Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New York 108, Cleveland 90

Fire Isiah? Screw that, fire Mike Brown. It was supposed to be a rough night for the Knicks (as the fans were supposed to have 'Fire Isiah' signs) but they played with energy and purpose (hey, remember those?) and simply kicked the Cavs' ass. There's a lot of things that Brown did which confused me, mostly his substitution patterns (after the way the third quarter started, I would've benched the entire five). I was also shocked that Sasha Pavlovic got off the bench after his bonehead turnover (he made a lazy bounce pass after back to Devin Brown off an inbounds pass and Nate Robinson stole it for a dunk).

LeBron was good... the rest, notsomuch. James had 32 points, 8 boards, 6 assists and 6 steals. He shot 12-21 overall, 3-6 from 3 and 5-6 from the line. Basically, he was awesome. The only other Cav to hit double figures was Drew Gooden with 11 (and he had 9 at halftime).

I'm including Fox Sports Ohio along with 'the rest'. Austin Carr went from talking about how the Knicks are team full of one-on-one players but not 3 minutes later praised them for always finding the second and third options on plays. Carr also warned the Cavs not to let the Knicks think they can win... while they were leading by 22 points in the third period. Also, for some reason FSN's scoreboard was blocking the rim on certain shots. All in all, this was not a pleasant experience.

The sad thing is, after first quarter, the game was never close. The Cavs ended the first 12 minutes of play down 31-30. Then things got ugly. The Knicks outscored them by 12 points in the second and another 4 in the third (where they got down by as many as 22). What surprised me is neither Shannon Brown or Eric Snow got any playing time, even at the end.

What kills me is that the Knicks are awful defensively and the Cavs still didn't go inside consistently. New York is last in the league in opponent field goal percentage (at 48%) and they held the Cavs to 43% shooting. The Cavs almost shot as many 3s (20) as they did free throws (21) - and they missed a lot of both (35% for 3 and 61% from the line). This is the worst defensive team in the league and the Cavs did nothing.

Never fear, the defense was just as bad too. To be fair, the Knicks are the worst offensive team in the league (8 teams score less points and two shoot worse) but they aren't good. The Cavs allowed them to shoot freaking 56% from the floor and 47% from behind the arc. There was nothing redeemable about this game at all.

I used to think point guard was the Cavs' biggest hole, but shooting guard is pretty terrible as well. Sasha Pavlovic and Larry Hughes shoot 3-10 and the only other contribution of note was Sasha's 4 boards. At this point I'm not sure which shooting guard is more painful to watch; both take questionable (at best) shots, both only play defense at times and neither contributes anything besides points. It can't bode well for Shannon Brown if he can't find playing time in this game...

and finally....

I'm sick of this. I know these Knicks have given the Cavs trouble in the past, but this game was awful. Neither Zach Randolph or Eddie Curry had more than 6 boards but the Cavs still got outrebounded (41-33). They let David Lee score 22 points (17 in the first half). There's no good reason why the Cavs should be playing this way. This is the same group of guys that won 50 games last year and if anything, they should be better (Daniel Gibson's 3pt shooting and LeBron's improvement). Maybe it's lack of motivation, maybe it's poor coaching (Mike Brown gets to juggle minutes... joy) maybe its... I don't even know. They shouldn't be this bad.


Erik said...

This smacks of an out-and-out revolt by the players against Mike Brown and Danny Ferry. Never in my life, not when the Cavs were on the way to 17-65 five years ago, not in the mono-ball days of Mike Fratello, have I ever seen a Cavs team not give a shit as much as this Cavs team didn't give a shit last night.

They weren't even trying. Brown was screaming and flashing signs from the bench, and I don't know if any player looked over there even once.

This has been going on for three years now. The Cavs show effort one night and the next, they have nothing. It doesn't matter the opponent. They can beat anyone when they're playing well and they can lose to Tri-C's JV squad by 20 when they're not playing well.

All you have to do is look at the postgame comments to get a sense of what this team is all about. LeBron came right out and said that the 8-17 Knicks "have more talent than we do," which is a direct address to Ferry and his summer of inactivity.

Meanwhile, Brown comes out and shreds himself for not emphasizing defense enough in training camp.

Last year, the Cavs were all about making the most out of what they have. This year, they seem very focused on what they don't have. And the questionable effort of the team under Brown continues.

It could very well be that Brown is this team's Doug Collins, and the Cavs are going to have to find a coach who is a better motivator (in addition to an improved roster) to have a serious shot at winning a title.

Ferry and Gilbert had better jump on improving this team and soon, because if the Cavs are heading into next season coming off 33 wins and no playoffs, with LeBron gassed from the Olympics, that losing culture that LeBron helped eradicate could return with a vengeance.

graham said...

The Cavs can't do much of anything, because they're stuck with a bunch of bad players who make a lot of money. We have little that other NBA clubs want.

It's weird: Cavs HAVE to make some kind of move, yet they don't have the pieces and they could keep themselves in salary cap hell if they do something drastic.

It seems like Ferry wanted to let those contracts expire and start anew, if you will. However, its clear now that they would be wasting LeBron's amazing production. And now, LeBron is pissed.

I feel bad for LeBron and Mike Brown. There are a lot of shitty players on this team who have filled up their entire cap. Have fun getting out of this one, Ferry.

Erik said...

The thing is, I think the Cavs could add Andre Miller, or even Jason Kidd, and right now I don't think it would make much of a difference.

There is just too much simmering animosity and finger-pointing going on. The Cavs have to adress the problems between their collective ears before Ferry can even begin to approach refitting the roster.

graham said...

Yeah, you're probably. In reality, not only do the Cavs need to a few more pieces, but some guys, like Hughes, Marshall and Jones, are gonna have to go. And the quicker the better.

The strategy to bring in those guys hasn't worked out as planned, esp. Hughes. It seems like it would be best if the relationships between some of these guys and the Cavs organization came to an end.

Ben said...

Knicks game aside, I put some of this blame on LeBron as well.

He mailed in the Nets and Sixers games. You wanna argue that the team stinks and Mike Brown stinks? Fine. But the Cavs aren't going to win when LeBron settles for 24 foot fadeaways.

This team goes as LeBron goes. When he's hustling and getting guys involved (like the Boston game), they win. When he 'lets the game come to him' and tries to work within (rather than dominate) they'll lose.

I still think he's coming back from injuries, so he gets some leeway there. Also, this team did just go from not having Hughes, Snow and Varejao to not having Hughes, LeBron and Varejao to now having everyone back (short of Donyell Marshall). That's a lot of changes in a short period of time.

Mike Brown was forced to stick with Z and Gooden (as well Pavlovic and Gibson) and ride them out. Now with Snow, Varejao and Hughes back, Brown has his defensive saftey nets back and he won't hesitate to turn to them (at the expense of the offense).

The sad thing is... the defense sucks worse than the offense now. They can't stop anyone.