Post mortem: Cavs 97, Magic 93
A few things of note:
LeBron James on taking a 3-point shot with 47.9 seconds left in the game and the Cavs down by one point:
- Assuming the Cavs take nothing lower than the No. 2 seed (sorry, I grew up in Northeast Ohio and guard against sports optimism), the Magic and the Cavs could very well be on a collision course before the Eastern Conference Finals. That should scare any Cavs fan because despite the fact that they lost an All-Star point guard in Jameer Nelson, Orlando isn't exactly rolling over and playing dead and they won't. Both teams held serve at home (the Magic won on their court in January). What will be most interesting is what happens during the rubber match on April 3 in Orlando. It continues to look as if the team with home court advantage will take the conference.
- LeBron James clocked in with almost 43 minutes in this game. Prior to the game he said that he was in the best shape at this time of the year than at any point in his career. Considering the mileage he's gotten in the last week, that's a good thing. Some will argue that he's a young stallion who can handle it. I will respectfully remind them how many young stallions in the past 30-odd years won the first two jewels in the Triple Crown only to come up short in the Belmont Stakes.
- Bench players didn't show up tonight, scoring a total of five points. With the playoffs looming they can't continue that. Part of it was the nature of the game win no starter playing fewer than 31 minutes, but they went a combined 2-of-7.
Being down one and taking a three, a lot of people wouldn't have done that; I'm one of the guys who would do that.
At the half: Cavs 53, Magic 50
The Magic is shooting close to 49 percent at the half. Part of that problem is the Cavaliers continue to have problems on his weak side, perimeter defense. At one point, the Magic was shooting 5-of-10 from three pointers.
Cleveland had done a fairly decent job of keeping Dwight Howard in check holding him in check with three points until the last six minutes of the second quarter when he scored six, a couple on ferocious dunks.
The Cavs, at one point, held an 11-point advantage that quickly evaporated. There's little chance that it would hold. The Magic, despite missing losing Jameer Nelson for the rest of the season, is too good to allow a blowout.
Still while the Cavaliers have tried, no statement has been really made in this game by either team. In their first meeting back in January, the third quarter decided the game's outcome.
Here's betting that the same happens here.
LeBron James, Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams and Delonte WEst are all having strong games. The problem: only three points have come from the bench thus far.
Cavs (53-13) vs. Orlando Magic (49-17)
TV: FSOhio. 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). Magic: Mickael Pietrus (F); Rashard Lewis (F); Dwight Howard (C); Courtney Lee (G); Rafer Alston (G).
Cavs: Eric Snow (knee); Ben Wallace (right leg). Magic: Jameer Nelson (torn right labrum); Hedo Turkoglu (left foot tendinitis).
The Cavs have won five consecutive; the Magic three in a row.
The Magic took the first meeting 99-88 as Dwight Howard dominated the game for the Magic with 22 points and 19 rebounds with the Cavs not having an answer for Howard on the inside or the Magic’s outside shooting. The Cavs are the league’s best home team and the Magic are the East’s best road team. As they say, something’s gotta give.
Mark Wunderlich, Mark Ayotte and Jack Nies.
What to watch:
- The Cavaliers cannot allow Dwight Howard to camp out around the hoop on either side of the ball. The guy has the uncanny ability to clean up after missed shots turning them into easy dunks. Last time out the Cavs didn’t have Ilgauskas, so his ability to shoot from the outside should help draw Howard out of the paint some.
- The Cavs rekindled their defense against the New York Knicks this past weekend; it will have to continue for them to beat the Magic. They are balanced offensively able to score inside with Howard and they are one of the best outside shooting teams – including third best 3-point field goal percentage – in the league. While it’s important to note that Ilgauskas was out that first game, so was one of the Cavs best defenders – Delonte West.
From the coach's office:
Coach Mike Brown on what happens if he gets another technical on the season:
If I do I’ve already committed to a large lump sum of money that I will let my team have. One thing that I want our guys to understand is we control our own destiny on the floor, off the floor however you want to put it. We don’t want to get to the point where we are blaming officials for conditions or anything like that.
From the locker room:
LeBron James on looking past the Orlando Magic:
It’s dangerous to look past any team in the playoffs. You need 16 games to win everything in the playoffs, so you can’t look past any teams…Once you get in the playoffs it’s not going to matter if you won 70 games in a season or 35 games, you got to go out and win.