Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cleveland 111, Toronto 108

Live by the 3... um... live by the 3? The Cavs hoisted 30 treys and hit 13 of 'em. LeBron set up the Cavs' drive and kick offense beautifully and found his shooters when the defense collapsed on him (especially in the second half). Daniel Gibson knocked down 4-8 from beyond the arc and Damon Jones was 5-9 (LeBron was 2-8). The offense didn't have a whole lot of movement, but guys got open enough to get the shot off and they dropped (and Toronto kept giving them looks).

LeBron James is ridiculous. With all the coverage that Boston has been getting, LeBron and the 7-6 Cavaliers have flown a bit under the radar. He's not getting the pub, but James is playing like an MVP right now. He posted his third triple double of the season and went for 37 points, 12 boards, 12 assists, 3 steals and yet another block. You know all that talk of 'potential' and averaging a triple double... James is averaging 30-8-8 this season. He's doing everything that you could ask of him. He's leading both the offense and the defense. He's grabbing tough boards and he's playing inside. He's dominating.

Chris Bosh is pretty good too. The fourth pick of the '03 draft had himself a pretty good afternoon as well. Bosh abused both Z and Gooden in route to dropping 41 points and 5 assists. Bosh got Z fouled out and shot an absurd 15-17 from the line. However, I will admit that I was kinda surprised to check the box score and see that Bosh only had 4 boards. I have no idea how a guy as big and athletic as Bosh can play 42 minutes and only get 4 rebounds. [insert obligatory Bosh looks like a dinosaur joke here]

The Cavs had some weird lineups throughout the game. I'm sure Coach Mike is winging some of these, but I'm not gonna lie, that Jones-Gibson-Brown-Snow-Z five was pretty awesome. The Cavs had a lot of lineups where Z was the only traditional 'big' to go along with LeBron and the shooters. And, ya know what? It worked. Obviously it helps when the guys are knocking down their J's, but the Cavs pushed the tempo and moved the ball just enough to keep getting open looks.

Z played well. Again. 16 points and 15 boards ain't bad. He was the beneficiary of a lot of passes from James. Z also had a nice assist to LeBron off a set out-of-bounds play. My favorite sequence of the game (by far) was when Z tipped in an air ball from Damon Jones, which the refs initially called goal tending. Illgauskas became extremely agitated and ran down the court screaming for them to change the call. It worked. They changed it (though I'm not so sure they should've).

Sasha Pavlovic looked decent. He hit one big 3 but missed another. He seemed more in control this game (his drives weren't horrendous) and he rebounded (8 boards) and defended well. I have a feeling once Pavs gets his legs back, we'll really like the two guard combo of Devin Brown and Sasha.

Riddle me this: the Cavs got a triple double from LeBron James, they out shot the Raptors (52%-49%), they out rebounded Toronto 47-28(!), they made seven more 3s, they got more fast break points (15-11) but they won by just 3 (at home). Cleveland committed more turnovers (13-5) which led to 23 Toronto points but 13 TO's ain't exactly a lot. Free throws hurt the Cavaliers (sound familiar?) but at least LeBron wasn't the main culprit (7-8). The Cavs were just 12-19 from the charity stripe while the Raptors went 20-22. Devin Brown, Gibson and Pavlovic all missed multiple freebies.

and finally...

Are we gonna see a win streak? The Cavs haven't won more than two in a row all season. They play in Indiana tomorrow afternoon (while the NFL is on. Good call there) and the Pacers are very beatable. I'm sure there are some people who are disappointed by the Cavaliers 'only' being 7-6, but (from what I've seen) they've been pretty focussed (at least offensively) and they're playing hard every night. Last season they had a tendency to take a game off here or there but I haven't really seen that this year.

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