Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Charlotte 108, Cleveland 100 (OT)

How the hell did this happen? The Cavs were up the entire night and just blew the game. The defensive pressure wasn't there, the offensive execution wasn't there and Gerald Wallace seemed to be everywhere.

I was all set to write about Eric Snow saving this game. Wallace was just destroying the Cavaliers in the 3rd and Brown put Snow in to shut him down. And for a while, it worked; Wallace seemed to get frustrated by Snow and got out of his rhythm. Snow helped out at the offensive end as well (initially) stopping a Bobcat run by driving, getting to the line and making his freebies. He also set Larry and LeBron up for some easy buckets and got the Cavs rolling again (he stopped Wallace and got the Cavs going offensively, not too shabby. Too bad it didn't last).

I actually liked how the Cavaliers played the game before the final two minutes (and OT). Every time the Bobcats made a run and got within 2, the Cavs immediately attacked the basket (on multiple possessions no less) and pushed the lead back up to 8 or 10.

Dumb moves at the end. I'm not sure which decision boggles my mind more: the fact that Mike Brown didn't call a time out (to advance the ball) with a 2 point lead and 34 seconds to play or the fact that Sasha decision to dribble the ball behind his back (and subsequently losing the ball off his ass). There's a lot of this that bug me here. First, you have two time outs and the lead with only 34 seconds to go, why not burn a TO? Second, Sasha isn't exactly the guy you want bringing the ball up in pressure situations. Third, what the hell was Pavs thinking? I haven't seen him make a dumb turnover like that in months, that was a hell of a time to bring it back.

This felt like an early season loss. Eric Snow played big minutes, Sasha made a dumb TO, Mike Brown made questionable coaching decisions and the Cavs lost to a lesser opponent. Dammit.

RE: coaching decisions. I know that the Bobcats went small and all, but why the hell wasn't Z utilized more? The big fella finished with 15 and 9 in a scant 29 minutes. He shot 7-14, he had the post moves going, blocked 2 shots and he had 3 assists- in short, he was productive. Also, it's the freaking Bobcats, who cares if they go small? Punish them! The Cavs are the better, more talented team, why let Charlotte dictate the way the game is played? Make them guard Z and LeBron in the post.

Gerald Wallace impressed me, then didn't impress me and reimpressed me by the end. He started off scoring at will on the Cavaliers and then Snow came in and shut him down. Wallace seemed to force the issue and really tried to go one-on-one with Snow and it didn't work well (it didn't help matters that he kept jawing at everyone). Then he started blocking shots, causing turnovers and skying for boards- he was all over the place. He finished with 27 points (on 11-17 shooting) 11 boards and 5 blocks. Also, was he wearing shoulder pads? What the hell is that?

Maybe LeBron should wear shoulder pads. The guy takes a ton of contact that doesn't get called. Sure, he shot 12 free throws (made 11) but he could've gotten at least another 2 or 3 trips to the line. LeBron finished with 37, 6 and 6 but was just 2-9 from behind the arc (and his defense came and went throughout the game). Also, he seemed to bend his knees a lot more on his foul shots than I've ever seen; he really bent down and got under himself (needless to say, I love this compared to his 'wrist kiss, no knee bend' form).

Larry Hughes... ugh. 17 points: good. 6-16 shooting: not good. 3 assists and 3 boards: meh. 0-4 from 3, 5-9 from the line: not good. Maybe it was an off game, maybe he reverted back to his old ways (cause Snow got a lot of PT), I dunno.

But he was better than Drew Gooden. Gooden had been playing great since the Detroit game (where he came out of a slump), scoring in double figures in 6 straight games while averaging a 14 points and 10 boards over the stretch (and 12 and 9 over the win streak). Well, he put up a 2 point, 7 board effort against the Bobcats and was invisible for the entire night.

Boobie's back and boy, was he rusty. I will say I was pleased to see that he was the first sub in the game, so Mike Brown hadn't forgotten about him. But you could tell that Gibson was a bit off; he missed two 3s and two freebies and, for the first time all season, seemed reluctant to shoot the ball.

No Shannon Brown. You'd think that maybe Gibson took Brown's minutes, but Brown didn't play against the Jazz either. Ira Newble played for a minute (not that it mattered, but I'd like to see Brown ahead of Ira in the rotation).

Who's the hippie? Walter Herrmann killed the Cavaliers all night long and hit a back breaking 3 in overtime to push the lead to 6. He finished with 19 points, 10 boards and hit three 3s. He's like an in-shape (or non-giant ass), white guy stoner version of Donyell Marshall.

About overtime... The Cavs had 6 points in the extra period and 2 of them came on a Pavlovic dunk with 6 seconds to go. And their first basket in OT? Well, that came with just 46 seconds left on the clock. Thats not good. They scored their first 2 points on two (of four) free throws but were tied until Adam Morristasche gave the Bobcats and 99-96 lead with a bomb. Their next possession contained two hasty Donyell Marshall trey attempts and they were done after that.

and finally...

Looking ahead to Dallas? I'm not sure that the Cavs weren't focussed, they were taking care of their business but seemed stunned when Charlotte made their final run and made the game close. It felt like a NCAA Tourney game where a high seed gets a game out of a lower team and are just shocked by the whole turn of events. I was pleased that the Cavs felt like they were going to win, but it seemed like they thought they deserved to.


Erik said...

I had enough to say about this game that I posted a column on my blog, but just a few points:

1. Mike Brown was outcoached by Bernie Bickerstaff down the stretch. Most glaringly when he decided to let the Cavs inbound the ball with a 94-92 lead. Then, when Pavs ended up with the ball instead of Snow, he still didn't call time. Brown simply butchered that sequence, and that might have really cost them the game.

2. Games like this are why I am nervous about facing a team like Orlando or New York in the playoffs, in spite of myself. For some reason, the Cavs easily lose focus when the competition isn't marquee, especially on the road. I think last week's blowout win in Memphis was the exception and not the rule. Teams like that usually give the Cavs a run for their money.

3. Did anyone catch Scott Williams' comment about UNC in the NCAA Tournament during the second quarter? He said something to the effect of, "Who did we beat?" and Fred McLeod had to tell him it was Michigan State. Williams freaking PLAYED at UNC and he doesn't know who they beat in the NCAA Tournament??

That's even worse than "Why are they singing Hang On Snoopy?" and "Apparently, they have some kind of fast-food giveaway when the Cavs score 100 points." Seriously, does Williams pay attention to anything? Shouldn't knowing what the hell is going on be a prerequisite for landing an announcer's job?

If Dan Gilbert wants to make a really good investment, he should offer Steve Kerr gobs of money to leave TNT and join the Cavs announcing staff next season.

Ben said...

1. That was a sloppy, sloppy game by everyone. A timeout was needed by Brown at the end.

2. The Nets scare me the most. However, in the playoffs, I expect the Cavs to a little bit more focussed, no matter who they are playing.

3. Scott Williams is an idiot. A FSNOhio game needs to be live blogged at somepoint