Tag Archives: Cavaliers vs Hawks

Road Warrior LeBron Takes Over “Highlight Factory”

Philips Arena in Atlanta has become known as the “Highlight Factory” thanks to the aerial artistry of the young, high-flying Hawks but on Saturday night LeBron James swooped in and made the “Highlight Factory” his personal showcase. James dropped 47 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers won 97-82 to take a 3-0 series lead. The only other player in NBA history to put up at least 45-10-8 in a playoff game is Michael Jordan.

This is of course not the first time that James silenced a road crowd with a signature playoff performance; he authored one of the most memorable games in playoff history on May 31, 2007 when he hit the Detroit Pistons with 48 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 109-107 game five win that helped propel the Cavs to their first NBA Finals appearance. James has now scored at least 45 points in four playoff games and three of those games took place on the road. Among active players, only Allen Iverson (seven) and Kobe Bryant (five) have posted more 45 point playoff games than James but both Iverson (four) and Bryant (three) have had more such games at home than on the road. A 45 point playoff game is usually a good thing for a team no matter where it takes place: the Cavs are 3-1 in James’ 45 point playoff games, while Iverson’s 76ers went 6-1 and Bryant’s Lakers have gone 4-1.

Most NBA players tend to perform better at home than on the road but in each of the past four seasons James has averaged more points on the road than in the friendly confines of the Q; in 2008-09, he scored 31.5 ppg in 41 road games and 25.4 ppg in 40 home games, though he did shoot better from the field at home (.502) than on the road (.479). James has scored at least 40 points in 33 regular season games, 20 of which took place on the road. His nine best scoring games—topped by his 56 points at Toronto on March 20, 2005 and including all seven of his 50 point games—all took place on the road; his regular season scoring high in Cleveland is 47 points.

It seems as if James understands that most players are less comfortable on the road, so he takes pressure off of his teammates by very aggressively looking for his shot away from home. This places opponents in a no win situation, because if they single cover James he is willing and able to score 40-plus points but if they trap him then he will feed his teammates for wide open shots. The Hawks have yet to solve this conundrum,as James is killing them with both his scoring/shooting (36.0 ppg, .610 FG%, .476 3FG%) and his floor game (5.3 apg, 1.3 tpg).

During game three, the Hawks were noticeably reluctant to trap James because he has proven that he will make the right pass out of double-teams and, just as importantly, his teammates have proven that they can make open shots; therefore, the Hawks simply switched on screen/roll plays, which gave James the opportunity to repeatedly shoot over the much shorter Mike Bibby.

It will be interesting to see what adjustment—if any—the Hawks make regarding this strategy. Will they single cover James, banking on him not continuing his hot shooting, or will they aggressively trap him and force guys like Mo Williams, Delonte West and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to make open jump shots? The Cavs are almost impossible to guard effectively for long stretches now because James has improved his shooting touch and GM Danny Ferry has surrounded James with a deep roster of players who can make open shots if James is trapped.

Cavaliers beat down Hawks for a 3-0 lead

Magic Johnson, during ABC’s NBA Half Time show, had a message to Hawks’ fans; “don’t boo Lebron James“.

As he has done several times in his career, the reigning MVP, Lebron James, took a personal interest in punishing those fans by assembling perhaps his second greatest playoff game on record. These fans became witnesses and in the closing seconds he got loud “M-V-P” chants from the crowd.

James nailed 15 of 25 shots and five 3-pointers for 47 points. He added 12 rebounds and eight assists for his most prolific game of the playoffs thus far.

“I gave it all I had, I knew how important this game was,” said James. “A series is turned in Game 3s; you either go up 3-0 or it’s 2-1, so we handled our business,” said the team-first superstar. “That’s the important thing. No game is won in one or two or three games. So (on Monday) we have to bring the same intensity we did tonight.”

All of the Hawks’ injured players were able to play and Joe Johnson had an impressive 21 points. Al Horford and Marvin Williams also returned from injuries. Flip Murray provided a spark off the bench with 17 points

No team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had his best game of the series, going 6-for-9 from the floor for 14 points to go with eight boards. Delonte West had 12 points and four assists.

The Cavaliers became the first team in the NBA to win seven straight postseason games by double-figures.

Cavs Cruise to 2-0 Seies Lead

Are we sure the winner of the Kentucky Derby wasn’t named “Cleveland” because that’s exactly what the thoroughbred Cleveland Cavaliers looked liked in game 2 jumping out of the gates and never looking back.

The Cavaliers racked up an insurmountable 59-35 halftime lead, capped off by a pull-up three by LeBron James just inside of half-court, on their way to a remarkable 105-85 beat down of the Atlanta Hawks. If it’s even possible, the Cavs seem to be getting stronger and stronger with each game they play. The entire starting rotation was benched after the 3rd quarter as the Cavs point total at that mark tied the eventual total of the Hawks throughout the entire game(85).

LeBron James scored 27 (9-14) , Mo Williams had 15 (5-11), Delonte West 14 (5-10), Anderson Varejao (6-9) scored 12, and the only starter in single digits Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 6 (3-6) and keep in mind all in 3 periods. The second unit played the entire 4th quarter giving up 30 points to the Hawks and losing 10 points off their 30 point spread but they were playing hard. Plus this gives younger players like Darnell Jackson valuable playoff experience in case of injuries or foul trouble later down the line. Wally Szczerbiak scored 17 (7-9), several off powerful low post moves and even a rare jam off of a stellar behind the back pass from James on a fast break run-out.

Yet there was a scare for Cleveland in the 3rd quarter as Delonte West was poked in the eye by Hawk Zaza Pachulia and he did not return, but possibly just because of the Cavs huge lead. And to go from bad to worse for the Hawks, who are already missing Al Horford and Marvin Williams(combined 25 points and 15 rebounds per game )their All-Star Joe Johnson twisted his ankle and is considered doubtful for game 3 Saturday night at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena.

The Cavaliers are now only the 2nd team in NBA history to win their 1st 6 playoff games by double digits(18.2), and 94% of all teams leading a best of 7 series 2-0 eventually win the series.