Cavs 84, Heat 76
Glass half full: The Cavs got a win over the Miami Heat, reducing their magic number to clinch homecourt for the first round of the playoffs to 1. Glass half empty: The Cavs were down to the worst team the NBA has seen in years, complete with five rookies and five guys who were in the D-League this year heading into the fourth quarter. If they continue to play like this, what does it matter where the first two games of the playoffs are played? Half full: LeBron James only needed to play 35 minutes and when he was out the Cavs went on a run to take the lead for good. Half empty: For the eighth time in 11 games, the Cavs had a better plus/minus with LeBron off the floor than on it. It's +46 in 113 minutes without him and -46 in 410 minutes with him. Yes, there were some blowouts in there, but look closer and most were close games. It is a weird trend that hints at how the new group has failed to gel with the superstar. Half full: LeBron said his back is feeling fine and the Cavs seem to be mostly healthy with a week to go until the playoffs. Half empty: As of this moment, with the 76ers and the Raptors both being at 40-40, the Cavs have one win over a team with a winning record since getting their players from trade. It was the home game against the Pistons.
There's little need to break this game down further. The trends all hold.
Heat (anyone want to guess?): Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Ricky Davis, Stephane Lasme, Mark Blount Cavs: Delonte West, Devin Brown, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Joey Crawford, Violet Palmer, Zach Zarba
--The Cavs magic number to clinch the No. 4 seed is two and this is obviously the easiest game left. The Heat don't have much talent left, in fact they have a five-man inactive list, but they have a bunch of young guys and D-League callups who do play hard. The Cavs have been known lately to have focus issues and go stretches without giving maximum effort. If that happens today, they very well could get beat. --Keep an eye on the Cavs in the halfcourt on offense. This facet has been decaying for a couple weeks. There have been moments when they have executed well but this team doesn't have rhythm from possession to possession much less game to game. --The Cavs have not played well throughout a game since they beat Philly at home two weeks ago. Might want to start considering the playoffs are now less than a week away. --For your reading pleasure, you may be interested in what I wrote about LeBron winning the scoring title being a failure for the Cavs and Mike Brown today.
Halftime -- Cavs 40, Heat 38
--Great basketball, folks. I'd be watching the Masters, but that isn't any good today, either. The Cavs are shooting very poorly, just 34 percent. They are being aggressive on defense for the most part, Ben Wallace has three blocks and LeBron has two. Then again there was still guys dunking. They played hard for about five minutes, got a seven-point lead, and then cooled down again. That's about par for this team right now. This would win the award for worst loss of the season if it happens, by the way. --The one thing they are doing is looking to pass the ball into the post much more. Especially LeBron. The idea here is to catch teams in rotation as they bring help to James. Then again, that was the idea all season. Regardless, the Cavs have 11 assists on 14 baskets, which is a dream percentage for them. Also, eight of their 14 baskets have been the paint. It's a small bright side. --LeBron took another bad shot at the end of the half because he wanted to set up a 2-for-1, in other words shooting with about 35 seconds left to assure you get an extra possession at the end of a quarter. He has been doing this a lot lately and most of the time it is a bad shot out of flow and that makes it a bad possession so why bother? --When Daequan Cook comes back out on the floor, it might be a good idea to not go under pick-and-rolls and let him shoot. --They didn't put enough time on the halftime clock and Quick Change, the best halftime act in the NBA, was out on the floor doing their thing when the players came out of the locker room to shoot. By the time they did their finale -- where the woman changes dresses four times in like 90 seconds including once as a bunch of confetti falls on her -- the entire Heat team was on their bench and several Cavs were sitting on the scorer's table. Many of them gave Quick Change an ovation.
Stars Delonte West, 18 points, four rebounds Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 14 points, 14 rebounds LeBron, 13 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists Ricky Davis, 17 points, seven assists
Quotes LeBron on the win: "You can’t be disappointed. I can’t sit here and lie and say it’s easy to get up for a team like this, the crowd expects you to blow them out." LeBron on being assured of playing the Wizards in the first round: "Yay, that is so fun, I am excited. I wanted to play somebody else, but if we have to play somebody I’m glad it is Washington. This is the third straight year of trash talk. I’ll read the clippings and it’ll help me get some more gas under my belt."
Three reactions from me: 1. The first line he said with heavy sarcasm. 2. LeBron said he wanted to play someone else like he meant he was tired of playing Washington, but I sensed truth in his voice. 3. I have no idea what he means about getting gas under his belt. I assume you want gas out from under your belt. Isn't that was Beano is for?
LeBron on his back: "I feel good. We’re going to see how it reacts, I haven’t had back-to-back since the back (got hurt)."