Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cleveland 98, Philadelphia 92

Besides the beginning of the halves, everything was peachy. The Cavs spotted the Sixers a seven point lead before righting the ship and going into halftime leading 58-50. They then proceeded to come out of halftime and give the Sixers 10 quick points before calming things down and taking control of the game. These were really the only blips for the Cavaliers- everything else was crisp and well executed.

The start of the 3rd quarter wasn't all bad. FSN Ohio lost the audio feed, so we were announcerless for the first minute plus. There was no Williams breaking exercise balls stories or Scotty identifying Moses Malone by his forehead. Best sequence of the year.

Balanced attack. All five starters scored in double figures and Varejao gave them 11 off the bench. The Cavs shot just under 50% for the game, 5-12 from beyond the arc and finished with 29 assists. There's not much more you can ask for.

Wait, free throws. 15-23 for a blistering 65%. James was 4-7, Hughes was 1-2 (officially anyways, he was really 1-3- he missed the second of two but it got a redo due to a lane violation. He missed that too) and Varejao was 3-6. Varejao was the worst offender but I'd feel a lot better right now if Hughes and James were knocking them down consistently.

The minutes were pretty good. James had 18 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in only 36 minutes (and it could've been even less, he sat the entire fourth until the 5 minute mark and didn't take a shot the rest of the game) while Hughes got an astounding 43. Hughes played well, don't get me wrong, but 43 minutes? When Pavlovic only got 28 (and he was looking good- got to the rim, hit a 3) and Gibson logged just 12? I understand why Hughes got the PT (his shots were falling (22 points on 9-19) and LeBron was resting), but with the playoffs coming up, getting Gibson and Pavs some extended minutes wouldn't hurt.

Ah, the post. The Cavs utilized the post rather effectively Tuesday night. They weren't forcing it or anything, but there was a steady diet of somebody getting a look on the block. LeBron got some touches, Z got his obligatory 'start of the game' looks and both Sasha and Andy received a play or two. It wasn't a big change in the offense, but threw another wrinkle at the defense.

Z was used really well. I already mentioned his post touches, but he also got some open looks off of 'pick and fades' and ball rotation (even late in the game!). The big fella also dished out 5 assists (with a few going to LeBron off of the high post. More of this please) to go with his 14 points and 8 boards.

and finally....

It all comes down to this. By now we're all aware of what needs to happen tomorrow night if the Cavaliers want to avoid Shaq, Wade and the refs in the first round: Cleveland must beat the Bucks and the Nets must beat Chicago. It's simple. The Cavs also have a shot at back-to-back 50 win seasons, which isn't all that terrible (But what a difference a year makes huh? last year: 50 wins!? Awesome! This year: 50 wins? Meh).


Erik said...

I'm going to go by the Gary Benz theory that says if you field the same team year-to-year, you're going to get approximately the same result, year-to-year.

Fifty wins isn't quite "meh" in Cleveland. Not just yet, considering that if the Cavs win tonight, it will be only their fifth 50-win season in franchise history.

Having said that, this will likely go in the books as a "plateau" season. Progress will be measured by what they do in the playoffs, but if the Cavs want to become a better team, they're going to need to acquire better players, particularly in the backcourt.

Fifty wins is still a good showing, but if this team rests into a groove of cranking out 48-50 win seasons and first and second-round playoff exits in the coming years, patience will run thin for this team in a mad hurry.

Erik said...

By the by, if you read today's column, Bill Simmons says he's going to pre-order Brian Windhorst's 2010 book, "How We Lost LeBron," chronicling how seven years of catastrophically-bad Cavs front office management made LeBron run screaming to the Knicks.

This coming from a fan of the Boston Celtics, who are presently the trendsetters for abysmal NBA front-office management.

Brother Simmons, you might want to remove the log from your own eye before you point at the speck in your neighbor's.

Ben said...

I did like the Windhorst shout out though, BW does good work (plus he answers my emails, fuck you Sheldon Ocker!)