Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cleveland 104, Charlotte 101

This was a tale of two halves. The Cavs had a 13 point half time lead; they went inside early and often and they kept the Bobcats out of the lane. Drew and Z were pretty involved early on (Drew had 8 points in the first quarter).

The second half... I'm not sure it was really as bad as it looked. Yes, the Bobcats came back and the offense wasn't exactly pretty, but it wasn't as bad as it has been. The Cavs still went inside (although not nearly as much) but simply missed. LeBron especially had a couple runners/drives that were off the mark (but could've been fouls). Yes, he settled for 4 or 5 contested jumpers, but he attacked the hoop as well (at least he attacked the hoop more than he has in the past). As a team, they only hoisted 11 tres, so it wasn't like they were just jacking up jumpers as they tend to do; they were 27-35 from the line, so they were going inside at least a little bit.

Duke, right? Does anyone know where Cavs color man Scott Williams went to college? Also, where did Joe Morgan play baseball? What's Bill Walton's favorite band? Who is Brady Quinn's sister married to?

When does Raymond Felton become a certified Cav killer? He only had 12 points, but he added 7 assists and got 2 offensive rebounds. The Cavs held him to 5-12 shooting, but he was a pest all night. Felton is the Bobcat that has scored the most points in their short history versus the Cavaliers (thanks Aflac Trivia!).

Sean May kills the Cavs as well. May had 15 points and 13 boards and whenever the Cavs made a run to push the lead up to 7 or 8, May seemed have some kind of bucket (put back, post move) to bring the Bobcats back.

Anyone else notice that opposing teams go right at LeBron. Be it Gerald Wallace, Adam Morrison or Brevin Knight, whoever LeBron was guarding seemed to have the green light all night long. To be fair, Knight was aggressive all night long, he finished with 11 points and 14(!) assists (I don't know if you've heard or not, but the Cavs have trouble with quick guards).

I only trust two players shooting 3s for this team. Damon Jones and Dan Gibson. That's it. Everyone else.... meh.

The bigs played well. The Cavs are finally getting Z regular touches throughout the game, within the flow of the offense (it actually looks like they aren't forcing it down low). I'd like to see him use his post game more (who doesn't love slow, old-man post moves?) but getting him open 15 foot jumpers is alright by me (he finished with 9 points on 4-8). Gooden was especially active early in the game (10 points, 7 boards at half) but hit some big shots in the fourth.

Varejao was the biggest big. On his wig night, Anderson played 35 minutes (the most of any big man) and finished with 16 points and 10 boards. When Gooden was out, Andy proved he could play big minutes (at least short term) and he responded versus the Bobcats (he even was 8-11 from the charity stripe). There were a few plays were Varejao may not officially gotten the rebound or assist, but he made a play to keep the possession alive and the Cavaliers capitalized.

and finally...

Oh yeah, Larry Hughes. Hughes (and Gooden) returned to the starting lineup tonight and Larry played big, especially down the stretch. He blocked an Okefor jumper, got a key steal on Charlotte's chance-to-tie possession and hit a couple free throws to seal the victory. For the game, Hughes had 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.


Erik said...

How about we trade the Bobcats Scott Williams straight up for their color guy? It would be better if Williams were in NORTH CAROLINA, because he played his college ball at NORTH CAROLINA, and afterwards, he was teammates with MJ, who ALSO WENT TO NORTH CAROLINA. (Williams wants everyone to know that's the state above South Carolina. Just, you know, in case you weren't sure.)

I loved the all-around effort, even if it wasn't there for 48 straight minutes. I'm starting to resign myself to the fact that the Cavs are simply never going to blow out the Charlottes, Atlantas, etc. I'm starting take "a win is a win" attitude to those games. I only get pissed if they actually lose.

Having said that, someone needs to get the scoop on what is going on with LeBron. He is dragging right now. Is he spent from a year of virtually nonstop basketball? If so, that doesn't bode well for the stretch run.

