Thursday, May 24, 2007

Detroit 79, Cleveland 76

That last play. Everyone is going to be talking about LeBron missing and was he/wasn't he fouled (um, he was) but it should have never come down to that (having to make the last shot or the refs being involved). The Cavs squandered a 12 point halftime lead by A) not attacking the hoop B) playing Larry Hughes and C) not taking care of the ball (five straight turnovers at one point in the fourth); bitch about the refs all you want (and there is some validity to that) but the Cavs blew this game.

More last play. I have a few problems with this sequence besides the no-call. Donyell Marshall is on the court and not only that, he's camped outside the 3pt line. This is terrible coaching. The Cavs are down one point; they don't need a 3, they need any type of basket. Marshall didn't just set up for the trey, he sat there even after the first miss.... your power forward didn't crash the boards!!! You want a shooter in that corner? Fine, I'm OK with this (this is why God invented Daniel Gibsons). But when you're down one and you need a basket, your bigs should be, oh I dunno, near the rim.

Brown must've given another "all the puppies are dead" halftime speech. May I suggest changing up the halftime routine? I don't know what goes on in there, but may I suggest adding strippers? The Cavs had a 50-38 halftime lead. With 2:40 left to play in the third, they held a 54-53 lead (and those two baskets came on desperation shots from Pavlovic off of broken plays). The Cavs came out flat, took six (actually over six) minutes and two timeouts to score four points (the aforementioned Pavlovic broken plays) and Brown didn't make a substitution until there was 5:20 left in the period. This was brutal to watch and quite frankly I'm surprised that all my windows and televisions are still intact.

More Brown. For the second game in a row, Brown used his timeouts early and didn't have any late. I can understand why he felt the need to use them, but he could probably save a timeout or two if he had his team prepared to start the second half.

Does Hughes have some incriminating photos of Mike Brown? At this point I really don't know how Brown can justify playing him. Gibson played marvelously all game (9 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal) but Brown went with Hughes during crunch time (I think he went with the "You Always Play Your Starters at Crunch Time" rule). Larry manages to do things that no other Cavalier could ever dream of getting away with. For instance, Hughes came in with 7 minutes left in the game and immediately committed two terrible turnovers (and the second TO was one of his "hold the ball for 20 seconds and do something stupid" classics). I guarantee that if Drew Gooden came in and immediately made two bonehead plays Brown would have no trouble calling him back to the bench (actually, Brown will probably with every player not named LeBron). Also, Hughes faded away on a wide open 7-foot jumper that could've won the game.

Z did not play well. 3 points and 7 boards does not a good night make. It looked like he was almost too eager to play well. He got good (some really good) looks early on, but simply missed shots. Was I expecting 22 points again? No. But 10-16 shouldn't have been out of the question.

Why did LeBron stop attacking? In the first half LeBron would make his moves quickly and decisively and not allow the Pistons' defense to set up. He scored 14 points and the Cavs held a lead. In the second half he walked the ball up, held onto it and basically allowed Detroit to pack the lane (of course Brown did nothing to stop this and everyone just stood around). He needed to make his moves faster and force the issue.

I'm going to make myself available to the Cavaliers. Not as a player or even as a coach (I'm not that useful). I'll just sit behind the bench and scream at Brown to put Gibson in. That's it, that's all I'll do. It's almost as if Brown forgets that Gibson is on the roster. We'll go a few games with the offense sucking and then Coach Mike will throw Gibson out there and whatayaknow, Gibson hits some 3s, the floor opens up and the offense looks that much better. It boggles my mind that Brown used the shooters in the second quarter to get a big lead and proceeded to wait over six minutes to make a sub in the third when the offense was failing (and that sub? Anderson Varejoa. Awesome). Gibson has deserved minutes all season long and he proved in Game 2 that he can handle the pressure and intensity of the Conference Finals (offensively and defensively- he blocked Billups twice).

Hey Detroit, you guys do commit fouls every now and then. I swear to God, they are complaining after every single play (and it doesn't matter what happens, they could've gotten and call and they are still bitching). But hey, maybe it works...

Cavs fans: don't use the refs as a crutch. Did they blow? You bet they did. But they blew some calls Detroit's way as well (Gibson traveled, Hughes traveled, Billups was fouled a few times). A lot of people are going to focus the last couple series, where Detroit took the lead and the Cavs missed their chance to win. Did Wallace shove Varejao to get free for his last shot? Ya, probably. But Varejao added some acting and when you flop as much as Andy does, you're not going to get every call (and there's also a 'boy who cried wolf' issue in there as well). The refs sucked major ass, there's really no denying it -BUT- they didn't cost the Cavs the game. You can't play a second half like that and expect to win- especially not in the Conference Finals.

