Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Game 2 - a team victory

Most of the time, it's very easy to look for one or two shining stars and point to them as the reason for a victory. The major sports headlines will spotlight LeBron James' performance last night, and that's a minor injustice to the rest of the Cavaliers, who turned in equally impressive stats during last night's 102-92 win.

We won last night because of two major factors. We played as a team and we outrebounded the ever-loving crap out of the Nets. Here's some of the highlights;

- LeBron James' double-double of 36 points and 12 assists
- Drew Gooden's double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds
- Z's 13-point, 9-rebound night
- Sasha Pavlovic's 17 points
- Wild Thing grabbed 9 rebounds in only 17 minutes on the floor
- Larry Hughes shot poorly, but still turned in 12 points and 7 boards

And the biggest statistic of all....last night, we outrebounded the Nets 49-32, including an incredible 19-3 on the offensive glass. That right there is the key to any victory (and by the way, the Pistons often allow a lot of offensive rebounds, if you want to start looking ahead).

Defensively, we are turning the screws on New Jersey. The Nets have a solid role for each of their starting five, and the Cavaliers are playing well enough to counter each of those players' strengths. If you're going to beat the Nets, you need to force Vince Carter into bad shots, hassle Jason Kidd when he begins to drive, put a body on Richard Jefferson, block out Mikki Moore, and simply remind Jason Collins that he's playing basketball. Do this to all 5 players and they will make plenty of mistakes.

Vince Carter is throwing up way too many shots, and the Cavs always seem to have a hand in his face when he does. Last night, he lofted up 26 attempts (more than any two Nets players combined) and only hit 10 of them. When he drives, the Cavs are converging, because they know that when Carter gets within 8 feet of the basket, he develops a brain blockage that completely prevents him from passing the ball.

Jason Kidd has now played 90 games this season. He had 5 or less turnovers in 87 of those 90 games. Last night, we forced him to turn it over 8 times. Solid defense has been giving him fits with ball-handling, and he's forcing the pass as a result.

We still haven't forced Richard Jefferson out of his game yet. He went 7-11 Tuesday for 22 points. But he's not getting the support of his teammates, and Jefferson is not a man who can carry a team in a best-of-7 series.

Mikki Moore also had a great game (6-8 for 15 points), but he's not been able to rebound anything. He's 7 feet tall and only had 3 boards last night. Plus, when you let Sasha Pavlovic knock you on your ass and then spend the rest of the night trying to atone for it, you've just allowed the other team to take you out of your game.

Jason Collins had two points, 1 rebound, and 5 fouls last night. He's making 5.8 million dollars this year. His agent must be amazing. Seriously, even Ari Gold couldn't broker a deal like that.

After watching the Nets manhandle Toronto, I was concerned about the matchup that they provide against us. I'm not writing this series off as won yet, but I'm feeling a lot more confident in my Cavaliers today. I think Jersey will take one game at home, and the Cavs will win it at The Q in Game 5 next Wednesday.

One more stat - The Cavaliers have now won 10 straight games, the first time they have accomplished this in the LeBron James era.

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