In Game One of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls, the Cavs implemented their “playoff rotation,” which basically consisted of seven players . . . with two others receiving less than ten minutes.
In previous playoff runs, the rotation-shrinking was essentially a no-brainer. It was just up to Mike Brown to divvy up the minutes . . . based on tandems he wanted to utilize and match-ups he wanted to exploit.
But now that the Cavs have one of the deepest teams in the NBA . . . if not the deepest . . . Brown also must decide who to play, in addition to the minutes and the five-man units.
It’ll be a mildly interesting storyline to follow throughout the series. For example, in Game One, Brown was using a pretty short rotation, with all the starters playing big minutes.
There were two likely reasons for this: With Shaquille O’Neal’s injury and all the time off the other starters were getting in the last two weeks, Brown wanted to give his main guys an opportunity to reconnect and work out any wrinkles. Also, Brown was not taking any chances. He was not about to let the Bulls come in to The Q and steal a game while the Cavs were still feeling things out.
Here’s how the minutes worked out, along with season averages for comparison.
- LeBron James: 40 minutes . . . 39.0
- Mo Williams: 39 minutes . . . 34.2
- Antawn Jamison: 33 minutes . . . 32.4
- Anderson Varejao: 32 minutes . . . 28.5
- Anthony Parker: 31 minutes . . . 28.3
- Shaquille O’Neal: 25 minutes . . . 23.4
- Delonte West: 24 minutes . . . 25.0
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas: 9 minutes . . . 20.9
- Jamario Moon: 7 minutes . . . 17.2
- J.J. Hickson: 1 minute . . . 20.9
- Daniel Gibson: 1 minute . . . 19.1
- Jawad Williams: 1 minute . . . 13.7
While you don’t necessarily love to play your starters big minutes in the first round of the playoffs unless you have to . . . it’s interesting to note that only Mo and (to a lesser extent) Andy and AP played significantly more than they averaged throughout the regular season.
The high regular season averages (including Leon Powe at 11.8 minutes) were inflated by all the injuries that the Cavs suffered to their core rotation players . . . along with Mike Brown’s tendency to give minutes (and DNP-CDs) in bunches.
And now, here are a few notes from the lineups in Game One:
#1.) The most productive time in the game came in the first 9:30 minutes of the game, when the Cavaliers were +14 over the Bulls. All the starters were in that whole time, with the exception of Andy subbing-in for Shaq 7:30 in.
Here’s how that breaks down: The Cavs’ starters were +8 with Shaq and then went +6 with Andy.
That rotation was less successful after halftime, when the Cavs were +3 with all the starters . . . and -4 after Andy came in for Shaq. (That happened in the heart of the Cavs’ seven-minute dead zone.)
#2.) LeBron rested for 2:55 in the second quarter and 4:12 at the top of the fourth.
#3.) Individually, the Cavs bench players had a few nice moments in the game . . . but Chicago was making up ground when they were in. The Cavs were even with the Bulls when Z was in the game, -4 when Moon was in, and -1 with Delonte on the floor.
Andy had the only positive number. He was +3.
Every series will be different, and every game will be a little different . . . but the lukewarm performance from the bench collectively could provide an opening for someone else to get some minutes. (J.J., Boobie or Powe . . . depending on what they need.)
Naturally, there could also be more minutes for those players . . . although more garbage-y . . . if the current subs rebound (figuratively) in Game Two, and the Cavs are able to maintain bigger leads.
#4.) In Game One, Z and Jamario basically split near-five-minute openings at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters, while LeBron was resting. Z took the second quarter, and Moon took the fourth.
#5.) Even though it seems like the Cavs relied a lot on their starters . . . at least, compared to what we’re used to . . . the Bulls were even tighter. Like the Cavs, they essentially used a seven-man rotation, but their bench only played 48 total minutes, compared to the 75 minutes the Cavs’ bench played.
Also, the Bulls did not make a substitution during the third quarter . . . the one that included their 12-0 run while the Cavs’ offense fell off track. Their starters also played the first 2:30 minutes in the fourth, meaning that Vinny Del Negro rode his starters for 14-and-a-half minutes to start the second half.
