Monday , Apr , 30 , 2007 Oly Sandor

LeBron James And The Cleveland Cavaliers Sweep Washington

LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers are through to the next round, sweeping the Washington Wizards in four games. But can we criticize the Cavaliers for their lackluster play? After all, the Wizards were shorthanded, missing Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. And how will Cleveland fare against a more formidable opponent? Click here for exclusive analysis….

What Happened: Brooms and dustpans have taken over the NBA playoffs. The   became the third Eastern Conference team to sweep their first-round opponent.

Cleveland completed the sweep by squeaking past the 97-90 on Monday night.   led the way with a near-triple-double, posting 31 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists.

Down the stretch, James watched  and Larry Hughes score 18 of Cleveland’s final 19 points. Ilgauskas put the Cavaliers on top to stay with back-to-back baskets in the fourth quarter. He finished with 20 points and added 19 rebounds. Hughes chipped in with 19 points, which included shooting a razor-sharp 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

Once again, carried the offensive load for a shorthanded Washington squad that was missing and . Jamison hit for 31 points. He easily outscored the rest of the Wizards starting line-up, who combined for 24 points.

was Washington’s second leading scorer. The reserve forward had 16 points in 19 minutes of action.

Cleveland will face the winner of the New Jersey-Toronto series. The Nets lead the series 3-1.

Reaction of Cleveland forward LeBron James on the Cavaliers’ Championship aspirations:
"Last year, going into the playoffs, it was all about making the playoffs. I hadn’t been there in my NBA career, and Z hadn’t been there since his rookie season, so that was our main focus: ’Let’s make the playoffs, let’s make the playoffs.’ We’ve got bigger and better things now. It’s about winning a championship, and we’re one step closer." (NBA TV)

Reaction of Cleveland forward LeBron James on his supporting cast:
"We can’t win if these guys don’t play well, Z and Larry. Simple as that. I need them every game to be a factor." (ESPN)

Reaction of Washington Coach Eddie Jordan
on missing Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler:
 “Gil’s a strong personality. Caron’s a strong personality. They’re tough. They bring more to the table than just numbers, and their numbers were huge." (CNNSI)

My Take: Cleveland is an interesting team. Sometimes they look like contenders. Sometimes they look unfocused and soft. I don’t put much stock in their play against Washington.

The Cavaliers knew they didn’t have to be at their best to win. So they coasted until the end of the each game. Fair enough.

There were positive signs. Different members of James’ supporting cast stepped and made big plays. Drew Gooden had a tremendous game two. Ilgauskas averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds for the series, while Larry Hughes was great at the point guard spot.

When their supporting cast contributes, Cleveland can hold their own against any Eastern Conference team.

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