It’s hard to look at this game and know with any certainty how the Cavaliers stack up against the Magic. Certainly Orlando is a much better team with Lewis on the floor, and playing the second night of a back-to-back is tough. That said, they were at home and the Cavs were also missing Delonte West. Yes, Lewis is going to be more productive than Delonte at the offensive end, but West will always be missed when he can’t go.
Billed as a battle of the big men, this game belonged to the guards and the King. Mo Williams had the kind of game that we would have killed for during last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. How about a 28 point (12-20) outburst? Mo didn’t miss a shot in the first half. Other than constantly running under screens, he played a nearly perfect half of basketball.
LeBron was also outstanding. Yes, he started to force a few bad shots towards the end of the game, but you will take his 36-8-4 performance. He shot a high percentage from behind the arc and at the foul line, and his cuts to the basket without the ball were fabulous.
So what happened with the battle of Supermen? Well, a funny thing happened on the way to Krypton. Dwight Howard got into early foul trouble. Credit Mike Brown for going to Shaq early and getting Dwight in that trouble. It seems like the obvious move, but Van Gundy didn’t do it. Howard finished with 11 points in 31 minutes, but I’m not sure how he got that many. It felt like he was never on the floor. (Granted I wasn’t trying to box him out.)
Cleveland held a huge rebounding edge in this one until the very end (where once again the Cavs let a lead slip away.) The stat that jumps off the sheet to me though, is Cleveland’s assist total. On 37 made field goals the Cavs had only 12 assists. When you consider how many shots Mo Williams hit early in the clock I suppose it makes a little more sense.
So what does the win mean? Well for starters it was just nice to beat them in Orlando, something the Cavs have struggled to do since Howard came into the league. Sure they had a couple players out, and weren’t as fresh as the Cavaliers. But would you rather have lost or just barely pulled out a win? The Magic weren’t able to adjust to what the Cavs were doing well, and they weren’t hitting shots like last season even though the Cavs really weren’t playing great defense.
Bottom line- take the win.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
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