Those are just a few things to keep in mind if you’re interested in seeing how the Cavs’ rotations evolve throughout the series and the playoffs.
The NBA Playoffs are about to start, which means that the regular season is about to be history . . . officially, that is.
In Cleveland, it basically became history the moment the Cavs clinched the best record and decided to re-enter preseason mode.
So, I thought this would be the perfect time to dig up some stats, interesting facts and other oddities from what was predominantly a stellar regular season. Soak ‘em in.
#1.) The Cleveland Cavaliers went 61-21 overall this season . . . or 61-17 while legitimately trying. That’s the second-best record in franchise history. Last year’s 66-16 is the best. Just below this year’s 61 wins would be 57 wins, which the Cavs achieved twice. (In 1988-1989 and 1991-1992).
#2.) LeBron James finished averaging 29.7 points per game (second only to Kevin Durant’s 30.1 per game), 8.6 assists per game (sixth in the NBA, and which, by far, is a career high . . . he’s never averaged more than 7.2 per game before this season), 7.3 rebounds a game, 1.6 steals a game and 1.0 block per game.
He also shot 50.3% from the field, which is a career high . . . and ranked 26th among all NBA players. While we’re here, he shot 33.3% from beyond the arc and 76.7% from the stripe. Both those numbers are down slightly from last season . . . but he attempted more 3s and more free throws this season.
LeBron’s minutes (39.0, fifth in the NBA) were up slightly from his career low last year (37.7) . . . but last year, he didn’t play many fourth quarters early in the season when the Cavs were blowing everyone out, and this season, he sat out the final four games of the season to rest. (Of course, that isn’t represented in his minutes per game.)
#3.) For the second straight season, LeBron led the league in plus/minus, this year with a glimmering +650. Dwight Howard was second with +602 . . . and Anderson Varejao came in third at +511. Anthony Parker was #11, with +406. (Last year, Delonte West came in fifth and Mo Williams was sixth.)
The Cavs best five-man unit, plus/minus-wise, was LeBron, Andy, AP, Mo, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. That unit was +51, which came in 23rd among the top five-man combinations in the NBA. And the two-man pairings of LeBron and Andy (+516) and LeBron and AP (+448) were #1 and #2 in the NBA.
#4.) Anderson Varejao led the Cavs in field goal percentage at 57.2%. Shaquille O’Neal was second (56.6%), J.J. Hickson was third (55.4%) . . . even with some of those horrible 17-footers . . . and LeBron was fourth. (At 50.3%, as previously mentioned.)
Mo shot 44.2%, which was his lowest percentage since ’05-’06 when he shot 42.4%.Antawn Jamison shot 48.5% as a Cavalier, which was better than the 45% he was shooting in Washington (on more shots) this season. He averaged 15.8 points per game, which was down from the 20.5 points he was scoring in Washington . . . where he was often the featured scorer. Most of the rest of his numbers are exactly the same as in Washington . . . except free throw percentage. As a Wizard he shot 70% (and 73% in his career). As a Cavalier, he shot 50.6%.
#5.) The Cavs finished third in the NBA in field goal percentage at 48.5%. Only the Phoenix Suns (49.2%) and the Utah Jazz (49.1%) were better.
The Cavs were second in the NBA in FG% differential, meaning the separation between what they shot and what their opponents did. The Cavs differential was +6.5%, which was second only to the Orlando Magic’s 7.5%. (That’s impressive. And a little scary.)
Cleveland allowed 44.2% shooting from their opponents. That’s third in the league, behind Orlando (43.8%) and the Miami Heat (43.9%).
#6.) The Cavs ended the season second in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 38.1%. The Phoenix Suns were #1 at 41.2%. (The Orlando Magic were fourth at 37.5%.)
