Solid win, the Cavs played with a lot of energy. In what could be a potential first round preview, the Cavs thoroughly handled the Raptors. Of course, the Raptors are easier to handle when Chris Bosh has to leave in the first quarter with a broken face (he caught an elbow from Antawn Jamison). With Bosh out, the Cavs went inside and got whatever they wanted (this is shocking, but the trio of Andrea Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu and Amir Johnson don’t protect the rim very well). The bigs moved extremely well without the ball and both LeBron (13 assists) and Mo Williams (12 assists) rewarded them for their effort.
I can’t stress enough how great the passing was (80% of their field goals were assisted). The Cavs racked up a season high 38 assists (on 47 baskets) and they made it look easy (and a lot of fun). Anderson Varejao checked in late in the first quarter and immediately netted two wide open layups off of passes from LeBron. The Cavs notched an assist on every basket they made in the third period (where they took control of the game), including the five baskets Jamison scored in the first four minutes after halftime. The play of the night also came in the third; after a defensive stop, Mo threw a full court pass (football style) to a streaking LeBron, who then made a perfect bounce pass to a trailing Hickson for the slam. Just beautiful.
Nice game from Anthony Parker. I’m still not completely sold on AP, but this is the second game in a row where I’ve liked what I’ve seen. Parker was aggressive and didn’t just settle for jumpers and, like Jamison, he really moved well without the ball. AP finished with 18 points (his Cavalier high), 8 boards and 6 assists. I hate when he just parks himself in the corner and waits for the pass (not saying it’s his fault exactly, the Cavs have a tendency to stand around and watch LeBron). I’m not looking for him to post 18-8-6 all the time, but he needs to fill up the box score.
The Cavs had six players in double figures (which makes sense, seeing how they had 38(!) assists). Jamison led the Cavs with 20 points, LeBron had 19, Parker scored 18, Mo had 14, Jawad Williams scored 13 and both Varejao and Hickson notched 10. There were times the Cavs went to Jawad in the midpost and I came away impressed. Jawad is very deliberate when he gets someone on his back and he used a variety of jab steps and ball fakes to clear space to knock down his faceup J. I loved the energy I saw from J.J. on both ends of the floor (he’s become great at filling the lane and he’s a very active defender). Speaking of energy, you couldn’t tell that Andy just returned from injury (he made a great bounce pass to J.J. for a weakside dunk).
The Cavs really only played 8 guys. Z, Varejao and Jawad Williams were the main contributors off the bench (Powe, Moon and Green got some garbage time minutes). We still don’t quite know what the team’s playoff rotation looks like, since the Cavs still aren’t at full strength but Coach Mike slowly seems to be shortening his rotation (I’m assuming Jawad got Delonte’s minutes, as West missed the game due to back spasms). I’m still intrigued to see what Brown does once Shaq returns (who’s minutes get cut, J.J. or Z? Or will it be determined by matchups?).
It was nice seeing the Cavs take this game seriously, despite having the top seed locked up. The Cavs beat the Raptors by sticking with their offense (again, 38 assists!) and playing timely defense (they weren’t super aggressive all the time). They didn’t stand around and take bad jumpers, they didn’t give up a ton of easy baskets (though Jarrett Jack, 23 points, 7-12 FG and Amir Johnson, 16 points, 7-8 FG, torched ’em) and they kept their focus for the full 48 minutes (they didn’t need to flip a switch in the fourth). LeBron was content to set up his teammates and he didn’t take much contact in his 36 minutes of court time.
There has got to be a better nickname for Antawn Jamison. Austin Carr has dubbed Antawn “The Jumpshooter,” and proceeded to hammer it home roughly 15 times over a 30 second clip… of Jamison making layups. The Jumpshooter. Makes sense for a guy like Parker or Daniel Gibosn, but notsomuch for the dude with all the crazy hook shots. But whatever. The Cavs have the top seed, why not let Austin Carr call Jamison “The Jumpshooter” a billion times over the next week or so. The Cavs are in Chicago on Thursday, face the Pacers at home on Friday, play the Magic on Sunday afternoon and end the season with Atlanta next Wednesday.