Following Cleveland’s Game 1 victory over the Washington Wizards, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was asked why his team didn’t consistently double-team Antawn Jamison — the Wizards’ only proven scoring threat.
The Cavaliers, who lead the series 2-0, doubled Jamison some in the fourth quarter of Game 1. But Wednesday in Game 2, which Cleveland won 109-102, Brown refrained from doubling Jamison.
Brown’s philosophy on handling Jamison is to make the not-so-solid defender work hard at the defensive end in hopes of tiring him for the offensive end.
“We talked about going at Antawn and forcing him to play more defense,” Cleveland’s Drew Gooden said Wednesday. “They are going to him so much. So we have to make him work hard on the defensive end and break him down.
That was the case in the second quarter of Game 2. With LeBron James looking as though he’s still not totally confident on his sprained left ankle, the Cavaliers funneled their offense through the 6-foot-10 Gooden — who was guarded almost exclusively by Jamison — in the last six minutes of the first half.
Gooden scored 19 of his career playoff-high 24 points in the first half, and the Cavaliers won going away. The Wizards rallied in the fourth quarter with 39 points, but that was after they trailed by double digits for most of the second half.
Without injured All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, Jamison’s workload has increased dramatically.
In two games, Jamison has averaged almost 43 minutes a night. Despite battling bigger men like Gooden and his Cleveland teammates Zydrunas Ilgauskas (7-3) and Anderson Varejao (6-11), the 6-9 Jamison has still managed 12 rebounds a contest.
At the same time, Jamison went into last night’s games tied with Chicago’s Luol Deng as the leading scorer in the playoffs (29.5).
Jamison welcomes the challenge. However, he also knows that the scheme is designed to wear him down and force the Wizards to look somewhere else for offense.
“That doesn’t bother me; I don’t feel like it’s putting any pressure on me,” Jamison said. “Drew did a good job doing what he does. He was making hustle plays and I think I let him get into a little bit of a comfort zone.
“I also know that this is fun for him,” Jamison said. “What player wouldn’t want the opportunity to go back at a guy who is going hard at him? I got a chance to watch game film today and I saw what he was doing.”
When the series began, the Wizards talked about having to play near perfect games if they were going to have much of a chance at winning the series.
The Wizards made 45 percent of their field goal attempts during the regular season. But they are struggling to make shots in the series, something that is especially true of their starters.
Through two games Jarvis Hayes — tagged as the second-best available scorer following the losses of Arenas and Butler to injuries — is averaging 11.5 points, up from the 7.2 he scored in the regular season, but he’s shooting just 28.6 percent from the floor. And DeShawn Stevenson, also expected to add some offensive punch, is making just 25 percent of his shot and averaging just 8.5 points.