Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Jersey 113, Cleveland 111

It wasn't really that close. Jones hit a 3 ball with 0.1 left. The Cavs made a late (real late) charge to make the final score look competitive but it was a 12 point game with 1:55 left. With the way they've been playing, maybe they should try this quick-shot-then-foul game plan more often...

You figure if they scored 111 points I wouldn't have a problem with the offense. You'd be wrong. The Cavs made 1 shot in the first 4 and a half minutes of the second half. One. Of course, Mike Brown didn't feel the need to sub or call a timeout in those 4 and a half minutes. The Cavs also went through a nice spell in the second quarter, going 1-16 over a 6 minute period in the second quarter. That was awesome.

LeBron stepped it up. LeBron finished with 37 points, 8 assists and 1 rebound. Obviously, you'd like that rebound total to at least be in the 4-6 range, but his effort was top notch all night. He only shot 16-21 from the line, but he very easily could've gone to the line at least 3 or 4 more times. LeBron kept driving and kept challenging the Nets' defenders all night (which is what I like to see). He settled for a couple jumpers during that awesome second quarter stretch, but besides that, he attacked all night long.

The box score at least looks nice. Most of the starters played well. Z had a nice overall game, with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists (I like using him on the high post, he passes out of the high post better than than the low). Hughes added 19 points, Jones had 14 and Gooden had a quiet 10. James, Hughes and Z all played big minutes, while Gooden sat awhile (for what I assume were defensive reasons).

Everyone else however, was a non-factor. Snow was pretty much useless, Gibson actually looked like a rookie, Varejao played 21 nondescript minutes and Donyell continued his sub-par play (have I mentioned how I hate how the offense looks when Marshall is out there? He just parks his giant ass at the 3-point line and contributes squat).

Hey Sasha Pavlovic played. For 2 minutes. Though, in those 2 minutes, he saw some action at point guard(?). I'm not sure what that was about. On the plus side, at least he didn't commit a charging foul.

The defense stunk. Is anyone surprised that Jason Kidd tore the Cavs up for 10 assists (to go with 9 points and 8 boards)? Kidd got the hole at will versus Damon Jones, often dishing the ball to a wide open Jason Collins (after Z rotated to cover Kidd). Vince Carter poured in 38 points and seemed to hit a shot every time the Cavs made a run to cut the lead close. The Cavs let the Nets shoot 57% from the floor; just too many close, easy shots.

It wasn't a total loss. The Cavs shot a decent percent from the foul line (81%) and they got to the line more than NJ (42-37). The Cavaliers also out rebounded the Nets 42-36 and they even kept their 3-point attempts under 20 (7-16). So there were some good signs (they played hard the entire game and they continued to attack the basket).

I could still use some varied substitution patterns. I know Brown likes to bring in Jones and Marshall in together midway in the first period. And I know he likes to sit LeBron to start the second... but why not switch it up? Take LeBron out late in the first and rest him over the quarter break. Give Gibson some PT with the starters (I'd love to see a line up of Boobie, Hughes, James, Varejao and Z. That'd be fantastic). Use less Marshall and more Gooden (even though he goes brain dead on defense, at least he'll give some second chance opportunities).

and finally...

Oh good, another back-to-back. Versus Detroit. The Cavaliers love back-to-backs (1-5 on the 2nd night this year). But at least they're at home, where they are a delightful 11-2. So maybe those will cancel each other out.


JDW said...

I thought Hughes had a pretty poor game. Far too many jump shots. He's not a shooter but there he is, dribbling up on offense and pulling up just inside the three point line (why not step back a foot?). Brick. Brick. Brick.

Also, I'm coming back at Hnat. Tomorrow morning. He's totally right except for when he's completely wrong.

Erik said...

One of two things is going to happen these next few games:

Either the Cavs are going to get a couple of nice, confidence-building home wins against top conference competition, or this losing streak is going to reach five or six and Mike Brown is going to have his hand forced into doing something.

The more I watch Brown, the more he looks like Romeo Crennel. Neither coach has a clue about offense, but neither seems to want to enlist the services of an experienced offensive assistant to help him.

The only difference is that Brown has more talent to work with than Crennel, so his margin for error is bigger.

Great defense is a must. You can't win a title without it. But unless you have an amazing defense that holds opponents to 80 points every night, you need to have a workable plan to put the ball in the basket, and you need to be able to adjust back when the other team adjusts their defense.

Brown is proving time and time again he has no idea how to do that. I'd hate to think the Cavs are going to have to sacrifice a season to a 41-41 record and a first-round playoff exit for Brown to finally get the clue that he needs help forming an offensive game plan.

Ben said...

It was weird, after watching the game I thought Hughes played awful, then I checked the box score and I saw that he had 19 points and was 3-6 from beyond the arc... how the hell did that happen. When Hughes (and Snow) miss, they miss bad. It's ugly.

Brown... man, I don't know anymore. This team has made strides defensively, but LeBron still is clueless out there. He plays bad on the ball defense AND bad help defense. Your 6 foot 8 small forward should have more than one rebound.

The Cavs are going to be .500 or below coming up. They have some tough competition coming up and then a road trip out West. Unless something drastic happens, that trip won't be pretty.

I wouldn't mind the Cavs making a move, but I don't think it's a must. I see their problem as a gameplanning/execution problem rather than a personal problem. At this point I would cut Snow's minutes in favor of the rookies and give them some experience. I mean, if you're going to give up 57% shooting, might as well have some rookies in who can connect on jumpers.

Oh, and less Donyell Marshall. I hate the way the offense looks when he is out there.

Erik said...

I still think they should sit LeBron for seven days. Tell him to go home, sleep in and spend his days playing Xbox. No practicing, no travelling, no photo shoots, no interviews, no promo spots. Just rest.

It sucks they'd have to do this in the middle of the season, but it's better they let LeBron rest now than have him sleepwalking through the final couple games of that west coast trip next month.

I am really starting to dread that trip. At this rate, the Cavs might be below .500 when that trip ends.

Ben said...

I emailed Windhorst after that "LeBron is tired" article and asked him if they'd consider resting him for the All-Star break ala Pedro and the Red Sox.

His answer: Not a chance. Too many endorsements.