Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cleveland 124, Golden State 97

WTF, 124 points? None by LeBron? Honestly, this is mind boggling.

Gibson started. This was the big news of the evening. Coach Brown sat Eric Snow and started the rookie and the looked notably different. They looked fast, they pushed the ball and the offense flowed a bit smoother. Gibson finished with 12 points (all off of 3s) with 3 rebounds and two assists. Snow came off the bench and played decently as well; he seemed much more aggressive bringing the ball up (he only really walked it up once or twice) and he seemed fresher while he was out there. Needless to say, I'm a fan of the move.

Maybe Brown does have an offense. The Cavs shared the ball. The Cavs moved without the ball. They got the ball inside. They didn't force jumpers. They didn't stand around. They pushed the ball after misses. Long outlet passes. Give and go's.

How much credit does Golden State get for all this? As well as the Cavs played, part of me wonders if this was due to their recent change in philosophy (with Gibson starting) or being able to play the Warriors at home. They stink on the road and they aren't a good defensive team to begin with. This is what last weeks Philly loss should've been; a blow out win at home that rights the ship.

I can honestly say that this was their most fun win of the season. The ball movement, the running, the defense, the garbage time; this was fun. The bench was smiling, LeBron was laughing and you could just tell guys were enjoying themselves. And I know that they were playing the Warriors, but they've played down to teams like that all season long. But because LeBron was out, they were focused and on a mission. It was good to see.

The Cavs do have more than one player. The Cavs had eight guys score in double figures (plus Varejao had 9). Nine guys notched an assist (they had 26 as a team). The Cavs out rebounded Golden State 48-36 and they also had 12 steals.

Sasha. Pavlovic. So he starts versus Philly, logs a DNP-CD versus Phoenix and starts against the Warriors. Makes sense to me... Pavlovic got his team leading 24 points in variety of ways: he was 7-11 for the game, 2-3 from beyond the arc and he was 8-10 from the foul line; that's pretty efficient.

They ran. The Cavs ran up and down the floor all night, so you'd figure Z was a non-factor right? The big fella got 14 points on 5-5 shooting, grabbed 10 boards and even got 4 assists. He seemed much more willing to pass out of the post when he saw that Gibson was the guy taking the open jumpers rather than Eric Snow. He had two passes that stuck out toe me: the first was an over the shoulder pass from the post to a cutting Drew Gooden- Z fed him perfectly and Drew got himself a wide open dunk. The second pass wasn't overly remarkable, but it stood out to me: in the third period Z grabbed a Golden State miss and threw a long outlet pass to a streaking Pavlovic for a fast break. I wish that the Cavs did this more often- grab the rebound and run. Don't walk it up, don't run dribble breaks (lookin' at you Snow and Hughes)- pass it up.

Larry Hughes... 3-9 shooting, 11 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals. He looked like he was pressing early on (can't exactly blame him after the stinker of a game he dropped on Sunday)
but he seemed to find his rhythm after awhile. The news is that he was 5-5 from the foul line.... so that's looking up... His shot selection still leaves a lot to be desired. I'll just leave it at that.

Is the offense better without LeBron? Yes and no. Yes in the fact that guys now have to step up and they can't rely on LeBron. LeBron dominates the ball quite a bit; with him out of the lineup they had to move the ball around. But some of this offense goodness lies at the feet of the Warriors; I highly doubt the offense would've looked this good had they been playing Detroit. A lot of the Cavs points came off of good ball rotations and fast breaks- in the flow of the offense. Now you'd like the Cavs to have this kind of ball movement (and off the ball movement) with LeBron out there, so he doesn't have to bail the Cavs out. It won't hurt that they'll be playing offense 5-5 with Gibson rather than 4-5 with Snow (leave the point to go double LBJ or Z you'll actually have to pay for it. Neat!).

and finally...

This just one game. Versus a bad team that plays no defense. However, it'd be nice if Brown got some confidence in non-James players and it led to him resting LeBron more often. The goal should be to get LBJ's minutes down under 40. If Brown can trust his bench players like Pavlovic (hell, even Wesley- IF his shot returns) then sitting LeBron for somewhat lengthy stretches shouldn't be too hard to handle. Maybe resting LeBron and his toe for a little bit isn't such a bad thing.


Erik said...

Golden State does get a good amount of credit for this game. The Cavs still had some pretty bad defensive breakdowns, leaving guys wide open for threes that they bricked, threes Steve Nash would have buried.

Having said that, they've played teams like this before and didn't put up 124 points in regulation. Maybe Larry Hughes was on to something when he said the Cavs are an offensive team, not a defensive team. They seem to be at their best when they can speed the game up and get transition baskets.

You do need to emphasize defense, but maybe it's time for Mike Brown to open up the offense and let a team identity emerge, even if it isn't what Brown would like to see.

I don't think this team has the personnel to be the Pistons and hold teams to 73 points a night as Brown would probably dream. Maybe the Cavs have a little bit of Western Conference DNA in them and need to have their offense running hot to win.

Starting Gibson, they sure as heck looked like a floor-running West team.

Ben said...

Just watching the game, you can really tell that they had a different philosophy coming in. They pushed the ball, forced the issue and actively looked to run.

Playing the Warriors sure helped, but it was a good sign that Brown wanted them to run a bit more.