Disappointment obviously doesn't even begin to describe what occured last night. Especially since that crowd was in a frenzy unlike any I've been a part of at the Q. During Lebron's dunk-swat-three sequence I actually turned to my pop at the game and yelled something and didn't hear the words coming out of my mouth. You have to give credit to the Magic for overcoming that type of atmosphere on such a stage.
First off on Lewis' three, there is no way that dagger should have ever been thrown. I know it's a lot to ask Andy to go out in space and stop Rashard Lewis. It's just not his game. But under no circumstances can you allow a three to even be taken there. Even if Lewis gets by him and converted we're tied up, we take the last shot, if we miss we get 5 extra minutes at home against a Howard-less Magic.
Second, the layoff effected us in this game. It's hard to imagine that being the case considering we were up 15 at half and looked to be the same wrecking ball we've been for the last three weeks. But when you have 9 days off there's no way around the fact that you're going to lose just a little bit of game stamina because you can't simulate that without risking injury in practice. Atlanta was an ideal team to come off a long layoff against because their the kind of team you want to pack it in against and shrink the floor. Unlike the Magic when you have to rotate hard and sprint to close out on shooters on almost every possession. There's no disputing the fact that we were a step slow closing out in the 2nd half last night. Look for the Cavs to maintain their defensive effort for a full 48 minutes in game 2 as they get their legs back.
Third, the bench. Wow! Horrendous. The +/- for our 4 bench players that came in were laughable. This is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to play Boston. Wally has been a very solid producer for us and we need his offense coming off the bench. If we had Boston we would have lost virtually nothing on D because he could've hung out at the three point line with Scalabrine. But now, well, hopefully we don't have to watch him try to check Pietrus anymore. As scary as it is to say we might have to trust Sasha with some meaningful minutes in this series.
If Z continues to be cold and can't improve on the pick n roll we could go stretches with Andy on Howard and not have a huge drop off and put Sasha on Lewis. Probably too early in the series to make that move though.
Finally, if West and Mo shoot around 30% for the series we're done. Plain and simple. But I don't think that'll be the case. Even after struggling all night Mo hit a huge three down the stretch and so did West. Unfortunately neither could hit one more to send the roof off the Q.
With all this being said I'm still liking the Cavs. I'm still on board. As much as it hurt walking down Prospect last night I still think we'll win this series for a few reasons and I think everyone knows one reason. Lebron James. The 2nd is that Orlando relies on those three's. Howard will not beat us by himself. He just can't control the game that way. He had a better half then I could've possibly imagined in the 1st half and they were down 15. They couldn't get it turned around until they started to catch fire from outside. That's why they're one of the better road teams in the league. If they catch fire they'll win anywhere. The flip side of that coin has me optimistic still. If they go cold they'll lose anywhere. I would bet a paycheck on the Cavs winning Game 2 and winning one in Orlando. Step off the ledge for now cavs fans.