Technically, Z was the Cavs best 3-point shooter at 47.8%, but that was only 11-for-23. Daniel Gibson probably deserves that distinction (heck, he deserves something for his season). He shot 47.7% (second in the NBA), or 71-for-149. Mo was third at 42.9% (ninth in the NBA), followed by AP at 41.4% (12th in the NBA). Antawn was 34.2%, LeBron was 33.3%.
Cleveland’s opponents shot the 3-ball at 34.7%. That makes them 10th in the league at defending the three.
#7.) J.J. Hickson growth update: Last month, we looked at how J.J.’s rebounding numbers have improved, month-to-month, this season. That’s good because – while scoring is always a sign of success – for J.J., rebounding seems like a better indication of his improvement.
Here’s an updated breakdown of J.J.’s burgeoning awesomeness by month:
- October**: 1.3 pts, 1.3 rebs, 0.0 blks, 50% shooting in 8.3 minutes per game
- November: 9.6 pts, 3.8 rebs, 0.5 blks, 67.5% shooting in 22.5 minutes per game
- December: 6.5 pts, 4.1 rebs, 0.3 blks, 60% shooting in 18.4 minutes per game
- January: 6.3 pts, 5.8 rebs, 0.7 blks, 79.2% shooting in 20.1 minutes per game
- February: 10.3 pts, 4.2 rebs, 0.4 blks, 68.4% shooting in 20.1 minutes per game
- March: 11.7 pts, 6.0 rebs, 0.6 blks, 55.6% shooting in 24.4 minutes per game
- April: 10.9 pts, 8.0 rebs, 0.7 blks, 50.8% shooting in 26.6 minutes per game
**Only four games and 33 total minutes played.
#8.) If the playoffs are anything like the regular season with regard to free throw shooting . . . it’s totally understandable for your heart-rate to dramatically change when a Cavs player steps to the line. Here’s a quick guide to the Cavs’ FT percentages, so you know how much to sweat:
- Mo – 89.4%
- Delonte – 81.0%
- Jamario – 80.0%
- AP – 78.9%
- LeBron – 76.7%
- Zydrunas – 74.3%
- Jawad – 71.1%
- Boobie – 69.4%
- J.J. – 68.1%
- Anderson – 66.3%
- Leon – 58.7%
- Antawn – 50.6%
- Shaq – 49.6%
The Cavs shot 72.0% at the line this season, which was LAST in the NBA. But the good news is, the second-worst team was the Magic, who shot free throws at a 72.4% clip. The best free throw-shooting team, the Dallas Mavericks, shot 81.6%.
#9.) The Cavs were sixth in the NBA with an offensive efficiency rating (points scored per 100 possessions) of 111.2. There were seventh in the NBA with a defensive efficiency rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 104.1.
Orlando was fourth offensively (111.4) . . . third defensively (103.3).
Atlanta was second offensively (111.9) . . . 13th defensively (106.7).
Boston was 15th offensively (107.7) . . . fifth defensively (103.8).
Chicago was 27th offensively (103.5) . . . 11th defensively (105.3).
L.A. (Lakers) was 11th offensively (108.8) . . . fourth defensively (103.7).
[The Phoenix Suns were #1 offensively . . . the Charlotte Bobcats were #1 defensively.]
#10.) And now, for fan stats! The Cavs sold out every home game this season, which placed them second in the NBA in attendance . . . behind, ironically, the Chicago Bulls. It’s the first time the Cavs have sold out a complete season, and it boosts their home sell-out streak to 77 games.
And when Cleveland fans can’t get tickets to the Q, they watch at home.
According to NBA.com:
“The Cavaliers continue to be the NBA’s most watched team, leading the league this season in overall average attendance (home and road combined) and TV viewership (#1 for local TV ratings).
“[As of last week], through 78 locally and nationally broadcast games on FOX Sports Ohio, TNT, ESPN and ABC this season, the Cavaliers have an overall local TV average rating of 10.5, which equates to over 500,000 people watching each game. Often, when games are broadcast locally and nationally, the local viewership total is well over 800,000.
“For the 66 games broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio, the Cavaliers average rating is 8.66, which stands as the NBA’s top rated local game broadcast rating.”
