Post mortem: Cavs 84, Hawks 74
Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Did I mention it was ugly? The Cavs turned the ball over 18 times for 22 points and shot a pathetic 54 percent from the free throw line. In the short term is doesn't matter. The Cavaliers beat the Hawks because they played their brand of basketball - on at least one side of the ball.
Defensively, this played out like a Tony Award-worthy Broadway play. When you hold a team to 32 percent shooting for the entire game, you're doing something right. And the Cavaliers seemed to have the right plan in this case. They'd harassed Joe Johnson with double teams throughout the series, but this time they threw a few in the direction of Ronald ''Flip'' Murray, the Hawks' best player off the bench. Considering Murray played 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, the adjustment proved effective. Although he scored 14 points in the game, he only scored two in the fourth quarter and the Hawks only hit 17 overall. They shot an anorexic 24 percent from the floor in the quarter.
Offensively, the Cavs played sloppily. While LeBron James was LeBron James, bench players struggle mightily producing just eight points total. While center Zydrunas Ilgauskas seems to have shaken off the rust wit another workman-like performance that saw him record another double-double with 14-points and 10 rebounds, the normally reliable Mo Williams struggled with 4-of-11 shooting, although he hit a pivotal three-pointer in the fourth quarter. Who came to the rescue? Delonte West, who played positively brilliantly and that was just on offense. West hit 7-of-13 shots, grabbed four rebounds and dished out six assists.
Defensively, with a little help, he made Joe Johnson's night a living hell. Johnson scored 18, but it came on 7-of-18 shooting.
In some ways you have to think that with the turnovers, lousy free throw shooting and overall subpar offense, the Cavs were lucky to get this win and sweep the Hawks. However, as long as they can lock teams down on defense, it would seem that they will have enough offense to get things done.
West had a couple of dunks that got even Coach Mike Brown excited:
That was very impressive that almost brought me out of my shoes. That play right there speaks volumes about who he is.West, who was sporting LeBron James sneakers, gave credit where credit was due for his three dunks on the night:
It was the shoes. That was very uncharacteristic of me.
Third quarter: Cavs 62, Hawks 57
This game is going along swimmingly - not. Someone needs to tell the Cavaliers that championship teams don't shoot 47.6 percent from the free throw line after three quarters. Yet, that's where they stand after three. If they just hit 76 percent - their playoff average - they have six more points and a double-digit lead. Defensively the Cavs are getting the job done holding the Hawks to 40 percent shooting. They've made one adjustment that Coach Mike Brown should be given credit. While they've been doubling Joe Johnson for most of the series, with Ronald ''Flip'' Murray on the floor, the Hawks have another perimeter shooter. They've decided to double team him.
First half: Cavs 40, Hawks 38
The score refelcts the statisitics because this game couldn't get much closer than it is. The Cavs weren't able to pull away becausew the Hawks continued to play some solid defense and putting themselves in striking distance of extending the series. If nothing else, they deserve credit for that. While the Cavs enjoy a substantial advantage on the boards, that hasn't translated into a substantive lead. The game is physical, rough and remains intense. The Hawks are forcing the rest of the Cavs to beat them by continuing to try to blitz James with multiple players. But the Cavs have played some inspired defense themselves holding the Hawks to just 32 percent shooting and allowing Al Horford and Mike Bibby nohting points wise.
First quarter: Hawks 22, Cavs 15
Nice defense from the Hawks as they hold the Cavs to a playoff-low in points in a first quarter. The previous low was 18 against the Detroit Pistons. They are playing a serious man-to-man defense and they come off of it to double and triple-team LeBron James any time he touches the ball. The Cavs shot a miserable 35 percent in the first quarter, mainly due to the Hawks defense. Down 3-0, they're a cornered animal and they're playing like one.
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