Cavs 104, Nets 83 --A 51-16 run over the last 19 minutes, the Nets make 3 of their last 31 shots and go 1-of-20 in the fourth, the Cavs hold them to 14 points in the paint for the game. Digest that for awhile. --Sometimes these Cavs are a total mystery to me. I do not understand why their focus level is haywire. I understand why the energy level it like that at times, but the way they are able to turn on or stay off is mind boggling. There were a few offensive possessions during the third quarter when I was laughing at their offense. Anderson Varejao was dribbling driving, guys were going 1-on-4 and at one point I got dizzy watching LeBron James dribble in a circle. Meanwhile, Gana Diop was dominating them on defense. Next thing I know they are defending the basket like it's some sort of mythic idol and Daniel Gibson, a guy who has done nothing but take 3-pointers since he came back from injury, is doing a Jason Kidd impression. --I asked a few players and no one had a good answer as to why the Cavs just turned it on the third quarter. My guess was they looked at the scoreboard and saw they were down 14 points to the Nets at home. But James did make four baskets and have two assists to start the run and he did it with aggression. His back looked fine in that period. --I am not sure what to think of the defense, other than to say when the Cavs give effort they are not bad. The Nets just went cold in this one, especially from the outside where they were living. When they had their 14-point lead, they were 8-of-15 from 3-point range. But also they were the victims of some horrible calls. This was one of the worst officiated games I seen this season. Tony Brown was blowing his whistle on everything. What was bad about this one is that the officials made wrong calls rather than no calls at all. Still, it didn't decide the game it just helped push the Nets toward the edge. --It isn't that the Cavs are a great fastbreak team, it's that they are such a terrible halfcourt offensive team. So they must get some easy chances in transition. This is why at times Delonte West can be so effective because he pushes the ball. For the first time in a long time, Gibson looked comfortable running the floor and he was able to create the same sort of chances in the second half. The Cavs didn't even shoot the ball that well tonight, but they did get themselves a lot of good shots and a lot of fouls by attacking. Who knows if that message will take with Gibson or anybody else. Your guess is as good as mine. --Mike Brown said playing Sasha Pavlovic was one of his "gut feels." Yes, he has a lot more talent than Devin Brown, but you just never know what you're going to get. Still, he had a few good minutes in the second half and Devin is playing too many minutes and taking too many shots so I expect Sasha to be back in a slightly expanded rotation on Friday.
Pregame Starting lineups
Nets: Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, Nenad Kristic, Gana Diop Cavs: Delonte West, Devin Brown, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Eddie Rush, Derek Richardson, Tony Brown
--LeBron was cleared to play this morning, though I never had any doubt despite him sitting out the last few practices. He hasn't practiced much since the All-Star Break. I mean, everybody says they are worried, but LeBron played 42 minutes Saturday and he spent eight hours shooting a commercial on Monday. --I do not believe the Nets have much interest in being here, I don't see why they would. Meanwhile, the Cavs are sort of playing for something here so we'll see what the focus and energy level is. The big issue for the Cavs will be keeping Devin Harris in front of them and making Carter and Jefferson shoot jumpers instead of getting easy drives. --The Nets are a so-called "shrink the floor" team, which means on defense they protect the middle and allow outside shots. Remember Donyell Marshall burning them in the playoffs with that. But the Cavs haven't been making jumpers lately. The Bulls are a shrink the floor team and the Cavs banged away on them in that loss last week.
Halftime -- Nets 53, Cavs 49
--If the Cavs have urgency to win this game I am not seeing it. Jefferson and Carter are both being active but there is no reason the Nets should be shooting 52 percent. The Cavs have been switching their defense back and forth between zone and man, but they still can't seem to cover the weakside where Marcus Williams and Boki Nachbar are getting free jumpers. --Sasha Pavlovic played five unexpected minutes in the first half and did absolutely nothing with them. Seriously, he did not even commit a foul. Also, I don't think he's wearing socks which makes me wonder whether he knew he was going to play or not. Mike Brown didn't put him out there vs. Vince Carter, who he did pretty well against in the playoffs last year, either. I have no idea why. --LeBron is doing a very nice job moving the ball. He has five assists and could have several more. The issue is no one else on the Cavs is moving the ball very well. They are doing OK on offense but they way the Nets play they are being too stagnant and that may show up in the end. --Devin Harris hit a 3-pointer from the corner that banked off the upper corner of the backboard. That's quite a trick shot, I've never seen anything like it. Derrick Rose would be proud.
Stars LeBron, 33 points, seven rebounds, eight assists Gibson, 12 points, five assists Wally Szczerbiak, 14 points Vince Carter, 19 points, six assists
Quotes Mike Brown: "I thought our sense of urgency picked up in the second half. When our defense picked up, everything else kind of picked up after that." LeBron: "A few days off of practice really helped me. The training staff has done a great job at helping me regain the strength that I need." Wally Szczerbiak: "With the team we have, we are so much better when we can push the ball and get easy shots. That is the way we need to play."