Cavs Sweep Wizards, Await New Jersey-Toronto WinnerCleveland beat Washington 97-90 on Monday night, completing a sweep of the game but undermanned Wizards. LeBron James had 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He shot just 2-10 from the field in the first half but rallied to connect on six of his 12 second half shots. Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 20 points and 19 rebounds, noting with a smile after the game that if he had known his stats he would have tried to get one more rebound to reach 20-20 status. Larry Hughes contributed 19 points, four rebounds and three assists, including some key fourth quarter field goals as Cleveland held off a late Wizards rally. Antawn Jamison, the only big gun left for the Wizards after All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were felled by injuries, scored 32 points.
I was less than impressed by Detroit's sweep of Orlando since the Pistons allowed the Magic to stay close for the better part of the series, so it must be said that the Cavaliers hardly looked like world beaters in these four games. Still, Cleveland had never swept a playoff series in franchise history, so this accomplishment is not without significance. The Pistons are a number one seed with an extensive playoff pedigree, so they are expected to easily dispatch an eighth seed; postseason success is a much newer phenomenon for James' Cavaliers.
After the game, LeBron James said, "Last year, going into the playoffs, it was all about making the playoffs. I hadn't been there in my NBA career, and Z hadn't been there since his rookie season, so that was our main focus: 'Let's make the playoffs, let's make the playoffs.' We've got bigger and better things now. It's about winning a championship, and we're one step closer."
The Wizards led by as many as nine points, but watching the game the outcome seemed almost inevitable. Even Washington Coach Eddie Jordan seemed to understand this; he used his bench extensively for the first time in the series, either to give his younger players postseason experience or to get a head start on the player evaluation process for next season. The Cavaliers got the stops they needed to get down the stretch, outscoring the Wizards 23-13 in the last 6:04 of the game.
The Elias Sports Bureau unearthed a couple interesting statistical nuggets pertaining to this game:
1) No player has reached the point, rebound and assist levels that James did in a series-clinching game since Scottie Pippen produced 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists versus the Lakers in game five of the 1991 Finals as the Chicago Bulls won their first title; that tells us something not only about James but also about Pippen's value.
2) Jamison's 32 ppg average in this series is the second highest ever by a player whose team got swept in a seven game series; George Gervin racked up 32.3 ppg as his Spurs lost to the Lakers in the 1982 Western Conference Finals.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:57 AM