Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dallas 92, Cleveland 74

Calm down. Let's take a deep breath before we fire Danny Ferry and Mike Brown. Obviously, this wasn't the Cavaliers' best performance. The team is putting together (yet another) new offense and it was pretty obvious they aren't comfortable with it just yet. Guys were tentative when the ball would come their way and it looked like they were over thinking things. Things will improve as the year goes on and they get more comfortable with the offense. The defense wasn't completely awful (though it wasn't anywhere near 'good'); Dallas shot very well (it seemed like every jumper with the clock winding down went in) and they still didn't crack 100 (not that they really needed to- the game was a laugher from the second quarter on).

First shot of the season? A missed Larry Hughes jumper. Larry finished the night with two field goals in thirteen attempts. Fantastic. This is a good sign... I can barely wait for the following 81 games.

LeBron's first shot attempt? Three minutes left in the first quarter. His first points? About two minutes into the third period. Not good. James finished with just 10 points (though, he was in foul trouble most of the night. But still, LeBron needs to look to score early on in the game). this was also the first game in his career in which he didn't score in the first half. Also, he didn't take care of the ball early in the game (to be fair, none of the Cavs did) which led to some easy Dallas buckets.

The refs weren't bad. Ya, LeBron had 3 fouls in the first half. They were good calls, even the offensive elbow one. They seemed too focused on the refs and not enough on the Mavericks.

The game was lost in the first half. You can't expect to beat any teams, let alone the Mavericks, if James and Hughes combine for just 3 points in the first half. Plus, the Cavs finished the first half extremely poorly. They were only down 14 points with 3:35 to go in the second period (46-32). They were in a good position to cut the lead to 10 or 12 before halftime. Instead, Dallas outscored the Cavs 8-2 in the final minutes of the half to go up 20. If they finish the half strong, this could've been a different game.

That 15 point first quarter didn't help matters either (neither did the 19 point second quarter and the 15 point fourth). I know it's early and it's a new offense and blah blah... but damn. But hey, they scored 25 in the third, so maybe they've put their third quarter struggles (that plagued them late last season) behind them...

Big Z played well. 18 points and 17 boards ain't bad. The new offense could get him some more points; not many plays are called for him, but with all the driving and kicking going on, he could benefit from the open standup J's (and the all the player movement should help him find some lanes to crash the offensive glass).

Boo birds, already? I'm not one of those guys who bemoans fans that boo their own players, but to hearing the boos this early is a bit surprising. Don't get me wrong, paying fifty bucks to see Larry Hughes shoot 2-13 might piss me off a bit too. But this is just one game of eighty two. Have some perspective. Hell, one guy on WTAM's post game call-in show was saying he wants to return his season tickets (and he's had them for four whole years!). This team is going to struggle early on; they play the Knicks on Friday (who always give them trouble) and then they head out West. This could get ugly. But the team will be better as the year goes on, just have some patience (also, speaking of the call-in show... Hannah? Marry me).

I thought Boobie Gibson played well. He hit some jumpers, he got a bucket inside and he even notched 4 assists. I'll be shocked if he doesn't have a big season. The Cavs do have to watch out for him in regards to mismatches. Whenever Gibson got caught on Jerry Stackhouse, he was taken right to the low block (where he stood no chance against the veteran Stackhouse).

Shannon Brown struggled. It looked like Brown was pressing a bit (though you could say that about the bulk of the squad) and he seemed to be forcing the issue. He had a golden opportunity to take Sasha Pavlovic's minutes and he hasn't capitalized. With Pavlovic coming back as early as Friday (he said he's been practicing with team back home), Brown needed to get off to a decent start. 0-5 with 2 turnovers ain't it.

Free throws... haven't improved. 15-25 as a team. James was 6-10 and Drew Gooden was 2-5. They can't expect to beat good teams while shooting 60% from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, Dallas shot 85%...

and finally...

I am definitely not comfortable about Friday's game. The Knicks always give the Cavs trouble (especially Jamal Crawford) and I'm not too eager to see Eddie Curry and Zach Randolph down low this early in the season.


graham said...

