This is the debut of a new feature on The Wine and Gold Rush . . . called “The 10 Count.”
Basically, it’s a rundown of 10 random, and possibly pointless observations from the most recent game. Simple. Sounds only mildly intriguing, I know, but I promise I’ll try to make it fun.
By the way, the boxing reference is pretty meaningless. To be honest, I didn’t have the creativity to come up with a cool Wine and / or Gold Rush allusion . . . or a workable basketball reference that hasn’t already been used by at least 18 blogs.
If you can think of one, shoot me a line . . . and I’ll repay you with digital thanks.
OK, let’s get on with this thing:
Cleveland 102 – Chicago 92. [Cavs up 2-0, First Round]
#1.) Yeah, he’s wearing a multi-colored mouthpiece . . . although buckteeth would be sort of fitting for him.
#2.) Jamario Moon became the first honoree from the school of Intrigue Over Who Will Break Up Mike Brown’s Playoff Rotation. He received 19.9 minutes . . . up from the 7.2 he had in Game 1. He, along with Delonte West (27.3 total minutes), played the final 16 minutes of the game.
Most of those minutes came from Shaquille O’Neal. He left the game just 4:30 into the third quarter with foul trouble, and never returned. Anthony Parker’s minutes were also down from Game One. Jamario replaced AP with four minutes to go in the third, and AP never re-entered the game.
#3.) Jamario played well. He was part of the late-game defensive unit that was finally able to gain some traction against the Bulls . . . and offensively, he hit four of his five shots (all 3s) for 12 points. Nine of those points came in the fourth quarter.
He also had three rebounds and two blocks (including an uproarious one on Joakim Noah that was deadened six seconds later when Luol Deng blocked a Mo Williams shot). Moon led the team with a plus/minus of +14.
#4.) J.J. Hickson only got 9.5 seconds of playing time; Daniel Gibson received 0.0 seconds. In the middle of the third quarter, J.J. and Boobie were the two Cavaliers featured in an “NBA Cares” spot. It took place at the Cleveland Clinic, and the thought crossed my mind that it could be filming in REAL TIME.
#5.) Delonte West should look for his shot more. Not on corner 3s or on bail-out jumpers . . . but on the drive. He looked great on a couple of clever moves to the basket early in the fourth quarter. It’s nice that he operates as a facilitator first, but there are definitely times when he could be more aggressive.
Delonte finished with seven points (on 3-of-7 shooting) with five assists.
#6.) This was another crazy game by LeBron James. He finished with 40 points on just 23 shots. He was an incredible 16-for-23 from the field, 2-for-4 from beyond the arc, and 6-for-6 from the stripe.
He also had eight rebounds, eight assists, two dynamic blocks and a steal.
#7.) The turning point was probably the 3-pointer that LeBron hit in front of the Chicago bench (followed by a wink to the Bulls) with 4:20 left in the fourth quarter. That kicked off a run of 10 straight points (on four field goals) from LeBron . . . in less than three minutes. During that time, the Cavs increased their lead from three to nine.
#8.) After the game, LeBron said:
“[The Bulls] were talking the whole game . . . just, every time I caught it over there, just daring me to shoot the ball. Telling me I couldn’t shoot or you can’t make jump shots, so take the shot. So, um, that’s what I did.
“They asked me to shoot a jumper, and I did that . . . over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.”
That’s transcribed exactly. And oddly enough, LeBron called out every single one of his nine jumpers. He says he hit one, and then went through eight “overs.” Is this just a coincidence? You’d think so. But with LeBron James . . . who knows?
#9.) In the first quarter, TNT’s Marv Albert exclaimed “Anthony Parker is firing from all angles.” Now, that isn’t something that you normally dream about, necessarily . . . but he was on early. Then, he never took another shot the rest of the game. He finished with nine points (on 3-of-5 shooting; all 3s).
Not that it’s a bad thing . . . I don’t think . . . but it’s interesting how the Cavs’ offense often seems to operate in bunches. There’s the stretch where they’re pickin’-n’-poppin’ with Z, there’s the stretch where LeBron wants isolation, there’s the stretch where we work the ball inside-out, there’s the stretch where we force the ball to work inside-out, there’s the stretch where AP gets a touch, etc.
#10.) The Cavs shot the ball 12.2% better from the field than the Bulls in this game, 56.3% to 44.1%. So what gives?
Here are a few reasons why this game was close: Weak-sauce Cavs defense (or “no Cavs defense,” as I initially typed), the Bulls’ offensive rebounding edge (13-to-5), the Bulls’ second-chance points, the Bulls only turned the ball over four times (to 11 times by the Cavs), and Joakim Noah’s career performance to prove to the feisty Cleveland crowd that he does not suck. At least, at basketball.