I'm going to be sick. So the Cavs led for most of the game and even had an 11 point advantage early in the fourth quarter (71-60 with about 10 minute to go). And they lose 92-89. Fantastic. And the sickening part?,Eeveryone knew this was coming. Kenny Smith called it at halftime, I know I felt it during the entire second half. I was just waiting for the Cavs to collapse. And they did.
This team is not mentally tough. The Cavs have a lot of decent players; Z is talented, Hughes is skilled, Gooden has an underrated offensive game and Sasha Pavlovic can play when his head is on straight. But when things go South, no one on this team has the mental fortitude to weather the storm. Z looked out of sorts all night, Gooden committed a bad foul on Wade late in the game, Hughes took terrible shots- oh yeah, LeBron James deferred to his teammates and missed free throws. I hate watching any team break down but I cannot stand watching my team do it (get the picture? The final 10 minutes were brutal).
James vs Wade. Early on in the game, both players were having off nights. James was feeling his way through his toe injury and Wade was turning the ball over at a remarkable pace (he finished with 12 TOs); but the way they finished out the game couldn't have been more different. Wade put his team on his shoulders, drove to the hoop and collected free throws. James took bad jumpers, drove every now and then and missed his freebies. James was just 3-8 from the line while D.Wade was an astounding 23-24.
What is this? The NBA Finals? Ya, I know Wade attacked the hoop all game, but he shot as many free throws as the Cavalier team. Of course, he made 23 of them while the Cavs only made 15.
Time to hire Mark Price. LeBron James officially has a free throw problem. Sure he's never been the greatest free throw shooter in the world but this year is just bad. He's hovering just below 70% for the season and he's shooting just 50% over his last six games. We're all going to have our ideas and solutions, here's my take: his motion isn't fluid enough and he doesn't bend his knees.
The kids are alright. Gibson continues to impress, leading the Cavs in scoring with 19 points on 4-6 three point shooting and 5-6 from the line. He played decent defense, ran the offense and only had 2 turnovers. He also hit a big three late in the fourth quarter- this kid has got huge balls. Snow ain't going to be starting anytime soon. Meanwhile, Sasha Pavlovic (10 points off 4-7 shooting) is forcing Mike Brown to give him more minutes. Right now Sasha seems to have a lot of confidence, which is usually pretty good but pretty soon I'm guessing we'll see him due something stupid. When his confidence grows he tends to try to do too much; he'll give the ball away trying to dribble behind his back or between his legs when he doesn't have to. Historically, that's when Brown takes him out and we don't see him for a week or two (and we start the Pavlovic cycle all over again). Hopefully he doesn't make any dumb turnovers, but if he does, let's hope Brown keeps him in and let's him learn from his mistake.
Either way, Pavs is playing with more confidence than Larry Hughes. Didn't Larry say he wants to run more? That the Cavs weren't a defensive team? They've be more effective if Hughes ran a break without shooting a jumper or causing a charge. Hughes shot 4-11 from the field, didn't get to the line and got abused by Dwyane Wade all night long. Not a great showing. Though, I will say this: Hughes cannot get a call when he takes it to the rim. Maybe he doesn't finish strong enough, maybe refs think he gets pushed too easily and they don't to call weak stuff- I dunno. But there was a couple times I thought Hughes could've gotten a couple free throws for his efforts.
Put James on the low block. James was being guarded by Jason Kapono. Take him to the rim, take him down low, I don't care. Just don't settle for long jumpers or fade aways. It's Jason Kapono for crying out loud! Abuse him!
How bout that defense... Nothing screams 'defensive genius' like your team giving up an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter. It also would've been nice if the Cavs could've executed their offense down the stretch.
Charlotte at home tomorrow night. Hopefully the Cavs will abuse the Bobcats like they abused the Warriors. Get the taste of this loss out of their mouthes. For the love of all things holy, don't come out flat and dismiss them. And LeBron, unless I'm mistaken, you still owe Sean May for his stare down from earlier in the season. I would love nothing more than to see James posterize him.