Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cleveland 108, Golden State 104

First road win out of the way. The Cavs are just 2-2, but I think you have to be pleased with their play since the season opener. The Cavs fought hard against Golden State; they withstood a few Warrior runs, they played solid defense and, while they pushed the ball, they didn't get caught up trying to run with Golden State.

LeBron led the Cavs in just about everything. He paced the team in points (24), rebounds (14) , assists (9), blocks (3) and chastisings of Drew Gooden (1) all while playing with blurred vision (after getting a poked in the eye late in the first period). Throughout the night, LeBron set up about 15 feet from the rim and got some easy baskets (well, at least some baskets where he's not going 1 on 5). His 3(!) blocks were pretty ridiculous and his effort at the defensive end was strong all evening (he wanted, and got, to guard Baron Davis down the stretch). He was both dominant and playing within the flow of the game. Needless to say, I enjoyed it.

But it's not like he didn't have help. Both Daniel Gibson and Zydrunas Ilgausksas dropped in 22 points and Drew Gooden pitched in 16. Gibson knocked down 5-9 from beyond the arc (including a trey with 19 seconds left to put the Cavs up 4) and Z was 9-15 from the floor while grabbing 13 boards. I know a lot of Z's stat averages are up simply due to his increased work load, but you can't say the big man isn't playing great ball right now. He's rebounding well and taking good shots (it also helps that the Cavs are actually looking into the post with some regularity). Plus, Z moved more Tuesday night than he has in the past 4 years (he had a multiple drive to the rim and, surprise, they were effective).

Sasha Pavlovic hasn't gotten his legs under him yet. While Sasha was a brutal 2-11, I didn't find myself too upset with is play (certainly not as upset as I'd be with a 2-11 night from Larry Hughes. Of course, at this point I may have an irrational dislike for Hughes and his game). Sasha missed his share of open jumpers as well as a few layups. I expect that once he gets a few games under is belt that those shots will start dropping. Plus, I love a starting 5 of Gibson, Pavs, LeBron, Gooden and Z. That group will score points.

The bench was ok... Damon Jones scored 10 points (4-8 overall and 2-6 from downtown) and ran the point fairly well. Dwayne Jones only got 3 minutes but blocked a shot and challenged a few others. Devin Brown was probably the biggest help off the bench; Brown played his fair share of point guard and he notched 8 points, 8 assists and 6 boards in 27 minutes.

Both teams shot poorly from the foul line. The Cavs and the Warriors were both under 70%. LeBron was 5-7, Z was 4-6 and Gooden was 2-4 (for the game, the Cavs shot 68%). This could've come back to bite them at the end, but Golden State shooting 69% let them off the hook. For the season, the Cavs are shooting just 67% from the line; this has too improve.

Since it was a close game throughout (nevermind an entertaining one) we didn't get to see many young guys. Part of me is surprised that Shannon Brown hasn't played since then opener but another part of me remembers his play during said opener. I was also interested in seeing Golden State's Italian rookie, Marco Belinelli, but he didn't get any court time (the Cavs were his first DNP-CD). I spent last June's draft hoping the Cavs would find a way to trade into the first round to snag Belinelli but instead they stood pat (as I'm sure we're all aware).

The Cavs defense was decent. Yes, Golden State scored over 100 but they only shot 42% from the floor. Baron Davis attacked the smaller Gibson on the block a few times, but the Cavs did a pretty good job of forcing Davis into tough shots. Davis scored 29 points, but needed 28 shots to do it (for comparison, LeBron had 24 points on 16 shots).

This was the best the Cavs' offense has looked all season. They made quick decisions with the ball, it looked like the knew what they wanted to do and they went to the post for the entire game (unlike in Phoenix when they stopped for the 3rd period). The Cavs also pushed the ball quite a bit; they'd grab a rebound and throw a pass quickly, rather than holding onto the ball and waiting for a guard. Having Devin Brown and LeBron crash the defensive boards is a ready made break. All in all, the offensive movement was the best it's been all season (and sure, they were playing against Golden State's defense but I was just glad to see the Cavs stick to their gameplan).

and finally...

First back-to-back of the season. Playing Golden State and then Utah won't be easy, especially with the Cavs missing a good chunk of their roster (Varejao, Hughes, Marshall and Snow). Plus, the starters logged a lot of minutes against the Warriors; James had 42, Z had 38, Gooden had 37 and Gibson notched 35. It'll be interesting to see how the Cavs' effort will be following the game in Oakland.


davemanddd said...

excellent win. actually anytime the cavs win it's excellent. i don't think anyone ever called a loss "excellent". anyway, you were right on the money about the offense looking the best it's been all year. um, was that because neither larry hughes nor donyell marshall played??? um, does a bear sh!t in the woods??? hee-hee!!! no but seriously though, i honestly think defense in this day and age of the nba is very much over-rated. just because the cavs gave up 104 points doesn't mean they didn't play good defense when they actually did. the score isn't always indicative of the level of defense. i think the opposing shooting percentage is a much better gauge of that and since golden state only hit 42% of their shots, i would have to say the cavs did indeed play good defense. by the same token, good offense isn't always indicative of the score either, although this time it was. an even better sign of good offense is the number of assists a team has versus how many turnovers they have. if they have a larger number of assists and a lower number of turnovers, more than likely they will win the game as noted by the 30 assists and 12 turnovers last night versus the 13 assist and 15 turnover debacle in the opener against dallas. it will be interesting to see how they play in the second night of this back-to-back tonite against utah as that has been one of their achilles heels over the last few years. go cavs!!!

Jeff said...

We got the game down in the Cincy area so I got to watch it. Maybe it was just the warriors, but as I watching the game, all of a sudden we looked like we got a lot of competent basketball players. Where did this Devin Brown guy come from? He played solid D and isn't Eric Snow on offense. Sasha will be fine, he missed a couple easy shots and hes going to be fine from 3. The guy didn't have training camp, so this isn't unexpected. Its kinda good that Larry is out now so Sasha has to play and get all the kinks out. I could have seen the cavs kinda benching Sasha a while to punish him a little for holding out. Z and Gooden seem to be playing well in the new offense, even though it would seem that it doesn't necessarily play to their strengths. And Boobie is awesome, too bad we didn't have any draft picks this year such that we can't develop someone this year like we did boobie last year.

I read that Andy now wants a 1 year deal of 5 mil. And the Cavs said if he wanted a 1 year deal he should have taken the qualifying offer, we want him for multiple years. You can't really blame Cavs management for this. Why let one of your better defender/rebounders walk away in 1 year when now you have all the leverage? Andy's agent is ridiculous. First he wants 9 or 10 mil. I think Jeff Van Gundy said it best when he said "Imagine how much he would ask for if he averaged double digits". Whats wrong with a 2 or 3 year deal of 6 million? Which is what he should be worth, which was obvious at the end of last season. Just as it was obvious that Sasha is worth 4-5 mil a year. why does this seem so simple but yet so hard?

graham said...

AV is dumber than his agent, b/c this holdout could really hurt his career. His agent just wants money.

In any case, it's obvious AV is in a bind b/c that 1 year deal they laid out was silly: No way in hell the Cavs do that deal. If you're restricted you better either A.) take the contract offered by your team B.) Get another team to offer you more money than the team you're currently with, or C.) take that qualifying offer.

AV didn't do any of these, and now he's royally screwed. He is either dumb or received very, very poor advice. My guess is its a little of both. I'm shocked by his ignorance to be honest.