Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Warriors: Baron Davis, Kelenna Azubuike, Andris Biedrins, Mickael Pietrus, Al Harrington.
--Larry Hughes is out tonight and probably tomorrow night with a bruised knee. Sasha may not have the wind to play huge minutes, but he's getting them anyway. Devin Brown will also get time in his place, too. --Expect this game to be a lot like the Phoenix game. Both teams will play small for long stretches and the Cavs will have the advantage on the inside but not on the outside. If it becomes a high-scoring game the Cavs are in trouble. --If you haven't picked up sleeper Kelenna Azubuike on your fantasy team, you might want to. This guy is one of the best up and coming young scorers in the league. Yes, yes, the Cavs cut him in favor of Mike Wilks in 2005. --No Stephen Jackson tonight for the Warriors, he's on suspension.
Halftime -- Warriors 54, Cavs 54
--Cavs had a bit of a scare with LeBron James in the first quarter. He got scraped on the left eyelid by Biedrins. He's fine. --The Cavs are having lots of trouble with Golden State's quick guards. In both pick-and-rolls and in transition, both Monta Ellis (14 points) and Baron Davis (14) are burning them good. This is pretty much a pure matchup issue. --A reason why the Cavs had a big lead in the first quarter was because they were limiting the Warriors transition. They gave up no points off turnovers and no fastbreak points. In the second quarter they combined to give up 12 points in transition. The Warriors will shoot contested jumpers and miss them in bunches, the Cavs need to force them in that direction. --Devin Brown has been excellent off the bench, he's got four rebounds, five assists and three points in 16 minutes. Most important, he's done an OK job guarding Davis for stretches. --The Warriors are playing lots of zone, which is designed to make the Cavs take jumpers and they are. Ilgauskas and Gooden had just five points in the second quarter after getting 13 in the first. More at issue, is the Cavs ball movement often stops against the zone, when it moves there's usually a good shot to be had. --LeBron took 10 shots in the first half and had seven rebounds, so he's being active. However, he's got to look to attack the zone more, when he gets inside the Warriors can't handle him. --The Cavs have fewer second chance points than the Warriors, if they keeps up they probably will not win.
Postgame -- Cavs 108, Warriors 104
Stars: LeBron James, 24 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists Daniel Gibson, 22 points Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 22 points, 13 rebounds, ONE assist
--First off, LeBron was just excellent in this game. His 24 points on 16 shots was efficient. His 14 rebounds were huge, he had three blocks. And nine assists against just two turnovers. It was an MVP-type effort. --Late in the game, he jumped all over Drew Gooden when Drew hoisted a 20-footer with 14 seconds on the shot clock and the Cavs ahead by five points. Then he went to him on the bench and tried to cheer him up. This is what he said about it: "I'm the leader of the this team and he has to know what is a good shot and what is not a good shot. I got on him about it. It's nothing personal, I just want him to get better. I went up to him and explained it and then you move on as men and as professionals. It can be uncomfortable but I have to do it, I don't want to embarrass my teammates in way way. But if it happens again, I'll go off again." --Cavs had 30 assists -- that's not a misprint -- on 41 baskets tonight. Plus they committed just 14 turnovers. Much more evidence is needed to justify whether they are getting it or not, but when the ball moves that well the offense has a chance even with it's structural issues. --Mike Brown was just oozing after the game because Daniel Gibson's big 3-pointer to clinch the game included a "hockey assist" for LeBron. I was just amazed Zydrunas Ilgauskas got a game-winning assist. Contact Elias Sports Bureau on that one. --Speaking of Z, he logged another crazy 38 minutes but he was huge down the stretch. He had three pretty big offensive rebounds in the fourth, two of which led to putbacks. --Cavs let Al Harrington hit the first three shots of the fourth quarter and then held them to 5-of-20 shooting the rest of the way. LeBron was on Baron Davis for much of that stretch. --Sasha Pavlovic is having a rough go of it as he plays into shape, he was just 2-of-11 shooting. --After the game, I found myself in a weird spot. I was standing in between LeBron and Gibson as they were watching the highlights of the game on some sports show. Watching them watch themselves and make comments to each other about stuff that happened only moments before was a little surreal. Gibson was joking about how Gooden almost knocked him over in celebration after he hit the 3-pointer and LeBron cringed when he saw himself get ripped in the eye in the first half. But he liked how they showed his blocks after showing Harrington dunking on him. "Yeeeeah," he said.
Quotes Mike Brown: "LeBron is our guy, not only offensively but defensively against bigger guards like Baron...41 baskets and 30 assists, that's mind-boggling." LeBron: "(The eye) It bothers me now, it bothered me during the game, I can barely see. But I had to be out there." Don Nelson: "We had a chance to win, I thought the key plays were the three open court blocks by James. Those were sensational plays. Unbelievable."
Off to SLC for the first back-to-back, a brutal West-to-Easter where you lose and hour. If any of you have my phone number, don't call it tomorrow.