Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Utah 99, Cleveland 98

Man, that is a tough loss. The Cavs had the lead for the bulk of this game and they never put the Jazz away. Utah was actually up 8 with 1:39 to go and the Cavs got some stops and cut it close again.

Real bitter pill. Not only did the Cavs blow a chance to steal a game in Utah, but they blew a 33 point performance from Larry Hughes. I mean, when the hell can we expect another performance like that? 2 months?

That last possession... I knew what the Cavs wanted to do there; stop Utah and get the ball back with time remaining. The Jazz got the ball with about 30 seconds left, so the Cavs could've gotten the last shot with a stop (and I guess they technically did). But why not foul in that situation? It was only 6 second differential and you would force Utah to make their free throws and you'd extend the game. Plus, you'd take away the chance of 3 ball that would put the game out of reach.

Compare and contrast Deron Williams and Larry Hughes. Both players led their team in scoring, 33 apiece and both hit big baskets down the stretch. Williams abused the Cavs all game and Larry used his jumpshot to set up his drives (he was 10-10 from the line). But what about other aspects.... Williams finished with 12 assists, 6 boards, 2 steals and 2 turnovers while Hughes notched 2 boards, 2 assists, a steal and TO. Don't get me wrong, Hughes played a good game, but he didn't exactly stuff the stat sheet.

Pavlovic came back down to Earth. He got himself in foul trouble early on and he never really was a factor. He did hit a big three late in the game (actually it was the Cavs last bucket) but that was about it.

Even with Sasha's foul trouble and Gibson's toe injury, did we really need much Eric Snow? I understand that Gibson was out and having Snow guard Williams is a good idea in theory... But Eric was getting abused, plus the Cavs were switching on the screens leaving Varejao guarding Williams for 3 straight possessions. Why do this? Not surprisingly, Williams burned Varejao as well. Sasha left the game with 7 minutes left and didn't return until 2:30 to go. Why? Having both Snow and Varejao is almost certain doom for the offense, especially when LeBron isn't lighting it up. Pavlovic should've played more (foul trouble was no excuse in the second half).

James was a non-factor. Are the standards too high? James had 20 and 10. If Gooden, Z, Pavs or anyone else on this team had a 20-10 game, we'd be thrilled. Sure James had a 20 and 10 game, but 10 of that 20 came in the first period. Over the last 3 quarters he had just 10 points and just 4 in the final period. True, Hughes had his game going and the Cavs were running the offense through him, but still... The Cavs lost by 1 point and James was 5-9 from the line.

What was up with Carlos Boozer. Does anyone have a picture of him from the game? The dude has hardcore acne all over his forehead. I usually don't notice stuff like that, but it was everywhere. I normally would feel bad about pointing something like out, but it's freaking Boozer. Screw that guy.

Live by the jumper, die by the jumper. The Cavs built separate 11 and 12 point leads during the game, mostly on jump shots. Hughes (and James to an extent) were hot early, Drew Gooden got hot in the third period (he was the only one) but the Cavs couldn't sustain it. By the way, that third quarter was awful; it was full of bad offense and Drew Gooden jumpers- thanks but no thanks.

Don't tell anyone, but the Cavs missed Z. The Cavs had absolutely no inside presence whatsoever. Yes, they did rebound well (the Cavs out rebounded the Jazz 47-37 and Varejao grabbed 17) but they could've benefited from running the offense through the post at least a couple of times. And the Cavs give up a ton of points in the paint, FSN Ohio mentioned that the Jazz had 28 or 30 points inside in the first half and I didn't hear how bad it got by the end (does anyone know where to find that stat?'s box score doesn't seem to have it, though they do have this shot chart, which I trust at all).

and finally...

One more to go until Vegas. The Cavs face the Lakers again on Thursday night, let's see how strong the teams come out with the break looming. Speaking of the break, I wouldn't mind in the slightest if LeBron's big toe kept him out of competing. Sure I'd like to see him, but other stars are sitting due to nagging (or serious) injuries. With the way LeBron has been playing and considering the toe injury... well... he could use the rest.


Erik said...

There were a number of parallels between this game and the loss in Miami a couple of weeks ago.

The Cavs led most of the way, only to sputter down the stretch and give the game away. The main reason? They couldn't find a way to at least contain a hot-shooting guard.

Dwyane Wade is a great player and Deron Williams is having a breakout year, but how many times game should you get burned by stepback jumpers before you do something different?

All fourth quarter, the Jazz gave the ball to Williams and it was dribble, stepback, shoot, swish -- dribble, stepback, shoot, swish. All freaking quarter long.

The only thing Cavs defenders altered was the angle at which they craned their necks to watch the ball go in.

That's what pissed me off about Brown's strategy in the Miami game and this one. Change it up! Double-team Wade and Williams! Give them some kind of different look!

I mean, you know the ball is going to Williams because he has the hot hand. So force the Jazz to beat you with Kirilenko or somebody.

Brown is a smart coach, but man, he really seems to have trouble making in-game adjustments.

Ben said...

The Jazz go the Cavs to switch on something like 4 straight possession late. The Cavs didn't even fight it, they seemed happy to let Varejao guard Williams. The same crap happened in the Phoenix game, the big men got stuck on Nash and Barbosa all game long. I don't get it.