Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dallas 98, Cleveland 90

Is this happening to anyone else? After the Cavs win a game, I feel like they could beat anyone; they'll take good shots, play defense and move the ball around- in short, they play well and win. But when they lose... man, I feel like they have no chance to do anything... ever... at all... in a world... Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the Cavs wins and losses are real simple: they play well and they win or they lose when they play poorly. They rarely have games where they play well and lose or play poorly but pull it out. There's never a loss where I feel like they simply got beat. Their losses are brutal; the offense stagnates, they make terrible decisions or they get embarrassed on defense.

And the thing is, as poorly as they played (and they played extremely poorly), the Cavs were still close enough to make a game of it. Credit the defense, credit LeBron, credit Coach Mike, all I know is that the Cavs offense looked like crap for 90% of the game and yet they were within 6 points in the fourth quarter. And this has happened a couple times this year; the offense goes into a deep funk and yet the Cavs are just a run away from winning the game. They were in that same spot against Dallas but A) got down by too much much and B) didn't execute on two late possessions that could've cut the lead to 5 (or 4).

The first half was awful. James was 2-10 from the floor, Sasha Pavlovic had all the Cavs field goals for the first 10 minutes of the second quarter, the Cavs missed 14 straight shots and they didn't score their first point of the second period until Larry Hughes made a free throw at the 7:22 mark. There were blown layups, missed dunks, forced jumpers, shot clock violations, traveling calls and missed free throws; basically, the Cavs did their best to try to turn people away from NBA basketball. It was brutal.

And yet they were only down 4 at halftime. It boggles the mind.

I don't understand the offense. The Cavs had Diop and Dampier in foul trouble for basically the entire game. Now, if I'm the coach, I do two things: feed Zydrunas (10 points, 4-8 shooting) and implore my players to drive to the hoop as much as humanly possible. Well, Z scored his last point with 5:43 to go in the third (on a tip in, no less) and the Cavs didn't attack the hoop until the the deficit was quite large. Makes sense to me.

I'm not sure what to think of Dallas. They didn't play well and yet the owned the Cavs in every which way. At the same time, since they the Cavaliers (and since the Cavs played so poorly), I'd think they'd have destroyed LeBron and co. But no, the Cavs kept hanging around (despite their own best efforts). So color me both impressed and underwhelmed (is this even possible? I say yes).

The bench sure showed up.... The Cavs scored 90 points. 87 by the starters. Ouch. The Cavs bench put 3 points and 11 boards combined. Well done.

Something is amiss here. Larry Hughes made 3 shots and Pavlovic made 5. Yet Hughes took 12 shots and Pavlovic just 8. I'd like to see those numbers even out a bit. Pavs was the only guy who could put the ball in the basket, yet the Cavs weren't exactly calling his number. Could they at least make an attempt to ride the hot hand?

Gibson is still rusty, Shannon Brown didn't dress. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that Brown has showed confidence in Boobie, I like that he hasn't just given away his minutes. But Gibson is still finding his way back and he doesn't look ready for a heavy dose of PT. And Brown hasn't deserved this string of DNP-CDs. I understand that he's the odd man out right now, but I wouldn't mind having him available (especially when the offense sputters).

Best part of the game? Eric Snow only got 5 minutes. There's been times this season where Brown has kept Snow in a rotation even with the Cavs struggling on offense. Thankfully, tonight wasn't one of those nights. I probably would've broken my TV if I'd seen Snow sub in during an offensive drought.

and finally...

How come they always save these awful performances for the national audience? Honestly, the Cavs don't always look this bad. But they've had some of their worst losses of the season during the nationally televised games (the Phoenix games, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Dallas...); the only games that they've looked good were against the Lakers. But I do find it amusing when Walton and Barry wonder why the Cavs only get the ball to Z early in the game or that LeBron and co. drove the ball late. Welcome to my world boys, I've been wondering this all season.


Erik said...

Ben, I'm going to pose the same question to I posed to someone else earlier today:

Has there been a game yet this year in which the Cavs were completely outclassed? Even against Phoneix, Dallas or Detroit? Is there a game yet this year where the Cavs had zero chance to win from start to finish?

I can't think of one. Maybe the game in Phoenix, but even then, they still had chances.

This team could be so good. I don't think an East title or NBA title is out of the question. They can handle the best teams in the league. Unfortunately, their Achilles' heel is between the ears.

For some reason, when they lose focus, everything goes in the dump. Some teams stall at the offensive end, but they continue to buckle down on defense. Some are vice versa. When the Cavs have a brain fart, it all goes away, and it stays away for a while.

If this team plays in the playoffs like they did during the winning streak, they can reach the Finals. If they play like they've played since the fourth quarter of the Charlotte game, they could also get kicked to the curb in the first round by a lesser opponent.

Celtics fans might beg to differ, but for my money, the Cavs are the most frustrating team in the league because I know how good they can be.

Ben said...

You hit the nail on the head. This is why the team has been so maddening this year.

The only two games where I thought the Cavs looked out classed was one of the early Detroit games and the game in Phoenix. That's it.

They hung with Dallas despite poor shooting, they've beaten both Miami and Chicago big (but have suffered frustrating losses to both as well), they beat San Antonio, both Los Angeles teams.

This team doesn't have bad wins or good losses. They just don't. It's either a game where they play the right way and look like a title contender or they do dumb shit and look utterly clueless.

These last two games have been perfect examples (especially following the win streak); they stopped going down low, they stopped sharing the ball and they took terrible shots. It doesn't matter if it's against Charlotte or Dallas, if you settle for jumpers and don't attack, you're going to lose.

That is what is most frustrating- everyone can see what the problem is. I know, you know, Mike Brown knows that when they force teams to play defense, they win. But when they get stopped a few times and revert to the "hoist shitty jumpers" offense, they blow it. At this point it's execution, they know what they have to do, it's jut a matter of doing it.

And that's the scary thing; this team disappears for quarters or halves but some how stays in the game (that's a testament to their defense and coach Brown). It's entirely possible that they could get hot for the playoffs and march into the finals.

Anonymous said...

Larry Hughes is the worst player on the team. I think I'd rather have Dwayne Jones on the court at this point.