What happens when the best team in the NBA plays against the worst team in the NBA?
The result is not surprising in the least. But the game wasn't as easy as we would have liked, as Brook Lopez, Jarvis Hayes, and former (and still despised, at least by me) Magic guard Courtney Lee were poised for an upset. They put up impressive numbers and refused to miss. But the New Jersey Nets are the Nets for a reason, and the rest of the roster didn't provide enough help. By contrast, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as resourceful as we know and love, got a solid performance from their role players that helped put the Cavs at arms' length in the second half and prevented the Nets from ever getting too close again. Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker had themselves some steals that led to crowd-pleasing fast break points, and Shaquille O'Neal and JJ Hickson were as monstrous a presence inside as ever. Only Ilgauskas had a bad night, scoring a measly two points on 1-10 shooting. I defend Ilgauskas rigorously when his trade is brought up, but it's hard to argue his case on a night like this.
Your top three Cavs performances:
LeBron James: 13-21, 32 points, 11 assists, 5-9 FT shooting, 42 minutes. In the first half, the CAVS carried LEBRON. I'm serious. We were -1 with him on the floor and +6 with him on the bench. But he did a great job getting teammates involved and engineering entertaining alley-oops. There really is no charismatic basketball sensation like him.
Jawad Williams: 6-12, 3-5 3PM-A, 17 points, 3 rebounds, 28 minutes. For most of the unappealing first quarter, we trailed the Nets by at least 4 points. Jawad's 3 pointer that came right after Moon's brought us to within 1 in the final minute, and provided a huge momentum swing and spark for the Cavs. Immediately LeBron made a steal and almost gave the Cavs a lead. He didn't, but you knew the game was going to get better from thereon out.
Anderson Varejao: 6-7, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 34 minutes. The Nets were trying to prove they weren't scared of the Cavs, but when they tried to be aggressive, Varejao pushed back. He hustled after loose balls and was in the Nets' faces on almost every missed shot. He bumped his way to four personal fouls. Opposing teams may not like him (and Mark Jackson says his job is not to make friends) but we love him for this.
Our next guest is the Orlando Magic in a possible preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. I say Bring Em On. We've won twelve straight games, more than any team in the NBA. We're as ready for these goons as we can possibly be.