10:16pm – Winding it down. Stretches of success, stretches of failure. This was a playoff game without the playoff atmosphere.
10:12pm – Cavs going to lose their opening game for the second year in a row to Boston, have lost 5 of the 7 openers in LeBron James era. Have lost at least two of their first three games in 5 of last 6 years.
10:11pm – Son of a bitch, Parker. Catch the ball.
10:09pm – I’m not sure how Pierce gets away with shoving Mo Williams to the floor, but he just did. Cavs down 6 with 1 minute left.
10:07pm – Two minutes left, pulls within 4 points!
10:06pm – Pierce gets his fifth foul trying to murder LeBron.
10:05pm – As it looks right now, the supporting cast is not pulling their weight. Anthony Parker is 3-for-9 from the field. Still have a shot
10:03pm – Uh, ohhhh, Shaq’s first FTs of his Cavalier career. Clank, clank.
10:00pm – Yes, LeBron palmed that ball. But if you’re going to call that, then you’ve GOT to call three steps on Pierce and Allen.
9:58pm – It’s LeBron time! 3-pointer brings us to within four!
9:55pm – Sweet Jesus, I hate Paul Pierce
9:54pm – Chances to get closer being wasted. We need one more burst to win this. 6 minutes remain in a five-point game.
9:52pm – Z hits two FTs, within 5 now!
9:47pm – Crowd very quiet, almost waiting for a reason to get excited.
9:42pm – Z finally scores a FG, but the defense overall is lagging again. Fresh Shaq and LeBron on the floor for the stretch.
9:38pm – It’s only three-quarters of one game, but Zydrunas is officially the Derek Anderson of the Cavaliers. Can’t pass, refuses to score, looks scared with the ball.
9:34pm – The difference in the past 6 minutes has been defense. Boston was shooting 57%, now down to 48%. Boston has missed 8 of their last 10 shots and only has three FGs in the last 9 minutes of play.
9:33pm – Cavs turn a 15-point deficit into a 7-point one in half a quarter. Looking better….here comes the 4th!
9:29pm – LeBron’s first “and-one” brings us to within 9… but not 8.
9:27pm – Watching Ilgauskas exclusively, and it’s very very ugly. He has no speed to return to his player when he jumps off the screen.
9:25pm – LeBron takes over again! Blocks another layup and then buries a three! DEEP at the Q!
9:24pm – Mo Williams has arisen
9:23pm – Z refuses to jump and doesnt get the rebound because of it
9:20pm – Oh, shit here comes Z
9:18 pm- Replays at The Q show Allen took three steps to the hoop and got the foul call for him.
9:14pm – Back to within ten points. The defense has stepped up again and forced three turnovers by Boston in four possessions. 5-0 run brings them to within 62-52.
9:12pm – Shaq’s first dunk as a Cav
9:10pm – Shaq is not working to the rim anymore. He’s getting the ball and shooting too quickly. Kendrick Perkins has only one foul, because he’s not being forced to foul.
9:07pm – Celtics on a run of 54-26. No excuse for that at all.
9:06pm – Boston shooting 57 percent from the field.
9:05pm – Now its getting embarrassing. No defense whatsoever. When a guy like Rajon freaking Rondo can get to the rim with his head intact, it’s ridiculous.
9:04pm – Mo Williams trying to do too much, ends up turning it over. The rhythm is gone for now.
9:03pm – Garnett tastes floorboard, crowd loves it.
9:01pm – Third quarter about to begin, usually our worst period. Maybe we transferred that to the second quarter for this game? One can only hope, as we were outscored by 13 in the 2nd.
8:55pm – Only two players shooting over 50% for Cleveland – Shaq and LeBron.
8:46pm – LeBron with 14 points, no other Cav in double digits (earlier report of Shaq with 10 was wrong). Mo Williams struggling with his shot, but his defense has been good. We’re allowing over 51% shooting from Boston, and 78% from 3-point land. Adjustments need to be made, and fast.
8:40pm – Officiating crew, in an attempt to be correct, have failed. They called a conference, then called a foul on Moon (before the travel was called), but failed to recognize that if the foul is called, it’s not a shooting situation. Pierce gets two free points. Cavs failing down the stretch and have a horrible second quarter, down by six at the half.
