So... 3 days off to prepare for this game and we get this? The Cavs last played on Saturday. At home. They had 3 days to get ready for the Knicks. At home. Nice.
The Cavaliers end the month at 9-6. Nine and six. Nine and six. The losses? Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, Toronto, Indiana and New York. Just awful. They should be 12-3 and the talk of the league. Hell, they could very easily be 7-8 (the Boston and Memphis games).
I'm sorry I have to say this, but LeBron is not the best player in the NBA. Trust me- it hurts to admit this. But there are two LeBrons.; the offensive LeBron and the defensive LeBron. The offensive LeBron is possibly the greatest offensive player in the NBA. However, the defensive LeBron? Not good. Not average. Bad. Quentin Richardson destroyed him. Q Rich scored 27 points on 10-15 shooting, plus he was 5-7 from down town. LeBron just let him hoist all night and when he did play up, Richardson went right towards the hole with no resistance (sometimes drawing a foul on a big man helping). Hell, the Knicks first bucket of the game came off a Richardson offensive rebound (LeBron was nowhere near him).
But like I said, offensive LeBron is pretty awesome. When he wants to be. LeBron started off taking some ill advised jumpers but then starting driving to the hole at will. However, late in the game LeBron really didn't take too many shots and the ones he did tended to be jumpers. Not quite what I wanted to see.
It was Drew Gooden 'bald head night' and Drew showed up- kinda. Gooden had 12 points in the first half, but finished with just 16 (he played only 23 minutes total). You can blame some of that on foul trouble (he had 2 in the first period) but he finished with just 3 personals (with the last coming late in the fourth). I'm really not sure why he didn't see more action.
I'm also not sure why Sasha Pavlovic got 22 minutes. Honestly, I don't get it. I thought Sasha played awful; he was 1-5 from the floor and finished with 2 points. He had a terrible one-handed runner (where he missed a wide open Z for a 14 footer) and he also had a turnover off a behind-the-back dribble in traffic (which led to a hilarious Nate Robinson show boating turnover). It wasn't like his defense was any good either, he didn't need to be out there for 209+minutes..
I would've given some of Pavs minutes to Shannon Brown. Brown started both halves, but once he sat, he never got up. He had 10 points and he played some decent on the ball defense; plus he was active and gave the Cavs a spark and some energy.
You can hate Eric Snow and Zydrunas Ilgauskas all you want, but they both played great games. That's right. I said great. Snow had 12 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and just 2 TOs, while Z finished with 12 points, 12 boards (7 defensive) and 3 blocks. Both of the vets played hard all night; Snow was taking it to the rim all game and none of Z's boards were his cheap volleyball stuff (two hands!).
Eddy Curry killed Cleveland. I don't know how this even happened. His one-on-one game was okay, but he got a TON of hoops off of other Knicks driving the ball and drawing the defense. He finished with 24 points and (just) 5 rebounds (seriously, how does dude that tall, big and athletic just get 5 'bounds?).
No Boobie. Part of me was bummed not to see any of Gibson, but another part of me was a little pleased. We all just saw an article with LeBron actively pushing for Gibson to get some more playing time. Don't get me wrong, I want Gibson to play, but I didn't want to see a major jump in minutes the game following the article. However, a little PT here or there couldn't hurt... right?
Which brings us back to the Cavs playing down to their opponent. If the Cavs would handily beat the bad teams in the league like they should, it would give Brown some leeway to give the rookies more court time. But because the Cavs play down to their opponent, the games stay close and Brown won't risk playing them. Which leads me to...
Mike Brown. Look, there's no way in hell I'm going to say "he's not the guy". It's been a year and 14 games. They won 50 games last year and they've been with out their starting shooting guard for about 2 weeks now. NBA coaches get hired and fired waaay too often... BUT the Cavs lack of focus versus these weaker teams comes from lack of preparation. And I don't get some of his other moves as well. Gooden and Brown deserved more minutes vs the Knicks. The Cavs went 'small' with Marshall and Varejao again and (surprise!) they got no second chance points (it was AV on 4 on the boards).
And dear lord, the late game decisions. The "Damon Jones hook pass to LeBron in the post, from the corner?" I'm sure the hook pass wasn't drawn up by Brown, but that wasn't exactly a good looking play before Jones screwed it up. Then Pavlovic fouled Steve Francis, down 3 with 36 seconds to play. This brings up a couple questions: 1) Why was Pavs out there? 2) Why did he foul? 3) Did he not know the time situation? 4) Did he know that Steve Francis is a 94% FT shooter? 5) Is it Brown's fault that Sasha didn't know these things? Somehow Francis missed both attempts and gave the Cavs one last shot to tie it. Of course, Donyell Marshall got that last shot. Awesome.
Three of the next four are against teams that they've already lost to. They play, in order, Atlanta, Houston, Toronto and Indiana. One would think that game at Houston would be the tough one. Nope. They'll be jazzed for that one. I just hope they're ready for the revenge versus the Hawks, Raptors and Pacers. Those teams have already beaten the Cavs and this is a good time to extract a little revenge.