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Cleveland Cavaliers 96, Orlando Magic 95: The Morning After

  • Brian Schmitz explains what LeBron's game-winning shot did for Cleveland:
    James' heroics completely turned the tables on the Magic and the tenor of what is sh aping into a classic series.

    His incredible 25-footer a dded to his legend, sending the Quicken Loans Arena crowd into a frenzy and allowing the favored Cavs to escape a 2-0 hole. 

The Magic, who won Game 1 107-106 on Rashard Lewis' 3-point shot with 14.7 seconds left, at least got the split they desired. The series returns to Orlando for two games, with Game 3 on Sunday.
  • Mike Bianchi surmises why Orlando needs to hold serve at home in the series against Cleveland:
    The Cavs know this is going to be a long series and now, too, so do the Magic. But Van Gundy and his team should know this: They better hold serve when they take it back home to the Am for the next two games. If they let the Cavs steal back home-court advantage — as they did with Boston — the outcome will likely be different.

    The Cavs aren't going to fade in the final two games of a series like the tired, beleaguered and injury-battered Celtics. The Cavs are the best team in the league and they have the best player in the league.

    That's why it's imperative for the Magic to take care of business at home.

    They gave LeBron a chance to beat them in Game 2.

    They certainly don't want to be back up here next week and give him that same chance in Game 7.
  • Chris Sheridan of gathers head coach Stan Van Gundy's reasoning for assigning Hedo Turkoglu on James on the final play:
    "There's a couple of things there. LeBron's a very, very smart guy, and he knows everybody can get a little overeager there. OK? And Hedo's a guy who's still got size at 6-10, and he has a lot less chance of biting on a shot-fake there with a second to go. I thought he would play the possession solidly, and he did, he played it very, very well.

    "Second-guess or not, the shot that we ended up giving, there was nobody going to get up and & you really think another guy was going to block that? I mean the shot was going to get off, so it wasn't a matter of the matchup, it was a matter of how we defended the play. So Hedo did as good a job as anybody can do, and I didn't do as good a job as any coach could do."

    ... states how the Magic felt after LeBron made the game-winning shot.

    It did not go unnoticed on the Orlando end of the court how jubilant the Cavs were with the victory, which -- in a way -- was the slightest bit of moral victories for the Magic. [...]

    "The way they were celebrating, it was good, man. They win and they celebrate, and it means we're in their heads. So it's all on us now, and how we play in front of our fans," Turkoglu said.
  • Elias Sports Bureau, Inc. shares this nugget about the series, so far:
    The Cavaliers defeated the Magic by one point on LeBron James' buzzer beater in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night, answering Orlando's one-point victory in Game One. This is the first time in NBA history that each of the first two games of a playoff series was decided by a single point.

    There have been only three other instances in NBA history in which opposing teams played consecutive games decided by a single point at any point in a playoff series. That happened in the first round in 2006 between Cleveland and Washington (Games 5 and 6), in the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Sacramento (Games 4 and 5) and in the first round in 1989 between New York and Philadelphia (Games 2 and 3) .
  • Tim Povtak of NBA Fanhouse recaps last night's proceedings.
  • Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated talks about Cleveland's win over Orlando:
    The Magic still have home-court advantage, but they have now lost four playoff games on buzzer-beating shots and none of them worse than this. Is there a feeling that a miraculous shot by LeBron James is not to be wasted, that it will be turned into something larger?
  • Bethlehem Shoals of the Sporting Blog gives his thoughts of Game 2:
    One second. Up until that one second, the Magic appeared to have pulled off one of the all-time comebacks in playoff history, and Orlando looked like they just might have a shot at the title.

    I don't know off the top of my head how many times a game has turned around in the final second. Probably not that often. And after a 23-point comeback? Would that have turned the Magic from underdogs into odds-on favorites? Sure, the two Magic wins would have followed the same strange template, but pulling it off twice in a row shows grace under pressure, not luck. What's more, Rashard Lewis is finally earning that money, Turkoglu is the offensive heart of the team, it no longer seems a mistake that Dwight Howard is sometimes marginalized, Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus are providing even more depth, and -- not to keep rubbing it in -- imagine how good this team would be with Jameer Nelson.

