Post mortem: It wasn't pretty to start, but it's a win that any casual observer would take. Coach Brown didn't think so after his post game comments, but this is a game that last year's Cavs team wouldn't have won. Logically speaking they shouldn't have won this one. They lost the battle in the paint (40-32), lost on fastbreak points (16-7).
But the defense won this one for them. Consider this: they held the Sixers to just 47 points in the final three quarters and forced 20 turnovers that turned into 20 points. When you do that, you can expect to at least be competitive.
Brown should be content knowing that when he needed players to step up, they did. LeBron James hit 28, but Anderson Varejao, playing 35 minutes scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and had seven rebounds.
The backcourt of Mo Williams and Delonte West delivered 30 total points. But a huge effort came from rookie Darnell Jackson who grabbed eight rebounds - five of them offensive.
Philadelphia is a team that's underachieved in the eyes of a lot of people. Perhaps that's a case of not having gelled yet, but the Cavs didn't allow their marquee players - Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Andre Miller - to find any sort of groove.
Overall: a not-so-pretty win, but a good one nonetheless.
Mike Brown on rookie forward Darnell Jackson:
I thought his effort defensively was terrific. I thought he came up with extra possessions for us. Anytime you can get extra possessions off of pure hustle, it lifts you as a team.LeBron James on playing without Z:
Anytime you have key guys out it takes a while to get adjusted. Guys stepped up. Once again Andy stepped up. Darnell gave us some big minutes off the bench. Tarence and Sasha came in and gave us some big minutes and it was good to see that.At the half: Personally, I'm a bit surprised at the 52-39 halftime score. Without Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Daniel Gibson, the Cavs should have been out of sorts and they were to start - offensively and defensively.
They shot just 42 percent for the half, gave up 24 points in the paint yet secured a lead. They did make some shooting guard for the 76ers named Willie Green look like an All-Star during the first half, as he hung 15 points on them. But overall, despite the lackulster display, disappointment can't run too high with respect to this performance.
Game: Cavs (19-3) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (9-13)
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Anderson Varejao (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). 76ers: Andre Iguodala (F); Elton Brand (F); Samuel Dalembert (C); Willie Green (G); Andrew Miller (G).
Inactives: Cavs: Eric Snow, Daniel Gibson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas. 76ers: Kareem Rush, Jason Smith.
Injured: 76ers: Louis Williams
Officials: Derrick Stafford, James Capers, Pat Fraher
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won 10 games in a row; 12 consecutive home; Philadelphia has lost two-in-a-row.
Three things to watch:
- The Cavaliers without Zydrunas Ilgauskas could loom large for a couple of reasons. The most obvious: A missing Ilgauskas takes away a post presence for the Cavaliers. But what looms larger is the loss of Ilgauskas' versatility in that he has the ability to hit the outside shot, opening up the floor more giving teammates the chance to operate.
- Are the kids alright? Mike Brown really gets to find out what his two draft choices - J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson - have to offer. While Lorenzen Wright is a definite option, most of Ilguaskas' minutes will be going to those two. Each has an advantage. Hickson can post up and has impressive strength. Jackson possesses a deadly jumper from as far as 19 feet out.
- Will the guards continue to replace Daniel Gibson's points? Mo Williams did a nice job of picking up some of the slack Wednesday against the 76ers, dropping 27 points on them. Whether he can continue to do it remains to be seen. This much is clear. The Cavs are getting their first shot of adversity for the season. How they handle it will be instrumental in shaping a team likely to make the playoffs.
From the coach's office:
Mike Brown on what the team will do without Ilgauskas:
We feel like we have guys who can still score if we do throw them the ball down in the post. We also feel as if we have bigs show can step out on the floor and knock down too, playing pick-and-pop basketball.From the locker room:
Mo Williams on how the loss of Ilgauskas should affect the team:
It shouldn’t. We practice the same way with Z in or out. The big does the same thing Z does – he just has to shoot the ball a little bit better. It’s the same offense, guys are going to have confidence if they have confidence at practice. It won’t be any adjustments made, just guys stepping in and step up.
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