Friday, May 02, 2008

Cleveland 105, Washington 88

Hey, defense, rebounding and making open shots! Who knew? The Cavs held the Wizards under 40% shooting (39.7%!), they grabbed more rebounds (45-42) and they made their open looks, especially from 3 (Gibson was 4-6 from downtown while Wally Szczerbiak was 6-13... 13!).

The Cavs withstood Washington's best shot in the first quarter. Washington scored 31 points in the first period, but only led by four. As a Cavs fan, you gotta be feeling good about only being down four in that situation, as Washington shot really well (57%) and LeBron only had 2 points. Then the second quarter happened...

The Cavs brought the hammer down mid-second quarter. The teams traded baskets to start the second period and the Wizards held a 41-35 lead with seven and a half minutes to go. Six minutes later, the Cavs had 56-43 lead and went into halftime leading 56-48. That 21-2 run? The Cavs made 8 field goals and assisted on 6 of 'em (the other two? Layups). The Cavs held the Wizards to jump shots while they buried four 3s on their own end. Daniel Gibson led the way with 13 points (3 treys), LeBron had 8 and Joe Smith pitched in 4.

Over-rated, eh? LeBron destroyed the Wizards with everything in his arsenal. James led everyone with 27 points (8-17 FG, 10-10 FT), he grabbed 13 boards and dished out 13 assists (he picked the Wizards apart early on, 7 assists in the first half). When it comes down to it, they really had no answers for James; there's no one on this team that can really give him trouble (Jared Jefferies was the only guy who used to make a difference) and Stevenson tried to flop his to a couple of cheap offensive fouls. For the most part, James took good shots (much better than Game 5) and he guarded Caron Butler on and off throughout the game.

Somebody ask Caron Butler if Mike Brown is a good coach. I've had my issues with Brown in the past (and I'm sure I will in the future) but Brown can game plan with the best of 'em. After watching Caron Butler go off for 32 points in Game 5, Brown set up the entire defense to stop him; the Cavs sent waves of guys at Butler, they doubled him at different times and he never got comfortable. Through the first 3 quarters, Butler had just 7 points. He finished with 18 points (6-14 shooting), 9 boards and just 1 assist.

If the Cavs are making shots, you aren't going to beat them. Daniel Gibson had 22 points and made 4-6 treys. Wally Szczerbiak scored a career playoff high 26 points and made 6 of 13 treys. Why these guys continued to be left wide open is beyond me, but they made the Wizards pay. Wally provided a big boost in the first quarter, scoring 9 and Gibson was a key player in the big second quarter run. As a team, the Cavs were 11-24 from behind the arc.

The Cavaliers moved the ball extremely well. They had 29 assists on 40 baskets and everyone was sharing the ball. James had the eye popping number with 13 assists, but Delonte West pitched in 7 and Boobie, Z and Big Ben each had 2. They spread the ball around (four guys in double figures, three guys were over 20) and they didn't settle for jumpers (though they took a lot of open ones).

Z had another solid game. The big fella finished with 12 points, 7 boards, 2 assists and 2 blocks. He grabbed 5 defensive rebounds after only having 1 in Game 5; as a team, the Cavs really stepped it up on the defensive boards after giving up 5 offensive boards in the first period. Z also had a nifty alley-oop pass to James off the high post (which is a play I absolutely love- the big guy can pass, when guys actually move without the ball).

Again, I feel for Antawn Jamison. 23 points, 15 boards in a loosing effort. Neither Jamison or Butler talked any trash during this series, both guys played hard and kept their mouthes shut. However, Jamison and Butler had just 2 assists combined on Friday night. When your two best players have as many assists as Ben Wallace... well, I don't know exactly what that means, but it cannot be good.

Speaking of Wallace... Solid game for Big Ben. He wasn't spectacular or anything, but he had 4 points and 7 boards. He missed some close shots, he made some closer shots and he never had to go to the line (thank God).

Speaking of thanking God, Anderson Varejao only played 11 minutes. I haven't cared for Andy's play throughout this series and Friday was no exception. He took another wild-ish post shot and he finished with just 2 points and 2 boards for the night. Fortunately, Mike Brown didn't feel the need to throw him back out there. Maybe the Wizards were just a poor matchup for him, I dunno, but if the Cavs want any chance to make it back to the conference finals, Varejao will have to play much better.

and finally...

Rest up boys, you aren't playing til Tuesday. Thanks to the Atlanta Hawks (and Doc Rivers) there will be a Game 7 on Sunday, so the Cavs will have a few days off. Hopefully they can get Sasha Pavlovic acclimated with the rest of the team and actually have their roster at full strength. Has that happened since the trade? Everyone back and healthy? I'm not sure it has. It's probably not a good thing that the first time they'll have their full roster will be the playoffs... but it's a nice problem too have, no? Too many healthy bodies? I'll take it.

