Cavaliers' Offense Blows Up on Dallas
The key for Cleveland (as it is for most teams in the league) is sharing the basketball, and having the patience in the half-court sets to keep the ball moving until you can get an open look. The Cavs did this brilliantly on Saturday, getting assists on 23 of their 26 first half baskets, and never more perfectly than on the following possession that took place late in the second quarter.
That was as close to a perfect possession as you'll ever see -- nine passes, resulting in an open three that Mo Williams calmly knocked down as the shot clock neared expiration.
Williams finished the game a perfect 7-for-7 from beyond the arc, a Cavaliers' record for a single player's three-point shooting without a miss. But he wasn't the only one with a monster game.
The bench came up huge for Cleveland, as Delonte West had 10 points and 10 assists, and Jamario Moon had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Anderson Varejao decided to actually play basketball instead of simply trying to draw fouls by flopping, and singlehandedly dominated the third quarter. He had 8 points and four rebounds in the period, but believe me -- it seemed more like 14 rebounds, as he was consistently beating the Mavericks' players to the ball, and was a factor on seemingly every possession. Varejao finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, while making every one of his seven field goal attempts.
Shaquille O'Neal wasn't much of a factor statistically, but he still did some damage early in the fourth quarter. Despite the Cavs' offensive dominance, Dallas was hanging around, and trailed by just eight after three. In less than a minute of game time early in the fourth, the Cavs kept going to O'Neal in the low post, and he was able to draw three fouls on the defense in that very short amount of time. While this isn't exactly the way we've seen Shaq take over games in the past, his ability to draw fouls -- or even double teams -- down low could be a major factor in late-game situations.
Simply put, this was a great team performance from the Cavaliers. You've probably noticed that I haven't even mentioned LeBron James, and that's because he really wasn't the story, despite his 25 points and 12 assists. His outside shot was off (he put up at least two airballs), and he really didn't take over on either end of the floor.
This was, of course, only one game, and it came against an undersized Mavericks' squad that didn't require a post presence to beat them. (In fact, in an unfortunate twist, Zydrunas Ilgauskus received a DNP-CD for what might have been the first time in his 11-year career, and on the night he was scheduled to break the team record for most games played, too.) But at least for one night, the Cavs showed that when they share the ball and it's not just the LeBron show on offense, the team has the weapons to be very, very good, and perhaps, even the best.