Saturday, January 20, 2007

Denver 110, Cleveland 99

That was awful. For about the first 3 1/2 quarters, I wasn't really sure why I was even watching this game. The Cavs didn't exactly seem to care, and if they didn't, hell, why should I?

No effort. The shooting was terrible. Again. 37% in the first half, 42% for the game. The defense was equally bad; Denver shot 50% from the floor. I know coach Brown loves the defense and all, but can we all recognize that the terrible offense leads to bad defense? When the Cavs brick their jumpers, they can't get set on D. Guys are then out of position, especially when the other team plays up tempo. If the Cavs were more efficient on offense, that could help out the D a tad.

Not that it mattered that much. 50% is 50%; long rebounds off of missed shots can only be blamed so much. The Cavs had no intensity at all during the first 40ish minutes of the ball game. Everytime the Cavs did make a run to cut it to 13 or so, they would immediately give up an easy basket on the other, be it a wide open 10 footer, a dunk or a second chance basket. Where's the focus?

What the hell is Mike Brown doing? The Cavs started the second quarter with a line-up of Eric Snow, Damon Jones, Daniel Gibson, Donyell Marshall and Anderson Varejao. Surprisingly, it didn't fare that well. I for one am shocked that a line featuring 3 point guards, a jump shooting power forward and raw big man didn't produce.

The old offense has made it's triumphant return! The offense where Brown loads the floor with shooters (Jones, Marshall and Gibson) while James and Varejao run the high screen and roll. Either James takes it to the rim, hits Varejao down low or dishes off to a jump shooter after drawing in the defense. The Cavs just ran the high screen play after play after play in the fourth quarter. And ya know what? It worked. The Cavs got within 5 before finally folding.

James played 44 minutes. Of course he did. And why not? They only have a game in Oakland the following night, with a game at home versus Orlando on Monday. And sure it's his 3rd game in 4 nights and 6th out of 7 games on this West coast swing...

It seemed like only yesterday... To start off January, the Cavs swept a 4 game in 5 night stretch for the first time since the Great Depression. I was pumped, you were pumped; the Cavs had turned the corner. And when they won 2 out of their first 3 on the trip out West, it looked like the Cavs' season was finally on track. Well, don't look now, but the Cavs are a (lackadaisical, uninspiring) loss away from being swept on a 4-in-5 span.

I'm not liking this roller coaster stuff. The Cavs look fantastic and the fans are pleased. Then they look utterly clueless and the fans are pissed. Then the Cavs look great and all is well. Then they look inept and terrible and the fans are suicidal. My feelings about this team change from game to game. When they win, they look like contenders, they share the ball and LeBron looks like a MVP. When they lose, they look helpless and I want to fire and trade anyone and everyone. And I know why; the Cavs never win ugly. Think about it, when is the last time this team gutted out a win? When have they stole a game? Won a game they didn't deserve to? Won ugly? They don't. Even games where they play poorly and come back to win (like the Boston and San Antonio games), they don't grind a game out. They'll play awful and then they'll catch fire and LeBron will do some crazy shit and they'll make a run to get back into it. They don't win ugly. It's all or nothing.

But they sure do lose ugly. When the Cavaliers lose, they go all out. They don't put forth effort, they miss free throws, they'll shoot 15+ threes, they'll miss a ton of free throws, we'll get to see a line-up with 3 point guards and two big men with limited offensive skills, Hughes bricks some jumpers and for some reason James will go long stretches without taking a shot. That pretty much sums up the last couple games, right?

Break more clipboards!! This was one of those games where I wouldn't have minded Brown getting himself thrown out. Just yell at the refs (there were a few calls he could've bitched about) and get thrown out. Wake the team up. Plus, you wouldn't have had to see the Cavs giving up easy buckets.

Only an 11 point loss. Weird huh? Does that say more about the Cavs or the Nuggets? Maybe George Karl really was legitmattly keeping his starters in during the Knicks game (JR Smith took some terrible shots). The Cavs came to life in the fourth period and somehow made this game interesting. The announcers we're thrilled, they had had enough discussions of Rick Barry, Allen Iverson's highschool football career and Steve Blake's pets. James came alive late in the game and actually recorded his first triple double of the season (30-10-10).

It'd have been nice if he plays with that kind of passion all game long. And if he played that way for every game, the Cavs would be running away with the East. I hate to put it all on James, especially when his starting backcourt can't shoot the basketball. but the Cavs go as he goes. And when he got angry against Denver, the Cavs made a run. When he gave Snow jump shots on consecutive possessions... well... not exactly inspiring.

Best news of the game? James didn't get injured (season ending style). LeBron's right ankle got rolled on during a loose ball (Larry Hughes style) and when I first saw it, I would've sworn he'd blown out his knee. It looked bad. Larry Hughes subbed in for LeBron (got fouled hard, missed 2 FTs) and then James was right back out there. If James would've suffered a season ending injury during a fourth quarter blow out, I would've fired Mike Brown right then and there (assuming my name was Dan Gilbert)

Marcus Camby? Nene? Really? Camby had 26 points (12-19 shooting) and 17 boards; that's pretty impressive. Nene hit some big free throws and had a huge dunk down the stretch that effectively ended the Cavs run.

Second best news of the game? Eric Snow only played 23 minutes, after getting less than 20 in the Portland game. This meant that Dan Gibson was on the floor for extended minutes- I like this. When the Cavs are down big, there is no reason for Snow to be out there; if they need to score in bunches, Snow doesn't exactly help that. Close games where Snow can guard a big 2 guard? I'm ok with this. In any case, at least one of the starters is getting some rest.

and finally...

Situation: 2nd night of a back-to-back. On the road. 4th game in 5 nights. 7th and final game of a West coast trip. James played 44 minutes the night before and sprained his ankle. Plus, the Warriors run just a bit. Who's excited? Who likes their chances? If the Cavs do pull off a win, it'll put their road trip record at 3-4, which isn't too awful, but certainly disappointing, considering how they started off the new year.

1 comment:

bw said...

I SAID THAT A FEW WEEKS AGO!! :) (all smiles here) That fucking high screen and roll with Andy is damn near unstoppable if everyone does what they are supposed to. If andy develops a good left hand, his offensive potential will be huge.