It sounds like Cleveland is turning itself into one of the NBA’s so-called “major markets.”
Jamario Moon has been reduced to a cheerleader.
A good one, but a cheerleader nonetheless. And so has Daniel “Boobie” Gibson . . . and while he’s no cheerleading superstar like Jamario (and rookie Danny Green), he’s still pretty excitable.
Whenever there’s an above-average play . . . even if it’s only marginally above-average . . . Jamario is probably doing something ridiculous on the sideline in front of the Cleveland Cavaliers bench. And if the team is playing flat, he can still be seen smiling, just waiting for the moment to explode.
It’s that sort of energy, intensity and explosive tendency that’s hard to keep bottled on the sideline, especially when the team is sparklessly going through the motions.
(Which is why it would seem to make sense to move him onto the court in those situations, right?)
He’s basically this year’s Tarence Kinsey, only Jamario is a more talented player. Not that it matters when you’re left to cheerlead on the bench. (By the way, can anyone imagine if we had both Jamario and Tarence? The NBA would have to allow the Cavaliers to expand their roster just so that there would be enough players to restrain them in the event that Delonte West dunks off a cut.)
Before the All-Star Break, Coach Mike Brown held Jamario out of one game that he was healthy for. Since the All-Star Break, he’s been held out of seven games he could have played in. In the Cavs’ last six games, Jamario has entered only one game . . . and that was for eight minutes in a 30-point blowout over Detroit.
If you dismiss Sebastian Telfair (which we’ve all already been doing for years now) and rookie Danny Green, is it possible that Jamario is fighting off Gibson to be the second-least valuable player on the Cavs’ roster?
Boobie is in essentially the same position as Jamario.
Just three years ago, when the Cavs were entering their first-ever Finals series, Daniel appeared to be on the verge of emerging as one of the Cavs’ best players . . . and we’re talking between second- and fifth-best. Now, only he, LeBron, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao remain from that team.
And now, Boobie can’t get into a game.
In the Cavs’ last 17 games, he’s only been in five. And he played just one minute in two of the ones he did get into . . . and in another he just played eight minutes. So Boobie has only received “substantial” minutes twice . . . 22 and 13, respectively . . . since February 21st.
This is for a dude that was having a pretty strong season . . . both offensively and defensively . . . at the beginning of the season, and for a guy who scored in double-figures in nine of ten games while Mo Williams was out with a sprained shoulder.
Not too long ago, it would’ve seemed crazy that Daniel could be the Cavs’ 13th best player. In the recent past, the same could be said of Jamario. Especially with neither of them playing themselves out of the rotation.
That’s depth. Serious depth.
Since January, we’ve seen the improvement of Jawad Williams, the rise of J.J. Hickson, the trade for Antawn Jamison, the arrival of Leon Powe and the return of Z. And soon, Shaq will be back in the mix, too.
Some Cleveland fans would like to see more Jamario, others would like to see more Boobie, and everyone would like to see something fresh when the Cavs fall into their bad habits of casually playing down to the level of their opponents.
But barring any further injuries, it’s unlikely that Coach Brown will expand his rotation in the run-up to the playoffs . . . at least for any real minutes. His priorities are now on setting the playoff rotations and getting those players going. And Jamario and Boobie aren’t in line to play much in the playoffs.
The playoff rotation will be eight, or maybe nine players, max: (1) LeBron, (2) Mo, (3) Jamison, (4) Varejao, (5) Delonte, (6) Anthony Parker, (7) Hickson, (8) Z, and (9) Shaq (and until Shaq is back, they might have Leon Powe in for his center-playing abilities).
So, that means the cheerleaders will be Jamario, Boobie, Jawad, Danny, and Sebastian.
Since that’s how it looks like it’s going to be, I have a special request for Jamario. I’d like him to spend some of his time on the bench dreaming up more inside jokes and cheers for Cavs players and fans.
