LeCavs’ CLE-WAS Game One Wrap-up
Cross posted with additional commentary on LeCavs.
While the Wizards have spent the last few weeks putting their mouths on overdrive, the Cavs have been busy fine tuning their hairdos and their game.
Of course, LeBron was great. It’s tough to say that he dominated, but his willingness to move off the ball and his (FINALLY) deciding to lay off the 3s (0-2 after averaging 5 per all season) meant it was nothing but easy shots throughout, explaining his 12-19 shooting performance. With his low rebounding numbers, I still worry that his back isn’t 100%, but as he looked me in the eye (as I sat in the rafters), climbing to throw down an alley-oop from Boobie Gibson, no soreness would provide more of a barrier to a win than DeShawn Stevenson. Which is to say next to none. Late in the game as the doubles came, he passed it off, forcing the Wiz to be honest, leaving big baskets for Delonte West, Boobie and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Once the Wiz backed off and LeBron could catch the ball at the three-point line he abused the collapsing defense with a few floaters in the lane.
Speaking of Z and Delonte, the Cavs have the 1-2 punch to back up LeBron and counter the output of Washington’s Big 3. Early on, the Cavs fed Z in the post like he was the monster in Little Shop of Horrors, letting him grow bigger and more confident, driving him deeper onto the block where the Wiz were less and less able to stop him. Honestly, I’m not sure why he only got 17 looks. Brendan Haywood should have fouled out by the end of the third and nobody on the Wizards’ bench has the body to bother Z.
But as long as we went away from the big fella, Delonte decided it was his turn to get his hands on every ball and nail every free throw. Without LeBron’s explosiveness to corral every rebound and with his agonizing free throw stroke keeping the door open, it was Delonte rising in traffic to seal the win.
What’s scary is how poorly the Cavs shot throughout. Credit to the Wizards: The defense was there far more than I expected. The intensity of the series is a tremendous help to them as their focus forced the Cavs into a number of ugly shots with a low shot clock. The Cavs’ 2-12 combined for 31%, usually a recipe for disaster.
Fortunately, whenever the game got close, it was the defense, at the urging of the thundering home crowd, that shut the door on the hot-and-cold Wiz. Also, fortunately, the defense was founded on physical play, and with the aid of injuries to Butler and Arenas, no Wizards were anxious to challenge the lane. As they settled for outside shots, a typical bane of the Cavs, momentum would shift to the team willing to execute and find the makeable shots when a basket was needed.
In the end, the edge goes to the Cavs for that aggression. When playing with fire and pride, this Cavs team is able to beat anybody. That’s why Charles Barkley believes the Wizards are the dumbest team on earth and it’s why today the Cavs took the first step in winning this year’s battle with the Wiz.
[header image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinosaurcountry/]