NBA Playoffs: Magic vs. Cavs – Game 1 Recap

(Magic 107 – Cavs 106 box)

The moment finally arrived on Wednesday night. The Cavs had been sitting idle for what seemed like a month for Boston and Orlando to complete their series. The Cavs finally took the floor at 8:40 PM on Wednesday night with huge energy and a sense of suspense that we haven’t felt as Cavs fans in a long time. Questions abound. Will the Cavs be rusty? Will the Cavs be able to stop the three? How will the Magic come out defending? The 8 days of anticipation were enough to make the home crowd burst into flames.

And the game almost stopped as soon as it started. As the Cavs jumped out to a 4-0 lead, Dwight Howard grabbed an offensive board, went up and thundered down a dunk that would almost instantly delay the game because it knocked out the 24 second clock on top of the hoop. Thankfully, they improvised some clocks in the corners of the court and the game got back underway at about 10 minutes to 9:00 PM.

After finally getting under way again, the Cavaliers took early control.  Their defense was as swarming as it has ever been.  In the first quarter the Cavs held the Magic to 36.4% shooting while the Cavs scored 33 points to the Magic’s 19.  The Magic finally got it going offensively scoring 29 points in the second quarter.  But things still weren’t looking great as Dwight Howard picked up some ticky tack fouls and headed to the bench with 3 fouls.  Two of the fouls were offensive fouls (no pun intended) and the third occurred as he was attempting to get out of the way of a driving LeBron James.  One of the most electric plays of the first half occurred just before the buzzer as Mo Williams nailed a prayer from 3 quarter length of the court to end the half.

In the third quarter it looked like the Cavs of a couple years ago.  The Cavs were running stagnant offense as the Magic started catching fire with mid and long-range jumpers.  If not for LeBron’s jumpers, the Cavaliers might have lost control of the game completely before the 4th quarter.  The wind was taken straight out of the Cavaliers fans’ sails in the third quarter.  After it was all said and done the Cavs lost the frame 30-19 to take a precariously small 4-point lead into the 4th quarter.

The Magic hot streak continued into the fourth the Cavs called timeout with just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth as Orlando gained its first lead of the night, 85-84.  The Cavs’ previously swarming defense couldn’t account for Orlando’s heralded inside out game as they started draining slightly contested jumpers.  Also, LeBron James started the 4th quarter on the bench, but didn’t stay there long as he was about the only scoring option that worked in the third quarter.

Things were looking especially bleak all fourth quarter long for the Cavs.  The Magic seemed firmly in control when the Cavs’ Delonte West nailed a three on a dish from LeBron James with 40.8 seconds left in regulation to go up 103-102.  The Cavs desperately needed to pony up some late-game defense to pull the game out, but Rashard Lewis nailed a two to go up one.  LeBron responded immediately with a driving bucket where he was fouled by Dwight Howard.  For the Magic it was Howard’s 6th foul and for the Cavs it was an opportunity to go up by two, 106-104 as James converted the throw with 25.6 seconds to go.  The Magic called timeout and LeBron pleaded with his team to help him get just one stop.

That stop couldn’t be had as Rashard Lewis bombed a three in Varejao’s face and gave the Magic a 107-106 lead in a see-saw battle.  The Cavs called their final time out with 14.7 seconds to go to draw up a play to desperately try to answer the Magic’s three.  LeBron drove, kicked out to Mo Williams, who fed Delonte West who missed a three.  After a scrum, Lebron James tied up a jump ball with 1 second left against Hedo Turkoglu.  LeBron tipped the ball to Mo Williams who caught, shot and even appeared to take some contact as he missed off the back of the rim.  In the end, the Cavs didn’t have enough to get the job done.

The Cavs wasted an opportunity in game one of the Eastern Conference finals, and the news isn’t looking any brighter for the Cavs.  LeBron James couldn’t get himself off the court as he was hobbled by what appeared to be leg cramps.  He finally made his way off the court with a stream of blood running down his shin and the painful look of unfamiliar defeat on his face.  It was a depressing finish to an awful second half for the Cavs.

Knowing this Cavalier squad, they will be chomping at the bit to get back into action on Friday night.  There will be no excuses as the refereeing seemed to go hot and cold for both teams throughout the night.  In the end the Magic played a better defensive game when it mattered most as the Cavs’ offense grew stagnant in the second half.

There is plenty of analysis to be had in this game and how it turned out.  Tune back in tomorrow for RockKing’s “Numbers and Words” for more in-depth analysis of this game.