8:29pm – Now it’s looking like the playoff game all the pundits said it would. Shaq has ten points, LeBron with 13. Celtics hitting 3s at a 75% clip, keeping them in the game. Tied at 44, 2 minutes left in the half.
8:25pm – Regarding Jamario Moon – Never mind.
8:20pm – Boston decided not to run away from the early deficit. The Cavs are not in sync at the moment, and a couple of ill-advised shots haven’t fallen. Meanwhile, the typical “close my eyes, throw it in the air, and bitch at the ref” strategy by Pierce is working for him.
8:18pm – Now it’s a game again. Tied at 34, but the starters are all back on the floor.
8:14pm – Yes, Varejao has a better FT % than Ray Allen
8:09pm – Jamario Moon can’t hold onto the ball inside, and shoots like Wally Szczerbiak outside. The bad Wally Szczerbiak. Cavs lead about to disappear. Get Z and Moon on the bench and get the flow back on the floor.
8:07pm – Ilgauskas is a liability again
8:00pm – Cavs lead at the end of the first quarter by only 7 points. Celtics made a run against second-teamers mostly. Not impressed with Ilgauskas or Jamario Moon yet. One key factor is that LeBron doesn’t HAVE to take over a game anymore. Multiple players to help out with the offense, potentially. However, the Celtics are back in the game and the early burst has ended. The 14-point lead is cut in half.
7:52pm – When are players going to learn that if LeBron is within twenty feet of a layup, you’re not going to score? Even Boobie Gibson is looking sharp. Cavs keeping a double-digit lead on a surging Boston team.
7:48pm – Celtics on a little run, Shaq looking AWESOME.
7:38pm – Cavaliers have a flow, momentum, they look relaxed and calm. Celtics can’t find a rhythm and looked pissed. Pierce hasn’t even tried a shot yet and the Cavs are dominating. 13-2 good guys already!
7:33pm – Here we go!!
7:25pm – I’m thinking the fans are going to let out a LOT of frustration from months of suffering over the Indians/Browns. The Cavs will be the recpients of a warm, overdue reception tonight, ALL night.
7:10pm – Glen “Big Baby” Davis not playing (for a long time). Surgery today on a broken thumb, then discussion of being suspended by the Celtics for misconduct. Davis wasn’t a main cog, but he was a big part of the backup that got Boston through their injury stage last year. It will hurt having him out.
Quicken Loans Arena filled up in a hurry tonight and the fans are LOUD already. Updates throughout the night….
There are two teams in the NBA that have a winning record against the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. Both of them are still alive. I’m fine with that, I want to take them both apart during this drive for the trophy.
Tonight, the Orlando Magic earned their shot to be humiliated on National TV. They buried the Boston Celtics in the 4th quarter of Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals starting Wednesday night in Cleveland. A 5-point game was blown wide open as the Magic won 101-82, and it truly was a beautiful sight watching an empty Boston Garden* as the clock wound down.
I’d been harping on it for about a week, and it finally bit Boston in the ass….they were tired. Paul Pierce looked like he did two years ago, helpless to do anything in a losing cause. Ray Allen dragged his feet late in the game, after being worn out all night by JJ Redick. Incidentally, that’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever written about a Boston player.
The Magic have made a lifelong career of underachieving in the postseason, but they won in a place that very few people believed they could win a Game 7. Frankly, there’s a place that Orlando hardly EVER wins a Game 7…it’s called the NBA. But tonight, they stood tall against a Boston team that looked like they had no reason to win. They didn’t want it. When you have Brian Scalabrine shooting 22-footers and Stephon Marbury handling the ball at the point, you’ve run out of ideas.
So here comes Orlando. They won 2 of 3 games against Cleveland this season, and both games in Florida were BIG Magic wins. That will be the rallying cry for all Magic fans. What they did in the regular season in those two games mean everything. The other 80 games mean nothing.
They’ll have two days rest before they have to come knocking at Quicken Loans Arena, and Game 1 will be a BIG test for Orlando. If they have a shot at knocking off the Cavs, it’s after a 9-day layover for Cleveland. If the Cavs get off with a big Game 1, it’s going to tell a lot for the rest of the series.
