Sunday, March 25, 2007

Denver 105, Cleveland 93

That really escalated. This was a close game throughout (with 6:35 to go it was 88-87) but Cleveland didn't score over the last 3:42 and Denver simply pulled away.

Tale of two offenses. Did anyone notice how the Nuggets get Carmelo the ball? He gets it on the block, isolated completely or around the rim. Contrast that with where LeBron receives the ball, outside the 3 point line and with the entire defense watching him. Carmelo gets the ball right in his comfort zone and he doesn't have to outwork five guys to score. LeBron earns all of his points the hard way by taking contested jumpers and driving on the entire defense. Also, the Nuggets actually get 'Melo easy baskets by penetrating and having 'Melo set up near the rim. How many times do the Cavs do that? LeBron is always 20 feet from the hoop. Let's change this.

Hey, it's Zyrdrunas. Z played pretty well throughout, even though he missed some shots he normally makes (namely the hooks and open jumpers). As it is, he finishd with 18 points, 9 boards 3 assists (and I swear to God, only Sasha cuts to the hoop when Z and Andy have the ball. Imagine if other players *cough* LeBron did that).

The 3 point shooting was atrocious. 3-20. LeBron was 1-6, Pavlovic was 1-4 and Hughes was 0-5 and not many of those were what I'd call 'good attempts'. Hughes in particular passed up better, closer looks in order to hoist the bombs. Daniel Gibson made his 3 since his return and finished 1-4 from the land of trey (though I find it hard to believe that he wasn't fouled on at least one of his last two attempts).

I'm not a fan of the minute distribution. LeBron and Larry each played 41 minutes while Sasha played just 29. Meanwhile, both Snow and Newble were the main wing men off the bench. Snow played the entire fourth until Newble subbed in for him with 4 minutes to go (while the Cavs were down six- thats right, down six and Newble comes in). It wasn't like the rest of the bench did anything either, when Snow is your leading bench with 6 points, something has gone awry.

This offense can be efficient but apparently not with LeBron. LeBron got into foul trouble late in the third quarter the Cavs started the fourth down six. So what do they do? Run the offense through Z, pass and cut and tie the game up with 9:00 to go. LeBron comes back in at the 6:50 mark with the Cavs trailing by one. The Nuggets outscore the Cavaliers 17-6 the rest of the way. Now, obviously I'm not saying the Cavs are better without LeBron but I will say the offense looks better because the ball swings from side to side and guys actually move *hard* without the rock (LeBron isn't the only culprit, for some reason Snow holds the ball quite awhile as well). The Cavs and LeBron need to learn how to get him points without him dominating the ball so much.

National television? That means horrible offense. I swear America, they don't always looks this bad (not that this game was awful, but the last half of the fourth quarter was). Somehow the Cavs always manage to show case their worst habits on the national stage (the biggest of which is their offensive ineptness). It couldn't be because they're playing against good teams in these games...

I trash the offense, but the defense deserves some blame too. The Nuggets shot 60% for the game (well, 59.7%, but I'll round up). It wasn't like the Nuggets were just hitting everything either (only 5-14 from beyond the arc), the Cavs gave up a lot of dunks and mid-range shots. A big part of this was due to Allen Iverson, who finished with 12 assists and set up Nene and 'Melo with numerous easy baskets around the rim.

and finally...

Taking a road trip. 7 of the next 8 are away from the Q and the travel schedule makes perfect sense. They have a back-to-back with Indiana and New York starting on Tuesday, then another in Chicago and Boston next weekend. Couldn't play Chicago and Indiana back to back? And New York and Boston? No? Back and forth across the midwest and East coast? That sounds about right (I swear I'm not preemptively bitching in case they blow these games, though if they do, I'm sure FSN Ohio will mention the travel followed by "but it's not an excuse" at least a few times)


Anonymous said...

As bad as the FSN announcers can be, at least they know better than to call Ira a "Fan Favorite" as the ESPN guys did last night.

Erik said...

I can't remember if it was in the Plain Dealer or ABJ, but someone noted the fact that other teams might be adjusting to what the Cavs were doing during their winning streak, and the Cavs have yet to adjust back.

I think teams are now looking at what Utah did to the Cavs in their game prep. Sure, Utah lost the game, but they held the Cavs to 82 points. Leave it to Jerry Sloan to once again show everyone else the way. Damn, he's good.

There is a lot more trapping and double-teaming of LeBron and a lot more clogging of passing lanes as opposed to man-up defense. It all adds up to decreased offensive effectiveness, which produces a snowball effect.

You end up with Hughes, LeBron and Mike Brown all getting frustrated with each other, which leads to a total breakdown in offensive execution, the trademark of which is the much-maligned 20-foot fallaway with three seconds on the shot clock.

The Cavs' offense might be the most fragile material this side of Waterford crystal.

Ben said...

I almost choked when I heard the 'fan favorite' line about Newble. Which fans are these exactly?