Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cleveland 102, New York 96

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.

and finally,

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.


Erik said...

Here's something I've really started wondering about recently:

Might Z be headed to the bench in favor of a Gooden/Varejao starting tandem at some point this season?

Z looks really out of sync out there, and I don't think Mike Brown has a lot of interest in making plays for Z a priority, certainly not at the expense of looks for LeBron and Hughes. Now that Gooden and Pavlovic appear to be making themselves worthy of looks, Z is really getting shoved to the back burner.

I don't think the Cavs will trade Z; his contract is too big and I think they believe he can still help them. But I could see them asking him to come off the bench.

Z wouldn't be happy, but I think he'd do it. Much like Scot Pollard, Z is on the back nine of his career and would probably rather come off the bench for a winner than start for a loser.

Since Z has been in Cleveland his whole career and has made a home here, I think he'd be willing to put his own ego on the shelf, to an extent, to win a championship here. He's on the record saying he wants to win here.

It might not be a matter of getting rid of Z, as so many fans want. It might be a matter of redifining his role on the team.

Ben said...

I've been wondering that myself.

If Z is headed for a reduced role, then the Cavs really are wasting a lot of money. Smarter people than myself have said that the Cavs don't use Z correctly. If they aren't going to get him the ball in his comfort zones, they might as well trade him. Hell, teams still give Shawn Kemp workouts.

And I wouldn't bet against a trade, there's always someone who might pay for a skilled big man.

Last season Ferry said he got the most calls about Andy, but close second was Zydrunas. I think it'd be easier trading Z than it would be trading Eric Snow.

What I've seen Brown doing lately is rest LeBron to start the second and have Hughes and Z out there being the primary scoring options. I like this. They still got two big time scorers out there and opposing teams still have to play defense.

But I really don't think you'll see a move, because the Cavs really don't know if Anderson Varejao can play starters minutes without fouling out. I wouldn't bet against Z rebounding after the slow start; as the season goes on, he'll get more and more comfortable in the offense and learn when it's his time to shoot.

Benjamin Warburton said...

The new offense really seems to be a work in progress. I really like 1-4 motion but it seems like Z and Drew are still adjusting. I definitely dont think its a matter of not having their heads in the game, but differentiating where they play now as opposed to last year. I noticed last night and the night before is that when Drew has a good game its because we are out of the 1-4 and let him play the low post. His bad games have occured when hes in the high post or on the low wing of the block. Hes not effective there especially if his mid-range J is off. Hes not going to beat someone off the dribble which renders him useless when on the baseline 15 feet from the hoop. Also, did we not run an outside triangle quite effectively against SA? Looking back at the game I swear we were running it with Bron, Drew, and Larry. Can anyone recall or am I just mistaking it with a weird outside screen and pop where the ball handler dished and went down the baseline.

Benjamin Warburton said...

EDIT TO THE ABOVE COMMENT: I did some research and found that what I described was a set play out of an outside triangle called a post split. PG or 2 guard in the corner. 3 gets the ball on the wing, dishes to 4 or 5 who then waits for the PG to cut in front and the 3 guard goes baseline. Basketball is fucking great and I miss playing in Columbus. I still remember that great screen you set against Rob when I cut baseline and repoped to the corner and you read what i did and immediately reset a screen for me to get the shot. Damn I miss that shit. MOM...HOOPS....FOCK!!!

Ben said...

When Gooden gets regular touches, he stays in the whole game. But if he has a slow 1st quarter, you'll rarely see him have a strong overall game.

Ben, I assume you'll be in Columbus this weekend, I think we should try to get a basketball game going on Friday night at the RPAC or something. Now that the shoulder is healed up I can play again.

POJO_Risin said...

It's interesting watching this team play.

I have to say that I'm humbled a bit by the Damon Jones performance. I will take sporadic greatness from him...as it will only help.

As for Lebron, I agree...he was extremely passive early on, and some of the team seemed to follow that. But man, he's been taking games over. I'm not sure how I feel about him becoming the distributer, but they win, and it gives guys like Jones an opportunity to, well, not suck.

Z. What a contract to be coming off the bench. I agree...that he would do it, not like it much, but like winning a title. But all that money on the bench. He matches up well with certain centers in the league, in particular, Shaq, but I don't know how big a factor that should be. Teams will want him, it's just a question of who we get in return, and if he remains in this funk.

Either way, should be fun.

Check out The POJO Dojo y'all, if you get a chance...