    The Magic have been better in this series than they've been at any time during the season (or playoffs, of course). That Turkoglu shot, a mirror image of Lewis's heroics from Game 1, looked like it had capped off, or kicked off, a new glory era for the Magic. No matter how unlikely it all seemed, it would be damn hard to argue with after this. I know that athletes can taste victory, but for once, I understood why that language exists.

    But the Magic don't have LeBron James.
  • David Steele notes that Turk was clutch, even if it was just for a second:
    Hedo Turkoglu’s off balance 16 footer that put the Magic up 95-93 with :01 was an incredible shot too. Turk, who won game 4 of the Philadelphia series with a game winning three at the buzzer, appeared to have done it again, only to be outdone by King James. By the way, Turkoglu’s defense on the last play was text book. He denied the lob pass, and forced the play away from the basket. Sometimes great players just make great plays. If the Magic are in the same position again in this series, hopefully they’ll put more pressure on the inbounds passer.
  • UPDATE: Dwight Howard, on his official blog, posts his thoughts about yesterday's game:
    What’s up with us losing all of these buzzer-beaters??? I mean, dang, Philly got us twice in the first round, Big Baby hit that crazy jumper from the wing against Boston and now this from LeBron??? I guess when you think about it, we won a couple of games at the end with Turk in Philly and Rashard here in Game 1. I thought Turk had done it for us again, running the clock down to one and hitting hit shot, but that was a tough way to lose. [...]

    Now, we gotta take care of business back in Orlando. Everybody thought I was going to be all frustrated about not getting many shots Friday night, but I’m more upset about how bad we’re starting games. We’re giving up threes and dunks and we’re not running on offense. That just can’t keep happening, especially when we get home.

    My man, Bron Bron, hurt us with that shot, but ya’ll know we’ll be back from that. We always bounce back whether it’s in the middle of games or after tough losses.

    We’ll be at home now, and we’ll be there to win these next two games. We still think we have the talent and the team to win this series, and one loss – make that one shot – hasn’t changed our minds about that.
  • UPDATE 2: M. Haubs of The Painted Area wonders where Rashard Lewis was on the final play of the game: 
    Stan had 6-10 Rashard playing rather passively off the ball for some reason.

    That's OK if there are six or seven seconds left, when he could go help, but with just :01 on the clock, it seemed like there were two and only two options for deploying Lewis: 1) Right up in Mo's face, waving his arms a la Odom v AC to close off the passing lanes, or 2) Doubling LeBron, to at least force him much further away from the basket, at a more difficult angle.

    We have no idea why Rashard was in no man's land, and thought it was a pretty huge blunder on an otherwise brilliant night by Stan, a night when he proved why he easily should have won the Coach of the Year award, no matter what happened in the final second (and they even defended that shot pretty well, no matter where Rashard was or what Reggie Miller thinks).
  • UDPATE 5: Coach Bruchu of X's & O's Basketball agrees that Lewis was in no-man's land. 
  • UPDATE 3: Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm offers a flurry of thoughts concerning last night's matchup between the Magic and the Cavaliers:
    Great win for the Cavs, but just another confidence builder for the Magic. They could have collapsed after the horrendous start. But they scrapped and clawed and gnawed their way back into it. Sometimes James is just going to hit that shot. Sometimes he won’t. The Magic put themselves in a great position to win and the MVP made an incredible shot that only a handful of players in the league can make and head home with one point standing in their way of a road sweep. [...]

    Windhorst points out that the Cavs’ best chance is to play the percentages and hope for a Magic cold streak. And that’s really it. If the Magic shoot considerably above their season average, they’ll win easily. If they shoot well below it, they’ll lose easily, and if they shoot around their season average, you have the last two games. That’s got to be terrifying for Cleveland. They still haven’t faced Orlando’s best game yet. That was the team that obliterated them in early April. [...]

    This series likely comes down to the same quandry we’ve long had. Is one, unstoppable, incredible, amazing player greater than a team loaded with weaponry? We know who the league wants to come out of this matchup. No one wants Orlando advancing. It’s bad for ratings, bad for publicity, and leads to the idea that players like Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis and good coaching is better than OMG LEBRON IZ TEH AWESOMEZ. Which is, honestly, probably bad for the health of the league.

    But damn, these Magic just won’t die. James kicked them off last night. But I’ve got a feeling they’re still coming.
  • UPDATE 4: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus chimes in with his recap.
  • For a Cavs perspective on Game 2, check out Cavs: The BlogFear The Sword, and WaitingForNextYear

Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.