Post mortem: Cavs 100, Sixers 95
Talk about a gift. The Cavs give up 66 points in the paint on so many dunks that a supercomputer would be required to count them all and they pull out a victory.
No, they didn't deserve to win this one. They played crappy defense for much of the game and were only bailed out when they played some D in the fourth quarter and because their bench stepped up.
First some props to LeBron James and Mo Williams who played well together. Williams has been struggling, but dropped in 21 on 8-of-13 shooting. James deserved credit for coming in off of a week's rest and an ankle injury.
But defensively, they didn't ratchet things up until the fourth quarter when they held the 76ers to 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting. And they finally clamped down on Andre Iguodala, who burned them for 30 points, and Elton Brand, who knocked in 24.
The bench, led by Delonte West's 17 points came up huge with 44 points. Anderson Varejao added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Jamario Moon dropped in nine points on a night when it was really needed.
With Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O'Neal out with injuries, this kind of effort was needed. It's the type of effort they gave Monday against the Spurs and in the home stretch and upcoming playoffs, who knows when it will be needed again?
Game: Cavs at Philadelphia 76ers
TV: FSOhio, 7 p.m. Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Leon Powe (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
76ers: Elton Brand (F); Andre Iguodala (F); Samuel Dalembert (C); Jrue Holiday (G); Lou Williams (G).
Cavs: Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb); Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin).
76ers: Francisco Elson (hernia surgery); Allen Iverson (personal reasons); Marreese Speights (knee sprain) - OUT. Jason Kapono (sinus infection) - game time decision.
Officials: Ron Garretson, Brian Forte, Ed Malloy.
If the Cavs are looking for a chance to perhaps pick off a stress-free victory, Philly may indeed be the place right now. Although on paper it's not a bad team, it is one in a quasi-state of disarray right now. Rumors are swirling around first-year coach Eddie Jordan and the fact that he will be fired at the end of the season. How do I get a gig like that? Work for a year, get fired and still collect a fat, seven-figure paycheck?
The Cavs have won six consecutive in Philly and there's little reason to think that won't continue tonight. They'll be missing Antawn Jamison, with Leon Powe getting his first start as a Cavalier. He may be healthy, but he' s still not as athletic as a Jamison. But Powe knows who he is: he's a banger and a rebounder, and coach Mike Brown loves that in his players.
But the key reason they should win this one: LeBron James is back and rested. He's had a week off to recover from a twisted ankle and assorted bumps and bruises. He's averaged 34 points per game against Philly so far this season. But he will need help. He doesn't have Shaquille O'Neal or Jamison or Z, so it's up to Mo Williams. He's had several weeks back on the active roster and with 17 games left in the season as of today, he needs to put up. The Cavs need him to start playing consistent hoops.
From the bench: Anderson Varejao always comes to play, whirling dervish that he is. But it's Delonte West who needs to shine in the area where he's made his name. West has averaged 17 points per in the past five games. They will need that kind of production once again.