LeBron James was clearly the star throughout the first game between the Wizards and Cavs, but Daniel Gibson rescued the Cavs in a big way.
Washington had erased a five-point Cleveland third quarter lead and the Cavs offense was looking downright pathetic – actually, about par for the course for the Cavs for the majority of games, but I digress.
The Wizards led 67-61 after a layup by Antwan Jamison, and the Cavs, in desperate need for a bucket, got one from Gibson, who stroked a three to stem the Wizards’ momentum. His shot ended a nearly four minute scoring drought and settled the game down a little.
Gibson followed with another big 3-pointer in the fourth that gave the Cavs a 72-70 lead, setting up the Cavs to play from ahead throughout most of the fourth quarter.
He finished with 11 points and – almost as importantly – five assists in 28 minutes off the bench. It was easily the most comfortable he has looked in the now 11 games since his return from injury. He averaged just a shade over five points per game in his last eight contests, missing 25 of 30 3-pointers and 38 of 50 field goal attempts overall.
In short, he was playing like Sasha Pavlovic. And since we already HAVE one of those…it was time for Gibson to step up, and he did so. Playing the supporting role like he did so well in last season's playoff run, Gibson's contributions and value to this team can not be overlooked.
Obviously, LeBron was LeBron. He made the free throws to give us the lead, for good, then followed those with two drives to the hole that resulted in scores and gave the Cavs an 89-84 lead and, essentially, the ballgame.
Given all the hype that has gone into this series, I think this first game victory was critical for the Cavs. Yeah, I know, every game and every win is important in the playoffs, but this victory should provide a big morale boost for a Cavs squad that scuffled down the stretch. No, none of the new guys particularly shined, though Delonte West was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line, but it has to build confidence that the new-look team can still win in the playoffs.