Here’s the biggest keys to the series for the Cavaliers to beat Orlando.
1) Dwight Howard is going to clean up the boards. But when he gets the ball in rotation, force him to stay 6 feet outside of the rim. He’s awful when he has to take 8-footers and will miss 2/3rds of them. Use Z to body him out and Varejao to drive him crazy.
2) Despite having a huge inside presence, Orlando can only beat us with three-pointers. Don’t let Turkoglu and Lewis bury us with wide-open 24-footers.
3) Orlando is not capable of stopping LeBron James. James averaged 30 points per game, and nearly had triple-doubles in all three regular-season contests. Obviously, everything runs through him.
4) Pressure, pressure, pressure. If you force this team to make multiple mistakes in a row, Stan Van Gundy will panic and make unnecessary changes. The higher his voice gets, the funnier it will be for Cavs fans. Also, his state of panic tends to piss off his players. They’ll fold right along with him.
And here’s the best news Cavs fans could have….Charles Barkley just said “I think the Orlando Magic will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.” Kenny Smith is now mocking him, saying “in basketball?” Nobody’s dared to ask him if he’s drunk yet. Chris Webber just said that “if both teams had the same NBA I.Q., I’d go with the Magic. But both teams do not have the same NBA I.Q.”
When Chris Webber picks an Ohio team to win, you know there’s a good reason for him to do it.
* – or whatever the hell they call that decrepit basketball shithole these days.
Top three key players for each team, and their total playoff minutes played…..
Ray Allen – 442 minutes played
Paul Pierce – 437 minutes played
Rajon Rondo – 472 minutes played
Dwight Howard – 340 minutes played
Hedo Turkoglu – 372 minutes played
Rashard Lewis – 400 minutes played
LeBron James – 314 minutes played
Mo Williams – 287 minutes played
Delonte West – 322 minutes played
….and those six players on Boston and Orlando will HAVE to play at least two more games, while the Cavaliers rest up.
The Boston Top 3 players will have OVER 500 minutes each.
The Orlando Top 3 players will have 400-450 minutes each.
Cleveland’s Top 3 players will have nearly HALF those minutes, and they’re in the mid-20s each.
Fresh legs, everybody. Fresh legs.
Heading into the second-round series with Atlanta, a lot was said about the Cavaliers’ potential for being rusty. An 8-day layover between games was bound to hurt, and with the Hawks coming off their longer series, it was possible that momentum would carry Atlanta to a victory in Game 1 or even Game 2.
There goes that theory.
Rather than showing any signs of rust, the Cavaliers instead returned to their desire and thirst for victory. Along the way, they got some much-needed rest than no other NBA team has been able to see thus far.
The Cavs dispatched Detroit in four games, and it looks like Atlanta may be headed to the same fate, with a slight chance at having to return north to be eliminated in 5 games. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, Boston and Orlando both had hard-fought longer battles in the first round, and are going toe-to-toe for their second-round matchup.
This brings me to my point. The Cavaliers are going to be VERY well rested when the tougher opponents come knocking. In about 7-10 days, we’re going to be facing the Celtics or the Magic in the Eastern Finals. By that time, will either team have enough left in their tanks to keep up with LeBron James and Company?
|Player||Min played||Players age|
|Player||Min played||Players age|
|Player||Min played||Players age|
Obviously, the shooting guard position for Orlando is rested, since it changed hands four games ago with the injury to Courtney Lee. He’s scheduled to return tonight and he’ll be well-rested. But by the looks of this chart, he’s the ONLY player on either Orlando or Boston’s starting rosters that will be fresh for the third round.
ALL of the starting five Celtic players have played over 300 minutes this postseason….and two of those players are in their 30s. Two Magic players are over 300 minutes thus far, and their ages are 29 and 30.
Meanwhile, you have LeBron James, the strongest player in the league and only 24 years old…and he’s played a grand total of 187 minutes. The old man of the club, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, has played the least amount of minutes at 166. If we get the Magic, that will be useful against a strength like Howard. If we get Boston, we’ll use Z to pound it inside and force foul trouble on the weaker Boston interior defense.
