(Cavs 102 – Hawks 96 box)
The Cavs smashed the Hawks something fierce. In the first half, anyway. The Cavs held the Hawks to 35 points in the first half. That is some good defense. It is also some bad offense, but in the case of the Cavs at home, I won’t take anything away from them. The Cavs played a monstrous first half and went into the locker room with a lead of 53-35. In the second half the Cavs coasted through the third quarter and rested the starters a bit in the fourth quarter. The Hawks pulled the score to within 6 with under a minute to play, but they never got closer than that.
The Hawks were not happy about a lot of the officiating and they picked up a lot of technicals as a result. Coach Mike Woodson was ejected in the third quarter after getting his second technical. Mike Bibby and Josh Smith also each picked up a technical foul. Interestingly enough, a young guy, Al Horford sounded like an old veteran with his post-game comments.
“We shouldn’t even be talking to the refs,” Horford said. “We have to go out there and play. The Cavs are the best team in the league, so we need to go out and play. Until guys understand that, we’re going to be going through this.”
The Cavs history books were also a part of the story yesterday as Zydrunas Ilgauskas went over the 10,000 point number for his career. It is amazing to think how far this franchise and Zydrunas have come since he joined the team in 1997-98. From an oft-injured smooth post player that wasn’t really known for defense to a smooth jump shooting grisly vet with a mean streak, a desire to win at all costs, and with a sincere love of his team. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is special for all of us Cavs fans because he has been through all the same struggles that we have all been through as fans of this team. The fact that he is here now, playing through all the bumps and bruises to try and bring Cleveland its first championship in forever is really special.
As for the rest of the game, Lebron and Mo led the way as usual. Mo had 24 points and LBJ had 22. I am not taking Lebron and Mo for granted, but they did exactly what they always do in Cavs’ victories. The story that I am watching closely is who on the bench is going to step up and contribute. Yesterday Boobie played alright. He was 0-1 from three point range, but he was 3-6 otherwise and looked pretty good flying around the hoop looking to finish. In order to become a complete NBA player, Boobie needs to find ways to contribute even when his three point shot has abandoned him. Joe Smith stepped up again as he has ever since he was re-acquired. He had 5 rebounds and 8 points on 4-5 shooting in just over 22 minutes.
The Cavs extend their win streak to eight. It was nice that the Cavs jumped out to such a lead early in the game because they were able to coast after having to go into overtime against Portland in the game prior. Lebron worked his butt off in that game getting a triple double. And LBJ never really looks tired, but consider that he played almost 47 minutes in that overtime game, and then another 40 yesterday and you have to think it might eventually catch up with him a little bit. And the action doesn’t stop for the Cavs as they play in New Jersey today at 6:00 PM.
The Cavs will be going for their ninth win in a row against a team that won’t have Devin Harris available after his shoulder injury. The Nets are, however, coming off two straight wins against the Knicks and the Miami Heat. They also had the benefit of a day off yesterday as the Cavs play games on back to back days while also having traveled to New Jersey from Cleveland yesterday.
As the standings sit today, the Cavs have a 4 game lead over the Celtics in the East and a 1 game lead over the Lakers. The Cavs are in the driver’s seat, but they will just have to keep winning in order to stay there. It is easy enough for me to say, right?