Well, we knew it was going to be tough. We knew the Magic could shoot the basketball, and we knew LeBron James would come up big. All three happened and it was the Magic that held on, making big shot after big shot to win Game 1 107-106.
There is no doubt that the long layoff, combined with the ease of the first two rounds had the Cavaliers a bit tired in the 4th quarter. Still, the Cavaliers led by 2 with 20 seconds to go before Rashard Lewis hit a three, with the hand of Anderson Varejao in his face, to give the Magic the lead for good. The Cavs had a chance at the end, but Delonte West missed a three, and Mo Williams missed a two pointer at the buzzer.
Perhaps it is fitting that Mo and D-West missed shots at the end, becuase it was the inability of anyone else in a Wine and Gold jersey, not wearing #23, to make plays consistently that ultimately cost the Cavaliers the game. West and Williams finsihed the game a combined 10/32, 5/16 from behind the 3-point line. The Cavaliers didn't do themselves any favors from the free throw line either, going 12-17. When you lose a game by a point, every FT miss counts.
Of course, LeBron James was simply awesome, but he alone cannot beat a team that can get hot in different phases throughout the game because of all the 3-point shooters. James broken his career playoff high, scoring 49 points, but the 4 he left at the line cost the Cavaliers. Hard to blame James, however, since his teammates and bench did little to support him offensively.
For much of the 2nd half, it became the Cavaliers of old - give the ball to LeBron and watch him hold the ball for 20 seconds. It didn't work consistently then, and it won't now.
On the other side, give alot of credit to the Orlando Magic for taking the Cavaliers knockout shot in the first half and staying composed. Down at one point by 16, 15 at the half after a 7-fot heave at the buzzer by Mo Williams, the Magic kept hitting perimeter jumpshots, and riding the back of their superstar Dwight Howard(30 points) to finally take the lead with 10 minutes to go.
The Magic shot 55% from the field, 45% from behind the arc, and were 12-14 from the line. The Magic played as well as they popssibly could and won by a point.
The Cavaliers now know they are in a series, that the Magic are for real, and they will need to step up their game. We'll talk more about Game 2 and beyond tomorrow, but a quick message to Wally Szczerbiak, Daniel Gibson, Joe Smith and the rest of the bench. Come ready to play on Friday Night!