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Cleveland Cavaliers

Wizards whimper home after Game 2

By admin Published: April 21, 2008

Cavs 116, Wizards 86 --This was the most complete game the Cavs have played since the trade, which was two months ago today by the way. It may have been the most complete game they have played all season. While the Wizards talk very confidently, I think they are actually playing very tentative while the Cavs have executed their game plan with sharp focus. Gilbert Arenas is limited by his knee, Caron Butler does not look 100 percent, DeShawn Stevenson is not dealing with the extra pressure, and Brendan Haywood has not been the same player since the confrontation with LeBron in Game 1. Eddie Jordan said he did a "horrible job trying to keep our guys in an organized fashion." Antawn Jamison said as a captain he has done a bad job of "controlling this team." --I am not around the Wizards everyday, though I have covered like 26 preseason, regular season and postseason games of theirs over the last three years. But I can't help to notice that they are not as focused as the Cavs are. At the end of there practices, before the game in the locker room, in pregame warmups, etc. Maybe that is just their style and staying loose is best for them. But the Cavs are a happy-go-lucky team, too but you can tell when it is the playoffs. Then you see how the Wizards play in the playoffs and it is hard not to equate one attitude to another. For example, Stevenson makes a 3-pointer down 19 points and does his face wave thing or whatever. Style above substance, you know? But I could be wrong. --LeBron was at level 9 tonight in his control of the game. Jordan called him a "monster" after the game not just for the way he played on offense but how he dealt with Arenas on defense and how he was talking out on the court. His 12 assists shows the offense was working well and that the Cavs made shots. That will not happen every game, but running the offense and not dribbling, is important. --Before the game, another reporter overheard Brendan Haywood saying he wasn't going to do anything in this series to get suspended because last time that happened (in 2006 when he fought Etan Thomas and was benched by the team) it cost him $60,000. Then he goes out and gets ejected for a flagrant-2 on LeBron. That said, I don't think he'll get suspended by the league for that hit because he didn't LeBron in the head. It was a non-basketball play and that is the definition of a flagrant-2 and the officials made the correct call. But I could be wrong. Anderson Varejao was hit with a flagrant-1 and he hit Andray Blatche in the head but he was going for the ball, not that the Wizards saw it that way. LeBron was surely campaigning for a suspension when he said it was "scary" and it reminded him of when he got undercut as a junior in high school and broke his wrist. Except he was not undercut on this one, though if you watch the replay he was in danger as he fell. My guess is Haywood will be writing a $5,000 check (in addition to the $1,000 for the technical in Game 1) and moving on to Game 3. Then again, the NBA may want to send a message. --LeBron did do a nice job of keeping himself under control after all the hard fouls. He has been able to not be fazed physically or emotionally. Considering how intense this series has been he deserves credit for that. --Daniel Gibson has now had two good games in a row. Him getting going would be a huge plus for the Cavs because you know how well he and LeBron feed off each other. Tonight he made a stepback 3 that was a highly athletic move, showing his ankle is feeling good. --Damon Jones' "you can't see me" ode to Stevenson late in the game was his private payback for that game last month. Before he called LeBron "overrated" that night, Stevenson was mocking Damon's antics after 3-pointers during that game. So that is what that was all about. --LeBron said he never got personal with comments about Stevenson to Drew Gooden. Who knows? But the fans at Quicken Loans Arena did, tonight there was one sign that read: "DeShawn's mom is overrated." --I know some of you would prefer faster updates, but please remember I write for the Beacon Journal first. My game story from tonight is here and my notes about the new Hack-a-Bron strategy is here.
Recap:
Pregame
Starting lineups
Wizards: Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood Cavs: Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Dan Crawford, Rodney Mott, Mark Wunderlich
--The Wizards have not made it a secret that they intend to pound the ball to Butler, especially whenever Szczerbiak is guarding him. The Cavs will be bringing double teams with Butler in the post, so expect Stevenson and Jamison to be free on the outside on the backside. They didn't make any last game, you know about the law of averages. --Stevenson's latest comment about LeBron, before this game: "He's going to cry about calls, that's what he do." From the Wizards' perspective, I can see why he feels this way. Nonetheless, more fodder. --Get ready for this stat longtime Cavs fans...LeBron has more missed free throws this season including Game 1 (228) than Mark Price had in his entire career (227). Now, my point is not to compare them, my point is LeBron misses a lot of free throws. If the Wizards can't defend him and they can't force him to give it up, fouling is the smart way to go. Also, because LeBron had 87 "and-1s" this season, which was second in the NBA, fouling him hard so he can't finish is also prudent. --The Cavs say they will be more ready for Gilbert Arenas tonight when he comes in the game. I don't know how you can ever be ready for that guy with his talent, but Game 1 showed that he is just not as strong or confident driving as he is shooting. Probably because his knee is not right and stopping and pulling up hurts. Look for the Cavs to make him put it on the floor.
Halftime -- Cavs 53, Wizards 40 --As of this exact moment, Mike Brown in my opinion is vastly outcoaching Eddie Jordan. Especially with the matchups. The move to put LeBron on Arenas has made it impossible for Gilbert to get anything off from the outside and he cannot move well enough to get past him. Also, at the other end, Mike has constantly found the favorable one-on-one match and sent the ball there be it with LeBron, Ilgauskas or Szczerbiak. He also seems to be figuring out that Joe Smith is the best guy to cover Jamison, although Jamison is playing great and tough for anyone on the Cavs to deal with. --LeBron's play in the first half has been exemplary. He has 12 points, five rebounds and six assists and is making almost nothing but smart decisions at both ends. It is very clear that he can get to the basket whenever he wants to but he is mixing it up. He has been looking for Z, who is again executing well, and Wally, who is so far having a good night. --Caron Butler does not look right to me, he does not have the same athleticism as usual. The Cavs have realized this and are gambling a little bit more. He's been more active on rebounds but he's 1-of-8 and his shot from the outside looks flat. --The Wizards are shooting just 37 percent, which is a reflection of how well the Cavs are playing defense. They are not just missing shots like in Game 1, most are contested. That said, this is a team that can get hot and very hot from the outside. It appears as if Jordan is looking deeper into the bench for offense as he put rookie Nick Young out there at the end of the half. The Cavs, as everybody knows, are not great in the third quarter and the first five minutes of this second half could be huge in the outcome of this game.
Postgame
Stars LeBron, 30 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists Ilgauskas, 16 points, nine rebounds Szczerbiak, 15 points
Quotes LeBron: "Just the magnitude of the game and the way we approached the game tonight was amazing. Coach Brown put us in a comfortable position and gave us a game plan. We went out and executed." Eddie Jordan: "We are playing the (Eastern Conference) champions. I know they changed their team but they still have the same coaching staff and a monster player and he's taking over the series." Jamison: "We didn't underestimate anybody. I don't want what was said a month ago to have the effect of how we feel about this team. We know this is a very special team. They didn't play well in the last month of the regular season but just like any veteran team when the playoffs get started you're gong to elevate your game and you're gong to find a way to start playing inspired ball. Let's be honest. Some guys talked. It's over with. I'm the captain of this team and we're going to go out there and play ball. We have alot of respect for this team. We know this team is capable of not only going past the first round but going past that. Once the playoffs started, we didn't say this is going to be an easy win or an easy series whatsoever. Let's get that down pat because this is a team that in my eyes can create a lot of problems for a lot of teams."

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