When two other players for the Cavs are connecting, forget it – this team can be something special.
Just ask the Wizards after Game 6, who watched Wally Szczerbiak and Boobie Gibson combine for 48 points and 10 3-pointers to spur the Cavs to a blowout win.
Throw in a 27-13-13 from the King, and the Cavs were never even threatened in the second half.
The most startling difference, obviously, was in the play of Wally from Game 5 to Game 6. Let’s be honest, he was absolutely horrendous in Game 5. I mean, I can’t ever recall watching a performance from a professional athlete, particularly in a playoff game, that was as pitiful as Wally’s. Reggie Miller said he looked “three steps slow” on the court, and I couldn’t agree more.
Tonight, he looked more comfortable, more in rhythm. I didn’t think it was possible for a Cavs player to launch 13 3-pointers in a game, but Szczerbiak proved me wrong and provided exactly the type of performance Cavs fans expected – and waited for – when the trade was made.
Couple that with Boobie's great shooting - does he live for Game 6's or what? - and that equates to some great firepower on the offensive end.
Yes, this is the offense that we’ve longed and craved for in the five year LeBron James era. High scoring, lots of assists (29), just six turnovers, open shots, ball rotation – splendid to watch. Couple that with another solid defensive performance, and that equals a great game.
Obviously the key to the defense was slowing Caron Butler. He scored 18 points, but most came in the fourth with the game out of reach. The Cavs attacked him defensively with double teams, forcing him to give up the ball, and neither he nor the rest of the Wizards responded.
And, on paper, Antawn Jamison had a monster game – 23 points and 15 rebounds – but he had zero impact on the course of the game. He can’t carry a team – never has and never will. Butler has that ability, and when he wasn’t playing well, neither was the team.
Now, a few more words on LeBron…It is something special to watch him on a nightly basis. He put up 27-13-13 – 27-13-13!!! – and did it effortlessly. My gosh, he had the triple-double with about four minutes still left in the third quarter! Who does that in the NBA these days?
This is a player who just went for 34-10-7 in the Game 5 loss, and I was disappointed with his performance and effort. My roommate Sean made a similar comment to me when we were watching this game earlier tonight, that he wasn’t really impressed with LeBron’s play the other night.
Yes, that is how high the bar has been set. And tonight goes to show what LeBron is capable of doing if he gets consistent production out of his teammates over the course of a full season. I never watched Oscar Robertson play, but look at his numbers and I’m confident LeBron can duplicate those, if not exceed (particularly the points scored).
Finally, and I know this is incredibly early but still warrants mention…I get asked all the time, “Scott, which of the Cleveland teams do you want to see break the curse? If you could pick the Browns, Cavs or Indians, who would it be?”
My answer has always been the same – I could care less who does it, just as long as it happens sometime before I turn 50. But with what’s happened the past two seasons with the Cavs, if you stuck a gun to my head, I would say them.
The reason why I bring this up is because I chatted briefly with my friend Brian after the win tonight. Brian loves the Indians more than life itself and knows more about them than any person should reasonably know about any one thing. But this is the message I got from him following the game:“[LeBron James] always gives you hope…I find myself with more interest proportionally in the [Cavs] versus the [Indians] this year then I have in my entire life.”
I agree. LeBron James is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. I don’t think Cleveland has seen an athlete like this since Jim Brown, and that was 40 years ago. For whatever reason, it would be more special, more fitting, for LeBron to win the championship for himself, his team...his city.
So that’s that. The Cavs will wait for the winner of this Hawks-Celtics series - my buddy Stu is already predicting a 54-point win for Boston in Game 7 - and I’ll have more on that later. Time to enjoy the win.