LeBron threatened to unleash a whole new monster on the Bulls this playoff series and, from the looks of Saturday afternoon’s matchup, that monster’s name was Mo Williams. Of the 96 Cavaliers’ points, Williams either scored or assisted on 40 as he doubled-up in 19 point and 10 assist effort. He was a solid 8-of-14 from the field and played rather solid defense for most of the afternoon. If Mo plays like that throughout the entire playoffs, there isn’t a team in the league that can play with the Cavs.
Shaquille O’Neal returned to the floor after losing about twenty pounds or so in his time and off but still looked like the mean muscle the Cavaliers recruited this offseason. He flushed home a flurry of vicious jams and completely wore out Joakim Noah on both ends of the floor. On one possession in particular, Noah pleaded no contest and wrapped up O’Neal to pick up his fifth foul. He looked like he was struggling to even stand up while he made his way to the bench. Shaq finished up with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in his first game since February. And midseason acquisition, Antawn Jamison, was very impressive in his first playoff game in Wine & Gold. He joined Mo in the double-double club as he picked up ten rebounds to go along with his 15 points.
As well, the King had yet another royal performance. James recorded two of his signature chase down blocks and finished the afternoon with a solid 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. He went up and got a couple of alley-oops (one of which can be seen below) and finished several impressive and-ones. Midway through the first half, LeBron took a hard foul from Brad Miller and gave him a good shot back. Miller took offense to the hit and the two exchanged words on the sideline and picked up technical fouls. Bron went on to lead the Cavaliers to an impressive 13 points victory to set the tone for the series.
Off the bench, Anderson Varejao gave his typical energy filled effort. Andy recorded a career playoff-high 15 rebounds while adding eight points on the afternoon. Delonte West didn’t have a particularly impressive offensive afternoon but did a half-way decent job on the defensive end.
As far as coaching goes, Mike Brown made quite possibly his best move of the afternoon when he elected to give Anthony Parker the defensive assignment of Derrick Rose. Yes, Rose still managed to score 28 points. But not having to work quite as hard on the defensive end allowed Mo Williams an opportunity to get himself going on offense first. Great coaching move by Coach Brown and it certainly paid off.
Overall, it was a very solid performance for the Cavaliers. They did struggle against Chicago’s zone defense in the third quarter. But, on a good note, they did hit 12-of-17 free throws. Not great. But good. At this rate, Joakim Noah will be worn out by game four and maybe then he’ll stop running his mouth. Maybe. Or maybe it’ll take a clean sweep of Chicago to cure his “diarrhea of the mouth” (props to Austin Carr). Either way the road to the Championship continues on Monday night.
Come on back to the Gospel and we’ll do a live chat starting right around 7:45 pm et.