Rising Moon: Journeyman Forward Helps Save Cavs in Game Two

Dan DelagrangeCorrespondent IApril 21, 2010

CLEVELAND - APRIL 19:  Jamario Moon #15 of the Cleveland Cavaliers is congratulated after a fourth quarter three pointer by LeBron James #23 and J.J. Hickson #21 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 19, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 112-102 to take a 2-0 series lead.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

All season long, it's been said by many a basketball analyst that the Cleveland Cavaliers have the deepest and most versatile bench in the NBA.

During the Cavs' 112-102 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game Two of their opening playoff series, this depth and versatility were put on display and concentrated in a key Cleveland reserve that—along with LeBron James' absurd 40-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist night—pushed the East's No. 1 seed to a 2-0 series lead.

That reserve? Forward Jamario Moon, a former Harlem Globetrotter who hasn't spent more than one full season with the same NBA squad since his rookie 2007-'08 campaign.

In 20 crucial minutes off head coach Mike Brown's bench, Moon blew up for a 4-for-5 shooting clip from three-point country while snagging three rebounds and registering an admirable defensive performance that included a highlight reel block of the hatred lightning rod that is Joakim Noah.

The Cavaliers' July '09 acquisition of Moon was done (for the most part) to remedy the team's fatal flaw that was exposed by the Orlando Magic in last year's Eastern Conference Finals: lack of perimeter length and size.

Moon's signing was a relatively small move in the Cavs' '09 offseason, but he and fellow new Cavalier Anthony Parker have delivered on providing Cleveland a better outside defensive presence, using their length to bother some of the league's taller sharpshooters.

While Moon's game is predicated on high-flying, athletic alley-oops and dunks (he was a Harlem Globetrotter, after all) that only happened once every few games during the regular season, the lanky forward canned pivotal three after pivotal three to assist James in lulling the scrappy Bulls to a loss. Moon was an incredibly streaky three-point shooter during the regular season, shooting 32 percent from behind the line.

Since Moon was one of four players to receive significant time off the pine, the ever-improving fan-favorite J.J. Hickson was relegated to less than a minute of floor time. While Hickson should see more minutes as the Cavaliers face different playoff opponents with bigger frontlines than that of Chicago, Moon's future postseason involvement with the team might not be so matchup-based. Moon gives the Cavs a constant super-athletic threat that can also defend stretch forwards and long shooters more effectively than Hickson can.

Moon's explosion Tuesday night showed that on any night, any Cavaliers personnel combination can torch the opposition (on a side note, this quality becomes especially important on nights when Mo Williams, one of the team's biggest offensive threats, follows a career playoff performance in Game One with a mildly disappointing outing in Game Two—this up-and-down play killed the Cavs in last year's playoffs).

Finding the right mixture from his incredibly skilled, deep bench will be a wonderful problem for Brown to deal with as the postseason continues.