Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cleveland 109, Boston 104 OT

Bill Simmons is right, the Cavs probably won't make the playoffs. God damn that game was intense. The Cavs came out pissed (it's like, I dunno, that they wanted to remind people who won the East last year) and went right at the Celtics from the start, getting out to an early 9-2 lead. But Boston came back (actually took a 3 point lead at half) and from then on, we had ourselves a close, playoff-like ball game (if any NBA game in November can be called playoff like).

I was pretty worried in the 3rd period. The Celtics had built a seven point lead, the Cavs offense wasn't moving... I'll be honest, I was waiting to see if they would fold or not. But they didn't. Maybe they've learned from their long playoff run of a year ago, but the Cavs stayed focussed for the entire game and got back into it.

The biggest loser of the night? Anderson Varejao. The Cavs 3rd quarter hero was Drew Gooden, who went 8-8 in the period- he kept the Cavs in the ball game. Now, say what you will about Gooden (and I have) but he had a monster night and the Cavs don't win this game if Varejao is starting in his place. Gooden finished with 24 points (on 11-15 shooting) and 13 boards and kept Kevin Garnett off the glass (just 5 boards for KG, who averages 12 a night).

That M-V-P chant at the end was a nice touch (noticed that no one cares about that Yankees cap any more, huh?). I'm not sure anyone is noticing (nationally or in Cleveland), but LeBron James is having a monster of a season. James finished the night with 38 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. What makes his 38 points even more impressive is that the Celts were focussed on keeping LBJ out of the lane (and for the most part, they succeeded) and the ball out of his hands. LeBron hit some absolute daggers in the face of the Celtics defense (mostly Paul Pierce) and, oh by the way, made 14-15 from the line. The man is unstoppable right now.

You know who else is unstoppable? Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Check out this line from the big fella: 15 points (6-9 shooting), 14 boards, 5 assists and 4 blocks. Both Z and Gooden were key in keeping the Celtics off the boards (the Cavs outrebounded Boston 47-40, but did give up 10 offensive boards). Z has been playing great this season and, as of now, deserves his third all-star appearance.

The Cavs won the battle at the line. The Cavaliers shot 28-36 from the charity stripe (77%) while Boston was just 20-29 (69%) including two huge misses from Ray Allen at the end of regulation that could've put Boston up two with 20 seconds to go. And while we're here talking about free throws and such, I'd just like to say that, overall the refs weren't terrible, they weren't good either. Hell, Z was hacked the first play off the game and Pavlovic's foul on Allen (before his two misses) was really tough to swallow. This is the point of the recap where I'll bitch about Pavlovic not getting calls- because he doesn't. He got whistled for two pretty weak blocks and he should've gone to the line on at least one of his drives.

Speaking of Pavlovic, he had a great game. Pavs was jawing with KG for most of the evening (to be fair, most everyone was talking trash) and he took some huge shots down the stretch and in overtime. Sasha hit the game tying 3 with a minute left in regulation and he hit a big shot early in OT to put the Cavs up four (a lead they never relinquished). Pavlovic finished with 16 points (on 6-13 shooting), 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. His defense was a bit lax to begin the game (somehow Ray Allen kept getting open) but he picked it up in the second half and OT.

The bench wasn't much help and every Cavalier starter played at least 43 minutes. The Boston bench outscored their Cleveland counterparts 26-8. Devin Brown led the bench with 6 points (and one technical foul) and Ira Newble was the only other reserve to score. It worked out for one game, because Cleveland front court came up big, but if any of the starters were off, the Cavs could've been screwed.

and finally...

Dear Cavs fans: please don't talk trash. Don't get me wrong, I hate the Celtics. I hate the 60 win predictions, I hate the talk of them chasing the Bulls' 72 wins (only 8 more losses to go!) and I'm more than a bit peeved that pundits have basically given them the Eastern Conference title. But the Cavs play in Boston this upcoming Sunday and it wouldn't be prudent to run your mouth before Sunday night. This was just one game (and a great win) but it's just one of many. The Cavs can't get too high on this, as they finish off their four games in five nights stretch in Detroit on Wednesday night. That being said, I think I'm going to enjoy this new rivalry, the game was physical and neither team seemed to like each other. I'll leave you with this paragraph from the AP wrap up, which brings a smile to my face:
During the closing minutes, James and Garnett exchanged a few choice words and both teams played as if it were a playoff game in June. After the final horn, there were no friendly hugs shared between two of the East's powers.


graham said...

Jalen Rose summed up the AV situation the best tonight on ESPN when showing Gooden going 8-8 in the 3rd quarter. Rose said "Hey Alexander Varejao, you might want to get your contract done."

Nothing shows how vital you are to a team than a TV analyst not even knowing you're first name.

Good Lord, if Hughes had ANYTHING left, the Cavs could win the title the way LeBron, Gooden, and Z have stepped up their game. It's borderline shameful.

Hornless Rhino said...

The Cavs really played great basketball last night, but didn't the last :22 of regulation drive you nuts? I groaned when I saw LeBron take the ball up high, because I knew that we were about to get another dose of playground ball with the game on the line.

The 11 points that LeBron snagged in OT more than made up for that, but still...

On the other hand, I don't want to nit pick, and any time that somebody writes a headline like this one, it's a damn good day to be a Cavs fan.

Ben said...

the last second shot in regulation didn't bug me too much. I was only concerned about the Celtics not getting another chance. And they didn't.

I would've liked to see Coach Mike actually call a play, but LeBron had hit a couple of jumpers from that spot already.

Erik said...

Everybody makes a big deal about the perception that LeBron is too buddy-buddy with other NBA stars like D-Wade and Melo. But make no mistakes about it: He does not like the Celtics and he does not like the Pistons. This will be a factor come playoff time.

The only thing that really bugged me about last night's game was the final possession of regulation. Ray Allen, he of the 94 percent free throw shooting, just bricked a pair, which might happen twice a season. With the tie still improbably intact, the Cavs had a chance to end it at the buzzer.

They let LeBron milk the clock down to six or seven seconds, and right then I figured you'd see a play develop. Someone would run to LeBron, set a pick, post down low, something. But LeBron just dribbled into a double team, dribbled some more and hoisted the most tentative shot he took all night.

I figured five more minutes against the Celtics is a bad idea. LeBron won it with 11 in the OT, and I guess you can play for a tie at home, but man was that last possession botched. Even Austin Carr was exasperated with the lack of execution.

rick grayshock said...

Why not try and drive the lane with that final play? With the score tied a foul shot wins the game. Not a good decision in my book.

graham said...

LeBron can legitimately hit that shot at any time now, so I don't mind it so much. I guess I'd rather see him drive, but whatever, you gotta trust James to read the defense and do whatever he thinks is best.

More times than not, he knows what he's doing.

Ben said...

I figured that they'd run a pick or something as well, but even then, it wasn't like he took an off balance fade away 3 (as he's done in the past).

Sure, it wasn't a good play, but I have a hard time getting too upset about considering how well LeBron's been shooting and the fact that they pulled it out in OT.

Greg said...

Best Cavaliers blogger out there.

Ben said...

on a completely unrelated note, somehow I got on emailing list for Dennis Miller's new show on versus. I keep getting press releases and video clips sent to me.

So I got that going for me...

Anonymous said...

Dennis Miller sucks.