Everyone loves the overly complicated handshakes and the Gooseneck, which Jamario apparently started. Now, let’s usher in something new for this year’s playoffs. And as you may have guessed, I have a suggestion. It needs a little work . . . hopefully by Jamario himself . . . but the framework is there.
I call it . . . the Double Gooseneck. Or Goosey Times Two. Or Goosey2x.
It’s like the Gooseneck, hence the similar name, only instead of a one-handed, cocked follow-through . . . it’s a two-handed Goosey follow-through.
Here are a few examples:
First, it looks like Barack Obama is doing a “Double Gooseneck,” here.
And here’s some cute little kid doing the “Goosey Times Two” to perfection!
And finally, here’s the hand signal for the “Double Gooseneck”:
Fox Sports Ohio color commentator Austin Carr has a saying (naturally) for when a Cavs player fools a defender into biting on a pump-fake, leaving the ground, and fouling the shooter on the way down.
He says: “He got himself a bird.”
And he usually follows that up with a sing-songy: “Time to go to the line for two.”
But there hasn’t been anything sing-songy about what actually happens at the line: Which, at least recently, has been a split of the pair . . . hopefully.
It’s become so much of an adventure, or misadventure, that – with the way the Cavs have been scoring from the field – you kind of just want them to forget the song, forget the bird, forget the pump-fake and just take the shot and live or die with that.
I realize that isn’t great basketball, but it sure beats bricking free throws.
Cleveland’s free throw shooting has been atrocious all season . . . and as of late, it’s been even worse.
In November, the Cavs shot 73.4% from the line. In December, they made 74.7% . . . in January, it was 71.5% . . . in February, it was 72.8% . . . and now in March, it’s 65.4%.
And Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t even played since February 25th.
Sunday’s game against the geriatric Boston Celtics was a 104-93 win. It’s wasn’t a blowout . . . although it easily could’ve been, if the Cavs would’ve made some free throws. They went 31-for-48 from the line, which means they missed 17 “free” throws for an abysmal 64.6%.
So, no, the Cavs couldn’t even cover their 65.4% average for the month.
[I just Googled "average high school free throw percentage." The very unofficial answer? "About 65%." That seems a little high, but in any event . . . 15 feet is 15 feet. It's always the same. It's a shot these guys have been shooting all their lives . . . a shot the coaches have spent their careers coaching.]
On Sunday, Leon Powe went 6-for-6 and Delonte West went 2-for-2 from the stripe . . . and it went downhill from there. Antawn Jamison missed six (2-of-8), LeBron James missed five (11-of-16), Anderson Varejao missed three (5-of-8), J.J. Hickson missed two (4-of-6) and Anthony Parker split two shots.
Here’s some perspective:
On the season, the Cavs are shooting 72.1% on free throws. That’s 29th out of the 30 teams in the league. The only team that’s worse is the Detroit Pistons, who shoot 71.6%.
The median, the Toronto Raptors, make their free throws 76.5% of the time. The L.A. Lakers are 10th in the NBA at 77.1% . . . and the Dallas Mavericks lead everyone at 81.8%.
The Cavs are being out-free-throw-percentaged by their opponents 76% to 72.1%.
In the last 10 games, the Cavs’ free throws are going in at an embarrassing 69.6% clip, which is 28th in the league. The lottery teams Sacramento and Detroit are worse. Over the last five games, the Cavs are shooting 64.9%, which is, by far, the worst in the NBA in that stretch.
So, who needs to pick it up? Well, everyone.
Last season, the Cavs shot 75.7% at the line, while their opponents shot 77%. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember anyone thinking that the Cavs were lighting the world on fire from the line then either.
That number would still have the Cavs in the bottom half of the NBA this season . . . but it was their best average at the line since they shot 77.2% during the 2001-2002 season. (Shout out to Andre Miller.)
Anyway, fast-forward eight seasons.
Take a look at the rough chart I built for the ’09-’10 individual players’ free throw averages below. If I had better skillz it would be awesome . . . but since I don’t, it is what it is.
