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Saturday, May 19, 2007

King James Uses Marshall Plan to Beat Nets

Great all around play by LeBron James (23 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) and timely three point shooting by Donyell Marshall (18 points, 6-10 from three point range) carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to an 88-72 Game Six victory over the New Jersey Nets. The win earned the Cavaliers a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face the Detroit Pistons, who eliminated the Cavaliers from the 2006 playoffs in a hard fought seven game series. James struggled a bit with his shooting (8-20 from the field, 6-9 from the free throw line) but he set the tone early in the game and made several big plays down the stretch. Jason Kidd (19 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) led the Nets in scoring, rebounds and assists and did not commit a single turnover; the only blemish on his stat line was 7-20 shooting from the field. Richard Jefferson added 16 points and eight rebounds but the third member of New Jersey's "Big Three," Vince Carter, scored just 11 points on 4-11 shooting. Carter also had five rebounds, four assists and five turnovers.

James had 14 points and four rebounds as Cleveland took a 32-15 lead by the end of the first quarter. He did not score at all in the second quarter but New Jersey was only able to cut the margin to 53-38 by halftime as Bostjan Nachbar hit a three pointer just before the buzzer, his only points of the game. Kidd made his first three shots of the third quarter but Cleveland still led 59-46 when James picked up his fourth foul at the 6:50 mark. He went to the bench for the remainder of the quarter and apparently took the Cavs' entire offense with him; New Jersey closed the quarter with a 14-2 run and only trailed 61-60 going into the final 12 minutes. Kidd had 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in the third quarter.

James returned at the start of the fourth quarter. His presence alone was enough to stop New Jersey's run. The Nets never took the lead but they did manage to stay close for most of the fourth quarter. In fact, they got to within 64-63 at the 9:38 mark after Kidd grabbed an offensive rebound and fired a gorgeous bounce pass from the top of the key that found its way around several hands to Mikki Moore, who scored and drew a foul. Moore made the free throw but the Nets did not score again for the next 2:30 and the Cavs began to pull away. Cleveland finally broke the game open with a barrage of three pointers, several of which came after passes from James, who also scored seven points in the period. The Nets ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, scoring just 12 points, but that was actually a typical fourth quarter performance for them in the latter part of this series; New Jersey averaged 11.3 points on .127 shooting in the fourth quarters of Games Four, Five and Six.

Although the Nets ultimately came up short, the Elias Sports Bureau reports that Kidd became just the second player to average a triple double for an entire postseason (14.6 ppg, 10.9 apg, 10.9 rpg); Oscar Robertson averaged 28.8 ppg, 11.0 rpg and 11.0 apg in 1962 when his Cincinnati Royals lost 3-1 in the first round to the Detroit Pistons. Amazingly, Robertson averaged 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 11.4 apg for that entire season, the only time that an NBA player has averaged a triple double for a season.

posted by David Friedman @ 3:46 AM


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At Saturday, May 19, 2007 12:38:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

lebron is the man he showed it in the game he can score like kobe and dish like nash he is the man unfortnately the pistons have an overall better team the players around lebron arent that great yet he still makes them better and gets deep into the playoffs without a legit number 2 really to me he has descent players thats it the east is weak but he beat teams in the west too

At Saturday, May 19, 2007 4:18:00 PM, Anonymous temp 0x00 said...

Lebron isn't on Kobe's level, though he's very good. And he certainly CANNOT score on the same level that Kobe can.

At Saturday, May 19, 2007 4:57:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

temp he cant score quite like kobe nobody but wilt and jordan could but he a mixture of both kobe and nash kobe cant pass or rebound like lebron kobe good passer and rebounder for a guard but he aint lebron he like magic and nash and board like bird

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 1:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

LeBron is a forward and Kobe is a guard, so LeBron plays closer to the hoop, particularly on defense. Kobe is very good rebounder for a guard. Kobe is a much better defender than LeBron and Kobe is also a more well rounded scorer: Kobe has three point range, a better postup game and is a much better free throw shooter. LeBron, being much younger, may be more explosive around the hoop than Kobe is at this point and LeBron is certainly bigger and more physically powerful than Kobe.

