I have to admit, watching the first half of the Cavaliers win over Philadelphia, I was ready to write a stick a fork in ’em post. The Cavs looked old, slow and tired in the first half. The Sixers ran them out of town in the first quarter. Forget running on turnovers, the Sixers were running off of makes. Lobs and dunks were fast and furious. LeBron had the ball stolen from him 4 times in the first half, and had his shot blocked another 2 or 3 times. It wasn’t pretty. There was a stretch when I began to question Mike Brown’s ability to mold this team since the trade. When the trade happened, I wrote the following–
By the way, you do realize that fair or not you are probably going to be judged by how well you prepare this group for the playoffs right?
Fortunately for the home crowd (and the coach), the Cavs brought some energy and intensity in the second half. Credit Mike Brown for sticking with the players that were getting it done, specifically Joe Smith and Delonte West. Both played more minutes than they usually do for the Cavs, and were effective on both ends of the floor. West had a season high 11 assists to go with his 18 points, and hit 2 big three’s down the stretch. Factor in his 3 blocks and 2 steals, and you have his best game in a Cleveland uniform. Joe Smith chipped in 13 points and 8 rebound, but just as important his athleticism was able to help slow down the running game of the 76ers.
LeBron had a much better second half, finishing with 26 points, 9 assists and 9 boards. To be honest, looking up those numbers I was stunned he had a near triple double. It just didn’t seem like LeBron was having a good game. I suppose that goes to show what we have come to expect from LeBron night after night.
Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic sat this one out, Wallace with his back spasms and Sasha was seen icing down the foot that was previously injured. More bad news came in the third quarter, when Daniel Gibson hobbled off the floor and into the locker room. The early report was a ‘sore ankle’. And yes, it was the same one that forced him to miss more than 2 months. If Gibson has re-injured that ankle to the point that he isn’t able to go, I don’t like Cleveland’s chances in the playoffs at all. The blueprint appears to have been written for taking on this Cavalier team. Run. Run. And run some more.