I know you’ve probably seen this quality piece of photog work by now from the Cavs 101-93 win in Game 1 last night over the Celtics. And if you’re like me, you probably almost needed to see it again today to reassure yourself that what you thought you saw last night actually did happen.
Photo Credit: John Kuntz / The Plain DealerWhile we were forced to hear Reggie Miller describe the play, if Uncle Austin were on the call he’d of undoubtedly got a little excited by this one. Wouldn’t have blamed him either. After the shock wore off, and we all finished turning to our friends during the game asking – Mo Williams just did what? – this whole city was sent abuzz by the electric jolt he provided on the play. And so was his team. Only it didn’t stop with that right handed wham over Paul Pierce for Mo - which according to Brian Windhorst “may have been the first dunk of Williams’ career” – because those were just two of the 12 he posted in that 3rd quarter to turn this game completely around.
And if anyone thinks that Cavs fans are too hard on Maurice, too quick to criticize, and wonders why some people still haven’t fogiven his no-show last postseason, that answer was clear last night. We’ve seen enough of Mo Williams over the last two years to know that when his mind’s right, he can provide an elite caliber impact on a basketball game. We know he can play, we’ve seen it. We just hadn’t seen it at critical junctures yet…until last night. With the Cavs searching through the 7 points Antawn Jamison scored for that second leading scorer, Mo stepped up and said I’ll be that guy. Actually he attacked the basket saying I’ll be that guy, because he did go 0-3 from three point range. And in addition to answering the did Mo ever dunk in an NBA game question, the other thing I’d like to know is did Mo ever score 20 points in a game without hitting one three? My guess there is no, but if somebody wants to check back through his game logs and let me know, I’d be interested to see the frequency with which that happened. Because he did get 20 last night, and he did use his athleticism to get to the FT line (4 of 5), as well as to get others involved (6 assists to 1 turnover), and he did also grab 5 boards, and he did all that in a playoff game the Cavaliers had to have last night. Way to step up Mo, keep bringing it…we need you.
On LeBron: Our friend Craig Lyndall at WFNY wrote in his post game notes of LeBron’s elbow: “Make no mistake, though. There is something wrong with his elbow. LeBron wouldn’t admit to pacing himself, but it seemed pretty clear to those in attendance and at home that LeBron was a little more conservative with his shot selection, opting for a lot of opportunities inside with his back to the basket as opposed to jumpers” and I agree with that observation completely. Furthermore, my take on the elbow/injury issue is this:
Assuming the pain threshold remains tolerable for him, and the elbow eventually gets a little better versus worse over the course of these playoffs, LeBron being forced to get closer to the rim to get his points as opposed to the option of settling for long range threes - even though he’s shooting over 50% from three point range for the postseason – may not be all that bad of a thing. In fact, it might be a good thing. Even though teams will roll out defensive schemes designed to take away his drive, and entice him to shoot the open j – there still isn’t a team in the Association that can actually excute that game plan if LeBron chooses to attack anyways. The rim belongs to LeBron James, and he can get there whenever he chooses too. Especially now with a Cavs squad that employs a number of guys that can hit from long range. All that said, and playing through that injury, LeBron did will himself to the basket last night, and willed the Cavaliers to victory. He was simply LeBron last night once again, going for 35-7-7 on 50% from the field and 3 of 6 from three. Which is why he’s the MVP, and why he’ll probably win that award a zillion more times before he’s done. I’m just hoping he wins one more thing this season before its done.
Check back later for more….in the meantime, feel free to check out the following:
* My series preview posted on SLAM Online yesterday: Cavs/Celtics Series Preview
* As well as audio – and video – of the Wine and Gold Show yesterday posted on The Dugout Sports Show: The Wine and Gold Show: Cavs/Celtics Series Preview Show