You did it, Mike Brown. It may have taken a slight injury to get you to pull the trigger, but whatever. We don’t care how you got there, we are just celebrating that you showed up at all. So welcome to the club, Mike Brown. May you keep Larry Hughes on the bench permanently.
Here are the numbers:
As you can see, the game ball goes to LeBron. He was much more aggressive on offense, establishing early on an inside presence. His one mistake was not taking Hamilton to the block when Hamilton was guarding him, which was quite often in the fourth quarter. James ended up knocking down about three huge shots with Hamilton on him, but they were low-percentage shots. I understand that James was feeling it. That said, he could have easily punished Hamilton down low.
Sasha Pavlovic finally stepped up, grabbing his first rebound of the series in addition to his first assist. He finished with five assists and a number of critical field goals. Lest it go unnoticed, Pavlovic played outstanding defense, too.
The biggest news of the night had to be Daniel Gibson. He played outstanding basketball, taking and making a couple big shots late int he game. He also came up huge defensively (the official stats as of 11pm CST do not credit Gibson with any steals, which is a mistake; his WS should be higher). His strip against Prince was about as big a defensive play as there was all game. It’s probably a poor strategy to have Gibson switch on pick and rolls — Prince has almost a foot advantage over Gibson to compliment a nice low-post game — but my guess is that Mike Brown was not planning on playing Gibson during crunch time and this will be fixed before game 4.
Speaking of which, kudos to Brown for playing Gibson and double kudos for benching Hughes. Hughes hurting his foot might be the best thing to happen to the Cavs this series. Interestingly, the TNT crew reported during the game that Hughes was able to play and that Brown elected to stick with Gibson. So triple kudos to Brown for making the smart basketball move. A lot of us had wondered if you had it in you. I guess you do.