[It begins with the players' career averages, then lists their percentages for each month this season, then lists their total makes/attempts up through Sunday's game, then lists their season average, then lists the differential, or "The Diff" as The Q likes to call it, between this season and their career average. A positive number is an improvement.]
So what do we get out of this?
Well, good or bad, there isn’t one or two guys that are really under-performing.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson and Shaquille O’Neal have drawn plenty of free-throw groans . . . but not recently. Shaq hasn’t played in almost three weeks, and I can’t really remember the last time Boobie or Z shot a free throw.
Powe’s sample size isn’t quite big enough yet . . . but Jamison’s is. And he’s been a train-wreck at the line. In 13 games with the Cavaliers, Antawn is 20-of-46 from the stripe. That’s 43.5%. That’s sub-Shaq-esque!
Most of the rest of the Cavs . . . including LeBron, who’s up 2.8% to 77% . . . are actually shooting at their career average or above it, which basically means one thing:
The Cavs don’t have a lot of great free throw shooters.
Remember how I said the Toronto Raptors are the median team in the NBA right now with a 76.5% free throw percentage as a team?
Well, the Cavs only have three players on their roster with a career average of 76.5% or better. Mo, Delonte and AP. And when Z comes back they’ll have four, although he hasn’t been shooting close to 76.5% this season.
Since stellar (and in some cases, acceptable) free throw shooting isn’t in the Cavs’ DNA, there isn’t a quick fix to snap them out of the funk. The coaching staff (hopefully Chris Jent) is probably working with individual players on their form . . . and the players themselves need to remain focused and relaxed.
There’s been a lot of talk about how LeBron and Mo (and others) have some pretty intense competitions in practice involving three-point shooting. If there isn’t one already, would it be lame to suggest that they come up with one for foul shooting?
Not everyone has it in them to be a great free throw shooter, but you can improve. Take LeBron . . . over the past five seasons, he’s shot 73.8%, 69.8%, 71.2%, 78%, and now 77% from the line.
The Cavs can do it. They’re currently third in the NBA in field goal percentage (48.7%) and second in the NBA in 3-point percentage (39.1%).
They’re talented enough to hit some 15-foot freebies.
And I hope they start doing it soon . . . because when you get a bird, the bird should be the one that’s in trouble. Not you.
Allow me to be cute for a moment.
If the Washington Wizards buy out Zydrunas Ilguaskas, the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up Antawn Jamison for free on Wednesday. On Thursday night, the Cavs weren’t getting anything for free.
Yes, this is yet another recap of the Cavaliers’ 118-116 overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets that hinges on missed free throws. If you read a lot of Cavs blogs . . . like you should be doing during a special season like this . . . you’ve probably heard this before:
This was an epic game . . . and the Cavs could have won it, if they’d hit their free throws.
[If you missed it, first: Shame on you. You should at least be DVRing these games. This is an exciting season, kids. If you did record the game, but haven't watched it yet: Oops. Well, since it's already spoiled, the game came down to Carmelo Anthony nailing a tough shot with one-point-something seconds left in overtime . . . and Cleveland half-court inbounding to James, where he slipped and missed a three.]
But it shouldn’t have got to that point.
The Cavs as a whole shot a very Shaq-like 57.5% (23-of-40) from the stripe. (Actually, Shaq is at 50% for the season.) And they would have been OK, if Shaq was Shaq-like.
Here are the missed free throw culprits:
Shaquille O’Neal . . . 0-for-6 (0%)
Daniel Gibson . . . 1-for-3 (33%)
Anthony Parker . . . 3-for-5 (60%)
LeBron James . . . 12-for-17 (71%)
Meanwhile, Mo Williams went 2-for-2 and J.J. Hickson went 4-for-5 from the stripe.
The Cavs also had twice as many turnovers as the Nuggets . . . but it was just 10-to-5. Denver only had five turnovers in an overtime game. That’s pretty impressive. (The Cavs average 14.5 a game.)
And then there’s the other line. Cleveland is the second-best 3-point shooting team in the NBA at 40.2%, but it wasn’t going in for them (read: LeBron) in this one. They only shot 30%, 7-for-23, and a lot of the misses were bad shots taken late in the game.