  • Regis

    Tribe won in a close one, Cavs loose in a close one…. What the hell is this? Opposite Day?

  • Craig

    Any good news out of Berea? :-)

  • phil

    Thanks for the speedy write-up.
    Orland played their best game of the playoffs.
    Can they match it another 3 times against the Cavs?

  • DP

    Two schools of thought:

    The Cavs played probably their worst game in context in about two months and only lost by a point.

    The Cavs had the Magic on the ropes, and choked.

    I’ll let you all decide which we saw.

  • macnip

    How about Lebron was the only player to show up tonight. Maybe that’s why the Cavs lost. Hopefully that was rust we saw tonight from everyone else. That second half was so ugly. I have a feeling Friday night will be different

  • DKH

    School of through number 3:

    The Cavs, despite some weaknesses and flaws, played well enough to win, but the refs tilted the scales to the Magic. Oh well, that’s my opinion.

    Still, tired of my teams getting screwed by the league (also a Suns fan). Probably why I’ve watched fewer and fewer games every year.

  • The Other Tim

    Hey King, make your free throws and we win.

  • DCBucks

    Gloom. Doom. So much for home court advantage.

  • macnip

    @ the other tim – if anyone on the cavs outside of Lebron shoots better than 35% from the floor we win the game…lets not blame lebron when he was the only one doing anything out there tonight

  • Ricky

    Unless Mo Williams starts playing consistently, this team is no better than it was last year. Think about it, we were a one-man team against Boston with Delonte West and Z chipping in every now and then, but the difference with this years team was supposed to be Mo, a guy who can create his own basket, and he hasn’t shown up in the playoffs. Unless he picks it up this team cannot win a title, LeBron can’t do it all by himself every night. I would chalk it up to rust if this had been a one game thing, but Mo hasn’t been there all playoffs

    Refs didn’t have anything to do with the Cavs playing bad defense for the final 3 quarters. LeBron’s and-1 on Dwight at the end could just as easily been a no call

    Still, if Delonte hits a wide-open 3, we are talking about LeBron’s greatness and a victory. So I guess the ship isn’t exactly sinking

  • AMC

    I really hope the other shoe just didn’t drop tonight…

    The Cavs make their living on the defensive end, plain and simple. Magic point totals over the final 3 quarters: 29, 30, 29. 55% shooting from the field for the game after shooting under 33% in the first quarter. That’s simply not acceptable for a team with a coach that prides himself on defense.

    The Magic made a lot of shots those last three quarters. The Cavs needed to make some adjustments, but instead they just played tight. I think a lot of this may be that many on this Cavs team have not been in this type of situation before. LeBron obviously stepped it up, but couldn’t get any help.

    I guess the positive spin on this is that despite the pitiful defense over the last 3 quarters, the Cavs still only lost by 1. If this team is the championship material that we hope they are, they will need to show it on Friday – the first real must win game the Cavs have faced all season.

  • Logan Cash

    OK – this game brought my fears to life. I think the Magic are just a horrible matchup for the Cavs.

    I still think the Cavs will win, but I’m not nearly as confident as I was 4 hours ago

  • Wiggles

    @DKH – I don’t think anyone can whine about the refs after that game (or rather, everyone can). The first half was 6 on 5, they were on our side, and in the second half they sided with the magic most of the time. Neither team lost the game because of officiating, but everyone not playing lost because the game just isn’t fun to watch when the officiating is that bad.

  • macnip

    Everyone needs to relax a little. It was one game after a 9 day layoff and its not like the Cavs were facing world beaters in their first 2 playoff series. The Cavs got their first real taste of playoff basketball tonight. They will adapt their game and come out strong Friday. I think Mo just got a rude awakening that he has to step up and play some serious ball if the Cavs are going to advance. He was almost smug before the game. Too confident for my liking and it came out in his play.

    The rest of the guys looked just plain rusty. Man the bench was awful

  • buu

    how much of it can be pinned on fatigue? i mean the cavs were all over the place in the first half, offense and defense, and then the second half saw them standing around on both ends of the floor. lebron’s legs cramping up, no movement, that rust was a lot thicker than anybody thought.

  • The Other Tim

    The shooting was horrible.
    The Magic lost to Philly and Boston at home. We’ll have to figure out how to do that now.

  • DKH

    Ricky: A no call for the LeBron and-1 against Dwight would have been egregiously bad given that Alston got that call earlier in the game against Varejao. Sure, the offensive player caused the contact, but any time you get the defender in the air around the rim, it’s pretty much a given that the offensive player gets the call.

