Are you busy Monday night?
Yes, I’m talking to you.
Reason I ask is that I need you,
and three other guys, to take on the Cavs. I am convinced that:
That’s a very wordy way of saying
that the Cavs play to the level of their competition. But as long
as they keep winning, who cares?
The Cavs beat the Wizards, 98-92,
and thus held up their end on The Greatest Day To Be A Cleveland Sports
Fan In Quite Some Time (or TGDTBACSFIQST; as you can see, this is not
your go-to column for snappy acronyms). The victory gave them
a commanding 3-0 lead in their series with Washington.
You Know Who led the Cavs with
30 points, and as usual stuffed the rest of the stat sheet with six
rebounds, nine assists, and a steal. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the man
who supposedly was past his useful life as a valuable player, added
24 points and eight boards. Antawn Jamison poured in 38 points
to lead the Wizards, and Antonio Daniels posted 20 points and 13 assists.
Thanks to a 26-12 run to end the
second quarter, keyed by a couple of James three-pointers, the Cavs
built a 17 point lead (61-44) at the intermission. Apparently
unwilling to risk the very real danger that Scot Pollard and Damon Jones
would get garbage time, the Cavs then watched Washington score 21 of the next 25
points, completely erasing the lead. (In the Department of No
Surprises, Jamison was the key to that run, as he scored 13 points during
The Wizards were able to tie the
game two more times (at 79-79 and 81-81), but they never could push
into the lead. Ilgauskas put the Cavs up for good with a pair
of jumpers; and while Washington was within a three-pointer of tying
the game within the final minute, they could never get any closer.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE GAME:
2007, Not 2006: Last
year, Z completely disappeared in the first round series against Washington.
He was ineffective when he played, and had his minutes severely limited
because of his ineffectiveness.
What a difference a year makes.
Z had his third consecutive strong game in this series, with his 24
points (on 10-of-13 shooting) and eight boards. Here are a couple
of plays that represent his impact on the game:
Once Again: In Game
2, the Cavs crushed the Wizards in rebounding, 56-38.
In Game 3, the Cavs crushed the
Wizards in rebounding, 48-33.
Shouldn’t be too hard to guess
who won both games, no?
42/48 Of LeBron:
For most of the game, LeBron was masterful. Frankly, I’m about
out of words to describe the guy. He can drive at will, and did
so often against the Wizards. He can hit the outside shot, and
did so often against the Wizards. He can find teammates and feed
them with pinpoint passes, and did so often against the Wizards.
Other than a brief stretch in which he fell in love with his outside
shot (we’ll get to that in a moment), he played a terrific game.
2/48 Of Sasha: Sasha
Pavlovic had two very good minutes in the game: the final minute
in each half. In the second quarter, he got two dunks and a layup
in the final minute. (The last of those, a dunk with one second
remaining, came when the Wizards’ Jamison fell asleep on defense;
oh, what I would have given to see a blood pressure monitor on Wizards
coach Eddie Jordan during those moments). In the final frame,
he drilled a key three pointer from the right corner to give the Cavs
a 96-90 lead. (The proper image here involves camels and straw.)
Moments later, when Washington’s Darius Songaila attempted a layup,
Sasha swatted the ball away.
Sweet Play Of The Game:
Cavs leading, 14-13, in the first quarter. Pavlovic bricks a jumper.
Gooden grabs the rebound, then finds Pavlovic with a nifty pass.
Sasha then makes an even niftier pass to Ilgauskas (in the lane) for
a layup. The court is the canvas, the ball the brush.
Somewhere, Austin Carr Is Smiling:
Cavs free throws attempted: 18. Cavs free throws made:
16. That’s an 89% rate. And that’s a big reason why
the Cavs maintained their lead.
If Ira Newble Falls In The
Woods And Nobody Hears It, Does He Make A Sound?: Newble received
exactly seven seconds of playing time yesterday. Specifically,
he played the last seven seconds of the first half, as Coach Mike Brown
decided that he did not want to risk LeBron picking up his third foul
before halftime. I believe that this may be a record for fewest
time played in an NBA game. I am sure that some reader out there
(hi Tom!) is already scouring the Web, doing the research that I am
too lazy to do, in an effort to confirm/refute this apparent record.
It’s Reader Mail Time!:
Never before have I received as much reader feedback as I did for (GRATUITOUS
SELF-LINK ALERT) my column on Game 2, when I alluded to a skirmish between
a couple of my neighbors at The Q. A large group of readers (which
sounds more impressive than “all three of you”) want to know exactly
what happened. I’ll try to describe the scene.
The gentleman two seats to my
right, a man remarkably similar to Jabba the Hutt in appearance and temperament (I’m
not kidding; the last time I saw a creature like this, Carrie Fisher
was chained to him), took offense to the man in the row behind him brushing
him (Jabba) as he returned to his seat. Understand, Jabba had
been spreading nothing but sunshine all game, repeatedly yelling at
the guy in front of him to sit down. (Hello? It’s a
PLAYOFF GAME, you schmuck. If you want peace and quiet, stay home
and watch it on TV.)
