Yep, those Cleveland Cavaliers are an unstoppable juggernaut this year. No doubt about that. They were 39-2 at home this season — one of that pair of losses resulting from Coach Mike Brown's decision to sit the regulars in the last game of the season in preparation for the post-season. They lost that game to playoff-bound Philly 111-110.
Given the Cavs have home court advantage throughout the playoffs, we might as well crown them, eh? They have the MVP... They're playing together and having fun... They're unstoppable, unshakable, unbeatable, unsinkable, right?
Not so fast.
It seems that Michael Jordan Jr.'s crew has just run into a tricky matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals — the Orlando Magic of Messrs. Howard, Turkoglu, and Lewis, to be exact. In Game 1, a 16 point hole in the 1st Quarter was pretty much filled in by the end of the 3rd. And guess who emerged victorious?
Hint: Not the result Phil Knight of Nike was looking for.
Here's the Popcorn Machine graph of the game flow: LINKY LINKY
Well, no offense to the Cavs' loyal fans, who are no doubt swell, but it's our DUTY to check in and make sure everyone's okay in the aftermath of the Orlando Magic's 107-106 come-from-behind "upset" victory, gol durn it.
Click through for links from Ground Zero...
CAUTION: Contents may not be suitable for those sensitive to wailing and the gnashing of teeth.
Click the headlines for complete stories...
by Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer
* * *
The homecourt advantage is in the Magic's kingdom now, after a 107-106 comeback victory by Orlando, despite one of James' greatest performances -- 49 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
The ending, with James walking off an injury in the final scrum, was quiet, the fans stunned. A ragged cheer just to see the Cavs' star still ambulatory went up. It does not mean doom. But it means Orlando is a team with many weapons, and that Mo Williams, who missed a jumper at the buzzer after James won a jump ball in the last second, must shoot better than 6-for-19 and Delonte West better than 4-for-13. * * *
By halftime, James had 26 points on 16 shots and the Cavs led, 63-48.
But the Cavs did not approach the third quarter with any sense of urgency. Orlando went on one of its sprees in which it scores points in raging torrents, and James was the guy with his thumb in the crumbling dike. The lead was down to 82-78 after three quarters, James with 39 for the Cavs. Game on. And everybody else's shot was off.
The Cavs could not knock the Magic out early and James could not save them late. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. A preposterous shot with 25.6 seconds left, with James fouling out Howard as he was body slammed on a rampaging drive down the baseline, floated in and then he completed the old-fashioned three-point play, giving the Cavs their last lead at 106-104.
Why they did not chase Orlando's red-hot shooters off the arc, instead surrendering a contested three-point bull's-eye by Rashard Lewis, is a question for Mike Brown to answer. But then, they were playing was 1-on-5 almost all the way to the end. You know, the way it wasn't supposed to be any more. * * *
by Jodie Valade, Cleveland Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Hedo Turkoglu is long and lanky and, more often than not, opts to shoot the ball rather than pass it. He is not your prototypical point guard.
But there he was in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, running the Orlando offense, directing his Magic teammates and feeding the ball time and again to wide-open Orlando players who couldn't help but sink baskets.
Maybe he doesn't look the part, but Turkoglu had the point guard imitation down pretty well in the Magic's 107-106 victory.
"This is the time of year you have to do whatever it takes to help your team win games," Turkoglu said. "If I have to play point guard, I'll play point guard."
In truth, Turkoglu played a point forward who kick-started the Magic offense from midcourt with the most basic of playground basketball maneuvers -- the simple pick and roll. He used it to accumulate 14 assists by game's end, seven of which came in the pivotal fourth quarter. * * *
by CavsBlogger, Fear the Sword
Well, we knew it was going to be tough. We knew the Magic could shoot the basketball, and we knew LeBron James would come up big. All three happened and it was the Magic that held on, making big shot after big shot to win Game 1 107-106.
There is no doubt that the long layoff, combined with the ease of the first two rounds had the Cavaliers a bit tired in the 4th quarter. Still, the Cavaliers led by 2 with 20 seconds to go before Rashard Lewis hit a three, with the hand of Anderson Varejao in his face, to give the Magic the lead for good. The Cavs had a chance at the end, but Delonte West missed a three, and Mo Williams missed a two pointer at the buzzer.
Perhaps it is fitting that Mo and D-West missed shots at the end, becuase it was the inability of anyone else in a Wine and Gold jersey, not wearing #23, to make plays consistently that ultimately cost the Cavaliers the game. West and Williams finsihed the game a combined 10/32, 5/16 from behind the 3-point line. The Cavaliers didn't do themselves any favors from the free throw line either, going 12-17. When you lose a game by a point, every FT miss counts. * * *
posted by "E5" to Fear the Sword
The ball movement in the second half was awful.
I am much more concerned with the defense. The Cavs had how many days off? I look at it this way they started hot finish slow because they were not in game shape.
The longer this series goes the better Mo and Delonte will be and therefore the better the team will be. The Cavs will finish this series stronger for it.
Orlando is a very good team so we should cry to much. Now if we had lost a game against Detriot or Atlanta that would be different.
posted by "Hardcore Legend" to Fear the Sword
Mike Brown refuses to make sane lineup changes. Z can't guard Howard, Varejo can't guard Lewis. One of the two have to come off the floor and the defense has to be shifted accordingly.
Delonte and Mo have struggled in the postseason. The difference between this team and last years team was their ability to make shots. If they can't do that, Lebron will have to carry this team and hope Howard gets called for all those pushing fouls on offense.
by Amar Panchmatia, Cavalier Attitude
LeBron's 48-point special at Detroit in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals was enough to hold off the Pistons in double overtime. His 47-point outburst in Game 3 last week at Atlanta was enough to keep the Hawks at arm's length.
