God this sucked. The Cavs didn’t break the 20 point mark until the final period, where they notched 21 (they went 17, 16, and 18 over the first three periods). No one on Cleveland played well, everyone on Washington played great, and the Wizards fans were just as annoying as I remember them. Sunday can’t come soon enough.
However, I have a really hard time getting worked up over this loss. A big Game 3 win by the Wizards can’t be totally unexpected. The fact that it was this brutal hurt, but still, it’s only one game (let’s not forget that the Cavs just spanked ’em by 30). The Cavs were flat and the Wizards were hot; once they got the lead the crowd got into into it and the Cavs could never sustain any type of decent run. They were a step slow the entire night defensively and they picked up a ton of cheap fouls off of reach ins and being out of position.
I’d say I’m more disappointed than mad. I can deal with the loss, but the nature of it kinda sticks in my craw. The Cavs defensive effort was horrendous and their offense shot selection was equally brutal. To me, the worst aspect of this whole debacle as the fact that the Cavaliers let a 49-33 halftime deficit balloon to 77-51 after three. There is no excuse for that. I have no idea how you can come out of halftime (in a playoff game!) losing by 17 points and proceed to get outscored by 10 in the following 12 minutes. I get that this was Washington’s night, but show some heart.
In case you weren’t aware, DeShawn Stevenson is a douchbag. Look, I get that he’s happy he’s had a good game, but this guy was celebrating garbage time 3 pointers like he’s knocking down game winners. I mean, he scored 19 points in a first round Game 3 victory to cut series to 2-1 and he’s acting like a complete jackass. I’d hate to see how thrilled he’d be if the Wizards actually won a game after the first round. By all means let him enjoy the victory, but damn that guy is annoying.
Stevenson will probably get all the highlights (due to his showboating) but I thought Roger Mason was the key guy for the Wizards. Mason finished with 18 points on 8-14 shooting (2-3 3pt). Mason was a major part of a key second quarter run. Mason scored 8 straight points to start the second quarter to turn a 4 point lead into a 12 point margin (one could argue that the Cavs never recovered). Mason sparked that second period run and the Wizards never looked back.
LeBron was alright, but not great. James led everyone with 22 points while also grabbing 7 boards and 3 assists. James was more of a scorer this time around, he wasn’t setting up teammates and he was settling for a lot of jumpers (whether that’s on him or the Wizards defense, I dunno…. but since the Cavs were lazy in every other facet of the game, I’m not sure how much credit Washington deserves). James (among others) led the Cavaliers with 4 turnovers, and most of LeBron’s were due to him trying to do too much (force shots, force passes, etc). LeBron was just 2-4 from the foul line, which is only remarkable because he only attempted 4 shots (I’m not blaming the refs, I’m putting this on James).
Z had a really frustrating night. First of all, the Cavs couldn’t throw a post pass to save their life. I don’t know how hard this is, but if someone is helping weakside, don’t throw the lob (also, you’re allowed to bounce the entry pass. Really. Totally legal). Besides the post pass problems, Z picked up a couple of weak fouls, only got to the line once (1-2) and could never get into a rhythm on offense (4-10, with a ton of jumpers). Z was visibly angry for the bulk of the evening (at least someone was).
The Wizards Big 3. Caron Butler had his best game of the series, scoring 17 points on 7-14 shooting. Antawn Jamison was solid once again, scoring 15 points and grabbing 7 boards. As for Gilbert Arenas… he started, but only finished with 2 points in 10 minutes of play (he left the game before halftime and didn’t return).
Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao were both equally awful. It’s hard to choose who had the worse game. Gibson proved why the Cavs don’t trust him with the starting point guard duties; he had 4 turnovers and never looked comfortable brining the ball up again the Washington pressure. Meanwhile, Varejao was hoisting up turnarounds and dribbling the ball off his foot while dribbling near the 3 point line. Both of these guys through the ball away numerous times and neither one had any positive plays that stick out in my mind.
Delonte West wasn’t good either (hell, no one was good). West, Wallace and Wally all had sub-par games. Delonte made one field goal, had a rebound and 2 assists. He also had 4 turnovers and played some terrible defense. Wallace was pretty much worthless in his 16 minutes of court time and Szczerbiak shot a scorching 3-9 from the field. As a team, shot selection was pretty bad and they ended up shooting just under 40% (and a brutal 2-16 from downtown).
It’s only one game. With a 2-1 lead, the Cavs still control this series. If they can win Game 4 on Sunday, they head back to Cleveland with a dominating 3-1 lead. If they lose Game 4, they’ve let Washington back in this series and have put this thing in serious doubt. I know the Cavs have stunk on the road post-trade, but there is absolutely no excuse for another performance anywhere in the neighborhood of Thursday’s.