Friday, June 08, 2007

San Antonio 85, Cleveland 76

Meh... not too as bad as it could've been. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this game. The Spurs have the experience and the homecourt advantage; I wasn't expecting the Cavs to come in and 'shock the world'. The fact that the final score was only 9 points was kinda encouraging (especially when the deficit ballooned to 18 early in the fourth).

The third quarter demons returned. The Cavs were down 5 at half and 15 at the quarter break- not good. I'm not sure if I put the quarter on the Cavaliers' shoulders or on the Spurs (though it was probably a combination). Cleveland wasn't completely awful, but they just gave the Spurs too many opportunities.

The rebounding was the most disheartening aspect. I (somewhat) expect the Cavs to shoot poorly (42%) and I expected Tony Parker to have a big game (27 points, 7 assists) but I didn't expect the Cavs to give up that many offensive rebounds (13) or get out rebounded by that much (43-32). There were a couple brutal second half possessions where the Spurs got three shots at the hoop (hint- everyone needs to box out, not just the big men). The offense is somewhat understandable, getting beat by good player is understandable. But getting outrebounded? Not a good sign for things to come.

First game jitters. Sasha Pavlovic was pressing early and Z was pressing all game. Pavlovic eventually found a rhythm (13 points on 6-12 shooting) but Ilgauskas never got into it (1-8 from the field). This wasn't exactly surprising, but they really need Z to bounce back with a strong game (he really needs to make the Spurs pay for doubling LeBron so much).

The Spurs trapped LeBron and made him give the ball up. Part of me wishes James would've been more aggressive but he wasn't getting the calls (I'm not sure how Oberto didn't get called in the first half....) and the Spurs left the rest of the Cavaliers wiiiiide open. James finished with just 14 points on 4-14 shooting (6 of those 14 came on late 3s...) and got to the line twice (he made all four freebies). It's imperative that LeBron gets the Spurs in trouble, he can't allow himself to settle for fade-away jumpers. He needs to force the issue more; their entire defense is locked on him and he needs to exploit that further.

It would help if Mike Brown had an offensive game plan. Seriously, do something. Have LeBron set screens, put LeBron in the post or move him off of screens. Just setting up and running a pick isn't going to cut it.

Tony Parker is going to be trouble. You remember the season? How the Cavs couldn't stop quick point guards? How Tyron Lue and the entire Knicks team killed the Cavaliers? Ya, that's not going to end well. Parker is too fast for Hughes, Pavlovic and Snow (even though Mark Jackson really wanted the Cavs to put Snow on Parker. That would not have ended well) and he's stronger than Gibson. I think Gibson is the best matchup, but there really is no good answer here (James checked Parker for a time as well. He gave Tony the jumper. And he hit it).

I'm not a fan of Larry Hughes. He took some bad shots, he made some poor decisions and he's not healthy. Play Daniel Gibson! The kid can ball. Gibson led all Cavaliers with 16 points and he also pitched in 4 steals and 4 assists (which was 4 more assists than the starting backcourt had, combined). Boobie was 7-9 from the floor in 28 minutes; I think it's time he gets more 30+... seriously, play the kid. However, on the flip side, every time Hughes does make a basket, it feels like gravy. Cause honestly, at this point I expect nothing from the guy; when he scores, it feels like a free possession (you mean that pull up 20 footer off the fast break went in? Alriiiiight).

Tim Duncan is good at basketball. 24 points (10-17 shooting), 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. Ugh. He might be an issue in this series. His defense is astounding and the Cavs just try to force him into jumpers at the offensive end. Duncan was also 4-5 from the line; I'd foul him more often (say, with Scot Pollard) and A) make him earn his points and B) hope he misses his freebies and gets himself into a funk at the line. He got a couple of baskets off of Parker drives and/or second chance points.

and finally...

