Great performance by the Cavs tonight, and I have to give a great deal of the credit to Mike Brown. Yes, I called him out for a poor coaching performance last Wednesday, but give the man credit, he came up with a good game plan. The key was that he actually focused on both sides of the floor -- trademark Mike Brown defense coupled with a solid offensive gameplan. If he did that more often, I will say right now that there's no question he should remain head coach. So we'll see. I was excited by what I saw, but it's one game -- if the Cavs keep it up, then I'll be the first to say I was wrong about Mike.
Second, hopefully Wally can keep this up. This reminded me a lot of Donyell's performance in Game 6 against the Nets last year, and we all know how that turned out. But Wally looked like he was finally getting in a groove, so we'll see -- if he can shoot like this, and Boobie keeps it up, the Cavs are going to be a tough out for anyone.
Finally, I think the verdict is in -- the trade was a solid one. Joe Smith provided veteran smarts, length, and some offensive energy, even without his trademark midrange J (wait for that to start falling). Ben Wallace played solid D and changed shots, and I'll look for him to have even more of an impact against KG (if that's who we end up facing). Wally will be streaky, but when he's on, he's a much more reliable kickout option than Larry (not that that is saying much). And Delonte has quietly put up good numbers since the trade, even if he does get shot happy. Especially in a defensive system like Mike Brown's, that rewards smart defense and directing your man to positions rather than overplaying for steals, subbing in these guys for Larry and Drew was big.
So who's next? Cavs-Celts would be epic, and you have to figure that's going to be the matchup, though it has been so much fun to watch the Hawks. Who would have thought we'd get through before them?
None of us, apparently. Which brings me to the leaderboard after the first round (I say after because we all picked a Boston sweep, so we are all getting one point or none in the next round):
Andrew: 1 (LAL) + 1.5 (ORL) + 1 (SA) + 1 (NO) + 1 (DET) + 1(UT) = 6.5 pts
Rakesh: 1 (LAL) + 1 (ORL) + 1 (DET) + 1.5 (UT) + 1 (CLE) = 5.5 pts
Justin: 1 (LAL) + 1 (ORL) + 1 (DET) + 1.5 (UT) + 1(CLE) = 5.5 pts
Jordan: 1 (LAL) + 1 (ORL) + 1 (DET) + 1(UT) = 4 pts
To refresh your memory of the second round picks:
Andrew: LAL over UT (7), SAS over NO (6), BOS over WAS (6), DET over ORL (6)
Rakesh: LAL over UT (7), PHX over DAL (6), CLE over BOS (6), DET over ORL (6)
Justin: LAL over UT (7), PHX over DAL (6), BOS over CLE (5), DET over ORL (6)
Jordan: LAL over UT (7), PHX over DAL (6), BOS over WAS (5), DET over ORL (6)
So, here's how it stands -- everyone except for Andrew is rooting for the Hornets, because that will erase our catastrophic PHX/DAL picks. Rakesh (as usual) is the only one rooting for the Cavs, since that would give him a coveted two points over the rest of the field. As for the other series, nobody stands to gain or lose from the Lakers or the Pistons, since everyone made the same picks. So SAS/NO and BOS/CLE are the series to watch.
Of course, if Atlanta were to win, Rakesh would be in good position, as the only person to not have Boston in the Eastern finals. But, if Orlando takes care of business against Detroit, his Eastern pick will also be dead, meaning that it'll come down to Finals picks more than anything. Everyone's still in it, folks!
UPDATE: Looks like everyone (save Andrew) correctly picked the MVP, not that there was any score attached to that. Congrats, Kobe. You earned it.