    Wiggles: I didn’t watch the first half quite as carefully, but I didn’t see anything too strongly against the Magic. I saw some calls for weak fouls when the Magic went for offensive boards, but that seems fairly standard to me. Care to elaborate on what you saw?

  • nbluck
  • mike

    Or here is a senario for all of you! Orlando is just a better team, they play better as a team and don”t just have a one man show like lebron! My prediction is 4 and 1 Magic! Cavs, meet Dwight Howard!

  • cindy

    Amen about Mo.

  • EShaw

    its only one loss… but at the same time a lot of this game bothers me in the fact that Lewis and Howard are real serious matchup problems, Z just looks finished… if he can’t make his shots his value goes down a ton. the lack of a bench is something thats been kept quiet all playoffs, wally and Gibson are invisible and Sasha should get more minutes on Hedo let LBJ check Lewis in spurts cause Andy Ben or Joe just arent quick enough to get around those picks. Orlando is no joke and this isnt gonna be a walk in the park… hopefully they’re championship built cause the teams that are can overcome this.

  • Andrew S

    @21. Great call about playing Sasha on Hedo. I have a feeling that this might be one of those series where Z is rendered useless because he is just too slow on defense. It was an interesting defensive strategy last night having LBJ guard Alston, but West and Varejao on Lewis and Hedo is not going to work.

    I say the Cavs go small next game. The lineup (maybe not the starting lineup but eventually) should be Varejao LBJ Sasha West and Mo. Thats a much better defensive lineup and help keep Lewis in check.

  • TampaBrett

    I’m scared.

  • Tom

    I think we lost last night because of conditioning. The Cavs were not prepared to play a 4 quarter game. In the 2nd half, the offense stopped and everyone was playing “watch LeBron”. At this point I dont think they are so in awe of him that they cant run the offense, they were just tired.

  • bridgecrosser

    I am pretty much assuming it’s over. ORL in 5 or 6. We match-up horribly with them when they go Alston, Pietrus, Hedu, Lewis, Howard.

  • DP

    I wouldn’t say “it’s over”. I know that’s in our nature.

    Now, if they come out Friday suffering from the same problems, then it will be time to panic. But, how can you have watched the first half last night and just assume the Cavs are done, bridge?

  • bridgecrosser

    My reasons:
    1. I think ORL wised up and realized our roster can’t keep up with the Alston, Pietrus, Hedu, Lewis, Howard lineup.
    2. Mo is playing like another LBJ witness and not like an all-star
    3. ORL is damn good when SVG is not goofing them up.
    4. ORL now has home-court edge; Teams winning game 1 win 78% of the time (or something like that).
    5. Varajeo can’t contain Lewis, so that’s another edge
    6. Our bench has played like crap… less bench scoring with Andy in the front five and not off the bench.

    I am pretty worried. This is a pretty formidable foe and I think it’s time to realize that. I know this sounds bad but here are 2 things we need:
    1. Mo get untracked. It’s almost all on him at this point.
    2. Can we bring Sasha in and can he D up on Hedu maybe?

  • Big Red

    I don’t care how bad all you doom and gloomers on here think we match up with the Magic. The truth is Delonte and Mo shot 10-30 collectively, the magic shot 66% after the first quarter, lebron missed half his free throws. All three of those things won’t happen again in the same game.

    Also, can anyone tell me what Wally’s +/- was last night? All I know is he came into the game in the second quarter and things started happening for the Cavaliers, and we didn’t see him again until late in the fourth when he’s giving his all, as usual, diving for that loose ball that led to a second chance layup for Lebron. I think next game the Cavs go with one big to guard Howard, lebron at the four to guard lewis, sasha/wally to guard hedo or peitrus, west to guard the other, and Mo on Rafer.

  • Harv 21

    I overestimated Mike Brown’s ability to formulate a great defensive game plan. The one in the first half – letting Howard go crazy – worked fine. But why did they started doubling him? Trying to give the Magic a “different look” by letting Orlando swing to open shooters which is their strength? Ben Wallace’s was ineffective doubling Howard. The defensive close-outs in the 4th quarter were way late, by everybody. Why was Varajao forced to try and chase and stop a three by Lewis at the end? I half-expected Mo to be cold offensively, because he was cold in the first road game of each previous series and seems to need a game under pressure before he relaxes and nails his shots. But defensively, what happened? Here’s a positive spin. The comeback from this home loss will give them confidence in the Finals. I hope.

