Back in Business
First of all, I would like to sincerely apologize to my readers for skipping out on them during a phenomenal weekend of Zards and NBA basketball. I was in Southern California for an incredible, weekend-long, music festival, and sometimes you just have to make tough decisions in life. No regrets.
However, I did catch Game 3 live from a sports bar and checked out Game 4 on TiVo. I hate lingering on things that happened several days ago and have already been beaten to death by the media, so I will address the weekend's action very briefly.
Game 3: Yes, Lebron's travel was obvious. He took a step, then jump-stopped, then switched pivot feet, then took another step, and then jumped again. Everybody knows it was a travel. Lebron knows he traveled. A Cavs fan came up to me after the game and apologized for winning on such an egregious travel. But I'm over it. Refs eat their whistles in the last minute of playoff games, especially when it involves a superstar. If you don't want to risk losing the game to the refs, then put the game away yourself. The Zards had control of the game most of the way, but they couldn't hold onto their lead. And in the end, we had a wide open shot for our best player to win the game. We should have won this game regardless of the officiating.
Game 4: I'm kind of glad I knew the score already when I watched this game, because I probably would have been suicidal by halftime. The Zards came out completely flat, and they looked like they had no idea that they were playing in a huge game. I figured Arenas would come out like a bat out of hell after missing the game-winner in game 3, but instead he was AWFUL in the 1st half. Luckily, Arenas had a vintage Gilbert halftime which led to a vintage Gilbert 4th quarter. As I'm sure you all know by now, Gilbert went into the locker room at halftime and changed all his clothes (even his socks, shoes, and underwear), and then he proceeded to come out and outshine Lebron in the 2nd half. Gil's dominant 4th quarter (20 points) was a thing of beauty. That said, I really wish he could put together just one complete game during this series. You Zards fans know what I mean... one of those games where he shoots 50%, scores 45 points, hits 5 threes, gets to the line 20 times, and looks like he could have gotten 50 if he wanted it. He had 11 games this season with 40 points or more, and it would be great if a national audience could see Gilbert absolutely dominate a game from start to finish like we know he can.
Game 5 is tonight at 8:30pm on TNT. Just to emphasize how important this game is, here’s a stat I saw last night on the NBATV broadcast of the Kings-Spurs game: the winner of game 5 in a “best of 7” series that’s tied at 2-2 goes on to win the series 84% of the time. If we can win tonight in Cleveland, we’ll have the opportunity to come home on Friday and put the Cavs away. If we lose, we’ll have to win at home to force a game 7 on Sunday back in Cleveland.
Around the Web:
> ESPN Insider’s Scouts Inc. still likes the Zards in 6. For those of you who don’t have an Insider subscription, here’s a summary of why they still think we’ll win in 6:
- The Zards will continue to make Lebron beat them all by himself from the perimeter.
- Hughes hasn’t been able to contain Gilbert, and Gil will continue to catch the Cavs big men out of position and draw fouls.
- Offensively, the Zards motion offense and penchant for attacking the rim will limit dry spells, however they must do a better job taking care of the ball.
- The Zards will keep trying to take charges on Lebron rather than challenging his shot. If he kicks to shooters, the Cavs can’t consistently beat anyone with their jumpers.
> Washington Post: Gilbert is averaging 15 points per 4th quarter in this series.
> Tom Knott: The Cavs don’t have an offense, they have LeBron James and not much else.
> There are some great quotes from Gilbert in this Washington Times piece:
- “If you want to keep me off the line, tell your team to stop hacking... If I know you are fouling, I'm coming inside because I know those are free throws, baby. I don't shy away from the contact.” -- I love that attitude. If he gets to the line 15+ times, we’re going to win the game.
- “[Larry Hughes has] become a spot-up shooter, and that's not what he does. Here he stayed on the right side of the court, and I stayed on the left side of the court — no problems. In Cleveland they want to play half-court unless they get out on the break. There aren't that many opportunities where Larry is going to be free." -- This was exactly the reason I thought Hughes was a TERRIBLE signing for the Cavs last off-season. In a free-flowing, fast-paced system like the Wizards’, Hughes is great. But on a team like the Cavs, where they slow it down, focus on half-court sets, and James dominates the ball, Hughes is terrible. Somebody like Bobby Simmons would have been a much better fit for them, and much cheaper to boot.
> The New York Times has an in depth profile on Gilbert Arenas’ jersey collection project. My favorite jersey in his collection is definitely Jason McElwain’s, the autistic high school team manager who rained threes on his school’s senior night. If you haven’t seen that video yet, it’s pretty incredible: CLICK HERE.
> It was revealed before last night’s Suns-Lakers game that Kwame Brown is under investigation by the LAPD for sexual assault. Surprisingly, Kwame, who is prone to distraction, came out and played a very solid game despite limited minutes due to foul trouble. He was 6-for-6 from the field, and he showed that all he really has to do to be effective with his size and athleticism is just A) hang around the basket for dunks when Kobe gets double-teamed, and B) consistently hit a jump hook, since he can get that shot off over just about anyone. Although he’s still a FAR cry from Kevin Garnett or Jermaine O’Neal (and always will be), if he can relax and simply not panic when he gets the ball, he should be effective around the basket on basic moves. On a side note, I still have yet to see Kwame smile even once this season. Just like in DC, his on-court body language has been consistently depressing this season.
> Mike Wise profiles Cavs coach Mike Brown.