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 8:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truthfully, I would be more impressed with LeBron if he didn't need so many shots to get his numbers. You see all these SportsCenter highlights, then read the box score and see that he went 8-22. Against a good team that's a formula for losing.

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 3:17:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Field goal percentages tend to go down in the playoffs for two obvious reasons: stronger competition and in a series each team has more opponent-specific preparation than occurs during the regular season.

James is shooting .432 from the field during this year's playoffs. Bryant shot .462 in his first round loss. Boozer and Duncan, who obviously are inside players, are both shooting right around .500. Dirk shot .383 in his worst postseason ever. Nash shot .461, well below his regular season norm (.532 in '07). Bryant shot .463 this season, James shot .476, Boozer shot .561, Duncan shot .546 and Dirk shot .502. In other words, other than Kobe, every one of these top players is shooting much worse in this year's playoffs than he did during the regular season.

Last year, James shot .480 in the regular season and .476 in the playoffs. He has actually had two 8-22 games in this year's playoffs, plus an 8-20 and an 8-21, so I understand why you think he always shoots that poorly, even though his overall percentage is actually better than that.

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 3:33:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

anymous what are you talking about he averaged 27 on 18 shots kobe averaged 30 on 23 iverson and kobe both are great great players but the ultimate volume shooters to suggest lebron is a volume shooter is crazy really iverson more than anybody ever he used to shoot like 39 percent lebron had a couple bad games and he's a volume guy no way he almost shoots 50 percent he's very effecient

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 3:37:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...


kobe better scorer defender ft shooter lebron better rebounder passer fg% slightly kobe better no doubt but i just said he cant pass like lebron or board like lb kobe good in both area lebron great in both areas like kobe in the top 3 how is lebron 70 percent free throw shooter crazy he shoots pretty well from distance

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 7:50:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

It is hard to understand why both LeBron and Duncan struggle at the free throw line at times because there does not seem to be anything fundamentally wrong with their shooting strokes (unlike, say, Shaq, Ben Wallace or Biedrins from Golden State).

Also, I want to correct some of the numbers I cited in my earlier comment. Apparently, NBA.com only updates their stats infrequently, so some of the playoff field goal percentages that I mentioned did not reflect all of this year's games. Here are the correct numbers (2007 regular season first, 2007 playoffs second--does not include Game One of Spurs-Jazz).

Kobe: .463, .462
Dirk: .502, .383
Duncan: .546, .527
Nash: .532, .463
LeBron: .476, .424
Boozer: .561, .539

Like I said before, shooting percentages tend to go down in the playoffs due to the tougher competition and the ability to prepare for one team as opposed to playing four games in five nights against different teams. Kobe maintained his shooting percentage, Duncan and Boozer are shooting well, though not quite as well as in the regular season, while Dirk, Nash and LeBron have shot much worse in the playoffs than they did in the regular season.

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 10:21:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

lebron vs the wizards was the same as the season he's played 11 postseason games to kobe 5 so the less you play the better your percentage plus nash went against san antonio six games is why his percentage is lower if kobe played the same team he wouldnt shoot as well either boozer and duncan are close to the basket there gonna be 50 percent plus so those numbers dont mean nuthing lebron stil playing so is boozer and duncan kobe nash and dirk at home

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 10:37:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe played against a team that should have been one of the favorites to win the title (number two seed in the powerful Western Conference). That team guarded him with an All-Defensive First Team player (Bell) and a Defensive Player of the Year candidate (Marion) AND frequently double or triple teamed Kobe because of the inability of his teammates to make shots yet Kobe maintained his regular season field goal percentage and scoring averages (in spite of shortened minutes in one game due to injuring his ankle) and led his team to victory in one game by scoring 45 points. Kobe has the third best "Roland Rating" in this year's playoffs behind LeBron and Billups.

At Sunday, May 20, 2007 11:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that playoff shooting percentages will fall off from the regular season, but it's telling that LeBron has one of the uglier percentages despite facing the weakest playoff opponents.

