Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Z is Playing Out of His Mind

Remember last season's playoff run, when we all wanted to throttle Zydrunas Ilgauskus? Z was missing in action at critical points during the Cavs first round series against the Wizards in 2006. Things didn't improve much during the second round, where Z was consistently inconsistent. He blocked six shots in Cleveland's game five victory against Detroit, but was underwhelming on both ends of the court in several other games, including game seven, where he contributed a whopping eight points and three rebounds.

What a difference a year makes. Ilgauskas started off the Wizards series strong and got better in each game. Z's best offensive performance in last year's series came in game four, when he scored 15 points. His lowest output against the Wizards this time around topped that mark. It's the same story when it comes to rebounding. Z had eight rebounds only once against the Wizards in last year's series. This time around, he never grabbed fewer than 8 rebounds, and capped the series off with last night's spectacular 19 rebound performance.

Of course, Z's not the only Cav who has stepped up during this series. Everybody saw the Drew Gooden show in game two, and Larry Hughes got the Cavs rolling with his 27 point performance in game one. Still, I don't think that there's anything as encouraging in the playoffs as watching your big man get on a roll, and any way you look at it, Zydrunas is on a roll.

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