Cavs 100, 76ers 95: Ugly Win in Philadelphia Reminds Fans it’s only March

Back in action after extended rest this week, the Cavaliers found a way to win in Philadelphia last night against the struggling 76ers. It certainly was not a game to keep in mind as the Cavs continue to prepare for the playoffs, but this was a necessary tune-up game with the important Celtics showdown this Sunday in Cleveland.

In the record books this will stand as win #51 in the season but I’m sure nobody will put this game on the season highlight reel. Unless you count the dunk contest that was underway in the second quarter between LeBron James and Andre Iguodala. It came down to the wire yet again with the 76ers having a chance to tie up the score before rookie Jrue Holiday threw a pass right in the hands of Delonte West to seal the deal.

The key for talking about this game will be to remember it is only March. There really is no reason for the Cavalier players to exert that much effort into road games against Philadelphia in March. The fact the team allowed a season-high 66 points in the paint (52 was the previous mark) while being out-rebounded by eight is not a pretty sight. In the end however, the Cavs found a way to register yet another victory.

Game ball should definitely go to Delonte West for sealing the deal and playing yet another key role off the bench in this win. Sure it was nice to have LeBron back in the starting lineup after a week of rest, but I have no idea where this team would be without the constant safety valve of West. He finished with 17 points, four assists and a pair of steals. In 12 games since from the injured list on February 11th, he is averaging 12.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 0.8 steals in 28.1 minutes per contest.

Check out these extended bullets surrounding the various topics from last night’s game:

– Take a look at the minute breakdown for the nine players that played tonight at the ESPN box score. Certainly, LeBron will get his 40+ minutes in the post-season while Andy, West and Mo should be right around 30. Looking around that however, I seriously doubt how much playing time we will see for Jamario Moon (18), Jawad Williams (17) and Leon Powe (15). The addition of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison should take the majority of those minutes back while Moon will probably get the scraps.

– J.J. Hickson is truly a feast or famine player. Over the past two months, he has played some of the basketball of his entire career but oftentimes he will have games like he did against the 76ers last night. A complete mismatch against Elton Brand, Hickson finished with just seven points, five rebounds and three fouls in 30 minutes. Brand, on the other hand, went off for 24/9 in this game (ninth time in 59 games this year he has scored 20+ pts), a reminder that Hickson does still remain a liability defensively in the rotation.

– There is no question that Andre Iguodala is a freakish athlete capable of just lighting up the court. He had a phenomenal game tonight and one that reminds Cavs fans of the trade rumors from last month. While he was consistent throughout most of the game, Moon was the one who stepped up his game late in retaliation. At the end of the first half, Iguodala responded to LeBron’s insane alley-oop with a pair of furious dunks right next to Moon. His lack of effort must have lead to some halftime adjustments as he was a huge reason for the late spurt to take control. This team is scary athletic whenever he is on the court.

– Your number of the night is 31. That is number of three point attempts by the Cavs tonight, even without Antawn Jamison who is averaging four per contest himself. The bench was 2-for-10 from downtown and LeBron was 3-for-10 from downtown. As bad as the free throw shooting was in this game and it has been most of this season, I think this is the more serious concern offensively. This is a very streaky three point shooting team, especially with Anthony Parker and Mo Williams not consistently at the top of their game. Might be a reason to find some more minutes yet again for Boobie Gibson..

(Photo above via Matt Slocum/AP)

  • Jack

    Only March? You mean the the “only one month until the playoffs begin” month?

    Eke. The Cavs shooting woes are a concern. As is the lackluster effort. Wouldn’t exerting effort early, squashing the 76ers hopes of competing, and retiring to the bench for the 4th be a better option?

    I’m a bit nervous about the light schedule. Lakers are playing some tough tough contests these last weeks. I’m glad we at least have a couple against Bos, Atl, and Orl left. Seems like we are getting soft again.

  • CJG

    As bad as they may have seemed, it bears pointing out that the “World Wide Leader in Sports” has them clinching a playoff berth.

    ….and they are the first team to do so this season…
    …and its not even the middle of March yet.


  • Jack

    We all have this weird approach to Cleveland sports, and particularly the Cavs.

    No one is saying they looked “bad” or that the Cavs are “not a good team.” When I see a game like this though, and give up 36 points to one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA, and we see poor outside shooting resulting from a refusal to do anything in the paint, I worry that the Cavs may have lost their edge. I worry that they won’t be able to just turn it on. Which happened last year. They can’t win a championship playing like that. And I don’t care if you are standing in place for 12 minutes, the 76ers should NEVER score 36 pts in a qtr against you. EVER. No matter what month it is.

    And I think this “it’s only March” line would be better suited if it were “it’s only January, December” or any other month that wasn’t post-break. Everyone else is starting to gear up for playoff style basketball, and the Cavs are not.

    Playoffs start in about 5 weeks, right? 5 weeks. Less than?

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    I am concerned that when Z and Shaq return, our offense will run much like it did at the start of the season. Slow, stagnant, laking movement.

    If the playoffs were the month leading up to the all star break, we would have won the finals….without Mo……but now….I think we have some serious issues, and may not get out of the first round.

  • Kensha

    Ha love Dalembert in that picture. Would love to see some captions on that.

  • boogeyman

    The Cavaliers always struggle with the 76ers and help make Iguodola look like a Hall of Famer.

  • dgriff13

    I was at the game with my mom and sister, and I told them basically what Boogey said: Every time the Cavs play this team, you’d think it’d be a blowout… according to the records, it should be.. but the Sixers always give the Cavs a run for their money.

    get it? Sixers love to run? Run for the money? Oh, nevermind.

    My mom was quite disappointed that Lebron didn’t do the chalk toss (she had her camera ready). He was going through the motions, and then… just didn’t. Anyone know if this is something he only does at away games if they are nationally televised? I guess I just figured he did it every game, regardless.

  • MP34

    Andy had a good night. He has really tightened up his game this year. I thought his contract was outlandish but I was very wrong.

    Jacob I concur on the Boobie front. Would be nice to see him get some PT when the 3 point shooting is that abysmal. Also, free throws, wow. How off were those guys last night?