Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Magic Hand Cavs First Playoff Loss

Wow! What a game! Maybe the best game of the year so far. It's definitely up there with the Lakers overtime win at Boston back in February. And you can pick a few of the games from the epic Chicago/Boston series.

Orlando did something that had only been done twice in 45 games at Quicken Loans Arena, beat Cleveland. The Magic did something which hadn't happened in the postseason, beat Cleveland.

Halfway through the game, it looked like Cleveland was gonna roll to another double digit playoff win. They were having their way with the Magic. Lebron was dominating, the Cavs were hitting their shots and they led by as many as 16. Mo Williams even calmly drained a 67 foot shot to end the half. We've all seen the highlights of the Cavs playing Horse during their time off.

And anyone who questions Lebron's outside jump shot, he was hitting from everywhere on the court, shooting 20-30 from the field and finishing with a career playoff high of 49 points.

But a funny thing happened in the second half. It was Cleveland, not Orlando who blew a double digit lead. And Lebron's supporting cast failed to show up.

After hitting just 2 three pointers in the first half, the Magic went 7-12 from downtown in the second. Orlando outscored the Cavaliers 30-19 in the third quarter to pull within 4. Lebron scored 13 of Cleveland's 19 in that quarter.

The fourth quarter was dramatic basketball. Orlando was able to steal the lead and even led by as many as 4. But Lebron willed his team back in the game. And Mo Williams and Delonte West, who both struggled shooting, each hit a key 3 to keep Cleveland in it.

It looked like Lebron had the dagger when he drove to the basket on Dwight Howard drawing Howard's 6 foul and getting the and 1. The Cavs were up by 2 with about 26 left.

A great call by Steve Van Gundy to go for the 3 and win. Dwight Howard had just fouled out so there was no way Orlando would win in overtime on the road. Rashard Lewis hit his biggest shot of his career with the winning 3 with just 14.7 left.

Cleveland got one more shot and you knew who was getting the ball and taking it to the rack. Orlando closed in hard on Lebron with 3 defenders and Lebron quickly kicked it out to Williams who found a wide open Delonte West. But West couldn't get the shot to drop. Moments ago, West had hit the same shot.

Still, Lebron hustled to wrestle the down the rebound and it turned into a jump ball. Lebron tipped the ball to Williams who nearly made an impossible shot.

Orlando's Big 3 of Howard, Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu were huge down the stretch. Cleveland has no answer for Howard down low. Howard dominated the paint and finished with 30 points and 3 rebounds.

Lewis had just 5 points in the first half but was Mister Clutch. Along with the game winner, Lewis had 15 second half points.

And how about Turkoglu? After inconsistent play for most of the playoffs, Turkoglu has been solid in back to back games. After setting his personal playoff best with 12 assists in Game 7 against Boston, Turkoglu dished out 14 dimes tonight in Game 1.
He finished with 15 points.

For Cleveland, Bron-Bron had one his best all around games ever with 49, but Williams and West shot a dismal 10-32.

The biggest factor of this game, the bench. It's been said that Cleveland has one of the best second 5's in the league. They were outscored by Orlando's bench 25-5! Mickael Pietrus came off the bench with 13 points for Orlando.

And the night before we saw Kobe hit all his free throws down the stretch, Lebron missed 3 crucial foul shots in the fourth quarter.

Game 2, a must win for the Cavaliers, is Friday night. Enjoy the Conference Finals. Both series's should be a real treat.

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