Friday, February 09, 2007

Cleveland 103, Miami 79

That's what I'm talking about! The Cavs actually played an entire ball game (that's right four quarters) against the Heat. They shared the ball and LeBron played like the LeBron of yesteryear (except for those pesky free throws). It was fun to watch and the Cavs basically beat Miami in every aspect of the game.

Home cooking is delicious. The Cavs played the Heat much better in Cleveland than in Miami (which isn't exactly a shock) and the fourth quarter really told the tale. Last week, the Heat outscored the Cavs 34-23 in the final period. Tonight? Cleveland won the fourth 34-22. And Wade still led everyone in free throw attempts, but instead of 24, he took just 9.

Hustle. The Cavaliers simply outworked Miami tonight. Gooden had 13 boards, Z had 10, LeBron had 7 and Varejao, Marshall and Pavlovic all finished with 5. Not too bad. Gooden and Z didn't play well offensively, but they both hit the boards really well (Z was an awful 1-8 from the floor. He looks like he has no confidence versus good teams, but against second tier teams like the Clippers he' a real force. I'm not sure if they need to drown him in compliments or what, but it'd be nice if the guy could show up versus Detroit and Miami). The defense was pretty good as well; they actually forced some players not named Wade to shoot the ball (it'd have been nice to have seen that last week at some point). They also decided to single cover O'Neal, which I liked (to be fair, Z did do a decent job on Shaq most of the night, especially in the second half. What? Shaq was tired because he's returning from injury? Um...)

LeBron looked like LeBron. I don't know if it's his toe feeling better, playing on ESPN or playing against Dwyane Wade and co. but LBJ was focussed and active all night long. I still thought he could've punished the Heat more by abusing Kapono (really? the guy the Cavs let go because he can't play defense is guarding LeBron? And they aren't running isos for him all game long? Jason Kapono?). He settled for jumpers a little too often for my tastes. But that's a small quibble on this night; James finished with 29 points, 7 boards and 6 assists.

Larry Hughes scored 16 points and shot 7-12 and I'm still a bit perturbed. The man doesn't just take too many jumpers, he takes too many bad jumpers. Fast break jumpers, 18 seconds left on the shot clock jumpers; if you find yourself screaming "no!" at a jump shot, Hughes is probably taking it. To be fair, he made his fair share tonight, but if he did that on a regular basis we wouldn't have a problem with him. Also, he had 1 rebound and 2 assists (also 4 turnovers)- not good. He did foul Wade when he was attempting a jumper... so there's that...

The bench stepped up. Sasha Pavlovic gave the Cavs 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. That's fantastic. Keep giving us games like that and we'll have ourselves a shooting guard controversy (whether Pavs should start over Hughes now or wait until next season). But Sasha wasn't the only bench player worth a damn: Eric Snow gave the Cavs 7(!) assists, Marshall hit two 3s (one that counted), Varejao had 8 points and 5 boards and Scot Pollard had 3 fouls in 3 minutes. Awesome.

Coach Mike kicked some ass. I really liked all of Brown's decisions tonight (well, LeBron did play 41 minutes). He yelled at the refs (he does have emotions), he actually had a defensive strategy and he took Snow out of the game at just about the time I got sick of seeing him out there. He actually got a tech when arguing about LeBron taking some hits (I've been waiting all year for this).

Could LeBron get some calls? Is it weird to ask that? I don't care- LeBron got hit in the face on a few drives tonight and received no whistle. You can't tell me that the refs would've 'let 'em play' if Varejao slapped Wade across the head.

and finally...

The roller coaster continues. How come when the Cavs lose to the Heat it feels like there's no hope for them, but when they beat the Heat it feels like another solid win (ie: not that special)?
The Cavs are a much better team at home (the confidence difference is astounding) and it's becomes more and more apparent that they'll need home court if they want to do any damage in the playoffs. If they continue their strong home play on Sunday, they'll have beaten both Wade and Kobe on national television on the same weekend. That'd be nice.

5 comments:

BW said...

Lebron on Alonzo is going to look REALLL good on a wall in my house someday. Hows that ball taste Mr. Mourning?

Erik said...

I'm personally holding out for the Fathead of LeBron on Duncan. Or at the very least, the Fathead of LeBron taking his pregame nap.

...Seriously, I think the Detroit loss did something to this team. Their frustration finally reached some sort of critical mass, led by Mike Brown, and this team has responded with a pair of emotion-driven wins over two decent teams. One, Miami, who might actually be a contender that hasn't hit full stride.

