Friday, December 05, 2008

Cleveland 97, Indiana 73

Weird first half. The Cavs shot 35% for the first period, but started off 5-6 (all jumpers) in building a 13-4 lead. The Pacers caught up (the Cavs kept shooting those jumpers) and the Cavs ended the first with a 21-20 lead. In the second period, Anderson Varejao went off (it was his wig night). Varejao finished the first half with 17 points on 7-7 shooting (and six of 'em were jumpers). Also, the Pacers didn't shoot a free throw during the entire half.

Strong second half and finish. The Cavs outscored the Pacers 31-18 in the second quarter and never looked back. They went into halftime up 52-38 and it was never that close for the rest of the game (cresting with a 27 point lead). The Cavs bench put up 35 points and kept the momentum going (and honestly, gave the Cavs momentum after a somewhat listless first quarter). Their third quarter wasn't great (only scoring 18 points) but they held Indiana to just 16, making the score 70-54 heading into the fourth.

The Cavs crushed them and LeBron only had 11 points. Not to say that James wasn't active in other aspects of the game. LeBron didn't have a triple double, but he did stuff the stat sheet; James finished with 11 points, 11 assists, 8 boards, 3 blocks and a steal. Oh, and he also shut down Danny Granger (4 points, 2-7 FGs). The Pacers made a conscious effort not to let James beat them and well, it kinda worked; James was just 4-12 from the field, but the Cavs are too good of shooters to just be left alone all game long.

I'm really enjoying this three man guard rotation. Mo Williams scored 17 points (7-9 FG) and had 4 assists in 27 minutes. Daniel Gibson had 14 points (2-5 3pt) in 28 minutes. And Delonte West? He had 14 points (4-12 FG, 4-6 3pt) and 7 assists in 32 minutes (the only Cavs starter besides James to cross the 30 minute mark). I didn't expect that these three guys would mesh together so well. Anyone can handle the PG duties for a stretch of time, freeing the other one up to work off the ball.

The rest of the bench was pretty good too. Varejao had a superb first half and Gibson shot the ball really well but both Szczerbiak and Pavlovic made some nice plays. Sasha forced a steal that led to Szczerbiak feeding LeBron for an alley-oop on the ensuing fast break. Neither Wally (1-4 FG) nor Sasha (o-2 FG) shot the ball particularly well, but both guys were working hard out there in their limited minutes, which was really nice to see.

The starting bigs had yet another solid game. With his spot up shot working to perfection (at least in the second half), Z was tied for the team lead with 17 points (8-15 FG, 1-2 3pt) and he also grabbed 8 boards. The big fella has scored in double figures in each of the games this season. Meanwhile, Ben Wallace finished with 2 blocks and 7 boards (including a couple of fantastic offensive boards). As a team, the Cavs finished with 10 blocks and out-rebounded the Pacers 43-35.

I like this Pacer team. This team is full of guys who I think could really contribute on good, playoff basketball teams. I'm not sure they should all be on one team together. I like their guards (TJ Ford, Jarrett Jack, Marquis Daniels and Brandon Rush) and I'm fan of their bigs too (Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster and Roy Hibbert). And hell, Danny Granger is a baller. Like I said, I think all of these guys could play for contenders (unlike the Drew Goodens and Ricky Davises of the world), but I'm not sure if they fit together. I was kinda worried about this game coming in (I mean, they've beaten both Boston and L.A.) but the Cavs just clamped down and methodically put them away.

Fox Sports Ohio is still annoying. I know I've talked less about the announcers this season and I think I know why. No, it's not because they've gotten good (though they aren't gawd awful). I just think that I have a higher tolerance for Austin Carr and Fred McLeod when I'm not being subjugated 20 foot bricks from Larry Hughes and co. But Austin has to get over this "throws the hammer down" stuff. It's totally fine to use but Carr keeps bringing it back in casual conversations and replays (and tonight he strung it out and let it tail off, as in "throw the hammer doooooooooooooown...). It has to stop. Also, here's an exact quote from tonight's game, enjoy:
McLeod: "That hurts. That's like a pitcher throwing away... an intentional pass. Oh my. "
Carr: "Somebody get a stick and kill it!!"
and finally...

Yet another big win. There's a real possibility that we'll catch another blowout tomorrow night when the Cavs face the Bobcats in Charlotte. They then start another 4-in-5 on Tuesday when they face the Raptors at home (they have a home-and-home with Philly over the two middle games and finish it off in Atlanta on the 13th). Those are all very winnable games, and while I'm not saying I expect them to be 21-3 late next week, but it's not out of the question (and even if they do lose, I'd be shocked if they didn't bounce right back win the next one).