Overview: With yet another unconvincing but nonetheless effective performance, the Cavs let the Nets hang around for three and a half quarters, then put them away down the stretch. LeBron put in an efficient 22/8/11 and every starter finished in double figures.
We’ll start with the end, since that’s the only time the Cavs were really playing hard in this one:
At some point I realize this stuff won’t go away until LeBron wins a championship or multiple ones, and I see the point, but can we please give this “killer instinct” stuff a rest? I don’t know where this stuff comes from, and I could go on and on about how LeBron has had far and away the best clutch stats in the league for the past three years, or how the Cavs were, beyond any semblance of a doubt, one of the best clutch teams in history last year. But for the sake of time, please just look at what he’s done over this 10-game win streak. Here’s tonight.
-LeBron starts the fourth quarter on the bench. The Cavaliers blow an 8-point lead in four minutes.
-LeBron comes into the game. He gets to the line, bricks a step-back jumper, and sinks two free throws and sets up Delonte West with a three.
-LeBron drives to the basket, thinks he gets contact, but gets no whistle and misses the floater. He gets a technical. LeBron, he who supposedly lacks a killer instinct, gets majorly pissed. LeBron creates a score on every Cavs possession from this point, with 5 minutes left and the score tied, to the end of the game. I am serious. Here you go.
-LeBron flies through traffic and makes a left-handed scoop shot in between three defenders with no whistle.
-LeBron hits Z with a bullet pass directly under the basket. Z gets fouled and drains both free throws.
-LeBron sets up Delonte West with an open three.
-LeBron hits Varejao a weak-to-strong side flash on a wing ISO for a reverse layup.
-LeBron gets fouled and drains two free throws.
-LeBron pulls up and drains a 20-foot jumper.
-Double-trapped 30 feet away from the basket, LeBron calmly takes a dribble and sets up a now-wide open Mo Williams for the dagger three. From here on out it’s intentional fouls.
That was literally every Cavs possession in the last five minutes of the game. The tallies:
In the fourth quarter, LeBron went for 8 points on 6 attempts and accounted for 13 points on 5 passes, with no turnovers. That’s 21 points on 11 possessions used. 100% efficiency would be 22 points. And this all comes with the game on the line.
IF THIS ISN’T A KILLER
INSTINCT, I IMPLORE YOU TO
INFORM ME AS TO WHAT IS.
As for the rest of the stuff:
Andy continued not only his run of stellar player but his reputation as a Nets-killer, taking advantage of Yi and Brook Lopez’s defensive inexperience to catch them watching LeBron on the strong side time after time again and find a spot for a layup.
I’m trying not to get over-excited, but 3-4 from beyond the arc tonight for Delonte, including two big ones in the fourth quarter, to go along with 9 rebounds, 3 dimes, and a steal.
Mo Williams had his shot tonight, and he was out there either making hard drives and looking to pass or catching and shooting the three-ball, with 9 of his 12 shots coming from deep.
Joe and D-Block continue to be doing high-quality garbage work, combining for 12 and 7 in 28 minutes. Is it a coincidence that Darnell’s cracked the rotation only after Joe came along? Back when it still looked like Darnell could hit that mid-range J in an NBA setting, that comparison was thrown around a lot, and it appears that it may have merit to it.
Sasha Pavlovic: continuing to blow his chance at the playoff rotation. In 30 seconds, Tarence Kinsey did more good things (making an entry pass and cutting for a give-and-go, then circling back to clear the floor), than I’ve seen from our bench swingmen.
Daniel is continuing to look under control, not forcing anything and even making a nice pass here or there. I’ll take 3 points on 2 shots and 2 assists against 1 turnover from Boobie any day. He’s not the JET Terry I had once dreamed him to be, but if he can’t do that than just playing smart and hitting occasional threes is fine. But somebody tell him his floater NEVER goes in.
Bullets of Randomness:
When did Keyon Dooling become a straight baller? He gets to the paint at will, knows how to set guys up, has upper-echelon point guard springs, and shoots 43% from deep. And at 28, he’s never averaged more than 9.4 points and 3.3 assists. I think he should just move to Italy and pretend to be Brandon Jennings. He’d get drafted in the top 10.
I REALLY like CDR. I desperately wanted the Cavs to draft him (not knowing the Mo trade was coming and knowing nothing of JJ Hickson.) Hickson’s definitely got worlds more potential, but there’s a 80% chance CDR becomes a starting-quality two or a Maggette-like bench scorer, the kind of competent and autonomous backcourt presence the Cavs have lacked until this year. He just knows how to score, and he hasn’t even calibrated to NBA range from deep yet.
If you had told me in 2000 that an average game from VC would involve him taking 9 threes and going 4-15 from inside the arc, I probably would have hit you or cried.
I thought Brook Lopez would definitely be a bust. I was very wrong. His post game still sucks, but I underestimated how good he’d be catching and finishing with guys who can actually penetrate around him. Him and Harris are 2/5ths of a very good starting lineup for a very long time.
This may have karmic repercussions and I don’t usually like to be that guy, but if LeBron’s performances like this keep getting ignored while the adorable MVP candidate Dwyane Wade crapping the bed and going 5-24 for the game, 1-6 in the fourth quarter (2-4 from the line), and bricking the game-winner in a two-point loss, I’m going to lose it. I know everyone calls media bias, but if this doesn’t happen it’ll be a little comical, especially considering the free pass Kobe got for going 5-15 in a one-point game the other week.