Right now, these numbers are just that….numbers. But if the Cavs sweep this series and Boston-Orlando goes 6 or 7 games, it will put a serious strain on our ECF opponent. LeBron, Delonte and Mo will have the strength left to play all 48 minutes. But there’s no way that Pierce, Allen, Alston, or Turkaglu will be able to keep up with that. It’ll lead to tired legs in the 4th quarter, and I think you know who usually takes over in the 4th quarter.
Keep a close eye on the rest of the second-round games. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Magic and Celtics will take out of each other on their way to Cleveland.
Of course, this is strictly my own list, but here’s my Top 5 favorite LeBron moments of this season;
December 25, 2008 – vs. Washington
At home for Christmas Day, Cavalier fans decided to give LeBron a present of their own. As LeBron approached the scorer’s table to launch his traditional rosin into the air, he was greeted with a surprise. Hundreds of fans immediately surrounding him threw glitter and confetti into the air in unison with James.
James later admitted he didn’t know about the fans’ present to him.
April 12, 2009 – vs. Boston
Early in a crucial game vs. Boston, Ray Allen runs out on a fast-break against the Cavs. LeBron James trails the play, and as Allen goes up for the layup, James smashes the ball against the backboard. The Cavaliers had already led the game 16-6, and James’ incredible block sparks another major rally, as the Cavaliers flex their muscles continuously throughout the game. After James’ block, the Celtics would score only 3 more points in the quarter, as Cleveland opened up a 38-11 lead before Boston knew what hit them.
April 18, 2009 – vs. Detroit
In the opening game of the playoffs, LeBron stood tall in the first half, scoring 22 points to lead the way. But it was his final three points of the half that would have fans and players dropping their jaws in disbelief.
Detroit struggled to stay within striking range, and managed to keep the margin at 9 points (54-45) when Rip Hamilton buried a jump shot with 2 seconds left in the half. LeBron quickly raced up the left sideline and was fed the ball at the three-quarter spot of the court. He took two quick dribbles, then launched a running jumper from half-court. After the ball left his hand, James followed it down the court, where it banked off the glass and through the rim as the buzzer sounded. The arena erupted, and James stood stoic as his teammates celebrated.
Detroit never recovered from the shot, as Cleveland went on to an 18-point win a a 4-0 series destruction of the Pistons.
January 23rd – at Golden State
Playing at the Oracle Arena is never easy, even if Golden State has a bad team. This night was no exception. The Warriors and Cavaliers took turns with scoring runs, and the game stayed close throughout the evening. But Stephen Jackson wanted to make sure Golden State prevailed, as he buried his team’s final 6 points, including a 23-footer with just 6 seconds left to give his team a 105-104 lead.
Cleveland called a timeout with 4.7 seconds left and inbounded the ball on the left sideline.
You-know-who got the inbounds pass, and the rest is history;
February 20, 2009 – at Milwaukee
I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years. LeBron James felt the hot hand and he took advantage of it. He just couldn’t miss.
With 11:30 to play in the third quarter, the Cavs trailed by four points, 57-53 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Then it happened. If you were watching, you’ll never forget it.
11:26 – LeBron pulled up from 15 feet and buried a jump shot.
10:47 – LeBron brought the ball upcourt, and hits an uncontested 3 from 27 feet out.
10:22 – LeBron again brings the ball upcourt. Richard Jefferson shadows him defensively. James fakes left and dribbles right, and pulls up for a 26-footer. Nothing but net.
9:51 – Following an offensive rebound, LeBron stops his dribble on the left wing. With Jefferson in his face, he pulls up for a three-pointer from five feet behind the line, and buries it again.
9:29 – As if he was playing Playstation, James decides to try another long-range shot, this time from 30 feet out. It goes in.
9:10 – LeBron dribbles inside and is double-teamed from 18 feet away, so he pulls up for a fadeaway jumper, and sinks it again.
The reaction by Cavaliers announcers Fred McLeod and Austin Carr are priceless. McLeod’s screaming of “It is not FAIR” summed up the whole night.
What is often overlooked is that if you stretch time back into the late stages of the second quarter, James actually scored 22 points in a 3:30 minute span….he buried two treys with less than a minute left in the half.
James scored 55 points on the night, but his display of 16 points in just 2:16 was legendary. Those couple of minutes sealed his MVP award, and it sealed his place as our #1 moment of the year for LBJ.