Just one humdrum blowout after another: no taunt moments; no last-second heroics to speak of.
Could a player have any fun in games like these? someone asked LeBron James after he and his teammates deconstructed the Atlanta Hawks, 105-85, Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
James had his answer.
“I’m having fun,” he insisted. “You’re not?”
He didn’t wait for a reply.
“Sorry,” James said. “I’m having a ball — sorry.”
He’s played like it, too.
If there were a series James might be tempted to coast in, this one with the Hawks, a tired, demoralized team, would be that series. They have offered no counterpunch to him.
They can’t stop James inside or out; they can’t stop Mo Williams and Delonte West outside or inside; and they have found no way at all to penetrate the Cavs’ defense.
Unable to produce offense and unable to play defense, the Hawks have little hope left as they head to Atlanta for Game 3 Saturday night. When they can’t even count on James’ inaccuracy from 36 feet — he hit a three-pointer from there to close the first half — they leave themselves without a prayer.
Little hope, no prayer, isn’t that the reason the Hawks’ opponent should be having a ball? Yet James pointed out that what the Cavs are doing to the Hawks isn’t about fun as much as it is about business. He and his teammates have serious business in front of them. If their business means laying waste to an inferior opponent, well, then that’s how business goes.
As he spoke, James stressed that his business has a singular goal: an NBA championship. Running roughshod over the Hawks was merely a step toward that goal. He’s unconcerned how he achieves the goal; he’s just determined to achieve it.
He put no stock in sending a message to anybody, not before or after the last win over Atlanta. He even dismissed talk about needing motivation — at least the kind of motivation outside what he and his teammates already have in their “One goal” battle cry.
“I have a really big goal,” James said. “I approach every game to get to that goal.”
The Hawks stand in James’ way, although they resemble a speed bump more than a roadblock.
They have been overmatched at The Q, and taking their show to Atlanta for the next two games won’t produce different results. They are just playing a superior team.
Sitting on a stage Thursday, James didn’t quite say as much, but he might as well have. He left no doubt he expects the Cavs to forge ahead.
“We have a 2-0 lead,” James said. “A series is never won in two games or three games. But Game 3 is going to be really fun.”
Probably not for the Hawks.