The Cleveland Cavaliers earned the first victory in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New Jersey Nets. LeBron James had a stuffy nose and was slowed down a bit but with 21 he was still the top point maker for Cleveland. For the Nets, Vince Carter led the way with 21 points. But Jason Kidd was only good for seven.
The Cavs won 81- 77 due to a few things. First, they were more accurate from the field, hitting 35 of 87 (.402) to the Nets 29- 78 (.372). Despite being out-gunned at the foul line with the Nets putting in 14 of 16 (.875) and the Cavs only 6 of 11 (.545), Cleveland managed to out rebound their competitors 51 to 37, including grabbing 20 offensive rebbies to Jerseyâ€™s nine. With just about everything else being equal, the boards proved to be a major factor.
Two other important stats were steals and blocks. The Cavs had eight steals to the Nets six, with Cleveland guard Larry Hughes grabbing four. Cleveland also led in blocks, nine to five. Again, unlike the Nets, the Cavaliers had one player who was major in this areaâ€”center Sasha Pavlovic, who knocked away three attempts.
With a few more offensive grabs and perhaps one or two guys really stepping up on defense, the tally could have been different. The Nets not only have to figure out how to create more scoring opportunities, they have to stop the Cavs creating so many.