Is he distracted by something? Is he banged up? Is he saving himself for later in the season? Is he suffering from a bout with arrogance after last spring's playoff success?

I know that LeBron, simply because of who he is, is prone to spells of coasting. But this is the most bare-minimum I have seen his effort since he became a Cav.

Benjamin Warburton said...

Personally, I think he is just biding his time and keeping the wear and tear on his body to a minimum. It is entirely possible he mighted be fatigued, which is obviously terrible for the cavs, however I dont think thats the case. He has shown he can turn on the jets for long periods of time late in the game so it seems he just plays as hard as he needs to. Some media pundits might eventually see this as tanking, but if hes gonna keep playing 42 minutes a night, I dont might him giving minimal effort offensively for 6-8 minutes as long as hes still getting his teammates involved. Just my 2 cents.

Ben said...

I hate the Cavs announcers. The end.

Something is decidedly different with LBJ this year. Maybe he is biding his time, but if that's the case, that isn't a good sign.

The Cavs don't have the talent, coaching, players, record or anything to else to justify turning 'it' on when the time comes. They aren't good enough to 'flip the switch'. Even if that's the case, the Cavs can't play an entire season of "LeBron middling around" and then get to the playoffs and play with "Dominant LeBron".

If he's tired and he's slacking to keep his energy? I understand, but Brown should cut his minutes. Get an assistant coach to keep time at 36-38 minutes. Go the old Jerry Sloan rout (with Stockton and Malone)- rest him at the end and start of quarters. 2-3 minutes to end the first and start the second. Take advantage of the quarter break and use your time outs wisely (sit him, let the team play, the call time out, so he's fully rested for the TO).

And the problem is he isn't just 'giving the minimal effort and getting his teammates involved', he's taking terrible jumpers with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. That's just bad offense (it may come as I'm picking on your comment, that's not the case).

Erik said...

No, you are right about LeBron's shot selection. Why a player who is so unstoppable when driving to the basket would settle for 20-footers with half the shot clock remaining is beyond me.

A coach once said that the 20-foot jumper is the most useless shot in pro basketball. It's like taking a three-pointer, but it only counts for two. If you're that far away from the rim, either step back and shoot the three, or try to get a little closer to the hoop for a higher-percentage shot.

Every NBA coach should be required to watch Utah Jazz game footage as part of their orientation. Jerry Sloan is the best game manager, and likely the best coach, in the NBA.

Mike Brown has a better idea of how to form a rotation than, say, Paul Silas, but he's far from an expert. Being that he's charged with handling a superstar, he could learn a thing or two from Sloan's practices.

Benjamin Warburton said...

Reiterating what Ben said, I agree that the cavs as a team cannot turn the jets on, however, I do think Lebron can. The dilemma I see with this methodology is that the team flows with LeBron. If he jacks up shots, they will probably do the same. I still think this is mostly to blame on coach Brown though. If the team, including LeBron, continues to hoist up bad shots, they need to be benched. No excuses. I agree we do not have the luxury of playing bad teams close night in and night out and expect to be full go by playoff time. The fatigue factor doesnt end with LeBron, it goes for everyone. I completely agree with your comment on getting a good assistant coach and just cutting Lebrons minutes to like 35 minutes for a stretch of games just to see how the team does. The problem as you kind of put it, is managing HOW those minutes are reduced. The more this season goes on, the more frustrating watching them play is, coaching and strategy specifically (going outside when the post feed is working, etc etc) Bron isnt the only one jacking up bad shots. Ive seen Drew, Snow, and Hughes take 18-20 foot jumpers they have no business taking. Hughes might get the benefit of the doubt here just to get his stroke back, but he really should be going to the hole and letting everything else open up. Do that, or run pick and pops to get an open 3. BTW - anyone else REALLY like the high pick and roll that Bron and Andy have been running? Seems to be working quite regularly.