Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus on statistics showing the Cavaliers' are really good in crunch time: "LeBron James is the league's top scorer in the last period. A quick glance at the clutch statistics at 82games.com shows the rest of the story. In those situations, defined as the last five minutes of a game with neither team ahead by more than five points, James averages an incredible 56.0 points per 48 minutes. He leads the league in +/- per 48 clutch minutes and, because of his presence, six of James' teammates also rank in the top 11 of that category. The strong finishing kick of James is likely the main reason that Cleveland was able to outperform its Pythagorean mark by more than five games, second-most in the NBA. The Cavs were 4-1 in overtime games and won 17 games when trailing after three quarters--five more than any other team. All of this is a backdrop to those numbers playing out on the court on Saturday. Washington got away from the effective double-teaming of James that they'd employed early in the game, leaving DeShawn Stevenson on a very lonely island. That wouldn't have been so bad, but Washington's help defense faltered down the stretch as well. On one crucial possession with less than 40 seconds left, James went around Stevenson and got into the lane. The Wizard defender in best position to cut off his path was Antawn Jamison. For whatever reason, Jamison was content to watch as James sank a little floater. The Cavaliers also ratcheted up their defense down the stretch as Washington missed shot after shot with the game on the line, self-professed king of closers Gilbert Arenas included. Washington actually led 84-82 with 4:38 to play but from that point, the Cavs went on an 11-0 run before a meaningless Wizards basket finished the scoring."
Big, long profile of LeBron James in the English newspaper the Guardian. Jamie Jackson quotes James on his childhood: 'I saw drugs, guns, killings, it was crazy,' he says."
Tom Knott of the Washington Times: "LeBron James should be suspended from Game 2 after being unable to control his inner bully yesterday. James deposited an elbow in the face of Andray Blatche with 11 seconds left in the first quarter. He then twice threatened to drop an elbow on Brendan Haywood, first to his groin region and then to his face, after the two became tangled near the end of the first half. Players from both teams rushed to aid James and Haywood, and not surprisingly, referees Bob Delaney, David Jones and Scott Foster decided the Wizards were the principal instigators. See how that works? James threatens Haywood's capacity to sire children, and it is considered bad form on Haywood's part to have a reaction to it."
Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal on the same play: "The Cavs and Wizards have been at each other's throats the entire half. In my opinion, LeBron has been way too involved. He needs to cool down, he is the guy who says he doesn't need trash talk but he's been more active than anyone. After getting whacked twice in a row by Andray Blatche, LeBron hit him with an elbow after a foul in a play that I think may be turned into a flagrant foul by the NBA after this game. Then at the end of the half he got a technical foul for jumping up and into Brendan Haywood after he stood over him after an offensive foul. At the end of the half, LeBron also said something to DeShawn Stevenson as he walking off the floor. I believe Antawn Jamison and Z got into it as well. My point is, I just mentioned LeBron way too many times. He is the leader, but he's got to preach control, that is the way the Cavs play."
Michael Lee of the Washington Post: "The difficulty for officials is that a light tap on the wrist or elbow won't do anything to disrupt James's path to the basket. He really is strong enough to take a shove and keep charging toward the basket. You know the old saying, no harm, no foul. Brown went on to compare James to Shaquille O'Neal in that they are both big guys who take a physical beating each game. Aside from the times Cleveland plays O'Neal, Brown said, he feels 'sorry for Shaq.' James said he is built for the physical contact, but added that 'it's a difference between a foul, a hard foul and you know LeBron James is coming to the basket and you just hammer him.' 'I think we can all notice that now,' he said."
Did you see LeBron James doing DeShawn Stevenson's "I can't feel my face" routine? That was oddly hilarious, and I'd like to see it on video again and again. Remember how their spat was likened to Jay-Z vs. Soulja Boy? Here are similar comparisons for everyone on the roster of each team. Rated "C" for crazy.
Mike Jones of The The Washington Times: "'In order for us to not only win games, but win series, 'The Big Three' has to be intact,' team captain Antawn Jamison said, referring to Gilbert Arenas, Butler and himself. "But I'm not worried about Caron. 'Tough Juice' is going to get it going. I talked to him after the game, and he was definitely disappointed. We didn't expect them to come out and double-team him like they did, so he knows he has to get a little more aggressive.'"
Mike Jones of The The Washington Times: "DeShawn Stevenson didn't put up the most solid effort in Saturday's 93-86 loss, giving up 32 points to James (20 in the second half, six in the final four minutes of the game) while scoring only three points of his own on 1-for-9 shooting. But Stevenson said yesterday he remains confident and that tonight in Game 2 he expects individual improvement, although that's not his concern. 'I'm ready for it. The playoffs are a special thing,' Stevenson said. 'Everybody's watching and the stuff that's going on with us, it's important. I'm not really worried about my shot. I know I can do that. My thing is trying to stop LeBron and making it tough for him. But I think we'll be fine.'"
Brian Windhorst of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "Wizards coach Eddie Jordan told the media after the Cavs' Game 1 victory that he wanted his team to be very physical in defending the basket, a tactic that was obvious at times when various Wizards hammered LeBron James on drives. Mike Brown seized on both and challenged officials to take notice -- not only to protect James, but also to prevent any more skirmishes. 'Washington has come out and said they're fouling (James) when he gets in the paint,' Brown said. 'So that is something you hope the officials take a look at when he drives the basketball. If that is the case, don't make it be a real hard foul and let things get out of hand. If he gets bumped, call it a foul.'"
Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "To ensure further success in their first-round playoff series against the Wizards, the Cavaliers must find a way to slow down power forward Antawn Jamison. The 6-foot-9, 235-pounder had 23 points and 19 rebounds in Game 1. He's caused many problems for Cavs power forward Ben Wallace, who doesn't like to wander out of the paint. 'I want him to make Jamison work as hard as he can,' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. 'Jamison is going to score points. We're not going to shut him down. I want (Wallace) to be physical, contest his shots and not give him any easy looks at all, especially in transition.'"
Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer: "When Anderson Varejao's late-game, decision-making skills still were being questioned after last season, he was walking the halls of the Cleveland Clinic with his father to help speed Sebastiao Varejao's recovery from heart surgery. When Varejao was being vilified as a money-hungry malcontent in his free-agency summer, he was helping nurse his mother, Nely, back from her own heart surgery back in his hometown in Brazil. And when Varejao and Cavs fans finally had put all the hard feelings behind them and he was averaging career-best statistics in every category, his left ankle gave out and forced him to miss 13 regular-season games. Still, according to the Cavaliers' energetic spark plug, this season of ups and plenty of downs -- a roller- coaster ride mirrored in Saturday's Game 1 victory over Washington -- has not been difficult. 'Different,' Varejao said. 'Just different.'"