Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cleveland 98, Washington 92

The Cavs were awesome for 3 out of 4 quarters. They played their best half of the postseason during the first two quarters. They ran, they defended, they shared the ball, they played Daniel Gibson and they ended the half with a 17 point lead.

Then there was the third quarter. That 17 point lead didn't last very long. Washington stormed back and tied the game in the third period, but never got the lead. Now, you knew Washington was going to get hot at some point. Their only offense has been Jamison and we were just waiting for the other guys to step it up. It just sucked that when Washington got hot, the Cavs decided to hoist jumpers like morons. However, it seemed that Washington used all their energy (or good karma) in their push to get back in the game. Once they got back, the Cavs righted the ship and took control of the game.

Good Sasha/Bad Sasha. Pavlovic had some great moments (his 3 to push the lead to six with 25 seconds left and his block on the next play) and some bad moments (fouling Jamison on a 3 and numerous travels). It seems like Pavlovic has been pressing and I figured he'd calm down after having a good first half (the Cavs final six in the half); it didn't happen. While Sasha had some bad turnovers, you can say the same thing about other Cavaliers (Snow had that dumb inbounds pass last game and Hughes threw an entry pass right to Jamison) and I'm glad Coach Mike kept him out there.

James had his best game of the playoffs. Sure, his numbers were good (30pts, 9 assists and 6 boards) but it wasn't just that (and James is a guy who can sleep walk through a game and get 25-5-5). He took good shots (except for a few in the 3rd), he played pretty good defense, he crashed the boards (which starts breaks) and he didn't just get his teammates involved, he trusted them. He hit Sasha for that last shot, he found Gooden and Varejao for dunks/layups and he was more than willing to find Z.

Z has been awesome. The big fella is just abusing the Wizards inside all series and he had his best game on Saturday. He finished with 24 and 9 in 41 minutes (when is the last time that Z played 40+ minutes? Has Coach Mike been saving him for the playoffs? He's been around during crunch time. I'm a fan of this). The best part was that the Cavs actually looked for Zydrunas all game long (not just the start of the halves!) and he delivered early and late. Ilgauskas is averaging 18.6 and 8 for the series (this is very good).

This team goes as the starters go (mostly because they lack any type of bench). James and Z had good games and Pavlovic was a mixed bag (11 points, 5 assists, 4 boards but 5 turnovers). Larry Hughes had a pretty decent game (11 points, 8 boards and 2 assists); he made decent decisions overall (he's become much more palpable as the series has gone on) but he did have a few of his customary head scratchers (a cringeworthy jumper, a perplexing decision on a fast break or that weird pass to Jamison). Drew Gooden also played well, scoring 10 points (in fact, all five starters scored in double figures) and grabbing 12 boards.

Free throws? Wah? The Cavs only shot 18 freebies, but they made 16. In fact, the only guy to miss from the line was LeBron (he was 5-7 take that as you will). This is, obviously, a good thing.

and finally...

Finish it. For the first time ever, the Cavs lead a series three games to zero. The Cleveland Cavaliers. 3-0. I'm not exactly sure how to handle this besides: finish them off! Get those extra days rest, get that practice in and get ready for the Toronto-New Jersey winner.

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