round two that LeBron is out of here.
I just spent a day ripping on Joe Johnson for getting knocked out in round two all the time, so clearly this isn't good enough for James.
The real question becomes where is he going to if he gets knocked out, and I think the only realistic choices are Chicago, New York, Miami, and New Jersey. Now if LeBron leaves because he's ousted in the second round then presumably, he wants to win. That appears to eliminate New Jersey from the mix given that they don't have the room to add a second max FA, and they obviously aren't close to winning now.
Perhaps New Jersey's chances improve if they win the lottery, but James banking on a rookie to improve the Nets that much is unlikely even if the rookie is John Wall or Evan Turner.
Which brings us down to Chicago, New York, and Miami. Miami and New York can sign two max FAs. In Miami, Dwyane Wade is obviously going to be the robin to LeBron's batman, or is he? If LeBron goes to Miami, then you wonder if LeBron is clearly the number one guy there. To me he is, but to Miami fans who've already won a championship behind Wade, perhaps not.
Talk's floated around the NBA media in the past of who is better LeBron or Wade, and though such talk is ridiculous (it's LeBron), it would likely become the national story. Does LeBron want that situation? Pehaps he does, perhaps he doesn't, I can't pretend to know. On the downside, after Wade, Miami has virtually nothing, though the pair are probably good enough to win by themselves and should attract a complement of ring chasers.
New York is in a similar situation except their Robin definitely won't be Dwyane Wade. They would likely attract LeBron + Bosh/Amare. That's a better talent fit with LeBron, and there'd be no doubt who the best guy on the team is. The idea of playing in the mega market likely appeals to him as well.
New York is the most questionable destination, because their entire pitch depends on them attracting someone with LeBron. It really comes down to LeBron and another big name star talking to each other and agreeing to go to the Knicks. It could work, and the Knicks have a couple pieces in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Galinari that could help if two stars were on the roster.
The Knicks are also willing to spend an unlimited amount of money to improve the team even if it only amounts to MLEs because of their cap situation. Knick fans have to like their chances now a lot more than before, and if Donnie Walsh's crazy gamble of opening room for two max FAs pays off then, then he'll become a legend.
That leaves us with the Bulls. Of all the teams left, the Bulls have by far the best mix of present talent. If LeBron joins the Bulls there are no contingencies of adding a piece here or there. They just need LeBron. The Bulls have a capable player at every position on the floor, and a bench to match.
Plus, the Bulls still have the potential (though it's a long shot) to work out a S&T with Hinrich/Deng involved to bring in a second max FA to play with LeBron, Rose, and Noah.
If the Cavs fall to the Celtics, Chicago still probably isn't the favorite, but Cleveland's odds of keeping him will fall dramatically, and Chicago's will raise significantly along with New York's and Miami's. I'd probably give the Bulls roughly even odds (slightly less) with the other top destinations for him this off-season if that happens.
It's interesting enough that it makes me consider renewing those season tickets.