It is Friday afternoon and I am just now providing the recap for Thursday night’s game three with the Chicago Bulls. And it’s not because I haven’t had the time or because I just didn’t feel like writing up a piece about playoff loss number one this season. If I would’ve written this up immediately following the game, it would sound completely different than the way it’s going to work right now. And let me tell you why:
The Cavaliers played poorly. There’s just no two ways about it. They played awful defense and, for the first three quarter, played poorly on the offensive end as well. Everyone in Wine & Gold, including King James, was burned seemingly every time down the floor by Derrick Rose (31 points, 7 assists), Kirk Hinrich (27 points) or Luol Deng (20 points). It was a miserable performance all around and, quite frankly, was one of those games that just makes you sick to watch.
But this is where I shift directions and take it in a different way than I would have last night. And I do so because I got a chance to listen to LeBron James speak at his press conference and this is how he opened up: “I am not concerned.” Plain and simple. “I am not concerned.” So that got me thinking, If LeBron isn’t concerned, why am I? And after watching the Lakers get beat by Oklahoma City in the second half of Thursday night’s double header, I’m even less concerned than I was after the press conference.
Cleveland shot under 44% from the field but, as we feared during the regular season, it was poor free throw shooting that did them in. LeBron was just 7-of-13 as the Cavaliers, as a team, were a combined 20-of-31 from the charity stripe. As well, they recorded 13 turnovers in comparison to Chicago’s eight.
More impressively, the Cavs clawed back from a 19 point deficit behind 39 points from the King. James added 10 rebounds and eight assists to a near triple-double performance – which is incredibly scary because he played poorly and still nearly pulled off a triple-double. Antawn Jamison was very solid as he tossed in 19 points to go along with 11 rebounds. And Mo Williams had a decent performance, getting better as the game progressed, and finished the evening with 21 points.
Anderson Varejao and Delonte West led an uncharacteristically weak charge from the Cleveland bench as the two combined for just 10 points and eight rebounds. And game two’s hero, Jamario Moon, sank back under the radar as he was just 1-for-2 with three points.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of game three was Shaquille O’Neal’s (I am strategically not calling him by any cool nicknames because, quite frankly, he doesn’t deserve it today) lackluster effort. O’Neal didn’t attempt a shot outside of about three feet from the basket but still only managed a 2-for-8 shooting performance in almost 20 minutes of work. LeBron called him out after the game saying, “We need him to pick up his play and he knows that.” O’Neal refused to speak with the media but I, for one, can feel a huge game coming from the Big Fella in game four on Sunday afternoon.
And as a side note, Joakim Noah said last night, “I don’t want people to think I’m just a circus freak.” I think I speak for most Clevelanders when I say Too late, sir.
Tags: Anderson Varejao Antawn Jamison Anthony Parker Cavaliers Cavs Cleveland Cleveland Cavaliers Delonte West Game 3 KJG Lebron James Mo Williams NBA Playoffs Shaq Shaquille O'neal Zydrunas Ilgauskas