Monday , May , 07 , 2007 Oly Sandor

LeBron James And Cleveland Cavaliers’ Air-Tight Defense Wins Game One Over New Jersey Nets

Cleveland did just enough to win game one 81-77 in their Eastern Conference playoff series against the New Jersey Nets … But they didn’t look great against New Jersey … And they haven’t played a complete game in this year’s playoffs. Can we fault LeBron James and the Cavaliers for doing enough to get by and nothing more? …

What Happened: ’ play in the final minute sealed the win for , helping the Cavaliers remain undefeated in the post-season.

James hit a big bank-shot with 20 seconds left to give the Cavaliers a four-point lead. On the next possession, he blocked a shot to preserve Cleveland’s 81-77 win over in game one of their Eastern Conference playoff series.

James scored 14 points in the second-half, finishing up with 21 for the game. He also added 11 assists and seven rebounds. added 17 points and five assists. chipped in with 15 points and three blocked shots.

Cleveland was well-rested after sweeping Washington in their opening round series. The Cavaliers used this energy to turn-up the defensive pressure, holding the Nets to just 37% shooting from the floor.

and both had poor shooting nights. Carter scored 21 points and added 13 rebounds, but hit just 7-of-23 shot attempts, while Kidd went 2-for-11 from the floor, ending up with seven points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. added 16 points.

Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Cleveland.

Reaction of Cleveland coach Mike Brown on his team’s defense:
 “Our defense was the thing that carried us.” (CNNSI)

Reaction of Cleveland guard Larry Hughes on the importance of playing defense:
"We understand that if we get stops, we’re a tough team to play." (ESPN)

Reaction of New Jersey guard Jason Kidd on his tough shooting:
“We missed some shots we thought we’d make. If we have those chances in Game 2, hopefully it’ll bounce our way. It was my fault, but that’s what playoffs are all about, making plays at the right time. They made them coming down the stretch." (ESPN)

My Take: The Cavaliers are doing just enough to win. They haven’t put together a complete game in this year’s playoffs. But it doesn’t matter because they keep winning.

There were some very encouraging signs in their game one victory. First, Cleveland played outstanding defense. They clogged passing lanes. They forced Carter into taking bad shots. And they controlled the paint.

Second, James wasn’t doing all the scoring. Four starters scored 14 points or more and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a near-double-double, scoring 8 points to go with 14 rebounds.

The Nets looked tired from their opening round series against the Raptors. Carter has to shoot better, while Jefferson is too athletic of a player to only have a pair of rebounds in 34 minutes of playing time.

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