Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Atlanta 104, Cleveland 95 OT

God dammit. I'm not sure how many times I uttered that phrase tonight, but it was more than, 10 I can tell you that. The Cavs looked like they didn't care tonight. Again. It was frustrating to watch.

The new offense needs work. And by work I mean coach Brown saying, "hey guys, let's run the offense." The Cavs, again, shot too many jumpers. LeBron opened the game going to the post, but when the game was on the line, it was the high screens and jumpers. Here's a thought: use the plays that got you the lead. You know, those plays close to the basket.

The Z report. The good: twice he unleashed his devastating hook shot. Maybe devastating isn't the right word, but they went in. He also dove on the floor for a couple loose balls (say what you will about Z, but at least he gives a shit. This guy could've quit, like many big men do, after he got the big contract. But he still tries and sacrifices his body. Of course, that doesn't make up for the slowness). The bad: he needs to dunk the ball. Not lay it in; dunk it. There was a play in the 1st half where he got blocked from behind and then tried to tip it in something like 5 times. Needless to say it didn't work. I haven't seen the Cavs run any 'pick-and-pop' with Z this season, which is kinda odd, considering that 15 footer is like a layup for him. He hasn't looked that great this season, Windhorst says he's hasn't picked up the offense as much as some of the others have (though, by the results of the last two games, I'm not sure who has picked it up).

Championship caliber? Man, after those first two wins I began to believe that the Cavs could really win the East. I mean, they looked good. But back-to-back losses to Charlotte and Atlanta? That's no good. The Charlotte game would've been forgivable if they came out and took care of business tonight, but they didn't. This team could (some would say should) be 4-0 right now.

Where's the defense? At one point the Cavs were up 80-70. Then they were down 86-84. Well done. Joe Johnson torched the Cavs tonight (he's always hurt Cleveland, he lit up LeBron during LBJ's rookie year while on the Suns). And for some reason, Zaza Pachulia looked like an All-Star tonight (of course, by my count he got away with one 24 second violation and 3 travels).

Fox Sports Net sucks. Austin Carr: "Guys always play better after they get some stitches. It fires 'em up." Really? Stitches make you a better basketball player? You sure that's not complete bullshit? And the Fred McLeod homer-ism has to stop. Late in the game he said, during the play, that Gooden got held on a rebound. Check the replay? No one touched him. Just call the game man, don't blow smoke up our ass. He seems to think that a Cavalier got fouled or an opposing player got away with an forearm or a travel. Stop it. It's annoying.

More FSN. What the hell is with this camera work? Long stretches of games (entire possessions sometimes) were shot with some baseline cam. It's kinda neat to see that view for a few seconds, but I can't see the entire floor. I also missed some of the game due to replays. This has to end.

Stat of the game. The Hawks were 9-12 from 3 point range. The Cavs? 6-20. Ouch.

Point guards = awful. Want to know how bad it was? At one point I was wishing Tyronn Lue played for Cleveland. The Cavs point guards are almost worthless. It says a lot about Damon Jones and David Wesley that Eric Snow, a man who can't make a wide open 12 footer, starts in front of them. I thought Snow actually played well, he controlled the ball well and didn't make mistakes (or take awful shots). I can't say the same for either Jones or Wesley.

Which is why I was glad to see Shannon Brown. Brown showed flashes of goodness, but also made some rookie mistakes. He missed the only two shots he took, but he stole the ball and took it up court (using a sweet behind the back dribble), but committed a charge. He only played 5 minutes; I really don't know if he's ready (or Gibson for that matter) but the play of Jones and Wesley may be forcing coach Brown's hand.

This free throw thing is getting out of hand. The Cavs are the worst free throw shooting team in the league. At this point they are giving away games because of it. I'm not really sure what Brown can do at this point; by now it's just mental. These guys don't have poor forms (there's no Ben Wallace's out there), but this needs to improve (LeBron will really have to step it up, he was 5-11 tonight, and a big part of his game is taking it to the rim and drawing fouls, he needs to capitalize on the freebies.)

I'd never thought I'd say this but, "More Drew Gooden please!" Coach Brown is still rotating the big men like last year's squad. They way Gooden has played this season (he's shooting almost 50% from the field and 70% from the stripe as well as averaging 12 rebounds a game), he needs more playing time. In the past he'd have lapses out on the court (and he still does, just not as frequent) but this year he seems much more focused; like the thought of Varejao taking his job scares him. Gooden has been the most consistent Cavalier all season and if he keeps this up, he'll deserve more playing time.

and finally,

Big game on Thursday. Despite the past two games, I'm still relatively confident that the Cavs will play well versus Chicago in two days. At this point the Cavs seem to be playing down (or up) to their oppenents. The Bulls have a good team, so I expect the Cavs will come out energized. However, if they want to win the Central, they'll need to bury the Charlottes and Atlantas of the league; instead of playing down to these guys, they need to smash 'em.

2 comments:

Erik said...

Some food for thought:

As LeBron goes, so goes the Cavs. If he can't get up for a game, the team won't get up. And LeBron can't seem to get up for games against teams like the Bobcats and Hawks. Stay tuned for a blog post from me on that, hopefully later today.

Tyronn Lue is an uber-pest. He killed the Cavs last year, too, and they completely forgot about him. Actually, if the Cavs want to shore up the PG position without breaking the bank, they might want to look into acquiring Lue.

The Hawks might not be as bad a people think. They are starting to remind me of the Hornets last year. A team starting their upswing after bottoming out.

Don't get me wrong, the Cavs had no business losing that game, but maybe defeating the Hawks is going to take more than rolling out of bed and pulling on your uniform. Hopefully the Cavs learned that lesson.

Ben said...

I agree on the Hawks- they're on a upswing. But, despite what Austin Carr said, the Cavs gave this game away on their own. It wasn't the Hawks new-found interior defense.

LeBron needs to step it up. There. I've said it. He controls this entire team and franchise, and when he comes out lazy, the Cavs will lose.

Of course, when he comes out focused and aggressive (like the SA game) the Cavs can hang with anyone.

The whole team reminds of Bartolo Colon, back when he pitched for the Tribe. When he'd face the Royals or the Twins, he'd go 6 innings, give up 3-4 runs and strike out 3-5 guys. But when he faced the Yankees or the Red Sox, he'd be throwing 99mph all game long and go 8-9 innings.

They need to learn how to stomp on lesser opponents.