Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cleveland 101, Philadelphia 93

It's always sunny when you're winning 10 in a row (sorry, just needed to reference It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia-that show kicks ass!- back to the recap). The Cavs played in all types of situations on Wednesday night. They trailed for the bulk of the first quarter (they led 3-2) and then they took the lead in the second (they started with a 15-2 run and they're lead was up to 10 at one point) before Philly went on a 7-0 run to close the first half. The Cavaliers then took over the third period, blitzing the Sixers so bad that Mo Cheeks had to call timeouts with both 11 and 10 minutes left in the period. They went into the fourth leading by 19 (84-65) but this wasn't going to be a cakewalk like previous games. Philly had a strong fourth quarter (and the Cavs got a little sloppy), trailing by just 6 (95-89) with 2:00 to go. But the Cavs got two huge buckets from Mo Williams and Ben Wallace and the Cavs pulled away with another victory.

Mo Williams was ridiculous. Mo had 27 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and practically every big basket that the Cavs needed. Williams had an answer everytime the Sixers made a run and he was on fire, shooting 11-16 from the floor overall and 2-3 from downtown (he also hit all three attempted free throws).

LeBron was awesome as usual. 29 points, 5 assists, 4 boards and 2 blocks. He got lit up by Andre Iguodala (who finished with 27-9-5) for 21 points in the first half, but held him to just 6 in the second. Per usual, James had a couple of big plays; my favorite being perfect 25 foot trey to end the first period to cut the Sixer lead in half. James also had a couple of sick passes to Varejao (who had an excellent game with 15 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, a steal and a block), leading to easy baskets or free throws.

Ben Wallace played really well. Big Ben finished with 6 points, 10 boards and 2 blocks in 26 minutes. He was a bit more aggressive at the offensive end (6 shot attempts) and he a huge put-back dunk with a minute left to squash any of Philadelphia's comeback hopes. Wallace continued to play his stellar defense as well, holding Elton Brand (in his first game back from injury) to just 3-11 shooting.

Zydrunas got hurt and I totally blame Mike Brown. Z, who had a solid game (9 points, 6 boards and 3 assists), rolled his ankle when landed on former Cavalier Donyell Marshall's foot, when Marshall was chucking a 28 footer. I guarantee you that Z isn't challenging that shot if John Lucas was still coaching him.

Mike Brown has this team busting their asses. I joke about Z's injury but he challenged that 28 foot hoist while the Cavs had a 16 point lead. Minutes earlier, to end the third quarter, Wally Szczerbiak fought for an jump ball with six seconds left on the clock following a LeBron James miss. The ensuing jump ball led to a nice dunk by Delonte West. This all happened with an 18 point lead. I just thought that play was indicitive of this season, the 9th guy fighting for a loose offensive rebound with 6 seconds left in the period while elading by 18. That's hustle.

I like what I'm seeing from Sasha Pavlovic. Sasha was just 2-7 from the floor but he contributed in other ways, grabbing 3 boards and dishing out 2 assists in his 20 minutes of court time. Pavlovic will be getting some extra PT while Gibson is out and if he to keep some of those minutes, he's going to have to do more than just score and play defense. I've liked what I've seen recently, when Sasha is driving he passing the ball off with more regularity and he's getting some easy buckets for the bigs. Plus, he's not so tunnel visioned on getting to the rim and he's drawing way less offensive fouls. In short, he's playing more in control.

and finally...

You guys again? The Cavs host the Sixers on Friday night and then face the Hawks in Atlanta on Saturday to finish out this 4-in-5 stretch. The Atlanta game marks the start of a little 4 game road trip that heads out West to Minnesota, Denver and Oklahoma City. The Cavs can tie the franchise record for consecutive victories at 11 with a win over Philly on Friday night. All the news stories say they'd be tying a streak that they set in the 88-89 season (Price-Harper-Williams-Nance-Daugherty), but I could've sworn that they had 11 during the 97-98 season (Knight-Anderson-Henderson-Kemp-Ilgauskas) as well. (Discussion question: if Danny Ferry makes the right moves and the Cavs win the championship, doese that mean I have to stop being pissed off about the Ron Harper trade? Is Ferry even the GM here without the Harper trade?)