Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cleveland 101, Minnesota 88

I'm surprised no one got hurt. The Cavs beat the Timberwolves in every way possible- they out shot them, beat them to loose balls, out rebounded them and just had more energy all around. Kevin Garnett looked like he wanted to kill somebody (this is after he almost fought Varejao last time they met); he was jawing with Pavlovic (double tech), he jawed with the refs, he took a cheap shot at Z and he played the entire second half with a scowl attached to his face. The Wolves were frustrated and thoroughly beaten- not a good combination (especially during the '14-18 point lead and not quite garbage time so I'll keep the starters in' period of the fourth quarter).

The refs stunk. Some cheap fouls were called (on both sides) and some hard fouls were let go (again, on both sides). Unsurprisingly, Sasha Pavlovic didn't get the benefit of the doubt on anything. I can't wait until next season when Sasha will drive and actually get to the line after he's hammered.... it's gonna be awesome. To be fair, even though the refs sucked, you couldn't really say that they had a role in the outcome.

Drew Gooden certainly did. Gooden had a so-so first half (6 pts) but exploded for 14 in the third period. Gooden's outburst really took the whatever wind that the Wolves had left (and it helped ease the burden on LeBorn). Gooden was everywhere the third quarter; he was grabbing offensive boards, he was swishing jumpers, getting tip dunks, grabbing defensive boards and even getting one-handed runners to fall. He really showed off his entire arsenal.

As did LeBron. He went to the post (well, once or twice), he got out on the break, he passed the ball, he got some offensive rebounds, he made his free throws (5-5) and he even made some of his ridiculous 'stand and hoist' jumpers with a man in his face. When his outside shot is falling (and he's using it right) there is no way to stop him. He'll get whatever he wants, whenever he wants. LeBron brought the energy to Minnesota, grabbing 12 boards, 6 assists and 4 steals to go along with his 31 points.

But he played 42 minutes. That's right: coming back from an injury, late in the season, against a team coached by Randy Wittman, leading by double digits for most of the second half and LeBron plays 42. Rest him! Hell, rest Hughes (41 minutes) too. Let Pavs (31) and Gibson (17) play more, they are more than able. There is no good reason why LeBron should be over 40 minutes in this game.

The tale of two shooters. Gibson's stroke is back, Marshall's is not. Boobie had 11 points, shot 5-8 from the floor (5-6 when it mattered) and made a 3. Marshall was 0-4 and not one of those 4 could be considered a 'good miss'. Every shot looked bad and he wasn't much of a use. I have a real love-hate relationship with Marshall- when his shot is falling he tends to do the little things (rebound, defense, etc) better. But when his shot isn't falling? He's useless; he'll loose focus on the rest of the game and just keep hoisting 3s. The Cavs need at least one of these guys shooting well going into the playoffs.

Obligatory Hughes bashing. 3-10 for 11 points and 10 assists. Those 10 assists look nice, but he could've had a few more if he would notice that every once in awhile, the guys who set picks for him sometimes roll to the basket. He misses the open man quite a bit (though he's still miles away the best PG they got) and every now and then he seems to think 'hey, I haven't shot the ball in awhile, I'm going to shoot it when I get it'. I will say that his defense was very good. He was active and pestering all night (I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't mind his off shooting nights when he does other things. I mind the off nights immensely when he doesn't stuff the stat sheet otherwise.

and finally...

Good road trip, huh? If you would've told me that the Cavs would've gone 3-2 on their 5 game trip a week ago, I'd have been satisfied. 3-2 ain't bad. But when they go 3-2 and the losses are to the Knicks and Celtics.... well... it leaves something to be desired.

1 comment:

Erik said...

Brian Windhorst made a comment on his blog about how Pavs is starting to get a lot feistier when he goes to the hoop, draws contact/gets blocked and doesn't get a foul. He's starting to jaw with the refs and opposing players more often.

Not that I want to see Pavs turn into a tech magnet, but it's sure better than the LeBron/Andy V. patented move of standing with your arms out and an exasperated expression on your face after a blatant no-call, which just gets you a reputation as a whiner.

This was definitely a nice, dominant win in the mold of the dismantling of Indiana to start the trip, but I have to wonder just how hard the Wolves are trying anymore. They aren't going to sniff the playoffs this year, and they just look like a beaten team.

Kevin Garnett gets credit for trying, but you have to wonder if he's at his wit's end with Kevin McHale. I mean, Ricky Davis is who passes for KG's wingman right now. KG's situation in Minnesota has to be one of the few in the league where LeBron looks at another superstar and says "I'm glad I don't have his team around me."