- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006

CLEVELAND — Following their film session yesterday, the Cleveland Cavaliers filed out of their locker room in Quicken Loans Arena. No doubt happy about their 97-86 victory Saturday over the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of their best-of-seven playoff series, it’s clear they are not satisfied. They also do not appear to think the Wizards will just roll over and let the LeBron James coronation continue.

“Whether you win by 30 or lose by two you just have to move on,” said Cleveland’s Larry Hughes, who reached the playoffs with the Wizards last season. “What we did in Game 1 really doesn’t mean anything if we come out and don’t take care of what we are supposed to take care of in Game 2. That’s pretty much the nature of it.”

The Cavaliers, in the playoffs for the first time since 1998, spent yesterday sounding like a team that knows one victory does not win a playoff series. It isn’t hard to see why.

In Eric Snow, they have point guard who has played in 72 playoff games — more than any other player in this series — who reminds his team this is a marathon, not sprint. In Hughes they have a veteran who was on the other side last season, falling down 2-0 with the Wizards only to rally to win the next four and advance to the second round.

Forward Donyell Marshall, who lived in Chicago last summer, attended those early games at United Center. He suspects the Wizards will shake off their ineffective performance and come back much sharper tomorrow.

“We can’t get too excited because they’ve been there,” said Marshall, a teammate of Wizards forward Antawn Jamison in Golden State. “They know how to play. They’re going to go home and watch tape and watch what they did right and watch what they did wrong, change their plan and come out and try to correct it. That’s what the playoffs are about — which team makes the most adjustments and which team makes them the quickest.”

For the Wizards, there are plenty of things that must be corrected. For starters, they can’t get another combined 15-for-47 shooting performance from Jamison, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.

The league’s highest scoring trio (67.4 points) during the regular season, they combined to score just 48 points on 31.9-percent shooting on Saturday.

With the Wizards missing shots — they made just 40.8 percent of their field goals — the Cavaliers were able to control the tempo of the game. And when those shots weren’t falling, more often than not the Cavaliers gathered in the misses, recording a 52-36 rebounding advantage, including a 20-9 edge in offensive rebounds.

The Wizards also must figure out how to stop James, the 21-year-old prodigy. James overcame an air ball at game’s start to become the second-youngest player to post a triple-double (32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists) in the playoffs and the first since Magic Johnson — who was the youngest — to do so in his playoff debut.

James, though, sounded like a veteran yesterday. While there is no question he is the most talented player on his team, he indicated his teammates with playoff experience have his undivided attention.

“E-Snow, Larry, they’re all saying that you can’t hold on to Game 1 — you’ve just got to let it go and move on,” James said. “Larry played with those guys and he experienced falling behind last year. Coach [Mike] Brown has said the same thing. So I don’t think anyone is going to be overconfident on our team.”

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