Overview: In one of the most offense-heavy Cavs games in recent memory, the Cavaliers were able to pull out a 126-118 win over the Raptors in overtime. LeBron James led the way with 36 points on only 17 shots. The Cavaliers made three straight three-pointers at the beginning of overtime to break the game open.
-The defense. It was not good. Some of the reasons for this are understandable. The Raptors are a very good offensive team. The Cavs did not have Shaq or Z to protect the middle. Jamison is still learning the system, and had to play nearly the entire game.
Then there was Mo Williams’ defense, which has become an issue. Jarrett Jack should not be getting 24 points on 14 shots. What makes it worse is that only six of Jack’s points came from outside the paint. He was abusing Mo. I don’t know if it’s the shoulder injury or if Mo has just always been a bad defender, but this cannot continue.
Mike Brown is a more patient man than I am. He stuck with Shaq in the starting lineup and Shaq turned it around. (He really couldn’t have benched Shaq, but still.) He stuck with JJ and JJ turned it around. Now he’s sticking with Mo and hoping he figures it out. I assume his DNP-CDing Boobie to get Mo’s confidence up, but it’s hurting the defense right now.
-Gotta love LeBron in attack mode all night long. When he made a move, he was looking to take the ball to the basket. LeBron was only 2-8 from outside of the paint. He was 8-9 from inside the key, and 15-16 from the line. That’s being aggressive. Throw in nine assists against only one turnover, and I’d say LeBron had a pretty good day at the office.
-The Cavs gave up 29 or more points in three of the four quarters in regulation. Sometimes, it was Reggie Evans working the Cavs down low. Other times, it was Hedo Turkoglu doing his thing. After that, the Raptors would start hitting tough outside jumpers. And then Jarret Jack would work Mo Williams. And so on and so forth until the Raptors scored 111 points in regulation. Not what Mike Brown wants to see on the defensive end.
-Let’s talk about the stretch run. With just under two minutes to go, LeBron went for an off-balance dagger three with the Cavs up one. It missed badly. After that, LeBron stopped settling. He drew a foul on the next possession and knocked down the free throws. On the next Raptors possession, Hedo got Mo on a switch and drained a clutch three over him.
LeBron tried to force a drive the next time down, missed, and Hedo put the Raptors up two with a nice tip slam on the resulting break. LeBron got the ball out of the inbounds play and immediately put in a layup. Jack drew a borderline blocking foul on Mo the next time down, and the Cavs were down two with 17 seconds to play.
At this point, the Cavs were tired. Varejao had fouled out. The Cavs were thin up front. It was a back-to-back. Some people were expecting LeBron to let the clock run down, go for the hero three, take the 35% chance of a win and get some rest if it didn’t fall.
As it turned out, LeBron took all of four seconds to tie the game with a layup. Parker played some nice defense on Hedo and forced him into an off-balance three. Parker missed the game-winner, and after that it was time to play free basketball.
In overtime, the three pointer saved the day. LeBron won the tip, the ball got to Mo in his favorite spot, and he casually drained it. Next time down, LeBron found Mo in the corner for another three. After that, LeBron found AP for yet another three. On the next possession, AP played hero himself, up-faking his man and hitting a 17-foot banker to put the Cavs up 9 with about a minute and a half left. Game over. Three-pointers and LeBron James are the great equalizers.
-Leon Powe looked solid in there tonight, even if he was getting out-Powed at times by Reggie Evans. He’s built like a tank, he fights for everything, and he can finish inside. I like him. Could put together an Ultimate Jawad-type campaign if Shaq misses real time.
-Oh, Mo Williams, how conflicted I am about you. Sometimes you kill the defense. Nobody outside of LeBron can change the game offensively like you can. But late in the game, it was Mo nailing the big threes and saving the game. Hopefully Mo improves his defense, because his offense is crucial. I wish this were football.
-Hickson on the floor without LeBron: bad idea. JJ got worked on defense, and has no idea what to do on offense when he’s asked to create. JJ had a team-low -9, but that was more about the team using JJ in the wrong spot than JJ having an off night.
-When Jamison’s on his game and cutting, he looks like Varejao with skills on the offensive end. That’s an awesome proposition. I continue to remain skeptical of his jumper, but he got five points on five jumpers tonight, which is passable.
-42 minutes for Parker and 0 for Boobie? Really? I don’t mind AP, but I’m not sure what Boobie’s done wrong.
-Alright, that’s about all I have for tonight. See you guys tomorrow.