I'm not too concerned... yet... Like I said earlier, I wasn't expecting a whole lot in Game 1 and this game certainly could've been worse. The Cavs' inexperience showed (nerves) and LeBron didn't have a particularly good game. Even though the lead ballooned, the Cavs never quit; they got within 8 (with a chance for 5) and ended up losing just by 9. Game 2 is the key game- you don't want to go down 0-2 and because you'd then HAVE to sweep your home games. The Cavs showed some life (albeit late) and hopefully they'll play a more controlled game in Game 2. Oh, and if the Cavs want to win in San Antonio... LeBron has to give them more than just 14 points.


graham said...

Help me out here fellas, WTF does Daniel Gibson need to do to get more playing time. Perhaps he neeeds to go off for like 31 pts or something before he gets Mike Brown's attention.....wait.

Seriously, Brown screwed that up big time IMO. Spurs are throwing 3 guys at LeBron, daring the other Cavs to shot, so Brown keeps the best shooter on the entire roster on the bench. Big time mistake, and its these kind of substitution mistakes that Brown makes A LOT.

There's been a lot of praise for Brown, and rightfully so. Windhorst also wrote that Brown is gonna get an extension and that's fine, I guess. On hand, you gotta give the guy the extension for making it to the Finals and getting the Cavs to play great D. On the other hand....seriously, can we not chalk up our playoff success to LeBron? Our the Cavs in this position if we LeBron doesn't play out of his effin' mind in Game 5 of the ECF.

Hate to start getting after Brown after one game and I hope I'm way off, but I really question if he's a championship-caliber coach.

The Other Ben said...

He will never be a Championship caliber coach because you need have assistants around you to make up for what you lack. Just as you cant win by running JUST a good offense (see; Suns, Phoenix; Warriors, Golden State) The sad thing is, I still dont think this team is complete depth/talent wise, but we could hold our own against the spurs if Brown knew how to run a fundamentally sound offenese, we would have been right in last nights game. UGH, who knows. The cavs could come out Sunday and actaully play well and steal one. They could also fail to adjust and just get swept. Who knows. But i agree, MORE GIBSON PLEASE!!

Erik said...

Easy on Mike Brown. This was essentially his first Finals game, too. As far as I'm concerned, LeBron and Brown's defensive coaching have combined to take a team that probably really isn't Finals-caliber yet and make them overachieve.

Yes, the Cavs offense needs help. Whether that needs to come in the form of an offensive assisant coach or a true point guard (I vote the latter) remains to be seen. Yes, the Cavs' lack of offense is probably going to hurt them in this series in ways it didn't hurt them against Detroit.

But I'm not about to sound the "Fire Mike Brown" trumpets. Anyone who does that right now is simply acting out of frustration at what happened last night.

Look at the Cavs' guard situation, sans Gibson, and tell me that Brown hasn't done an amazing job getting this team to this point. He's been lugging around the jump shots of Larry Hughes and Eric Snow, Sasha's inability to finish at the basket and Damon Jones' defense, and still has this team in the NBA Finals.

I, for one, am impressed.

graham said...

Brown has done a great job with our defense. No question about it.

But he not only struggles on the offensive side, it basically took injuries before he inserted Sasha, Gibson, and Hughes at the point. Had the injuries not occurred in the way they did, we're probably still looking at Snow and Hughes as our starting guards.

I don't want to fire the guy. But he really struggles with offense, lineups, and substitutions. I also don't want to say the guy screwed up after without this series playing....but, depending on how it does play, I think you have to wonder if the success in the playoffs is not mostly due to LeBron and a relatively weak road to the Finals (Lets face it, neither Washington or NJ had winning records).

Its also not fair to Brown because our roster isn't that great, but at the same time, you gotta put those guys out on the floor who can win games (i.e, Gibson)

Erik said...


What you say is very true, but for the time being, I'm willing to chalk it up to Brown's own inexperience. Young coaches stay the course when they are unsure what to do because they don't want to make the knee-jerk reaction that blows everything up. Not saying it's right or wrong, but that's probably how Brown is thinking: Stick with what got you here, don't panic after one game.

Having said that, Brown will probably be compelled to reach the conclusion everyone wants him to reach: Right now, more Boobie and less Hughes is a good thing.