Post-mortem: Magic 116, Cavs 114
Here's what I don't get. The Cavaliers held the Magic's Dwight Howard reasonably in check with 17 points in regulation and then he explodes for 10 points in overtime. There's the difference if you asked me.
The Cavaliers had the chance to pick their poison and those chose to keep eyes fixed on the Magic's three-point shooters. In the process, they had to leave Howard with only one guy on him and the center ate whomever that player happened to be.
The Cavaliers had their chances in this one down to the final seconds, but overall there are reasons why this one went out the window.
Offensively, the Magic shot 50 percent from overall in the game and 44.7 percent from the three-point line. They've shot over 40 percent in 3-of-4 games in the series. In the process they've held the Cavs to under 40 percent from the arc in all four games.
For some inexplicable reason after the first half they reverted to form in this game relying on LeBron James to do everything on offense. That first half? Balance. The second? Not so much.
Mo Williams once again shot under 35 percent and the Cavs got hammered on bench points 26-14.
What's left? Reality. The Cavs have a less than 4 percent chance to pull this out if you look back to prior NBA seven-game series where one team led 3-1. Right now, the season of One Goal is on the verge of collapsing, forcing the Cavs to look to question parts of the team they once viewed as strengths.
First half: Cavs 58, Magic 50
Mike Brown has opened up his bench just a little bit by giving Daniel Gibson some significant minutes.
There's plenty to like in this half so far. First the Magic are getting leads and the Cavaliers are beating them back and in doing so, grab much needed momentum.
In a stretch of the second quarter they held the Magic scoreless for a five minute stretch. In another portion of the game, they outscored the Magic 9-2 to take a lead.
There's a distinct difference in the way the offense is unfolding as the Cavaliers look to have some semblance of rhythm going. While LeBron James is still the team's leading scorer with 17, this time aroucn he is getting significant help from Willaims - who is still struggling from the floor but has 12 points - Delonte West with nine points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas with six each. Furthermore, the Cavs are beating them on the fastbreak 15-9 and in the paint, 24-20.
Gibson has provided a big lift hitting two three point shots in the half. What are the Cavs doing right? Defensively they're still pestering Howard without committing dumb fouls. Most notably, they held Rashard Lewis, who has been the Magic's leading scorer, to just four points in the half.
First quarter: Cavs 25, Magic 21
Some nice defense and a cold hand helped the Cavs jump to a modest lead in the quarter as the Magic shoots just 40 percent for the quarter, including a stretch where they miss nine consecutive shots. Unfortunately, the Cavs could better capitalize on the situation as they missed their own share in the period's final minutes.
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.
Some say the Cavs made progress defensively the other night. I won't disagree with that. I still see a team that's overmatched right now and hasn't shown itself to be otherwise. For anyone who has read what I've written in the paper about Delonte West, you know I admire his play - offensively and defensively, but having him have to contend with Turkoglu, a guy he gives seven inches to may be bit much.
The Cavs need to put it together offensively tonight and that doesn't mean the LeBron James Show. That means Mo Williams West have to hit from the outside and Ilgauskas has to maintain some semblance of consistency.
Defensively they have to slow the Magic down. The key to their offense, other than their ability to execute the pick-and-roll and their inside-outside game is to not allow Cavs to get back on defense and set up.