Magic advance to Finals

Orlando rode a strong first half performance to an 18-point halftime lead, and held off the Cavs’ late charge to win Game 6 (103-90) and clinch a date with the Lakers in the Finals.

Dwight Howard had arguably his best game of the series, posting 40 points (14-21 from the field, 12-16 from the free throw line), 14 rebounds and four assists. The Magic overcame substandard shooting from Hedo Turkoglu (3-12, 10 points) with fine play from Rashard Lewis (6-13, 18 points) and Mickael Pietrus (5-10, 14 points).

For the Cavs, Game 6 was more about their failure to have an answer for Howard than it was about getting poor play from LeBron’s sidekicks. Delonte West (9-19, 22 points) and Mo Williams (6-12, 17 points) both played pretty well and shot a combined 5 of 7 from long range. Anderson Varejao (7-12, 14 points) also had a solid game. However, the rest of the Cavs shot a combined 5 for 17 (29%) for 12 points.

James had 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and shot just 40% from the field. Most players would be reasonably happy with a night like that, but the Cavs needed more from LeBron in an elimination game on the road. Still, he averaged 41.2 points (on 50% shooting), 8.6 rebounds and 8.2 assists in the series, so it’s hard to fault his play.

Looking ahead, the Lakers match up pretty well with the Magic in that they have a couple of big men in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol that will try to slow down Howard. Bynum in particular needs to play well and it’s not clear that his stamina is strong enough to play a ton of minutes. Gasol isn’t strong enough to handle Howard one-on-one, so when Bynum is on the bench, the Lakers will probably have to throw some double-teams at Orlando’s big man. Meanwhile, Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus will be asked to watch Kobe. If they can slow him down and the Magic continue to hit their threes, they’ll have a good shot to upset the Lakers.

Check back later in the day for a complete breakdown of the challenges that the Cavs face over the next year or so as they try to pick up the pieces and re-sign LeBron.

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Cavs acquire Mo Williams via trade

The Cleveland Cavaliers may have found LeBron’s sidekick… Mo Williams.

Mo Williams, the high-scoring point guard from Milwaukee, will go to Cleveland in the deal, which should be announced later Wednesday.

The 6-foot-1 Williams averaged 17.2 points and a team-high 6.3 assists for the Bucks last season.

Cleveland will send shooting guard Damon Jones to Milwaukee and forward Joe Smith to Oklahoma City.

Milwaukee also will get point guard Luke Ridnour and forward Adrian Griffin from Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City, formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics, also gets Desmond Mason, the athletic small forward, from the Bucks.

I know there are many Bucks fans celebrating this move. A lot of people don’t like Mo’s game since he’s not a pass-first point guard. But he was 16th in the league in assists (6.3), and he’s a terrific scorer (17.2 ppg) and a pretty good rebounder (3.5 rpg) for a point guard. He’s sort of a poor man’s Gilbert Arenas. He’s not a terribly good defender, but since leaving the Jazz a few years ago, he hasn’t been around a defensive-minded coach. If Mike Brown can get some defense out of him, he could turn Williams into an All-Star caliber player. I love this trade for the Cavs.

And, as a Bucks fan, I hate this trade for Milwaukee. Luke Ridnour? Really? That’s the best you can do for a guy who averaged 17 points and six assists last season? Bucks GM John Hammond made some nice moves this offseason, but I don’t like this trade one bit.

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