  • the boogie

    I understand the matchup issues and the ability of ORL to hit the outside shot, but here’s my problem…DH has 30 points, 2 of which came from the free throw line. Between Ben Wallace and Darnell there were 11 unused fouls. Let’s face it Z can’t guard DH and his outside shots weren’t falling, why not hammer DH a bit underneath. I understand the guy is strong, etc, but they gotta body him up more underneath and Z is not the man to do so

  • cursedclevelanddotcom

    I actually didn’t think the Cavs played that poorly (although in comparison to their other wins over the inferior Hawks and Pistons, it looks like they played their worst game ever).

    The Magic are a very good team and similarly how the Rockets matched up well against the Lakers, the Magic pose some problems that simply can’t be solved by x’s and o’s. Meaning, we’re going to have some disadvantages for once. (Z will struggle in this series, and our dominant o-rebounding will not be there, nor will AV have as good as a series b/c of the threats that Lewis will give from the outside). LeBron also can’t be the rover on defense that he was in the first two series..he has to guard guys which will wear him down. Rafer went at him last night and beat him off the dribble, as did Peitrus on a few occasions. Then he switched to Hedo and couldn’t double off and create the havoc he’s used to creating.

    Still think the Cavs win it in 6, but these games will be a war.


    @ cursedclevelanddotcom:

    Thank for the very level-headed response. Everyone needs to take a deep breath. Like #24 Tom said, conditioning got us in the second half. The Cavs got tired.

    No doubt this is going to be a long, grueling series, but the Cavs were ONE STOP away from getting a victory. No need to panic right now, please.

    I would say seeing Sasha guard the perimeter would be a welcomed sight.

  • MaimLarry

    After being very disappointed initially after last night’s game, I realized that I will hit the panic button as late as possible. As of now, this is one loss. Who knows, maybe the Cavs come out, play great, and win the next four, you never know. However, if they lose on Friday, I will panic. I think leaving Orlando with anything less than a 2-2 tie means that our season is over. Meaning, we have to steal one in Orlando, where we have been bizarro Cavs twice this season. However, if we come home for Game 5 tied 2-2, or in some miracle, 3-1, I think we’ll be fine. I don’t see us losing another home game, so we must regain home court, and we can survive. But it will most likely go seven.

  • Windy City Wahoo

    The Magic called timeout and LeBron pleaded with his team to help him get just one mother-effingstop.


  • AMC

    Tomorrow night’s game is truly going to tell the tale – Can the Magic shoot lights out again? Can the Cavs up their defensive game? Can anyone on the Cavs besides LeBron step up? Will Mike Brown and co. make the necessary adjustments?

    If the Cavs lose tomorrow, they’re done. If they win, anything is possible the rest of the way. The game is that big.

  • Denny


    If Mo makes that ridiculous fallaway shot off the jump ball at the end of the game, are we having this conversation today? People seem so ready to throw it all away after a game that saw 1) the reversion of the offense to 2007-2008 and 2) MB doing dumb things.

    Van Gundy made the right moves by going smaller (I say small-er because they’re still huge). We need someone to stop Lewis. Put LBJ at the 4, he can hang with him. When Lewis is bombing, we have a problem, especially when Molante don’t do jack.

  • Travis

    Looks like letting Dwight do his thing is the best thing the cavs can do…because he usually will only score 2 points. That is a lot better then the threes that were being hit left and right.. Let Dwight go 40-20……its no big deal, but stop the rest of that team. If they can’t take 20+ 3 attempts they won’t keep up with us.

    It seemed like Orlando played a better game without Dwight in the lineup, since other people had to step up. That should give us incentive to not have him fouling us. Orlando will try to use him as the focal point to the offense at the expense of the 3s…which is something we should encourage, not discourage.

  • Travis

    Something else to note……..Orlando did to us what we should have done to them. Let the superstar do whatever (Lebron) but contain the rest….notice how no one else showed up last night!!

  • Wiggles

    About the first half officiating – it looked to me like there were a few questionable offensive fouls called on the Magic, and I would say at least half of the steals and blocks the Cavs got had more contact than is usually permitted, and than was permitted for the Magic. I can’t remember too many specific incidents, but I do remember wishing at halftime that they hadn’t had referee assistance, because I was pretty sure they still would have been up pretty big and it was just giving fuel to the LeBron haters.

  • tbone

    i’m depressed.

  • dgriff13

    Trying… so… hard…. not to… panic. Friday determines the series, I think. Mo, baby… shake off the nerves and play ball!

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