They didn't win, they survived. Did the Cavs look good? Nope. Did they execute their offense? No. Did they keep Jason Kidd of the glass? Lord no (17 boards). But they won. The Cavs survived their poor offense and late game execution and gutted out a victory. It wasn't pretty, but they split the games in New Jersey and they're heading back to Cleveland up 3-1.
Who had the more disappointing fourth quarter, LeBron or Vince? This was like a tutorial on how to not finish basketball games. For the most part James was passive (he found the open man, but often that man was Eric Snow) and when he did drive, he missed his free throws (2-6 for the quarter). Carter had 10 points in the final period (James had just 4) but it was a quiet 10. Carter made just one field goal the entire period (the Nets had three field goals for the fourth and none came after the 7 minute mark), shot 8-10 from the line (I'm not sure why he deserved at least four of those freebies) and, with a chance to tie the game, he couldn't get off a shot and turned the ball over. Carter finished with 25 points, but Pavlovic and Snow made him work for it.
But LeBron's second and third quarters were spectacular. James scored the Cavs first 8 points to start the second and finished with 12 for the quarter. In the third period (which was the crucial period in Game 3, at least IMO) James scored 10 points and cashed in some triples midway through the third (his jumper looked sweet in during that stretch). James finished the game with 30 point, 9 boards and 7 assists.
I hate Mikki Moore. The guys bitches all the time, flops, holds Z (who he absolutely cannot guard) and he decked Pavlovic on a fast break. Moore did end up having a nice game (so he's 1/4, good for him), scoring 25 points. That foul earned him a flagrant, though somehow one of the refs called a charge at first (um, did you miss the part where Moore simply shoved Sasha? Or the part where Moore was out of position?). Pavs got up bitching and he and Moore jawed at each other, but only Pavs got the T. So to review: Pavs gets decked and the Nets get a free throw out of it (cause no double technical). Makes sense to me.
I love Bostjan Nachbar. Seriously, I am thrilled whenever he enters the game. He was 1-7 on Monday and he can't guard anyone. He's averaging 6.7 ppg and shooting 42% for the series. And yet the Nets keep playing him. I love it. To top it all off, he had a huge game on the last night of the season to beat the Bulls and propel the Cavs to the 2-seed. Thanks Bostjan!
Pavlovic played well. He only scored 9 points (but he only shot the ball seven times...) but it was his defense and attitude that stood out to me. Sasha was trash talking with Vince Carter for most of the fourth quarter (even giving Carter some shit after Vince missed a freebie) and his defense on Carter has been superb the entire series (to the point where I find myself questioning the wisdom of the late game Eric Snow defensive subs).
The Cavs won the rebounding battle, but barely. The Cavs had a 43-41 edge on the glass and they actually lost the offensive rebound battle 9-5. Ilgauskas and Gooden both had double digit boards (Z also chipped in 11 points for double-double) while James had 9. Only Kidd had a double figured rebound total for the Nets (though he had a ridonkulous 17) and no one on the Nets starting front line had more than 4.
Hey TNT, nice halftime analysis. Seriously, what the hell was that? I know Shaq was in town and it's all fun and games. But as much as I love TNT's studio show (and I do) can you talk about the close, contested playoff game going on? I know its painful having to cover Cleveland sports, but can you just humor me? That'd be great. Also, Dick Stockton is old and senile.
What goes up, must come down. Kidd's 17 rebounds are very impressive, but his shooting came back down to Earth Monday night. Kidd had been shooting roughly 9,032,232% from 3 pt range but he shot a Larry Hughes-esque 1-7 from down town. So that's why the Cavs left him open the past 3 games...
Speaking of Hughes... damn. 19 points (yay!). 36% shooting (boo!) One assist (boo!). One rebound (boo!). 43 minutes (boo Mike Brown!). Did Larry hit some big shots down the stretch (again)? Sure. But he opened the game by hoisting jumpers. This bugs me because A) because Larry can't shoot and B) because the Nets aren't exactly a strong team inside. I don't mind if he shoots, I just want them to be good shots. For the second game in a row Hughes led all Cavaliers in field goal attempts, with 19. This means in the last two games, Hughes has taken 39 shots (making 16) and dished out 2 assists. And look, I know James is the Cavs big play maker and all and I know that assists aren't always the best indicator of passing... BUT Hughes plays a ton of minutes and he has the ball in his hands a lot but there's no reason for your 'point guard' to play 87 minutes in two games and notch just 2 assists. This should never happen. 87 minutes. 2 assists.
Finish them. End it. The Cavs must finish the Nets off at home on Wednesday. The Pistons are going to take care of the Bulls on Tuesday night and the Cavs can't afford to play extra games while the Pistons rest up. The Cavs failed to close out Detroit at home last season, let's hope they take care of business this time around. And Cleveland fans? I want you guys to be loud and I want Mikki Moore to hear it. Is that too much to ask?