Anyway, Jabba started mouthing
off to the guy in the row behind him, as well as to his 12ish-year-old
son. Guy In Row Behind Him (or GIRBH; see earlier comment re:
acronyms) responded in kind. Here’s a paraphrase of their conversation.
(Because this is a family Web site – i.e., it has a wife and two little
Web sites at home – I will replace some of the more offensive language.
And because I sense our site has jumped the shark on the use of “spork”
as an alternative … and also because I want to continue the Star Wars
theme … I will replace any offensive words with the word “Wookiee”.)
JABBA: Wookiee you,
GIRBH: Wookiee you,
you fat Wookiee!
JABBA: I’ll kick your
Wookiee, you Wookieeing Wookiee!
GIRBH: Lay a finger
on me, and I’ll sue your Wookiee, you Wookiee!
JABBA (pointing a
hoof finger approximately 0.02 millimeters from GIRBH’s
nose): Don’t Wookiee with me! I’ll beat your Wookiee right
Et cetera. You get the idea.
Nothing too outrageous, just a schoolyard-level fight between two men
who (one would hope) would have known better.
ON SECOND THOUGHT:
“Beat your Wookiee” sounds like it too needs a more family-friendly
euphemism. Oh well, too late for that.
(TRUE STORY: There is
a Web site devoted to Princess Leia’s gold lame bikini.)
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT
Can’t Anybody Here Coach
This Game?: I like Coach Brown. Really, I do.
He has brought a defensive mind-set to the team that they have never
had before. He’s bright, knows the game, and also knows that
he does not know everything. He’s personable and deft with the
media. He owns potentially the largest collection of eyeglasses
in America, and always matches them with his suits. I’m far
from following my colleague’s lead, which would have me suggest
that GM Ferry kidnapped a platypus and fried it with shallots (although the search engines
With that said, I would like to
know what exactly was going through Coach Brown’s mind during the
third quarter. As described earlier, the Cavs played Penn and
Teller, making a 17 point lead vanish. During this time, Coach
Brown looked like a man completely unable to stop the course of events
unfolding in front of him.
After Jamison hit a three-pointer,
and then completed a three-point play on the next possession, Washington
had sliced the lead to 11 points (63-52). Did Coach Brown call
a time out? No.
After Washington’s Jarvis Hayes
drilled a three-pointer to further trim the lead, did Coach Brown call
a time out? No.
After Etan Thomas made a way-too-easy
layup, making the score 65-57, did Coach Brown call a time out?
Not until Jamison hit ANOTHER
shot, cutting the lead to six points, did Coach Brown call a time out.
The Cavs’ offensive set coming out of that time out, you ask?
You guessed it – the LeBron And Four Guys Waiting For A Bus play.
LeBron dribbled on the right wing; the other four Cavaliers stood on
the left, with little apparent interest in the game. Dribble.
Dribble. Dribble. Four seconds remaining on the shot
clock. Heave. Clank. Meow! (as
the cat took one in the ribs)
6/48 Of LeBron: For the first six minutes of the third quarter (which
is when the Cavs squandered their lead, you will note), James was content
to launch long-range jumpers. He made one of four during this
stretch; and that one had little business finding the bottom of the
net. When LeBron looks to bomb away, the offense stagnates, and
The Other 46/48 Of Sasha:
It’s a good thing that Sasha had those two good minutes. Based
on his play in the other 46 minutes, he’d be writing a one-way ticket
to Wesleyville. Aside from that one minute where he got three
easy baskets, he shot a rim-bending 2-of-12 from the field, and he also
added five turnovers (which led both teams).
His most ignominious stretch came
in the fourth quarter, with the game hanging in the balance. With
less than two minutes remaining, and the Cavs holding a seven point
lead, Jamison pulled up for a three pointer. He missed it …
but Pavlovic was called for fouling him on the arm (and rightly so).
Needless to mention, Jamison sank all three freebies, making it a four
On the Cavs’ next possession,
Sasha held the ball for a few seconds, then passed up a shot, finding
Hughes with a nice pass in the corner. One problem: the
shot clock had just expired. I’ll sound like Some Announcer
here, and say that you have to be aware of the shot clock. Pavlovic
clearly did not know that the clock was about to run out, and it cost
Cleveland the ball at what could have been a critical point. (After
this stretch, Coach Brown practically threw Eric Snow into the game
to substitute for Sasha.)
Now Introducing The General
Manager Of The Cavs, Rodney Dangerfield: During the first
quarter, after a time out, the TNT broadcast showed Cavs General Manager
Danny Ferry watching the game from a seat in the lower bowl. As
the announcers talked about Ferry, the camera showed Ferry being bumped
from his seat by its (presumably) rightful owner. Geez, his dad
was the GM of the team for years, and common courtesy would suggest
giving him a seat that he can call his own … but noooo. Thanks,
Washington! Should the series return to Cleveland, we’ll make
sure that your GM (Ernie Grunfeld) gets the finest seat that the Section
118 men’s room has to offer.
WHAT LIES AHEAD:
It’ll be Game 4 (and hopefully
Game The Last) of the series on Monday night when the Cavs take on us
… er, I mean the Wizards in Washington. Should the Cavs lose
the game, the series will return to Cleveland for game 5 on Wednesday