some random thoughts from tonight's game....
The story of the night is Damon Jones. 24 first half points? Obviously, we can't expect him to be 7-10 from down town every night, but damn, the rest of the offense doesn't have to work as much when opposing teams actually have to guard the point guard position. Jones has played well the past couple games, and I think if he can keep it up, Brown should think of replacing Snow in the starting lineup (Snow did not look good tonight, he even missed his free throws. Badly). Jones finished with 29, two off his career high.
That being said, no matter who starts, opposing guards will still kill this team. Raymond Felton? Check. Tyronn Lue? Check. Sebastian Telfair? Check. This time it was Nate Robinson. Quick guards just abuse the Cavaliers. One reason why I'd like to see more of Brown and Gibson is for defense (I know young guys have a rough time on D, but their speed alone you'd think would help). You'd figure one of the young guys could keep up with the opposing point guards. Tonight, Robinson got to the rim seemingly at will.
Speaking of the defense. The Cavs still did a lot of switching on the high screens, which led to the Knick guards getting to the rim. I'd like to see the Cavs fight through more screens (or at least not automatically switch). The fourth quarter defense wasn't that great either; at one point the Knicks were 14-17 in the fourth. The Cavs did get some key stops down the stretch; but some poor defense and some luck (a 35 foot bomb by Crawford) let the Knicks get it closer than it should've been.
In case you were wondering, neither of the rookies played. But Gibson dressed, I believe, for the first time all year. That's a step in the right direction.
Gooden has had two off nights in a row. Drew only had 3 points tonight on 1-8 shooting. However, he did grab 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes. Gooden started this season off real strong, but has kinda seemed lost out there these past few games. My knock on him has always been his consistency, let's just hope this is a bump in the road and not a trend.
LeBron started slow, then took over. LeBron seemed almost passive for the first half, basically deferring to his teammates. I believe he had only 5 points at halftime. He finished the game with 29 points, 4 boards and 6 assists. He made some nice passes out of the post (I'd still like to see him down there even more) and was 3-4 from beyond the arc. He was fading away a lot on his jumpers tonight, I know I'm nitpicking at this point, but you'd like to see him go straight up. But hey, they kept going in, so who am I to question, right?
Larry Hughes played pretty damn well. Hughes finished with 16 points, 4 assists, 3 boards and 3 steals, including a big one down the stretch. Larry can seemingly get a 8-10 foot jumper anytime he wants. His scoring takes pressure off LBJ and lets coach Brown rest LeBron for long(ish) stretches of time without the Cavs wilting. You can really tell Larry has got his confidence out there.
Know who doesn't seem to have any confidence? Zydrunas. Z just looks lost out there in the new offense. I saw some progress tonight, he had a nifty alley-oop type play with Hughes, but besides that he was basically a non-factor.
The Cavs started the game really slow. Again. It was shades of the Celtic game out there; the Cavs jumpers were not falling at all. Most of the shots the Cavs were taking were decent, they just weren't dropping. I'm really not sure why they're been starting off so cold, but I'd like to see them come out Wednesday versus the Blazers and grab a big lead and not let up all game.
Pavs is trying to keep those minutes. Pavlovic played well for a 3rd game in a row. But, like Gooden, you want to see him sustain it for months at a time. He played terrific defense all night and Brown had him out there for crunch time the second game in a row (he didn't even do an offense/defense sub with him). Sasha scored 7 points and had a crucial dunk late in the game. His offense has been impressive, but it'll be his strong defense that'll keep him out there.
For two games in a row Brown has used the same crunch time lineup. So far I'm a fan of the James, Hughes, Pavlovic, Marshall and Varejao lineup. James, Hughes and Pavs are all big, strong and athletic defenders while Marshall and Varejao are excellent rebounders. At the offensive end, LBJ, Hughes and Pavs can all cause some matchup problems while Marshall can stretch the floor. If Sasha can keep his play up, I believe we'll be seeing much more of this group.