Post mortem: Cavs 96, Nets 88
Zydrunas Ilgauskas on getting that inside-outside game working with him and Andy:
- You can't really quibble with a win and for most of the game the Cavs looked impressive, although they probably should have salted this one away. But the Nets, winners of two in a row coming in, are fighting for that final statement of mediocrity in the East, the eight playoff seed where once again, it looks as if a team with a losing record will make it to the post-season tournament.
- The team got an inside-outside game working through LeBron James and albeit in a rather strange way - through Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao. With the Nets sometimes triple covering James, he was generally free to choose from whomever was open - either Ilgauskas on the outside or Varejao beneath the basket. The latter stayed open most of the night. If they can get that working throghout the playoffs, they will be beyond efficient.
- The team tied the team record for season wins with 12 games to go, an impressive feat and are sure to establish a new mark of over 60 and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas broke John ''Hot Rod Williams'' mark for blocked shots.
We knew that the way they play, they were going to (focus on) LeBron a lot we just had to make sure we went to the open spots. My, myself on the perimeter and Andy under the basket. LeBron did a good job looking for us and sliced their defenses.
At the half: Cavs 48, Nets 38
Observations at the intermission:
- It was a foregone conclusion that when Joe Smith showed up that J.J. Hickson would lose playing time. No one could see that Darnell Jackson's minutes would rise, but it's easy to see why. He gives the cavs a beefy presence on the interior and consitently plays hard.
- After leading by as many as 13 in the first quarter, the Cavs could have put this away had they maintained their defensive intensity throughout the first half. The Nets made shots difficult to come by, but they also went ice cold in the half.
Cavaliers (55-13) vs. New Jersey Nets (30-39)
TV: FSOhio, NBATV. Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Nets: Bobby Simmons (F); Yi Jianlian (F); Brook Lopez (C); Vince Carter (G); Keyon Dooling (G).
Cavs: Wally Szczerbiak (left knee sprain); Ben Wallace (broken tibia) and Eric Snow (knee) are out. Nets: Devin Harris ( sprained left shoulder and sprained left deltoid) and Eduardo Najera (sports hernia) are out.
The Cavaliers are winners of eight consecutive, their second-longest streak of the year. The Nets have won two consecutive.
The Cavs smoked the Nets 106-82 in the team’s lone meeting of the season thus far at the Izod Center. LeBron James had 31 points in the game to lead the Cavaliers.
What to watch:
- The Nets actually have something to play for at this late date, so they cannot be underestimated in this game. They stand just 1.5 games out in the battle for Eastern Conference playoff mediocrity and the eight seed in the post-season bracket chasing Chicago, Milwaukee and Charlotte(!?!?!!!?). Although on a two-game winning streak, it’s difficult to see how they continue to pull things off without point guard Devin Harris.
- Although Kenyon Dooling hasn’t been a scrub for the Nets when he’s started. He certainly merits attention as he has averaged 15.8 points and 5.8 assists in nine starts on the season. In short: Mo Williams cannot go to sleep on him.
Coach Mike Brown on the possibility of playing the New Jersey Nets in the opening round of the NBA playoffs:
We focus on our opp0nents some, but right now in the regular season we’re more worried about focusing on ourselves than coming up with some grand scheme to beat them. Having said that I’m not sitting here trying to forecast who we’re going to play in the first round of the playoffs, so I don’t look at it like that.