When the Pistons minimize his cherry picking on breakaways and take away straight-line bull rushes to the hoop, he becomes nothing more than a talented volume scorer. He will shoot 40% or less several times in the upcoming Pistons-Cavs series, but the media that has a share in his marketing will continue to emphasize his point totals. Not a bold or surprising prediction, but there you are.

At Monday, May 21, 2007 1:56:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

LeBron's shooting percentage did go down last year against the Pistons, so things may turn out as you predicted but I think that he and the Cavs will match up better with the Pistons this time around. Also, Chris Webber is patrolling the lane now, not Ben Wallace, so there is a lot less of a shotblocking deterrant at the rim, particularly when Sheed is not in the game.

I don't necessarily agree that the media is blindly pro-LeBron. He receives a lot of attention, which you could say helps his marketing but he has gotten some criticism for his free throw shooting and for not being a fourth quarter closer; I think that the former is a more valid complaint than the latter. LeBron tries to do the right thing regarding passing versus shooting and he showed last year in the playoffs that he could deliver in the fourth quarter, including making game winning shots.

LeBron led the young Cavs from 2-0 down to 3-2 up with a chance to close on their homecourt last year against the Pistons and I thought that was very impressive for a player in his first playoff run. He never doubted that Cleveland could compete with Detroit and he imparted that feeling to everyone else on his roster. I was there for several of those games, so I got an up close and personal view of how James handled himself before, during and after and I thought that he showed poise and determination well beyond his years and his limited playoff experience. He is special and that is why I picked Cleveland to upset Detroit and make it to the Finals. Look at it this way: he faced oversized expectations as a high school player coming straight to the NBA yet to this point he has met or exceeded all of them. Did anyone think that he would be an All-NBA player, a 27-6-6 guy, and the leader of an Eastern Conference Finalist this soon? I love T-Mac but he's never gotten out of the first round. KG has gotten out of the first round once in his entire career. LeBron's doing pretty well and there is no reason to not think that he will accomplish even more.

Frankly, there seems to be more critical reporting about him than there is about Steve Nash, who is a veteran, two-time MVP who has yet to make it to the NBA Finals. It's like LeBron is on the clock to get everything done now with an admittedly incomplete team but no one ever stops to ask why can't Nash and his All-Star cast make it to the Finals once.

At Monday, May 21, 2007 4:11:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

right on point david lebron has exceeded expectations and is playing great right now he will win 5 to 7 championships in his career and go down as the greatest player since jordan top 3 alltime maybe number 1. all he got to get is the jordan kobe mentality at the end of games and want to win the game what he is getting better at. kobe is top 15 all time if he can get a couple ring without shaq top 5 maybe top 3

At Monday, May 21, 2007 4:28:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I'm not ready to say that LeBron will win five to seven titles. I don't think that he will win the title this year, for that matter. All I said is that he has exceeded the very large expectations that were placed on him and that is very impressive.

At Monday, May 21, 2007 6:33:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

james is a legend he will win alot leave the rest in the dust

At Monday, May 21, 2007 11:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Game One: 33% FG for King James. My prediction was not a particularly difficult one, which is why the whole LeBron phenomenon is such a puzzler. But to his credit, I thought he played an unselfish and well-rounded game. He didn't force things, and if his teammates were even a little less star-struck they could have used the opportunities he gave them to break the game open.

Ah, but that's the catch. It's a five-man game, and the Cavs are a few players short.

At Tuesday, May 22, 2007 3:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

More precisely, the Cavs were one shot short. If Marshall makes his three or Billups misses his, the Cavs are up 1-0. Considering that Detroit has several All-Star caliber players and Cleveland has one, the Cavs are doing pretty well. I didn't make a prediction about LeBron's shooting percentage but my prediction that this will be a more competitive series than people expect certainly held up in the first game.

I am not interested in addressing the marketing aspect of the LeBron "phenomenon," as you call it, but he certainly has deserved the All-Star and All-NBA recognition that he has received. His scoring-rebounding-assist levels the past two years are matched by only Oscar Robertson, so LeBron is hardly someone who is all hype and no substance. I wrote a pretty extensive post about the game, so I don't think there is too much more for me to say here at this point.


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