Hey, defense, rebounding and making open shots! Who knew? The Cavs held the Wizards under 40% shooting (39.7%!), they grabbed more rebounds (45-42) and they made their open looks, especially from 3 (Gibson was 4-6 from downtown while Wally Szczerbiak was 6-13… 13!).
The Cavs withstood Washington’s best shot in the first quarter. Washington scored 31 points in the first period, but only led by four. As a Cavs fan, you gotta be feeling good about only being down four in that situation, as Washington shot really well (57%) and LeBron only had 2 points. Then the second quarter happened…
The Cavs brought the hammer down mid-second quarter. The teams traded baskets to start the second period and the Wizards held a 41-35 lead with seven and a half minutes to go. Six minutes later, the Cavs had 56-43 lead and went into halftime leading 56-48. That 21-2 run? The Cavs made 8 field goals and assisted on 6 of ’em (the other two? Layups). The Cavs held the Wizards to jump shots while they buried four 3s on their own end. Daniel Gibson led the way with 13 points (3 treys), LeBron had 8 and Joe Smith pitched in 4.
Over-rated, eh? LeBron destroyed the Wizards with everything in his arsenal. James led everyone with 27 points (8-17 FG, 10-10 FT), he grabbed 13 boards and dished out 13 assists (he picked the Wizards apart early on, 7 assists in the first half). When it comes down to it, they really had no answers for James; there’s no one on this team that can really give him trouble (Jared Jefferies was the only guy who used to make a difference) and Stevenson tried to flop his to a couple of cheap offensive fouls. For the most part, James took good shots (much better than Game 5) and he guarded Caron Butler on and off throughout the game.
Somebody ask Caron Butler if Mike Brown is a good coach. I’ve had my issues with Brown in the past (and I’m sure I will in the future) but Brown can game plan with the best of ’em. After watching Caron Butler go off for 32 points in Game 5, Brown set up the entire defense to stop him; the Cavs sent waves of guys at Butler, they doubled him at different times and he never got comfortable. Through the first 3 quarters, Butler had just 7 points. He finished with 18 points (6-14 shooting), 9 boards and just 1 assist.
If the Cavs are making shots, you aren’t going to beat them. Daniel Gibson had 22 points and made 4-6 treys. Wally Szczerbiak scored a career playoff high 26 points and made 6 of 13 treys. Why these guys continued to be left wide open is beyond me, but they made the Wizards pay. Wally provided a big boost in the first quarter, scoring 9 and Gibson was a key player in the big second quarter run. As a team, the Cavs were 11-24 from behind the arc.
The Cavaliers moved the ball extremely well. They had 29 assists on 40 baskets and everyone was sharing the ball. James had the eye popping number with 13 assists, but Delonte West pitched in 7 and Boobie, Z and Big Ben each had 2. They spread the ball around (four guys in double figures, three guys were over 20) and they didn’t settle for jumpers (though they took a lot of open ones).
Z had another solid game. The big fella finished with 12 points, 7 boards, 2 assists and 2 blocks. He grabbed 5 defensive rebounds after only having 1 in Game 5; as a team, the Cavs really stepped it up on the defensive boards after giving up 5 offensive boards in the first period. Z also had a nifty alley-oop pass to James off the high post (which is a play I absolutely love- the big guy can pass, when guys actually move without the ball).
Again, I feel for Antawn Jamison. 23 points, 15 boards in a loosing effort. Neither Jamison or Butler talked any trash during this series, both guys played hard and kept their mouthes shut. However, Jamison and Butler had just 2 assists combined on Friday night. When your two best players have as many assists as Ben Wallace… well, I don’t know exactly what that means, but it cannot be good.
Speaking of Wallace… Solid game for Big Ben. He wasn’t spectacular or anything, but he had 4 points and 7 boards. He missed some close shots, he made some closer shots and he never had to go to the line (thank God).
Speaking of thanking God, Anderson Varejao only played 11 minutes. I haven’t cared for Andy’s play throughout this series and Friday was no exception. He took another wild-ish post shot and he finished with just 2 points and 2 boards for the night. Fortunately, Mike Brown didn’t feel the need to throw him back out there. Maybe the Wizards were just a poor matchup for him, I dunno, but if the Cavs want any chance to make it back to the conference finals, Varejao will have to play much better.
Rest up boys, you aren’t playing til Tuesday. Thanks to the Atlanta Hawks (and Doc Rivers) there will be a Game 7 on Sunday, so the Cavs will have a few days off. Hopefully they can get Sasha Pavlovic acclimated with the rest of the team and actually have their roster at full strength. Has that happened since the trade? Everyone back and healthy? I’m not sure it has. It’s probably not a good thing that the first time they’ll have their full roster will be the playoffs… but it’s a nice problem too have, no? Too many healthy bodies? I’ll take it.