Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eight straight

The Cavaliers continued their stellar play last night, notching their eighth straight win with a 106-82 beatdown (highlights) of the Nets in New Jersey. The victory included the usual stellar play of LeBron (31 points in 35 minutes), as well as some outstanding contributions from the starting backcourt tandem of Delonte West (16 points, 4-for-4 from 3-pt range) and Mo Williams (16 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds).

But the real key to last night's win was the team's play in the second half. The Nets led at halftime 52-49. From then on it was all Cavaliers. Their suffocating defense and timely outside shooting (10-for-17 from behind the arc) led to the Cavs outscoring the Nets 57-30 in the second half. So much for those dreary third quarters I guess. This is now three straight games in which the Cavs have outscored their opponents by double digits in the third quarter. The average margin in the third quarter in that span is Cavs +12.

And I have to make a special mention of just how great Ben Wallace has been playing lately. He looks like a new man now that he is healthy again. I don't know how long he can keep his back from acting up, but if it continues throughout the season we are in for quite a year defensively. Big Ben put up a typical Big Ben stat line last night - 3 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in his 26 minutes on the court. But that doesn't tell the entire story. He was running all over the court, basically guarding any and all positions, even denying the inbounds pass after made baskets will full-court pressure on the Nets point guards. And my personal favorite moment of the game - the Nets decided to go with the 'hack-a-Ben' strategy when the Cavs were on a big run in the second half, trying to take advantage of his poor free throw shooting. Wallace detests when teams do this, so he calmly stepped to the line and swished both attempts. He ended the night 3-for-4 from the line.

Big Ben collects one of his 4 blocks Tuesday night

So the Cavaliers now sit at 9-2 with an Eastern Conference-best +9.0 ppg differential. They will face a big test tonight in Detroit where they will square off with the Pistons on the second night of a road back-to-back. But if their recent play is any indication, the Pistons won't be able to simply chalk up what would have been an easy home victory in years past. It should be a good one tonight.