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Excuse me while I catch my breath. Gimme a second for my heart rate to slow down man. That game was TOO damn intense, and proved that this is by far the best series going this spring, as da Cavs took a one run lead in the Eastern Conference Series of Basketball.
And I hate to do this, but I have to in order to be fair.
LeBron is off the hook, plain and simple, I’ve never seen anyone rain turnaround jumpers over a 6’11” guy as easy as he did last night, there’s NO defense for that. And in the first quarter, he was on, but it was different this time, as he took the time to get his teammates involved. Cleveland Coach Al Roker had an excellent strategy of getting the Bronettes confidence up early, so Bronny could save his juice for later in the game and it worked, with our native son L-Boogie going for 24 points. Hughes has been the X-Factor this whole series. With him quiet, I felt we had a really good chance to rub these guys out, but I’ve seen Larry at full strength and it’s not pretty for opponents.
On the good guys’ bench, Gilbert looked like he was having another “I’m an All-Star too dammit” type game, where he answered any and everything the Cavs threw at him. LeBron abused Jared down low? Gil comes right back with a transition three. The game was very evenly played, with both teams sharing the ball and being lead by their respective stars.
I don’t want to be one of those “us vs., the refs” kinda guys, BUT I saw it, Charles and Kenny saw it, my boy in Memphis saw it, my cat saw it.
THAT WAS A CHARGE.
And it seemed almost as if David Stern was gonna fine the hell out of any referee that had the audacity to give LeBron his third foul before the half, and he ended that game with 5 total. Before the half, he flies downcourt and crams his right elbow into Jared Jeffries solar plexus, and one ref did the emphatic “offensive foul-fist pump”, but was waved off by Mark Wunderlich. Almost as if to say, “don’t call that on him, it’s too early”. From that moment on, fouls weren’t an issue, but that one killed us.
However, I can’t blame the refs, and I can’t blame the media or David Stern, a HUGE result of this game was once again, the Wizard’s ineptitude at guarding people one on freakin one. In high school, you learn to stay “in front of your man”. That’s the basic foundation of defense in basketball period. And really, tonight, it was much more than the Jamison Layup Invitation at the end of the game. I remember one instance where Antonio Daniels watched…watched, Flip Murray shoot a jumper UNDER THE FREE THROW LINE. Almost as if his job was done because Flip left his feet. Defensively, if we were the Pistons, or even Dallas the way they shut down Memphis it would be okay to assume you have excellent help defense coming over if you blow your assignment. If no one on your team can guard a tree full-court, this method of defense is freaking POINTLESS!! It’s basically the blind leading the blind out there on defense, and I’m tired of seeing our guys pass the buck on D. This my friends is where we miss Larry Hughes; this is where we could’ve used a Chucky Atkins.
With about a minute left in the game, I was going to write about how our defense failed us at the end blah, blah, blah, but that’s when Caron “Tough Juice” Butler got mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. He scored some crucial buckets, an “and one” and got a few deflections to send the game into overtime.
Overtime turned into the “Teammate Coming Out Party”, with Hughes and Eric “Mini George Foreman” Snow lighting us up from the top of the extra session. Caron and Gil single-handedly kept up in the mix, but once again, we got exposed.
Three seconds left, I call it once again.
“LeBron for the win, you watch”
And sure enough, just like last Friday, LeKing goes in for an uncontested, red carpet layup to end the game. Antawn Jamison LITERALLY TURNS AWAY FROM HIM as if to say, “Go ahead”. If he steps up, he gets called for a block, and sends Bron to the line to EARN THE DAMN WIN. But to BACK AWAY from him like he’s carrying a herpes-riddled basketball was inexcusable.
Here we are people. Game six. This is the game most people *cough* ESPN and everyone else*cough* predicted our demise in the series. If we continue to shy away from defense, not contact but defense, the Wizards can book their Mystics front-row tickets right now.
This and that from last night’s game: I don’t consider myself a really superstitious guy, but I have a thing where if I watch the game on TNT’s feed, and the guys start losing, I’ll switch to the local Comcast feed, and they start winning again. Don’t laugh; you know you’ve done it once or twice yourself. This TNT “team role” graphic has gotten out of hand, with LeBron’s official position and team role being “savior”…….are they serious? Cleveland robbed the Sonics in that Mike Wilks deal, as Flip has turned out to be just the guy the bench scorer they need, making “Sidekick Jones” expendable.
Thu 05/04/06, 8:18 am EST
- Brian Tayler @ HoopsAddict.com