Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Orlando 90, Cleveland 79

Rough schedule. I don't know if you heard or not, but the Cavaliers just got back from a West coast trip. I hear that they're tired. (To be fair, it is crappy that they only got one day off, especially since their last game went into overtime).

Of course, if Mike Brown used his bench... Brown knows just as well as any of us that the Cavs were tired (and they sure looked it). Which is why it made perfect sense that Sasha Pavlovic got only 8 minutes and Daniel Gibson only got 4 and, correct me if I'm wrong, but neither played in the second half. Honestly, what the hell is going on here, LeBron logged 43 minutes and Hughes got 41. Are we surprised that they looked tired? Out of 41 games, LeBron has been under 40 minutes just 8 times (and that's with 2 games each of 38 and 39 minutes); this is flat out unacceptable. Use the bench consistently!!

Cavaliers vs Magic drinking game. Here's how it works: every time one of the Cavs announcers (or Jeff Phelps) mentions something about being tired, fatigued or works in the road trip, that's a sip. If they follow it up with "but that's not an excuse" (or some variation of) add an extra 5 sips. Every time Austin Carr calls Dwight Howard a beast, that's a sip. And finally, take a shot whenever the Cavs shoot a jumper off of fast break. Every time Eric Snow misses a wide open jumper, stab yourself in the eye.

I have a question: when the Cavs are down somewhere between 8-14 point for most of the second half A) why is Eric Snow out there and B) why isn't Z? In close ball games, I totally understand why Eric is out there; he makes defensive stops and he runs the point. That's fine. But when you have to make up a deficit, why have a guy who can't shoot. It's not just his shooting, it's him 'not shooting'. Case in point: in the fourth quarter, Anderson Varejao drove the lane and found a wide open Snow with a nifty behind the back pass. What'd Snow do? Pass it up and got the ball to Damon Jones for a corner three ball. Any other PG has an easy hoop there, so if you're just looking at the box score and seeing Snow shot only 5 shots (making 2) and you think to yourself, "hey, at least he's not taking a lot of shots", you aren't getting the entire picture. As for Z, he only got 5 shot attempts in this game which is pretty awful considering Snow got 5, Jones got 12, Marshall got 5 and Varejao got 7.

Let's work on the thee man weave. Can the Cavs execute a fast break? Hughes took 2 jumpers off breaks (and could've passed up to a wide open Varejao on another one, but decided to try to dribble around a guy before he got fouled), Jones took a three off a break and Donyell Marshall passed it right to Keyon Dooling on another. That is poor execution.

More poor execution. In the third period, the Cavs got the Magic into the bonus at 8:33 mark. That's 8 and a half minutes of free throws every time Orlando touches you. What do the Cavaliers do? Not take a free throw until the 4:24 mark (of course, LeBron missed both of 'em). Well done.

Not that it would've really mattered. As a team, the Cavs shot 55.6% from the line for the game. That is real bad. They're under 70% (68.7%) for the season, after shooting 73% last year. And despite what team stooge Fred McLeod says, last year's 73% is not "OK"; 73% is still the bottom fourth of the league, if you want to be considered a contender 75% is a must.

LeBron... Not a real good game: 18 points on 6-15 shooting, 6-13 from the line with 5 assists and 4 boards in 43 minutes. Let's be fair here, he gets some of the blame for the loss. Sure it doesn't help when Larry Hughes lets Grant Hill drive by him all game, but LeBron didn't exactly lead the Cavs out there. Also, he had Hedo Turkaglu guarding him for most of the game; there is no reason why LeBron shouldn't have abused him- Turkoglu sucks. Wait, here's a reason: LBJ is averaging 41.0 minutes a game this year. And he's averaging 42.3 a game for January:
1/2 Spurs: 40
1/3 Celtics: 45
1/5 Bucks: 43
1/6 Nets: 44
1/9 Kings: 43
1/11 Suns: 39
1/13 Clippers: 42
1/16 Sonics: 44
1/17 Blazers: 35
1/19 Nuggets: 44
1/20 Warriors: 46
1/22 Magic: 43
That is insane. He only had 2 games under 40 minutes and they were still above 35. In the first night of back-to-backs: 40, 43, 44, 44. For the season, Kobe Bryant averages 38.8 minutes a game and 37..5 per in January. Dirk Nowitzki is at 36.4 for the year and 38.5 for the month. Dwyane Wade is at 39.0 and 40.6 respectively. Tim Duncan? 34.4 and 36.6. Steve Nash? 35.7 and 34.0 (and Nash has only played 40 minutes or more 3(!!!) times the entire year). Are any of those players less important to their team than LeBron is to the Cavaliers? I don't think so. Yet they all play less than LBJ. Is it really a surprise that LeBron isn't the best rebounder or defender?

Why do I keep harping on this? LeBron shot only 6-13 from the line and only scored 5 points in the second half. Over the last 20 minutes LeBron was 1-5 from the floor and 0-4 from the line. You think fatigue might have played a part in that? His last point came with 8:56 left in the fourth.

Boo birds. I know there are going to be people ripping the Cleveland fans for booing the Cavaliers. And I understand that. But here's the thing: you spend 50 bucks for a ticket, 8 bucks for parking, get a 86 dollar beer and a 32 dollar pretzel and then you watch the Cavs team settle for jump shots, not work the ball inside, leave men open on defense, get out rebounded 43-31, blow fast breaks and at one point miss 4 consecutive free throw attempts (and only shoot 50% from the line for the game). I wasn't there so I really can't say if I would've booed or not, but I can completely understand why someone would. Everyone in that building knows that the Cavs are a better team when they go inside and it's frustrating as hell watching the 'motion' offense stand around and hoist jumpers.

As is has been all season, the problem is offense. The Cavs shot 39.2% for the game and 6-17 from beyond the arc. That is gawd awful. The defense wasn't great, but it kept the Cavs relatively close most of the game. If the Cavs could have made a good 6-0 or 12-4 run would've cut the lead close and we would've had a ball game on our hands. It just never happened.

and finally...

Philly on Wednesday. This is a must win. A crappy team coming to your building; no excuses.


Erik said...

People say the Cavs fall into bad habits. I think that starts with the coach.

As much as the players revert back to the "Take long jumpers/stand around and watch LeBron" version of offense, Brown always seems to revert back to his old bad habits of riding LeBron and not trusting his bench.

If this team is going to grow, they can't go back to pulling a Linus Van Pelt by grabbing their security blanket and sucking their collective thumbs. (or in LeBron's case, chewing them).

That includes Brown.

Ben said...

I think Brown is afraid of sitting LeBron and having the game get away from them. I don't think he wants to answer "why wasn't LeBron out there when things were going badly???"

They are really risking injury by keeping him out there so long (not to mention games, he's obviously tired come fourth quarter).