Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cleveland 95, Toronto 91

some random thoughts from Cleveland's win over the Raptors....

Dan Gibson got the start. Mike Brown continued the search for the starting 2 guard in Larry's absence (in the last game before his return). It figures that Brown finally stumbled upon a solution the final game (this time) be Larry comes back. Gibson had the best game either of the previous replacements (David Wesley and Shannon Brown).

Hey, a shooting guard who can shoot. Neat. Gibson was 3-6 behind the arc and 6-12 overall. He shot the ball, he drove back door and he ran the floor; in short, he was active on the offensive end. He also did a pretty nice job defensively on TJ Ford (8 points on 4-10 shooting).

He's not Mark Price yet. I'm sure after this game I'll see some calls for Gibson to be starting over Snow. Don't get me wrong, I love this kid two (I've been singing his praises since draft night, check my archives), but the Cavs asked him to spot up for 3s and move without the ball- he didn't have the point guard duties. Now, I'm sure those will come eventually, but right now he's "just" playing the Flip Murray role (just being asked to score). Which is fantastic.

Oh by the way, Eric Snow played well too. 6-9 shooting, 12 points, 6 boards and 6 assists. He also missed 2 (semi)critical free throws at the end and had a couple turnovers (one that was really ugly, but I think I'd have him share the blame with Pavs on that one).

LeBron was a good LeBron. The LeBron that drove to the hoop showed up and 26 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds in 41 minutes. I would've liked him to play a little less; 41 minutes is bit much to play against the Raptors at home. But he didn't play since Saturday's Houston debacle and they won't play again until this upcoming Saturday. Even though he drove to the hoop enough, he only got 5 free throws, of which he made only 3 (now, LBJ has been struggling from the line this year and he also added that new 'wrist kiss' thing. Could that be impacting the FAs?)

The starting big men were almost non-existent. Gooden turned in a 0 point (0-3), 7 rebound, 1 block stat stuffer and Z gave an effort of 4 points (2-7) with 6 boards and 2 blocks. Now, the Raptors did go small for a bit and played zone a lot (meaning Z wasn't gonna be out there anyways). Drew? I'm not really sure; he took some ill advised jumpers and had a couple defensive brain farts. Z did surpass Hot Rod Williams as the Cavs all time offensive rebounded, which is pretty amazing if you think about it. Hot Rod played 9 seasons and roughly 150 more games than Z. I know he pads his stats with his volley ball tips, but the man does crash the boards (that being said, passing Hot Rod was the only meaningful thing he did all night).

The Cavs must love it when teams zone. Cause all they do is just chuck up jumpers (which they seem to want to do anyways- the zone gives them an excuse). They shot 24 threes this game (making ten). Twenty. Four. You figure with Gibson playing more minutes, the three point attempts would go up (he had six). Teams live by the jumper and die by the jumper and the Cavs lived by 'em on Wednesday. The Cavs were down 7 late in the fourth and Jones and Marshall hit threes on consecutive possessions to cut the lead to 1 (which swung the momentum just a wee bit). Marshall broke out of what was seemingly a year long funk, scoring 19 points (15 in the second half).

I didn't really have an beef with coach Brown. Gibson started the game and then when he went to the bench, actually got back off it (unlike Brown and Wesley). Also, he did something really crazy- he called a timeout just a minute into the 3rd quarter (after the Cavs started off the half by taking some crappy looks Js). I don't think he spoke that entire TO, he just seemed to fume. I like this- get angry, call a timeout before the wheels come off and just make a point to your players (however, I'm still waiting for the day where he gets himself thrown out simply to fire up his team). My only small quibble would be no Shannon Brown; he had a good game versus the Knicks, but didn't do much versus Houston (to be fair, who did do anything versus the Rockets?). I'd much rather see Brown get PT over Sasha Pavlovic.

The Cavs should've traded Pavlovic after that Boston game. He's been a non-factor since. I know the Cavs love to point out how many charges Anderson Varejao draws, but I think Sasha gives at least half of those back. I give the guy credit, he goes full on to the hoop... he just doesn't stop.

and finally

The Cavs are off until Saturday. The Cavs play the Pacers this Saturday and lets hope they can repay Indiana for the previous loss. Hughes should be playing on Saturday and I'll be interested to see how Brown juggles the lineup with him back. One would think that Gibson has earned himself more minutes, but who really knows.


Erik said...

I kind of feel about Dan Gibson the way I feel about Charlie Frye when he has a good game: "Show me more."

Having said that, in the end the only question mark about this kid's game is going to be his defense. He's mad fast, can shoot, and, like LeBron and Hughes, has shown an ability to drive to the hoop, make a split-second adjusutment in traffic and get the ball to drop. Which is different than the Sasha Pavlovic "crash to the hoop/lose the ball/get called for an offensive foul" approach.

Sitting in the lower bowl last night, I got the feeling that Pavlovic kind of exerted himself in November, had a good month and took his foot off the accelerator as if to say "Well, proved I can do that."

With Gibson and Shannon Brown on the roster, I am quite glad right now that Pavlovic isn't signed past this season. Brown and Gibson are going to be major role players in the coming seasons, maybe even starters.

Pavlovic strikes me as one of the "TUP" players from Bill Simmons' recent column. He has the tools to be a pretty good player, but for whatever reason, he never puts it all together, and it will probably lead to a journeyman career once he leaves Cleveland.

(Now that I've said that, watch him end up back in Utah and turn into a borderline-all star once Jerry Sloan lays hands on him.)

Another observation from last night: LeBron is in full-on energy conservation mode when the game isn't on the line. He played at 70 percent speed for three quarters, then flicked on the switch in the fourth quarter. That's why the Cavs won.

He let the Raptors play for about 40 minutes. But man, there was about a 6-8 minute stretch in the fourth quarter where he just abused Toronto, dribbling until he found a seam, barreling to the hoop, kicking the ball out, drawing fouls. That is when LeBron is at his most amazing.

Ben said...

I couldn't agree more with the LeBron and Sasha compliments.

It seemed to me, after Sasha had those two good games and worked his ass off, he thought to himself "there, I've arrived" instead of learning "this is how I need to work 100% of the time"

After LeBron got that baseline 2 handed dunk in the fourth quarter, I turned to my dad and said "they're going to win". After he got that dunk, he was fired up, he played up on defense and he was flying in for the rebounds.

I kinda blame him, but kinda not. He's playing major minutes and the Cavs offense is awful. You'd like to see him give max effort for 35-39 minutes a game. Instead of rationing for 40-45.