I love that LBJ quote for two reasons. On one hand, he's right. By the time the Cavs get their chance to take a real slice of revenge (is that an expression?) out of the Magic ('s pie?), both of these teams will look completely different. So yes, in that sense:
It's one game. Great. Moving on.
On the other hand, regardless of how you slice it (it meaning either the win, the Magic themselves, or some appropriate application of the aforementioned 'Magic Pie' metaphor), the act of saying 'it's no big deal' is kind of passive aggressively rubbing it Orlando's face. And in that sense:
It's one game (in which we easily handled you on your home court, which, by the way, was no big deal). Great. Moving on.
So what am I trying to say? What conclusion do we reach? None. None, whatsoever. Just...I f'n hate the Magic.
I think tonight's game officially supplants the Wizards game as the Cavs' finest performance yet this season. And for the offense, that applies tenfold.
The Cavs beat the Magic 102-93...and it wasn't near that close. Here are my observations:
- Say what you will about either team and their current level of play, but I just think it was good for the Cavs to get a win in this building. It hadn't happened for a while. Hadn't happened since Larry Hughes went for 41 in his good game with the Cavs. Also, LBJ added one of his massive 30+ triple doubles. So not only had it been a while, when it did last happen, the circumstances were far from routine. Save for the 24 minute appearance of Super-Mo, that wasn't the case tonight.
- Chalk this one up in the "What I Hope I Know" file: With fresh legs, Shaq looked like he might be just enough of a road block for Dwight Howard to allows us to play the Magic, rather then play the Magic's match-up advantage. Not that Dwight won't prove to be more of a handful later down the line, but remember...this is the guy who went for a relatively easy 26 and 13 on us in the conference finals, despite massively intricate double and triple teams. Tonight, he was effectively nullified (albeit with a little help from the refs, and Dwight's subsequent pouting). Dwight is so much quicker, so much more athletic, but it still looks like The Diesel is in his head a bit. And regardless of how it is accomplished, any game where Shaq is within 1 point and 3 boards of Dwight statistically...well, that means we're winning. Specifically, the biggest effect I saw Shaq having on Dwight is that he (along with a concerted effort from all Cavs) seemed to be able to keep him off the offensive glass, where DH had a very quiet 2 boards. That's huge, as Dwight is not Hakeem Olajuwon, and gets most of his points by positioning himself for dunks. His most effective way to do that? Offensive rebounding. That KILLED us last year, and it was a complete non-factor tonight. If we can keep that up (a hefty task), the Magic will not beat us.
- Mo Williams!!!! Boy, when that guy is cookin, it's fun to watch. The following is a synopsis of Mo Williams in the first half: Early in the second quarter, he attempted a 3 pt FG that rolled around the rim for about five seconds, and then went in. I don't think he took another shot that hit rim. 9-9 from the field. 22 points, and some killer drive/dish plays to LeBron. Just sensational to watch. So far this year, it's been pretty obvious that the team's play has been strongly tethered to Mo Williams shooting (5 wins - 53 % fgs, 3 losses - 31 % fgs). He picked a good night to show up. Aside from hitting from everywhere on the court, Mo made life a lot easier on LeBron tonight. Especially in the first half, when Mo's penetration allowed LeBron to move off the ball, and get numerous easy, at the rim finishes. One new set in particular seemed to aid in that dynamic, as it looked like Mike Brown was hard at work over the Cavs' extended break...
- The 1-3 pick and roll! I just was just reading John Krolik's blog (linked on the blog roll) and it reminded me of that. Someone on the coaching staff deserves some credit here. We've seen LeBron and Mo run pick and roll before. But how often with LeBron as the screener? I literally can't remember seeing that before, and it looked like what Nash and Amar'e do, but (how much of a homer am I?) better. Because LeBron is better then Amare, and Mo is just as much of a threat to pull up for that jumper as Nash. Good Lord, that looked awesome. And kind of one of those, 'why the hell didn't we think of this before?' moments. Here's wishing that sticks around.
- More good things: J.J. was very solid. Z shot poorly again, but was effective defensively. And Anthony Parker looked very efficient. I'm realizing the thing with him seems to be related to the rest of the team. On a night like this, with so many people rolling, AP is able to amplify that with his smart game. Good passing, solid team defense, and 3 point shooting. It's on nights when the offense is bogged down that he finds himself in situations that he can't handle. Like having to create his own shot. Or even, in some cases, when we rely on his 3 point shooting to be a focal point, rather then the 4th scoring option it should be. What I'm starting to think is that AP can only be as effective as the rest of the team. That said, I think that means he can be really effective.
- Only downside on the court for the Cavs (off the court, it looks like Delonte had a bit of a setback), is that Jamario Moon continues to look uncomfortable. I badly wanted to see him develop into a Cavalier version of 'turn of the century Bruce Bowen.' And it just doesn't look like it's happening. Jamario Moon: elite athlete seems like he came as advertised. The guy jumps like he's in a spacecraft. But here's the problem. Jamario Moon: elite defender is nowhere to be found. Truth be told, I don't know if he ever existed. I started to have a bad feeling about this ever since watching Marquis Daniels absolutely fry him in the last preseason game. I just didn't think a guy who could let that happen to himself could possibly be a good defender. And here's the issue...JM is not playing tough. Even tonight against Vince Carter, who is literally the exact opposite of "renowned for his toughness." Jamario's playing soft, and letting bigger guys body him out of the way, thereby removing his athleticism. Definitely not time to write him off, but it's about the time I was hoping to see a little more from him. Don't need points, just minutes of tough defense.
D-Wade and the Heat in Miami. LeBron just issued a moratorium on free agency talk. I have a feeling that will last until 8:00 tomorrow.