“Cleveland is advancing. We won the series 4-2. That speaks louder than me saying anything about the fans here, anything about DeShawn Stevenson, Cleveland is advancing. That’s all that matters.”- LeBron James
Indeed. Cleveland’s King dominated the Cavaliers’ game 6 win over Washington. This time he dominated not by scoring, but by doing everything else. It helps that his teammates were hitting open shots, but by doing so LeBron racked up 13 assists, to go with his 13 rebounds and 27 points. The triple double was LeBron’s third in his playoff career, and other than the infamous “Detroit game”, this was probably his most convincing playoff performance. Perhaps the best demonstration of this was at the end of the third quarter, when James barked at his own team, because they had not helped LeBron to get off a good shot at the buzzer. Keep in mind the Cavs were up by 15 at that time. Didn’t matter to LeBron, he was finishing this series on the Wizards home court. No way would there be a game 7.
Little did we know, when talking about the Cavs earning some rest for the second round, that the Hawks would allow Cleveland that luxury. The Celtics fell to Atlanta to force a game 7 on Sunday, ensuring that the Cavs will not face their next opponent until Tuesday at the earliest.
Helping Lebron (and making us eat some humble pie) was Wally Szczerbiak. Wally had 26 points (6 triples) and played 33 minutes, far and away his best performance in the Wine and Gold. Daniel Gibson contributed 22 points (4 triples) while providing quality minutes at the 2 and the 1. If you are looking for stats to show why the Cavaliers won this game, look no further than the assist column. Cleveland had 29, to Washington’s 11. The Cavs also limited their turnovers to just 6, which might be a season low. (I’m too tired to look that up. Maybe one of you industrious commenters will find out!)
It’s hard to say if the Cavaliers truly ran their offense better or if they simply hit more shots. They made over 49% of their field goals, and 45% of their three point attempts. I would say that they certainly were moving without the ball much better in the first half, and they were making not just the third pass, but the fourth to get the best possible look at the basket. I was surprised that they didn’t attack Brendan Haywood more, to see if they could get him in foul trouble, but when your outside shots are falling, it opens up the driving lanes as well.
The Cavaliers continued to miss lay-ups in this game, with Delonte West leading the charge there. By my count he blew 3 shots from within 4 feet of the basket. But that can be forgiven on this night.
The defense was terrific from the second quarter on. The Wizards went cold shooting jumpers, but they were made to work for most of their shot attempts. Cleveland’s attention to Jamison and Butler would have set the stage for DeShawn Stevenson to have a big game, but he simply couldn’t get it done or hit his shots.
Congratulations LeBron James, Mike Brown and the rest of the Cavaliers. Get some rest, and maybe work on that pick and roll for the second round!