Cavs 97, Spurs 86 (Box Score)
So many times this season, I have been so caught up in the Cavs’ injury issues that I sometimes forget that the teams the Cavs get to play are rarely at full strength either. Such was the case last night with the San Antonio Spurs. I was still pondering defensive fortitude in a post-Ben Wallace universe and then the game started. San Antonio had Tony Parker, but they were without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
The San Antonio starting five consisted of Parker, Michael Finley, Kurt Thomas, Roger Mason, and Matt Bonner. Those aren’t exactly the guys who are responsible for those banners in the rafters. Still, they are a deep veteran team and they were playing at home. If the Cavs had continued playing the way they did against Houston the night before, unable to shoot from pretty much anywhere on the floor, San Antonio easily could have made it a game.
But they didn’t really. The Cavs jumped out to a quick first quarter lead of 27-13. They gave back 7 in the second quarter losing that quarter 18-25 for a lead of 45 – 38. Then the Cavaliers exploded in the third quarter, dropping a 32 on the board while holding San Antonio to 18. From there Lebron was able to rest the entire fourth quarter with a big lead.
Speaking of James, he showed us another reason that he is the probable MVP this year. A day after losing one of the biggest defensive rebound presences on the team, Lebron seemed almost obsessed with picking up the slack. He finished the game with 14 boards, including 10 on the defensive end. Combine that with the fact that he didn’t even play in the 4th quarter and that tells you all you need to know about his ability to know what this team needs and when. Also, you will all be happy to know that he didn’t repeat his assist-less performance by dishing a modest 4 times last night in addition to his 30 points.
The rest of the Cavs’ performances last night were rather pedestrian. Nobody else other than James seemed particularly effective. Delonte scored 17 and rebounded pretty well, but he committed 5 turnovers. Mo Williams was a modest 4 for 9 shooting. Overall last night the Cavs were miserable from three converting just 7 of 21. As you might imagine, that means Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak were largely ineffective in their shooters’ roles last night. The Cavaliers’ sharpshooters were a combined 6 of 22 from the field, although they did go 4 of 10 from three point range. So, in non three point attempts those two were 2 out of 12?
That, on most nights doesn’t seem like it will get the job done. Then again when you are playing a team without its surefire hall of fame F/C and one of the most dangerous sniping shooters in the world in Ginobili, you don’t need to bring quite as much to the table. Thankfully for the Cavs last night, that was the case. And who would have thought that a night after Ben Wallace broke his leg, I could say that the Cavs’ relative health allowed them to win a game?