Cavs 91, 76ers 88
--Strong second half performance by the Cavs in this one. Philly played well in this one and it was a fair playoff-type game. The Cavs defense in the second half was much improved. The Cavs went to a smaller and quicker lineup at times and it seemed to slow down the break. They held Philly to 38 percent shooting in the second half, mostly because they made them play halfcourt basketball. --LeBron woke up big time in the second half. More than his late-game heroics -- and his layup at the end was ill-advised and yet incredible all at once -- was the way he changed his strategy. He went down into the post and made the Sixers defend him down there, which threw off their defensive floor balance. He also penetrated looking to pass, which is different than what he did in Detroit. As a result, the ball moved much, much better. This is growth from a previous game and credit is due for that. --This was a good game for Delonte West, we'll see if it lasts. He made four 3-pointers which made the Sixers pay for their help on James. He's not going to do that every night. He also was pretty strong on defense. Andre Miller is very skilled, but he is not a super-quick guard like Mo Williams and that is such a better matchup for the Cavs. Yes, Miller had a good game, but he didn't change the game. Delonte had three blocks and two steals, his activity on the defensive end helped start breaks. --West's 3s were important because the Cavs had no shooters in there late. Damon Jones is on the outs again, which I think is a mistake. The man has defensive issues but he is a really good shooter. And Daniel Gibson was in the back after tweaking his left ankle again. Devin Brown, who did a Sasha impression by going 3-of-12 shooting in the start, and Delonte are not exactly floor-stretchers. --I spoke with Daniel after the game. He tweaked it his left ankle in the third quarter, but there is no new injury. He is just going to continue to fight soreness in there over the next couple weeks. That is a serious injury. --I thought Andre Iguodala's shot was in at the buzzer, it looked good from my vantage point. Had it gone, it would've been the sixth time the Cavs have given up a buzzer-beater to win or force overtime this season. Remember Raymond Felton and Rudy Gay nailing shots to force OT back in January. --While I am sure everyone would like to see Washington in the playoffs for rivalry purposes, I think the Cavs actually match up better with the 76ers. Unlike Washington and also Toronto, Philly doesn't have reliable outside shooters or an ultra-quick guard. Philly will give the Cavs problems with their tempo at times, but when slowed down in a playoff setting I think they Cavs would have a great edge. Plus Philly is untested in the postseason. I am not sure they have anyone on their roster who has won a playoff series, at least nobody in the rotation. Oh wait, Reggie Evans when he was with Seattle. Even still, you get my point.
76ers: Andre Miller, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Reggie Evans, Sam Dalembert Cavs: Delonte West, Devin Brown, LeBron James, Anderson Varejao, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Ken Mauer, John Goble, Luis Grillo
--Ben Wallace has been cleared to play but Mike Brown has decided to sit him until further notice. This has to be the right decision. How many times can the man come up lame before he just has to shut it down. --Devin Brown has replaced Sasha Pavlovic in the starting lineup. I would not be surprised if Sasha doesn't play very much at all tonight. He gave Sasha a very long leash and he has not played well at all except for a game or two. He has been lazy on defense at times and he hasn't been able to make an outside shot. It has been a long time coming. Devin has played very well for the last six weeks and he deserves it even though he is not a great shooter. --The 76ers are a run and gun team, they are great on the fast break and overall are a hustle team. To beat them you must be careful on taking too many jumpers that cause long rebounds and punish them on the offensive boards because they take off. If the Cavs don't respect this, they will get beat.
Halftime -- 76ers 48, Cavs 43
--After going 4-of-17 last night, LeBron is 3-of-7 this half. He is facing a smaller defender and settling and playing without much energy. It is possible that he is just tired and no one would blame him. But in a game like this, the Cavs of course need his activity to have a chance. --The 76ers have 14 fastbreak points and 26 points in the paint. That means they are getting all the easy shots they want. I know this is not a good matchup for the Cavs, but they are not the Memphis Grizzlies, they have to start controlling the game better. --Sasha and Damon Jones have not played in the game. It seems Mike Brown is starting to narrow his rotation. Damon has value and should be playing some, West played 20 minutes and that is probably too much. Though he does have eight assists, he has been good in transition. As for Sasha, he hasn't earned time right now. --Joe Smith has three shots and he is keeping the Cavs in the game, he needs to get more chances on offense. I have been pushing for this for quite some time now.
Stars LeBron, 26 points, nine rebounds, nine assists West, 18 points, 11 assists Miller, 16 points, nine assists Andre Iguodala, 19 points
Quotes West: "I think three days off definitely got my legs back under me. I found myself back to pushing the ball." Mike Brown on Iguodala's near miss at the end: "We've been snakebitten a little bit. Part of me thought it could've gone in."