I'm still not entirely sure what is wrong with the Cavs, but they seem to lack any motivation, passion, or optimism for this season.

I really hope they get around this, but when reading Windhorst's latest blog, it seems this team has some pretty big off-the-court issues.

Worrying isn't quite the same as accepting the problems this team has. My guess is this roster has unfortunately run its course, and some major roster moves have to come after this year to support LeBron. The likes of Hughes, Gooden (he'll never be consistent), Jones, and Newble really have to go IMO. I'm not saying the Cavs can get rid of these guys but its definitely in their best interest.

Hate to be so negative, but its evident the organization needs to put better talent around LeBron (and its very risky to try to do this in his last year before FA). I'm a huge Cavs fans, but if they don't do this rather quickly LeBron can't be blamed for leaving.

Erik said...

Every single team that plays the Cavs, certainly in the early going, will be watching all four games of the NBA Finals from June. Everything you need to do to stop LeBron was demonstrated by the Spurs right there.

Rule No 1. Under no circumstances do you ever let LeBron get a head of steam. On the several occassions LeBron had a fastbreak opportunity last night, a Dallas player fouled him with a jersey tug.

On the several occasions LeBron tried to steamroll his way inside, the entire defense collapsed into the half-circle around the basket. There were a couple of bullshit offense fouls called, but the plan largely worked. Instead of getting all the way to the basket, LeBron was usually changing direction in mid-air and tossing awkward runners at the rim, the majority of which didn't fall.

If Mike Brown keeps posting LeBron, you can bet the defensive strategy with be "Hack-a-Bron." Send him to the free-throw line, where he'll have to rely on his 68-percent shooting to beat you.

Granted, Dallas' defense is one of the best the Cavs will face all year, but teams that have the personnel will figure out ways to stop LeBron this year. The only way around it is for LeBron to develop his outside shot as a legit weapon. Early returns say that, no matter how much work he put in this summer, that hasn't happened.

Greg said...

I'm really curious to see what's going to happen with all these shooting guards.

Shannon Brown and Damon Jones should be the odd men out... I cringe every time Brown touches the ball.

Yeah, Boobie should have an excellent year. I liked Devin Brown's aggressiveness last night, too.

You bring up a lot of good points, as always, Ben.

Ben said...

I'm beginning to think Hughes is done here. He misses one jump shot and the crowd starts groaning. That can't be good...

I'm hoping Brown does well this year (and I thought he would) but its telling that he couldn't make a push for Sasha's job.

The team has problems, but I'm not sure what Ferry can do. The last thing I want them to do is fix a short term problem by taking on a long term one (see Snow, Eric and Hughes, Larry).

What I really don't want to happen is for management to panic and cave to Varejao's contract demands. They simply cannot pay him more than Drew Gooden. If it means they have to stand pat and suffer a bit... I'm ok with that. LeBron's contract extension kicked in this year. So if there's ever a time to take your lumps, this is it.

I think we all can agree that they need to make a move. But they need to make a smart one. And they're going to get off to a poor start, so there's gonna be pressure to do something. They can't afford to blink.

Erik said...


Ferry agrees with you. Unfortuately, the 2007-08 Cavs might suffer the consequences on the floor because Ferry knows he can't add more big contracts until the ones he already has are off the books.

The contracts of Hughes, Marshall, Snow and Damon Jones prove that free agency and trading for veterans is a bad way to build a team, and the most direct way to end up in salary cap quicksand.

Fans can blast the draft history of the Cavs all they want, but the draft is the only way to add pieces to your team while still maintaining longterm financial flexibility.

The Jiri Welsch trade still has me pissed. To think that Jim Paxson essentially traded two first-rounders for Welsch ... my goodness. That trade has screwed the Cavs over more than just about everyone realizes.

Ferry needs to get some of these overpriced veterans off the books ASAP and start amassing draft picks whenever possible. Even if the pick is a bust, it's a bust signed for 3 years and $6 million, not a bust signed for 5 years and $60 million.