6 comments:

davemanddd said...

soon after the cavs won tonite, somebody posed the question to me of who would i rather see the cavs play in the 2nd round, the celtics or the hawks??? my response - the celtics, believe it or not. i say this knowing full well about their trio of all-stars, but that's my point exactly why i would like to see the cavs to face them instead of the hawks. they played a game earlier this year and the celtics seemed unsure about who should be the one to take the final shot and their indecisiveness between them ultimately cost them and the cavs won a close game. the celtics then won their next matchup, but mind you, lebron didn't play in that game due to having his finger all but cut off by the pistons a few games prior and the celtics only won that game by 10 on their home court without lebron and the rest of the team clearly out of sync on the offensive end of the court. it was a testament to mike brown's defensive smarts that kept them as close as they were. the cavs then won a squeaker over the c's in a 1-point win 114-113 that kg sat out with a busted gut, then in the last meeting, boston won by 5 mainly because they were at home and the cavs were playing the 2nd game of a back-to-back and had just lost at the buzzer the previous night on that infamous michael redd 3-pointer. give the cavs a couple of days rest in between games, as is the case during the playoffs, i say the cavs win then. just look at what has happened to boston versus atlanta. they have been forced to a game 7 against the worst team in the playoffs. what do you think the cavs would do against them if they can't even handle the lowly hawks??? do you think maybe the vaunted "big 3" might just be a tad over-rated??? after all, how many times has kg made it past the first round of the playoffs during his career??? umm, once and only once. pierce has proven that he's nothing without someone else to take the pressure off him like an antoine walker back in the day and now the other 2 of the "big 3". i don't remember ray allen doing too much to help the bucks or seattle ever advance all that far in the playoffs either. as for atlanta, i must say they remind me a lot of golden state last year in that no one is giving them any respect at all and yet here they are pushing the # 1 seed to the brink just like what happened last year to dallas who got stunned by golden state despite winning 67 games in the regular season. boston is a lot like dallas this year as they also led the league in wins with 66, but just because you are good in the regular season, doesn't mean a hill of beans in the playoffs. as for the cavs, they look like they are more of a team built for the playoffs that struggled to find their rhythm during the last part of the regular season following the big trade, but are finally beginning to put all the pieces of the puzzle together at just the right time. i would be wary of a matchup against atlanta though as they have just the right mix of players that seem to give the cavs fits. guys like tyron lue, josh childress and josh smith tend to go off on the cavs, while someone like joe johnson tends to struggle for some reason. even still, if i had my druthers, i would prefer to see them play the celtics. after all, the national media might just respect the cavs a little more if they beat the celtics on their way to another matchup with detroit as opposed to the virtual cakewalk they enjoyed against the wiz and new jersey last season. we can only hope.

LargeBill said...

I'd never root for an injury, but lets hope for a very rough & bruising game seven in Boston. Let KG, Pierce and friends start the next series sore and tired.

Erik said...

Whether to face the Celtics or Hawks is a tough question. I really can't see Boston losing a Game 7 on their court against the Hawks, so I don't think this is even going to develop into a debate. But you still have to wonder.

The Cavs have always had problems with the Hawks. They always get burned by their quick, slippery point guards and now Joe Johnson has turned into Mr. Clutch. It's always tough to face a guy who has a knack for shooting the lights out in the fourth quarter. It's so deflating when a guy like Johnson is just shooting over and neutralizing your defense.

If Atlanta somehow wins Sunday, they are going to be on cloud nine and bursting with confidence heading to Cleveland for Game 1. If Boston does the predictable and wins, they're probably still going to be shaking off the after effects of nearly losing a first-round series to a team that won 29 fewer regular season games.

The Celtics are in the position the Cavs would have been in had they lost their Game 6. Boston has already lost their series in a way by letting the Hawks drag their tired bones to a deciding game.

So, a red-hot Hawks club that doesn't know enough to be afraid of LBJ, or a more talented but heavily-laboring Celtics club? I could definitely see where facing The Nation might have its advantages at this point.

Geoffrey said...

Stevenson = 36% FG percentage, 38% on 3's for the series. If you take the Game 3 wizards blow out: 33% FG percentage and 31% on 3's.

This guy should be run out of town. What a douche

graham said...

I'd take the Hawks over the Celtics in a heartbeat. Yeah, they are very athletic but our bigs would eventually wear them down. If Boston had any type of clutch performer/closer, this series woulda been over already. Throw in the fact that they are inexperienced (not that Boston is really experienced either), I'd more than welcome playing the Hawks over Boston.

Boston should get it done in Beantown, and probably pretty easily.

btw Erik, good post-Game 5 write up on the ClevelandFan.com. Summed it perfectly.

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