We'll see how long this lasts. The Cavs have long been a team that rides waves of emotion. When they're pissed, they try harder. I'm concerned that they are going to rattle off five wins in six games, go complacent again and follow it up with five losses in six games.

Just out of curiosity, does anybody think Pavs has become extension-worthy this summer? If Pavs continues to play like this the rest of the season, it looks like both he and Andy might be worth keeping around. It might necessitate moving another high-paid veteran to make way for those extensions.

Erik said...

I'm personally holding out for the Fathead of LeBron on Duncan. Or at the very least, the Fathead of LeBron taking his pregame nap.

...Seriously, I think the Detroit loss did something to this team. Their frustration finally reached some sort of critical mass, led by Mike Brown, and this team has responded with a pair of emotion-driven wins over two decent teams. One, Miami, who might actually be a contender that hasn't hit full stride.

We'll see how long this lasts. The Cavs have long been a team that rides waves of emotion. When they're pissed, they try harder. I'm concerned that they are going to rattle off five wins in six games, go complacent again and follow it up with five losses in six games.

Just out of curiosity, does anybody think Pavs has become extension-worthy this summer? If Pavs continues to play like this the rest of the season, it looks like both he and Andy might be worth keeping around. It might necessitate moving another high-paid veteran to make way for those extensions.

BW said...

You have to keep Andy around. Its a must. I say this because one thing that has carried us in a lot of our victories is second chance points. He hounds it on both ends and having someone crash the offensive glass is invaluable. He has room to develop on offense and hes got a decent post game when pick and roll is ran properly. Hes also great on the fast break along with Sasha. I will say keeping Pavs is a must if he can A) play consistantly on defense and B) produce in the playoffs. I think how he plays in the playoffs will ultimately determine if we extend his contract or not.

About last nights game. I know Wade said they had a sluggish night, but the only part they were sluggish in was 3 point shooting. They contained Z, they more or less contained Drew. The cavs had a GREAT scheme to stop wade. Yeah he had 27 but if you scheme to stop wade specifically, tire out shaq by making his big ass work(he gets tired FAST nowadays) and leave the game in the hands of Kapono, Haslem, and Antoine "useless" Walker, that should make us happier than pigs in shit. Look at last years playoffs. No one ever tried to even stop wade. The pistons and chicago just bitched and moaned about him going to the line. Detroit played him straight up when they should have just double teamed him the whole time and let the rest of the heat beat em. Id live with Haslem and Walker getting 10-12 points each if wade is around 25. Browns tactics last night were San Antonio-esque. Pester the other teams scorer as much as possible and rotate with the ball when its not in his hands.

Regarding the state of the team, If Lebron and Larry speaking out has convinced Brown to let this team loose and use his bench more effectively, then the season has turned around permanently. Even if our starters have a bad game, if your bench plays great you will almost always have a chance to win. See what happens when Donyell, Damon, or Sasha have above average games. We win (except for the debacle in South Beach. That absolutely will be a win if that same situation comes up again). Thats how Detroit and San Antonio won their rings. They had a great starting 5, a stellar bench, and awesome defense. Good teams can win without having their star play 40 minutes a game. If Brown can keep us from having brain farts, there is no reason we cant play the rest of the season at the level we've played since the Golden State game. Lets hope they keep up the great team basketball and defensive intensity tomorrow against the Lakers. FYI, I really like how boobie took it to the whole rather than settling for a 3 last night. If he can add a good first step to his game, our offense will take on a whole new element: drive and dish ball that Hughes should have been doing all year.

Ben said...

A few thoughts:

I still want a Z 'slow hook shot' fathead poster.

With the way Sasha is playing I say he is a must re-sign and it makes Hughes expendable next offseason (he's unhappy anyways). I have no qualms going into next season with Pavlovic and Shannon Brown as the shooting guards (especially if Pavs keeps up this kind of play).

From the beginning this whole season has been one long roller coaster ride. Beat San Antonio, lose to Charlotte, wash, rinse, repeat.

That being said, if Brown keeps giving Pavs and Boobie a steady diet of minutes, I see no reason why they won't keep producing. And if Brown actually lets them push the ball, if nothing else it'll get them into their offense sets that much quicker (of course, this means LeBron and Hughes have to crash the boards, which they seem reluctant to do on a nightly basis).

Hughes and Gooden seem to be the best candidates for a trade at this point.