Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New York 101, Cleveland 98

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.

and finally

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.


Benjamin Warburton said...

I think that performance last night has erred me to care more about OSU b-ball right now. I mean seriously, the cavs are a poorly coached team. I do not think they are a bad team, but you do not fight back to tie that game and then lose it because of A)abysmal defense B) a stupid Pav foul which draws and even bigger question as to why he was out there C) explain why lebron didnt have the ball in his hands at the end? You are never going to get the inbounder the ball back when passing out of the corner. damon jones passed out of the corner. I feel like stabbing myself in the chest. I agree with all your points Ben. Its absolutely sick, especially about Shannon Brown not getting more PT. I will digress one thing, Z was lost on defense. So was lebron, but you have to critique them all the same. I saw at least 3 times Z popped ot the top of the key to stop marbury and robinson and then got passed around for a layup (see eddie curry dunk on drew in the 4th quarter). Who knows, maybe Z just saw everyone NOT challenging shots and decided to do it himself. That i cant argue with, Lebron looked fucking lost out there (dare I say lack of intensity? I never thought Id say that about lebron on a constant basis) Shit if he gave the effor that Damon is putting in this year, we could stop fast guards. Damon looked great last night, especilly hounding Robinson and getting that foul at mid-court. Ugh, im done talking about the cavs until they absolutely molest a bad team. GO BUCKS!!!!

PS im writing this at work at 730 in the morning so it shows how much I care. Great blog buddy and keep up the good work. On a side note, can we agree that the cavs between last year and this year are the biggest perpitrators of onedownmanship in the recent history of the NBA?

Erik said...

I do see some similarities between Romeo Crennel and Mike Brown. I think neither one of them lays down the law enough with their teams. I think both of them retreat to the playbook too often to try and solve their team's problems.

This is where an experienced top assistant coach could help the Cavs. Someone to be Tex Winter to Brown's Phil Jackson (Or Pippen to Brown's Jordan, take your pick).

Brown needs to remember a crucial tenet of organizational leadership: always hire people who excel in your areas of weakness. Don't be foolish enough to think you can do it all.

It might be a bit late to bring in a top-notch assistant coach this year, but the Cavs can certainly add a veteran player to act as an emotional leader. Weird as it sounds, Sam Cassell would look really good in a Cavs uniform right now.

Ben said...

Ben: Z was challenging shots all night from what I saw. The Cavs missed a ton of assignments down the stretch (on a pick and roll, Z followed Francis around the rim and no one picked up Curry).

Erik: I really wanted the Cavs to pursue Cassell this offseason. Give him a 2 year deal with a option for a 3rd year. They would've probably have had to over pay him to get him to leave sunny LA, but man, it'd be nice seeing ET out there getting in guys faces.