Monday, May 3, 2010

The 'Game-Changer'

It happened with 5:20 left in the third quarter on Saturday night. I immediately called it a "game-changer," but it ultimately could end up proving to be a series-changer. The Cavs, looking lethargic for the better part of two and a half quarters, found themselves down 11 points at home in Game 1 to the Celtics. They were shooting terribly, giving up way too many offensive rebounds, and just lacking overall energy and heart. They looked to be on their way to a possible shocking Game 1 loss that could have been a crippling early playoff blow. Then Mo Williams stole the ball and left me and thousands of others shocked and confused. He threw down the first dunk I've ever seen from him, and it was not a cheapie.

From my vantage point in the Q, the play was confusing to me because I was expecting Mo to lay the ball up and when that didn't happen I assumed that Paul Pierce had blocked the shot. And judging by the reaction of those around me, others were as equally confused. I couldn't figure out why the crowd in the lower deck was going nuts. And it still took a few replays on Q-tube to actually confirm what I missed the first time. The video guy for the Cavs must have been as equally shocked because the replay was run at least 6 times.

And that dunk was all it took. That ignited a 21-10 run by the Cavs (including a personal 10-0 run by Mo) that turned an 11-point deficit into a 1-point lead entering the fourth quarter. The Cavs ended up winning 101-93 thanks to some late-game heroics (yet again) from LeBron and some timely baskets (finally) from Shaq. But the difference in the game was that last 5:20 of the third quarter. Without that run, the Cavs probably would have found themselves in a 1-0 hole this morning.

I said earlier that Antawn Jamison's arrival would prove to be a difference for Mo in these playoffs. And so far Mo has delivered, aside from one rough game in the Chicago series. Jamison himself only notched 7 points on just 6 shot attempts in Game 1, but judging from moments like this one, the fire is there. He did add 9 rebounds and provided some stout defense against Garnett. I don't recall Antawn ever playing in such a pressure situation so far in his career and I expect to see him more involved in tonight's offensive game plan. And that's the beauty of the Cavs. There will be different guys stepping up on different nights to help out the two-time MVP in his quest for the ultimate trophy.

There's plenty more to write about this series, but I'll save that for tomorrow when we recap Game 2. My gut still says Cavs in 6, especially considering how well the Celtics played for so long in Game 1. They are one team that won't be intimidated by the environment at the Q. But if/when the Cavs take this one tonight, the writing should be on the wall for the proud Celtics. They won't go down without a fight, but it will be fun to see them go down. Go Cavs.

Random Notes:

  • How cool is it to see LeBron include his teammates in yesterday's MVP ceremony? And consider the fact that all 14 teammates showed up to see the King accept the award. I challenge you to name me another NBA team for which this would actually happen... and two years in a row now. Somehow I just can't picture Ron Artest showing up for a Kobe MVP celebration. I'm laughing just trying to picture it.
  • It's still fun to talk trash to Celtics fans. Walking down Bolivar towards the Q on Saturday we spied two green-jersey-clad C's fans enjoying drinks outside Local Heroes. I said something to the effect of "hope you didn't pay too much for your tickets boys." There may or may not have been some profanity included. And my comments were greeted by a look of confusion/anger from both. Do you honestly expect not to be called out when you show up in that attire?
  • What is up with Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine on the C's bench? I don't think both of them were sitting simultaneously at any point during the entire 48 minutes on Saturday. It was fun to see Allen finally get whistled for a technical, but not so fun when Mo missed the free throw.
  • Is Usher the ultimate fair-weather Cavs fan? I've been to my fair share of Cavs games this year (at least 17 by my own unofficial count) and this is the first time I've seen him there this season. Excuse me for not getting excited to see him there.
  • It would be silly of me not to mention JJ Hickson and his 11 points in 12 minutes in Game 1. The truth is obvious now for Mike Brown/Z/the Cavs organization. JJ has to be part of the rotation, and will be. Doesn't mean we don't love you Z, but we've got a title to win.

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