Post-mortem: Cavs 96, Magic 95 The Cavs can take this one, breathe a sigh of relief and promptly get back to work. Other than the victory itself, there's not a lot of joy to be had here. The Cavs can take solace in the fact they held Dwight Howard to 10 points. A strategy of double, sometimes triple teaming him paid dividends. Had it not been for 18 rebounds, he would have been a non-factor.
I suspect that Howard isn't the one who should worry the Cavaliers. Unless they get someone on Rashard Lewis who can handle him, he will eventually deliver the team a devastating blow. It could be he has already in Game 1 with that game-winning three-point shot, or it remains yet to come. He's one of the Cavs' two remaining problems. The other?
Perimeter defense as the Magic again shot above 40 percent at three-point range. The result it helps the magic erase a 23-point lead. Yes, LeBron James hit the shot of a lifetime, but even he knows there remains work to be done. Given those remaining negatives, here's suggesting that the Cavs get to things.
First half: Cavs 56, Magic 44 I can't help but get a sense of deja vu all over again. The Cavs are up by double digits at the half, but there is a distinct difference this time around. While the Magic had begun to find a groove with respect to shooting, this time around they are still under 40 percent. They Cavs continue to remain tenacious on defense and unlike Wednesday night, Howard is find things a much tougher go. While Hedo Turkoglu and Hward have been kept in check, the Magic's Rashard Lewis still has 10 points. One thing to keep in mind: the Cavs once held a 23-point lead.
LeBron James has 17 for the Cavs and Zydrunas Ilgauskas follows him with 10. Pavlovic answered the call that Coach Brown made to him on the bench scoring seven points and playing impressively on defense.
Wednesday the Cavaliers lost the game in the third quarter by coming out flatter than week-old beer. I suspect this is there the game will be won again. Pay attention to how they come out. If they have the same intensity they showed in the first half, feel confident about a Cavs victory. If not, this is trouble.
First quarter: Cavs 30, Magic 16 Very nice quarter from the Cavs, but they had a nice first half in Game 1. The energy is there, the intensity is there and the patience is there. They're shooting 55 percent to the Magic's 32.
What is definitely different is the way they're playing Dwight Howard, who torched them for 30 points in Game 1. Anytime Howard touches the ball near the hoop, there are two Cavs around him and it's paid dividends so far with the Magic center turning the ball over a couple of times already.
Is it a case of LeBron speaks and Mike Brown listens? We witness the early entry in the first quarter of Sasha Pavlovic.
Game: Cavs vs. Magic - Eastern Conference Finals Game 2
Broadcast: TV: TNT. Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Magic: Hedo Turkoglu (F); Rashard Lewis (F); Dwight Howard (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G)
Injured-inactive: Cavs: J.J. Hickson, Lorenzen Wright. Magic: Jameer Nelson.
Pre-game observations: What to do about Dwight Howard...apparently the Cavs plan to get more physical with the Magic's Superman. Noting that Ben Wallace only had one personal foul in Game 1. Coach Mike Brown was asked if they planned to make their presence better felt with Howard when they are on defense. His simple answer: ''Yes.''
That will mean nothing if the Cavaliers allow the Magic to shoot 45 percent from the three-point arc tonight. If they get that going the Cavs could be staring at 0-2 and a less-than-promising trip to Orlando.
Offensively, they have to strike a balance between what LeBron James did Wednesday night. Brown said himself that he didn't like James pounding the ball to the floor while everyone else stood around watching. There's little doubt he possessed a hot hand, but with everyone standing around watching him, there's more than a slight chance that they could be taken out of the game mentally.
Mo Williams and Delonte West have to play better. Williams took the brunt of the blame for their performance, but combined they hit just 10-of-32 Wednesday night. They need to shoot better tonight and play with consistency for the rest of the series for the Cavs to pull this out.