Friday, June 01, 2007

Cleveland 109, Detroit 107

That was the greatest game in Cavalier history. I've never seen anything remotely like that in Cleveland sports. LeBron James scored 29 of the Cavaliers last 30 points and simply willed the Cavaliers to a Game 5 victory over the Pistons. He made great shots, he made bad shots and he had back-to-back clutch dunks in the final 30 seconds of regulation to send it to OT. I'm just dumbfounded by this entire night.

Things weren't looking good when... Detroit went on a 10-0 run and turned a three point deficit into a seven point lead with just 3:15 to play. The Cavalier offense was not looking good and Detroit seemed to be hitting their stride. The Pistons took a 88-81 lead and it looked like Cleveland ran out of gas (little did we know).

But I knew the Cavs weren't going to lose when... By the time the clock read 2:16, the score was 88-87. The Cavs made up the deficit in one minute. Once LeBron hit a 3 to pull the Cavs within a point, you just knew that he wasn't going to let them lose. He just put the Cavs on his back and took over.

The degree of difficulty was amazing. LeBron missed a few free throws down the stretch that could've made his life a little easier (like two freebies with 1:52 left in regulation that would've put the Cavs up a point) and the longer the game went on, the more weapons he lost (Gooden, Z and Gibson fouled out- not that they would've gotten the ball, but they are at least convincing decoys). Plus, Mike Brown cost LeBron and the Cavs a chance to win the game in the first OT by wasting their last timeout after a made free throw (but hey, we got a Eric Snow half court heave... so that was neat).

LeBron scored all of the Cavalier points after regulation. He was just sick; nine points in each of the overtimes and the Cavaliers' final 25 points. For the game, he had 48 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Afterwards, Drew Gooden called him "Video Game James", which I think is appropriate. LBJ scored in every way possible; he took 3s, he hit the post, he got dunks at the rim (during crunch time) and he was hitting his ridonkulous fade-aways.

Someone finally decked Anderson Varejao. Antonio McDyess got ejected at the end of the first quarter for taking Varejao down by the neck; it was definitely a flagrant foul, but I think the big thing was that McDyess followed through. He didn't just hit Varejao in the neck, he threw him down by the neck (which I think was the difference between staying in the game and watching from the locker room).

I better not hear anything about the refs. I'm not sure how you can argue with McDyess' ejection (but I'm sure Detroit will). Rasheed Wallace is probably pissed at not getting the call on his turnaround late in the second overtime (and I don't blame him). But he got some calls as well (like his 'block' on James with 5 minutes to go in regulation). Calls were missed on both sides here and there, but I don't think anyone gained a real advantage in anyway (hell, the Cavs had three players foul out).

I'm sick of Chauncey Billups and is go to move. The move seems to be dribble around and attempt to run into somebody and shoot some free throws. Seriously, he does this a lot. He'll run into big men and to guards. It is annoying and I want it stopped.

Non-LeBron Cavalier thoughts:

Larry Hughes. Larry started the game, hit a couple 3s and seemed to have much better movement with the foot. However, he was getting abused by Prince or Billups (depending on who decided to go at him) and he didn't get off the bench during the stretch run.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Z finished 16 points (the second highest Cavalier) and 8 boards. For awhile in the fourth the Cavs ran the Ilgauskas based offense (which wasn't pretty, but it worked for a bit). I am really glad that the Pistons let go of Ben Wallace. Z can take Webber whenever he gets the matchup (plus I doubt James could be getting late game dunks with Benny Wallace patrolling the paint).

Daniel Gibson. He committed some dumb fouls throughout the game and they came back to bit after regulation (not all the fouls were dumb or necessarily his fault, but he put himself in situations where Billups could draw a call). Gibson was the only other Cavalier in double figures (11 pts) and he his a huge 3 to end the third period.

Donyell Marshall. Is worthless. He can't guard anyone, he can't play help defense and he isn't hitting his shots. Yuck.

Sasha Pavlovic. I'm not sure to make of Sasha in Game 5. He was the only non-LeBron Cavalier who took shots down the stretch, unfortunately the shots weren't that good. He committed some offensive fouls (some were actually offensive fouls and some where borderline that went against him) and missed his shots, but at least he was shooting (no one else even wanted to think about shooting).

Mike Brown is a coaching genius. Who ever said that stand around and watch LeBron isn't a good offensive set.... great call coach!

and finally...

I firmly believe that the Cavs will win Game 6 and move on to the Finals. Game 5 is giving me hope and optimism. Maybe it's too soon, maybe I shouldn't commit or maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up, but I don't care. Game 5 was the greatest and biggest Cavs victory in my lifetime. LeBron looked nothing like any other Cleveland athlete I have ever seen; he put his team on his back and basically willed them to victory. He was simply incredible. If LeBron plays like he did in the last three contests, the Cavs are (and I can't believe I am about to write this) moving on t the Finals. They're going to do this.

(I'll have more tomorrow evening, after I finish my final, turn in my paper and work in the afternoon. I'll even have some video highlights!)


Erik said...

LeBron has constantly gotten flack for his perceived inability to be Jordan and make the killer, buzzer-beating shot. He doesn't have the guts, he's not of the same pedigree as Jordan. If I had a nickel for everytime I've heard some whiny bastard write that or say that to a camera...

Those guys can now shut up. Permanently. How about ... oh, I don't know, about 15 game-winning shots in rapid-fire succession?

Does anyone grasp totally and completely what we all just witnessed? We were defintely ALL witnesses last night.

48 points. 25 straight points to finish the game, including EVERY SINGLE Cavalier point in both overtimes.

This wasn't just the greatest playoff performance in Cavaliers history, this was one of the greatest single-game playoff performances in NBA history.

This Pistons aren't done, but they might be at their breaking point. They threw everything at LeBron: Zones, traps, man-up, Sheed, Prince, all five guys at once, and nothing stopped him.

Carpe diem, LeBron. Win this thing on Saturday. A performance like this deserves an NBA Finals berth as an encore.

Ben said...

Yes, from hear on out we better not hear about LeBron not being clutch. We're done. That ship has sailed.

As for Game 6... I'm expecting a win. The rest of the Cavs should perform better at home and LeBron shouldn't have to do everything again. I'd look for Gooden, Pavlovic and Gibson to really have good games.

This was probably the greatest Cleveland sports moment of my lifetime and a performance that will be talked about for years to come. 22 year olds aren't supposed to do that.

graham said...

I'm already nervous for Game 6. I won't be able to take it if the Cavs don't make it to the finals now. But, I have no idea what to expect, cause all of these games could have gone either way.

As far as the flack LeBron received, he didn't need to do something like this to prove anything because the criticism ridiculous from the start. To be honest, a lot of it was ESPN analysts/commentators wanted some attention (I'm looking at you Simmons and Skip).

LargeBill said...

This was a big WOW game. A decade from now people will be talking about this game. Two of my best Cleveland sports memories are double overtimes. This one and the Browns over the Jets when Bernie and O'Brien seemed to throw for over a thousand yards. As far as the Indians go, I can't pick just one game.

I didn't lose faith, but I really didn't think we'd enjoy the third OT if we didn't win it in the 2nd. We had three guys who fouled out already.

Screw the ESPN idiots who have been upset that at 22 LeBron hasn't already accomplished everything Jordan did in his career. Let him play his career and then compare him to others who are done. At this point it is only fair to compare him to others around his own age. By that standard he is pretty damn good. At the end of his career he may be more comparable to another Ohioan (The Big O).