Fantastic start. The Cavs were pumped to start the game and they just came out and blitzed the Bucks. Sasha was particularly deadly; scoring 13 points on a series of dunks and 3s. The Cavs built up a 16 point lead (31-15 at 1:24) before ending the quarter up 9 at 31-22.
This being the Cavaliers, they blew said lead. Now, the Cavs started pretty hot and Milwaukee started cold AND turnover prone, so you knew they weren't going to keep pushing the lead. But the Bucks actually grabbed the lead with 2 minutes to go in the half. This wasn't happening... not when they need the win for the 2-seed... not on fan appreciation night...
LeBron took over for a stretch. It wasn't much, but it sure was needed. James went on a personal 6-1 run and put the Cavs back in control. Overall James had one of those nights where he picked his spots ('only' 24 points) and was content to let the other Cavs do the heavy lifting (dished out 9 assists).
The big men played pretty well. Z had a decent game; he had 3 assists and 10 points but was
in foul trouble much of the night (plus the Milwaukee big men shot a lot of 3s) so he only got 17 minutes. Gooden wasn't spectacular but did have 6 points and 8 boards (plus one assist to James on a monster alley-oop). However, the big men off the bench played really well. Anderson Varejao put together the best game he's had in awhile (9 points, 12 boards) and Donyell Marshall put forth a surprising 14 and 7 effort.
Though the bigs aren't without faults. I'm pretty sure that none of Marshall's baskets came outside of three feet and most came from offensive tip ins. That isn't necessarily bad (I have no problem with him scrappin' down low), but it wasn't like his points were coming off of 3s or post ups. Also, I'm not sure if Z has turned to his right out of the post in about 3 weeks. His hook is serviceable, but it'd be more devastating (yes, I said devastating) if he would turn right every once in awhile. He used to have a decent baseline fadeaway, but I haven't seen him use it in awhile (part of me believes he passes better when he turns left; sees the court better).
Clevelanders killed the Cavs. The Cavs cannot stop Ruben Patterson. I kept waiting for Brown to play his Ira Newble card but it never happened. Patterson abused just about everyone in the low post (including Varejao and Gooden) and the Cleveland native finished with 19 points. The other Clevelander, Earl Boykins, finished with 28- surprisingly, the Cavs had no answer for the quick point guard (I'm shocked!). And actually some plays they didn't guard him at all. And to think, he received the same contract (money and years) that Kevin Ollie did during the same offseason. Awesome.
So the Cavs kept their part of the deal, beating the Bucks. We all thought that the Cavs had this game. It was the New Jersey-Chicago game that was a bit dicey. Well, the Nets pulled it off; they led for almost the entire game and always seemed to hit a big shot whenever Chicago got close.
I'd like to thank Mikki Moore, Josh Boone, Bostjan Nachbar and Ike Diogu for making this all possible. The Nets beat the Bulls with Jason Kidd only scoring 3 points and Richard Jefferson shooting a Larry Hughes-esque 5-18. How'd they do it? Moore scored 20 of their first 60, they ran a Josh Boone based offense in the second half and Nachbar hit 4 huge 3s. And Ike Diogu? What does he have to do with this? With 25 seconds to go and Indiana down one, Ike bricked two free throws that allowed Washington to escape with 98-95 victory. Washington's win means that they'll be the 7th seed and will have a first round rematch with the Cavaliers.
Something bad is going to happen. How did this happen? Everything that the Cavaliers needed to go right, went right. They won (would it have shocked anyone if they blew that game?), Chicago lost (they've looked great lately) and somehow Washington held on and pulled it out. They started out the day slated to see Shaq, Wade and the Heat and now they'll be facing an Arenas and Butler-less Wizards team. That's pretty damn lucky. This isn't supposed to happen to Cleveland teams; first the Browns won the coin flip for the 3rd pick (biggest win of the year baby!) and now all the chips fell in the right place for the Cavaliers? This can't last, can it? (though one could argue that the weather issues more than balance things out)