Here are the missed 3-pointer culprits:
LeBron James . . . 1-for-9 (11%)
[He took a full-court three at the very end of the third quarter, and then there was that three attempt with one-point-something seconds left at the end of the game. But he took four total threes in overtime and missed them all. And in the third quarter, he made one and missed four. So he went 1-for-8 in the second half. It's unnecessary, this offense doesn't need to be that desperate.
Anthony Parker . . . 2-for-5 (40%)
[Obviously, that's a decent percentage, although his last three attempt,with 12.9 left in regulation, was not a good shot. But that falls on LeBron too. He walked around for 18 seconds, dribbling the ball 30 feet away from the basket, before finally throwing it to AP. The game was tied at that point. A two-pointer would have worked, and in retrospect won the game.]
All in all, this was one of those average Cavs games. They played amazing offense for stretches, and then reverted to static ball movement at the end of the game . . . and they played good defense, but only at the end of the game, when they needed to.
The Wine and Gold Rush Awards:
[We'll be giving these out after each game.]
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James.
I gave LeBron a few jabs earlier, but he had a phenomenal statistical game that has never happened in recorded history. He had 43 points (on 15-of-33 shooting) with 13 rebounds, 15 assists, two steals and four blocks.
“Cleveland Plain Dealer” beat-writer Brian Windhorst wrote:
“According to Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the first player in recorded history to record at least those numbers in a game. Key word there is recorded because they didn’t start keeping steals and blocks until 1973. My guess is Wilt Chamberlain had quite a few better efforts.
“To me this is more impressive: LeBron’s the last player to have at least 40 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists since Oscar Robertson on Feb. 13th, 1962. The Big O, who was at the game tonight, had 42 points, 18 assists and 15 rebounds that night.” [link]
For what it’s worth, at halftime LBJ had eight points (on 2-of-9 shooting) with four rebounds and seven assists.
Interesting stat: Anthony Parker had a plus/minus of +15. The only other player with a positive number was Shaq, with a +3. They were both on the court when the Cavs went on a major run in the third quarter.
Least Valuable Player: Jamario Moon.
This is unfair. Jamario didn’t get into the game.
But that’s just it, he didn’t get into the game. As you saw, Mo was a late add to the active roster. He didn’t start, but had eight points (on 2-of-5 shooting) and three assists in 18 minutes.
Apparently, Jamario is the odd man out . . . at least for now . . . with both Delonte West and Mo back in action. The Cavs’ minutes will contract even further when Antawn Jamison and Leon Powe are ready to go. And although nothing is certain, that could happen as soon as tonight in Charlotte.
Random Note: Jawad Williams played 16 minutes in this one. So unless something is wrong with Jamario that we don’t know about, Jawad has moved in front of Jamario on the depth chart. At least for now.
“The Diff Award” (for the difference maker, even in defeat): Anderson Varejao.
This was one of those games that Anderson is there to win for you. And he did a lot right; it was the rest of the team that couldn’t come through at the ends (of regulation and overtime).
I can tell you that Andy had six points (on 3-of-6 shooting) with nine rebounds, a steal and three blocks . . . but as usual, that doesn’t do Andy’s impact justice. He may not have been the second-best player on the team, but with a clutch steal and four big-time offensive rebounds, he gave the Cavs some extra chances to win it.
J.J. deserves a shout out here. His biggest drawbacks this season have been his defense and horrible plus/minus. Against Denver, he defended the pick-and-roll well . . . and succeeded, most of the time, with his own pick-and-roll at the other end. Can I say that he looked a little like a diet Amar’e at times?
He finished with 14 points (third on the team) on 5-for-7 shooting. He had two assists and only two rebounds, but he played 30 minutes . . . and had an even plus/minus (third-best on the team).
Also, aside from the free throw problems, Shaq had 18 points (on 9-of-15 shooting).
Oh, and FYI: The Cavs win streak ends at 13 games, tying last year’s team record.