Gooden, thanks for showing up. 4 points and 1 rebound from the starting power forward. Ouch. They really could've used Gooden too; at least he might've been able to put a body on Jason Maxiell. Maxiell killed the Cavaliers all night long, scoring 15 points and getting a ton of hustle plays that energized the crowd. Someone needed to put a body on him, and Drew Gooden could've/should've been that guy.

and finally...

I'm still somewhat cautiously optimistic. Here's the deal: the Cavs have had some really terrible stretches of basketball. Just gawd awful. They look completely clueless, they'll stop doing simple things like moving, boxing out and playing guys who can shoot the basketball and Larry Hughes will shoot 2-9 and get 38 minutes. Yes, the Cavs are down 0-2 and these haven't exactly been confidence boosting games... BUT the Cavs are this close to being up 2-0. The defense has been there, the offense has showed signs and LeBron hasn't had a 'good' game yet. They had good chances to win both games, even playing as poorly as they did. Obviously, Game 3 is the big game. The Cavs need to get over these tough losses and defend their home court. If they do that, they still have a (very very) good chance of taking the series. If they lose one of the two upcoming home games, they're sunk. It's pretty much that simple.

8 comments:

Joel said...

Immediately after the game ended I scribbled down blog post about Larry Hughes.

Seriously--he should not be allowed to play at all. I would be much happier if Gibson and Pavlovic started, with Snow coming off the bench.

Say what you want about Snow, but he plays adequate defense and a) doesn't turn the ball over, b) generates assists, c) doesn't take terrible shots that may as well be turnovers.

As far as I'm concerned, Hughes doesn't do a, b, or c. I'm done with him.

Fade away? Come on!

Also: no bank shot.

graham said...

Cavs simply do not have a championship-caliber roster, other than LeBron. The rest of the team is either terribly inconsistent or very young. I do feel like this is invaluable experience for this team, esp. LeBron.

Brown is not a good in-game or offensive coach, and that is a bad combo. He gets his players to understand and play D, but that is learned in practice. His offensive mind is non-existent. Aslo, make a halftime adjustment, Mike, because you know damn well the other team is going to do so.

I've said it before but if Ferry doesn't bring in an offensive mind, it will be as big a mistake as not going after a PG this past summer. It would be inexcusable if that entire coaching staff stays pat.

BTW, the Cavs have to win the next two games if they want a chance and my feeling is they will feel the pressure to win two, and end up losing one of the two.

graham said...

One other thing, the refs didn't cost the Cavs the game, but ya know, maybe they did.

It shouldn't have came to that, true. But, the fact is the Cavs were down by 1, LeBron WAS fouled and deserved 2 free throws.

I'm glad Brown and LeBron didn't blame it on the refs for the most part, but that was shitty call and it very well could have cost the Cavs the game.

Erik said...

I know that no one outside of Cleveland is really going to give the Cavs any respect because the feeling is they hit the lotto drawing Washington and New Jersey to get to this point.

But think about where the Cavs are: They are in the East finals and had a chance to win both games in Detroit despite the fact that:

a) They don't have anything that even resembles a true point guard.

b) They don't have anything that even resembles a legit second scoring option behind LeBron.

c) They have a woefully inconsistent bench that is mediocre at best.

d) They routinely come out dead after halftime.

e) Their offense flat-out sucks for long stretches (plays into not having a PG).

It's frustrating and amazing at the same time. Imagine if the Cavs could address just two of those needs this summer. If they play like this in future playoffs, they might actually be able to beat Detroit.

Thank heaven for the Eastern Conference, where 53 wins makes you the top dog.

Ben said...

I think they win the two home games. They have a lot of things going in their favor: the refs, the home crowd and simple chance (oh, and self confidence).

I'm not sure how I feel about Brown not bitching about the refs. On one hand I like (read Truehoop today) but on the other hand, it almost seems like they're being too nice or too soft. The Pistons bitch about every call down the court and... they get calls.

If Shaq gets hacked with no call, you bet he and Riles bitch after the game and you can bet that he'll be at the line 10 times the next game.

The 3rd quarter is now officially an issue and I'm not sure if Brown can fix it at this point, they just have to survive it. Hopefully the crowd will step up Sunday (but after Game 5, I'm not expecting much.

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POJO_Risin said...

I have safely put away any thoughts on this series. There's a big part of me that is thinking like Erik. They almost won the first two games. Obviously, going to Cleveland should make the other two easier...right?

Then there's the other thought. Last year, they played the first two games out of their minds, then played more like THIS the next three. My worry is that Detroit comes out and plays an offensive game, and the Cavs have no answer.

WE shall see.

Hey guys...make sure you all roll around the DOJO...it's all Cleveland content now, and since I'm writing for the Tribe and Ohio State MVN pages, it's main focus right now is on the Cavs...

Good to see you all...

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