Friday, November 10, 2006

Cleveland 113, Chicago 94

Some random thoughts from tonight's game:

Is there a better basketball analyst than Steve Kerr? I love that guy. When asked about the 'LeBron walking off the court' incident he sarcastically said he should be kicked out of the league and heavily fined. He also said that this kind of stuff happens all the time and people should get over it.

And seriously, let's calm down about the whole incident. TNT was showing the last seconds of the Hawks game like it was the freaking Zapruder Film. It wasn't a big deal. Should he have done it? No. But come on people, was there nothing else to talk about this week? (quite frankly, I'm shocked no one has gotten a 'LeBron walking out of Cleveland' column out of this. Or at least a 'LeBron is unhappy with the Cavs/fans booing' so he's leaving once his new contract is done'. Where's the Daily Quickie when you need it?)'s headline: LeBron on court long enough to lead Cavs' rout of Bulls. HAR! Honestly, that's a cheap (bad) joke and just plain lazy (says the man who gives the score for his title).

This is what was so maddening about those two losses. The Cavs beat Washington, beat the Spurs in San Antonio and now have killed the Bulls at home. Those are 3 good wins versus quality playoff teams. The Cavs should be 5-0 right now and would be if they'd A) given a shit the last two games B) made their free throws.

The Bulls did not impress me. Of course, when you lose by 18, who are you going to impress? I've thought the whole offseason that people put way to much stock in the Ben Wallace signing, neglecting to notice that the Bulls didn't do anything to help out their weaknesses (like, you know, scoring the basketball). The Cavs got almost whatever they wanted on offense and shut the Bulls down on defense.

The offense gets a pass. For tonight anyway. The Cavs attacked all night long; they stayed aggressive. Of course, it doesn't hurt that all you're jumpers were going in.

But don't get too high on the Cavs after this. Yes, the Cavs played up to their opponent. Again. But Cleveland also played it's best game of the season offensively; they basically played the perfect game. Everything was falling for them. The Cavs shot .570 from the floor, .571 from three point range and surprisingly didn't shoot .570 from the foul line (15-18). Those are phenomenal numbers.

But let's break those numbers down by player. Gooden was 10-13, Pavlovic was 6-9, Varejao was 6-7, Jones was 3-4 and Marshall was 5-7. That's ridiculous. I can't imagine the Cavs having another shooting night like that again. And it's not like those shots were layups either. Gooden made a lot of jumpers, Pavlovic, Marshall and Jones were a combined 6-8 from behind the arc and even Andy made a couple jumpers. Don't get me wrong, this was an impressive win for the Cavs, but make no mistake, almost everything went right.

LeBron had a great game. He finished with 19 points, 12 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and blocks. And look, he shot 7-8 from the charity stripe. All is right in the world again.

Drew Gooden will make the All-Star team (especially if they keep winning big games on national television). There, I've said it. If you would've told me this last season, I would've laughed in your face.

Sasha Pavlovic? WTF? I'm as surprised as anyone. Sasha didn't impress me at all during the preseason (he looked like he was forcing his shots) or early on so far. It looked like the game moved a bit too fast for him and he would force the action. He still was a bit out of control (he had 2 charges) but he played really well. Of course, he was playing not because of what he did, but what David Wesley didn't do (mainly, put the ball in the hole). But give him credit, he got an extended chance and he took it.

The Z report. The good: they used Z on high screens as used the pick-and-pop. He got some open jumpers off of those and off of penetration towards the hoop (cause Ben Wallace cheats towards the rim). The Bulls gave Z the 15 foot jumper all night and he took it. The bad: He missed his first few shots and had a couple of turnovers. In his the defense, the Cavs run some pick-and-rolls with him where the play calls for Ilgauskas to roll towards the hoop with the passer getting him the ball on the run. I can tell you right now that these will always end with either a pass getting away or Z committing a charging foul. Know your personal; Zydrunas has got some nice old man post moves and a sweet jumper. He doesn't move well and the passes have to be waist high or above or there's no way he's getting it. The Cavs don't pass well enough and Z isn't coordinated enough to roll, catch the pass and make a move in one motion. It's not gonna work. So make everyones life a lot easier and don't call those plays for him. Get him the jumper or get him on the block. Don't get him receiving the ball while moving. Nobody needs this.

Kirk Hinrich is Mark Price reborn. I'm convinced. Also is anyone else kinda creeped out how the Cavs and Bulls are mirror images of each other from the late 80s? The teams roles are switched. The Cavs have the next Jordan while the Bulls have team full of quality young guys? Okay, maybe that's not exactly creepy; but this is the kind of crap I think about. All we need now is for Tim Duncan to call the Bulls the "team of the teens".

The Bulls will win more games and this should be a fun series to watch over the next couple of years. As I've said before, the Bulls will win when the jumpers are falling and struggle when they aren't. Only Hinrich and Nocioni really did any damage for Chicago. The defense didn't seem up to snuff tonight (though Benny Wallace had a monster block on Gooden), but their D will have more good nights than bad. Again, it didn't help them out at all that the Cavalier bench players couldn't miss.

and finally,

The most impressive thing about the Cavs season so far? Rebounding. The Cavs out rebounded the Bulls 47-30. Muy impressivo. They out rebounded their opponents in every game so far this season and hold a rebounding edge of 239-176 this season. They are just killing their opponents on the boards. Gooden is playing out if his mind this season, Z rebounds pretty well plus Varejao and Marshall are two of best rebounding reserves around.


Erik said...

The Cavs simply looked like the Dallas Mavericks last night (The good Mavs, not the just-got-their-first-win Mavs).

Every shot was going in. Drew Gooden looked like Dirk Nowitzki minus the floor game, for crying out loud.

Obviously, you can't rely on that every night.

What really amazed me was how the Cavs were able to force the Bulls into an up-and-down game. The No. 1 defensive team in the league was galloping up and down the floor like it was an ABA game. The Bulls averaged 87 points surrendered per game heading in, and gave up 113.

I guess that will happen when the everything you chuck up goes in.

Oh, and on the subject of LeBron walking off the court Tuesday, I sent copies of the tape off to a forensics lab at MIT. The have the cutting-edge technology to break the tape down frame-by-frame and analyze LeBron's intentions.

Their conclusion? There was indeed a second quitter on the grassy knoll.

As evidence, they point to the way LeBron stretched his shoulder as he walked off the court:

Back, and to the left...
Back, and to the left...

Ben said...

Speaking of the Mavs, wasn't last nights game between 0-4 Dallas and 1-5 Phoenix? WTF?

The Cavs basically played the perfect offensive game last night, they also racked up 38 assists. I'm really interested to see how they play versus Boston tonight.