Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cleveland 109, Washington 102

Wasn't pretty, but it was a win. Kinda the same the story from game one; the Cavs let the Wizards hang around and never really put them away. The Cavs were actually trailing for most of the first half until Drew Gooden went insane in the 2nd quarter.

Good for Gooden. He was a man possessed Wednesday night; he hit jumpers, he hit turn arounds, he grabbed offensive boards and he even shot a free throw off a technical. Drew finished 24 points (10-13 shooting), 14 boards (4 offensive), 2 assists and one weird looking 10 finger wag thingy. Gooden scored 11 points in the second period and the Cavs basically ran the offense through/for him while they fought back and took the lead.

The front court was awesome. LeBron led everyone with 27, Gooden had 24 and Z had 16. The Wizards really had no answer for any of these guys and it wasn't just the scoring- LeBron had 8 boards and 7 dimes and Z had 9 rebounds and 3 blocks (and Varejao pitched in 6 points and 7 boards as well).

Larry Hughes probably played the best game I've seen him play. Sure, there's been games where he's scored more points (he had 19) but he shot 5-11, had 8 boards and 5 assists. The big thing was that he made good decisions with the ball; he found Varejao for easy baskets, he swung the ball off of pick and rolls and he didn't jack up terrible shots. He played under control and he was extremely effective. I could get used to this...

This finally feels like a playoff series. It may have taken 6 quarters, but by the third period we had some hard fouls, some jawing back and forth and the Cavs actually played with some intensity. And it was during the third period where the Cavaliers really turned it on, took control and they found themselves up 12 at the quarter break.

Unfortunately, they took their foot off the gas. The first 3 of 4 baskets the Wizards scored in the fourth were off of fouls (and they hit their free throws). They gave up four additional treys the rest of the quarter. Those extra points helped cut the Cavs' 12 point lead all the way down to 3 (with 18 seconds left). It didn't help that the Cavs missed some crucial free throws down the stretch. The Cavs actually weren't too bad for the game, shooting 78%, but Sasha, Snow, James and Hughes all split a pair during the last minute of the game (though Hughes was 7-8 over that last minute, so he gets a pass). This game was much closer than it needed to be.

Not a whole lot from the young guys. Pavlovic seems to be trying too hard; he scored 9 points but he made some mistakes driving to the hoop. Daniel Gibson got some PT early in the game and was not hesitant to shoot (which I like) and he did hit the only 3 he took. However, Gibson did give up some jumpers on the defensive end. It's great that the starters contributed so much, but it'd be nice to get more than 12 points from the Pavlovic/Gibson combination.

and finally....

And we all know what the big question is: does this give the Wizards confidence?!?! Who the hell cares? They got hot at the end, Jamison went off and they still lost (and the game was never in doubt. How about the fact that the Cavs haven't shot well from 3 and that they haven't needed to rely on James? Does that inspire confidence? James hasn't had to score over 30 yet, Hughes is playing well and they have no answer for Z.


Erik said...

Brendan Haywood is developing genuine animosity with the Cavs frontcourt, particularly Anderson Varejao. While it was quite entertaining to hear 20,000 people chant "Asshole! Asshole!" to Haywood after his tech, you have to wonder if the chippiness will turn violent at some point.

Brian Windhorst says in his blog that he agrees with Bill Simmons' assertion that Andy is going to get decked in a game at some point. While Simmons has a way of melodramatically overstating things, I'm beginning to see the validity.

Andy isn't really a dirty player, but he's an agitator. Combine Andy's flailing arms and pestering play with an already-pissed player on a team down 2-0, and who knows? Haywood might be the guy who finally bitch-slaps Andy and causes the benches to clear.

Even if the Cavs sweep this series, by the time it's over, these two teams will officially have a heated rivalry.

Ben said...

I've been with Simmons on this since before Simmons was saying it. Anderson has pissed off Alonzo Mourning and Kevin Garnett this season. and I'm actually surprised no one has clocked him.

Haywood is definitely a hot head (he already got in fight with Etan Thomas this season) so it wouldn't surprise me if he decked Andy.