The first quarter of yesterday's Cavs-Nets game was Mike Brown basketball at its best. LeBron and company (particularly Drew Gooden) were agressive on offense. The Cavs moved the ball and made shots. On defense, they maintained assignments and helped where it was needed. By contrast, the third quarter was Mike Brown basketball at its worst. One pass jump shots on offense, late help and allowing open looks on defense.
When Damon Jones entered the game, the bar I was at erupted with one of the loudest cheers of the season. Finally getting past his stubborness or simply out of options or faith in what he had-- Brown went with a line-up of LeBron, Anderson, Boobie, Donyell and Damon. A line-up that I and many others have been waiting for him to try against the Nets. It is the team's best player, an agressive rebounder and three outside shooters. And in doing so, the Cavs won the game and Donyell Marshall erased the last few inconsistent seasons. Forever now, his name will bring memories of six three-pointers that got the Cavs to the conference finals. Maybe it took Mike Brown too long to get there but he made the switch and it won the game.
Larry Hughes is Larry Hughes and his game can't change. It is up to the coach to decide when to pull the plug in a game. It reminds me of Paul Shuey. Usually after four pitches, you could tell if the Good Shuey or the Bad Shuey was on the mound. And God Bless Eric Snow. Most of the time, no one plays harder. He will defend anyone. He makes the small plays that helps his teammates. He cuts and he knows how to attack. But the man can't shoot. And in a game like last night, the team needed shooters. And while Damon Jones only took one shot that he missed-- having three shooters on the floor with LeBron makes everyone more dangerous. Plus I just love having DJ's emotion on the floor. Not in extended minutes but enough for it to rub off. The man is clutch or at least he believes he is and that is good enough sometimes.
What was strange for me was when the Cavs were up 20, I had a bad feeling. It was hoping it was just being conditioned to being wary of good things. Yet, when the lead was one in the third and LeBron was on the bench with four fouls- I was calm. I believed that things were going to be all right. All players feed off different emotions. For instance, Drew Gooden is at his best when he is happy and having fun. An angry LeBron is usually the best LeBron. He watched from the sidelines exactly what we watched from home. Give me a motivated LeBron and one-point fourth quarter lead any time.
The game in way symbolized the season and life as a Cleveland sports fan. And this time, it turned out all right. We can worry about the Pistons later. Let's just enjoy this win and the fact we get to keep playing.