Wow that was awful. Selfish play, bad defense and no rebounding. This didn't feel like a playoff team missing its star, it felt like a lottery team. There was no offensive or defensive cohesion. Guys tried to do too much and ended up forcing things. This looked like a Cavalier game from the season's before LeBron- a mix of talented young guys and half decent veterans in one uncohesive(is that a word?) mess.
Part of this is because of all the young guys. The starting backcourt was Daniel Gibson and Shannon Brown. Individually, both guys put up decent numbers, but I wouldn't say either second year guard played particularly well. Gibson had 17 points but shot 6-16 for the field (though 4-8 from 3) but also pitched in 6 boards and 4 assists. Brown made the most of his first start by scoring 20 points on 8-16 shooting (plus he was 4-7 from downtown) but I would say about half of his 16 shots were 'good' while the other half were forced.
Sasha Pavlovic received just 24 minutes. Surprised right? I mean, with LeBron James and Larry Hughes sitting out and going up against Vince Carter, you'd figure Sasha would get a lot of court time. And maybe Coach Mike had planned on it. But no one planned for Pavlovic to go 1-9. Also, like Brown, Pavlovic's shot selection left much to be desired.
Though, it wasn't just Sasha. As a team, the Cavs shot a blistering 34.6%. Devin Brown was 3-10, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was 1-6, Eric Snow was 0-3 and Drew Gooden was 6-16. The Cavs had just 16 assists on their 28 field goals. This was one of those games where, if I was the Cavs coach, I would've gotten myself thrown out. I'd have done this for two reasons 1) maybe me getting a technical would light a fire under their collective behinds and 2) if it didn't work, I wouldn't have to stay around and watch the rest of the debacle unfold.
The rebounding was awful. New Jersey out rebounded the Cavaliers 49-41 (and part of me thinks these numbers are skewed because of garbage time, the Cavs weren't close all game). The Cavs starting frontcourt combined for 12 boards which is as much as Dwayne Jones had in 28 minutes and only 2 more rebounds than the 10 the starting backcourt put up (Gibson had 6 and Brown had 4). Pavlovic managed to go 1-9 AND grab 0 rebounds. Drew Gooden played 38 minutes and had just 5. The Cavs gave New Jersey 12 second chance opportunities.
Dwyane Jones is trying to make the Cavs think twice about matching Anderson Varejao's offer sheet. The Cavs had 16 offensive rebounds, Jones had 8 (he had 12 total). Jones was chippy out there; he got into a few shoving matches and seemed to make his presence felt. He also made 3 of 4 shots from the floor (and 3-4 from the line) in his 28 minutes. If the Cavs do match Charlotte's deal (and I expect they will), hopefully Jones will continue to get minutes- he's earned the time.
Richard Jefferson killed the Cavs. I've never been a big fan of Jefferson, but he demolished the Cavs on the offensive end, scoring 36 points on 11-18 shooting and forced himself to the line 15 times (the entire Cavalier team had 19 FTA's). Jefferson also pitched in 2 rebounds and 2 assists, but those came pretty late in the game, as I remember at one point FSN showed a graphic in the second half and RJ had a point total in 20s but goose eggs across the board.
I feel weird saying this, but where was Ira Newble? Was he hurt and I wasn't aware (which is possible, I've been out of town)? Is he in Coach Mike's dog house? He's gotten semi-regular playing time throughout the season and I'm kinda surprised we didn't seem him at all during this game. I'm not a huge fan of Ira's game, but the guy plays hard, which is something that the Cavs could've used.
LeBron, come back, you've made your point. You're the MVP. The Cavs need to get you more help. We get it. The Cavs have some winnable games coming up (even with James out) but I wonder what their mental state is at the moment. LeBron and Hughes are out and the Cavaliers have lost 4 in a row. The offense is a mess (Z isn't nearly as involved as he needs to be) and the defense is awful (the Nets shot 51% from the floor). These past four games (Pistons, Raptors, Celtics and Nets) would've been tough even with James, so I'm not surprised that they've lost, it's just how bad they've looked while doing it. The Cavs are Washington tomorrow (another back-to-back) and then in Charlotte (could be awkward) on Saturday. Both games should be winnable, LeBron or no.