But 49 points from The King on Wednesday night was not enough to hold off a hard-charging and motivated Orlando Magic team that didn't go the way of the Cavs' first two postseason opponents.
No help whatsoever. In one of the most embarrassing performances from the supporting cast in quite some time, the rest of the Cavs combined for just 58 points. At one point in the fourth quarter, Mike Brown had to call a timeout simply because James was so worn out and tired that it was in the team's best interest to give him a breather. The Cavs built a 15-point halftime lead before everyone not wearing #23 decided to stand around and see what would happen instead of doing something about it.
Point the finger directly at the bench. The Cavs' reserves scored all of five points, all of 'em by Joe Smith. Nothing from Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, or Daniel Gibson's corpse. The pine combined to shoot 2-for-7, and the Cavs were a stunning minus-14 when Wallace was in the game. * * *
Orlando won the battle on the boards, 36-33. Dwight Howard simply could not be stopped until fouling out on a LeBron basket in the last minute, scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 boards. Howard was also a ridiculous 14-for-20 from the field, an eye-popping 70 percent. His massive dunk for Orlando's first points of the game wrecked the shot clock over the backboard and caused a long 10-minute delay, a fitting beginning for a game that would have a frantic finish.
This was the first legit home loss for the Cavs in over three months. The last one came, as you recall, in early February in a 101-91 defeat against the Lakers. Brown benched everyone that mattered for a meaningless season finale at home vs. Philly, which the Sixers needed overtime to win. * * *
by Bob Finnan, Lake County News Herald
This is going to get a lot of play, at least until Game 2 starts.
A reporter asked Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis a innocuous question: "What did Coach Stan Van Gundy say at halftime?"
Howard looked at Lewis and asked, "Should I say?"
"Go ahead," Lewis said.
"He said, 'We are all witnesses,' " Howard said, obviously mocking Cavs forward LeBron James.
James didn't seem mad about it when I asked him after the game.
"That's reverse psychology," James said. "That's to get the guys to play harder. 'You guys are in the NBA for a reason.'
"You know how he is. He's funny." * * *
by Craig, Waiting for Next Year.com
The moment finally arrived on Wednesday night. The Cavs had been sitting idle for what seemed like a month for Boston and Orlando to complete their series. The Cavs finally took the floor at 8:40 PM on Wednesday night with huge energy and a sense of suspense that we haven't felt as Cavs fans in a long time. Questions abound. Will the Cavs be rusty? Will the Cavs be able to stop the three? How will the Magic come out defending? The 8 days of anticipation were enough to make the home crowd burst into flames. * * *
In the third quarter it looked like the Cavs of a couple years ago. The Cavs were running stagnant offense as the Magic started catching fire with mid and long-range jumpers. If not for LeBron's jumpers, the Cavaliers might have lost control of the game completely before the 4th quarter. The wind was taken straight out of the Cavaliers fans' sails in the third quarter. After it was all said and done the Cavs lost the frame 30-19 to take a precariously small 4-point lead into the 4th quarter.
The Magic hot streak continued into the fourth the Cavs called timeout with just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth as Orlando gained its first lead of the night, 85-84. The Cavs' previously swarming defense couldn't account for Orlando's heralded inside out game as they started draining slightly contested jumpers. Also, LeBron James started the 4th quarter on the bench, but didn't stay there long as he was about the only scoring option that worked in the third quarter.
Things were looking especially bleak all fourth quarter long for the Cavs. The Magic seemed firmly in control when the Cavs' Delonte West nailed a three on a dish from LeBron James with 40.8 seconds left in regulation to go up 103-102. The Cavs desperately needed to pony up some late-game defense to pull the game out, but Rashard Lewis nailed a two to go up one. LeBron responded immediately with a driving bucket where he was fouled by Dwight Howard. For the Magic it was Howard's 6th foul and for the Cavs it was an opportunity to go up by two, 106-104 as James converted the throw with 25.6 seconds to go. The Magic called timeout and LeBron pleaded with his team to help him get just one stop.
That stop couldn't be had as Rashard Lewis bombed a three in Varejao's face and gave the Magic a 107-106 lead in a see-saw battle. The Cavs called their final time out with 14.7 seconds to go to draw up a play to desperately try to answer the Magic's three. LeBron drove, kicked out to Mo Williams, who fed Delonte West who missed a three. After a scrum, Lebron James tied up a jump ball with 1 second left against Hedo Turkoglu. LeBron tipped the ball to Mo Williams who caught, shot and even appeared to take some contact as he missed off the back of the rim. In the end, the Cavs didn't have enough to get the job done. * * *
by George Thomas, Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com
* * *
Observations: This is either a wake-up call or a quick look of things to come in this series. They allowed the Magic to dominate in the paint, a problem that plagued them in three meetings with them this season.
The Cavs had a flashback offensively to the Cavs before Mo. Far too many times they stood around to watch LeBron James dribble the ball before taking a shot, never bothering to get into any offensive set. There are moments for James to take over, this wasn't exactly one of them.
They cannot go much further with their bench scoring a miniscule five points per game. That would be FIVE points. Not 25 but FIVE points. Orlando would be the team with 25 points in that category as Mickael Pietrus came out to contribute 13 points in the winning effort. * * *
The Bottom Line:
1. We are the Cleveland Cavaliers and you aren't.
2. We have the MVP and Best Basketball Player in the Universe, Lebron James.
3. We, ummmmm, lost the first game. But we are not worried (see nos.1 & 2, above).