Friday, January 04, 2008

Cleveland 97, Sacramento 93

This game is all about the bench. The Cavaliers bench outscored their Sacramento counterparts 31-17. The Cavs had only three bench players score, but they all put up double figures. Boobie and Devin Brown each had 13 points and Anderson Varejao pitched in 11. All three guys played with a ton of energy (which really woke up the crowd) and they also came in with that apparent rare ability to make shots (and Gibson a big one to put the Cavs up 4 with 11 seconds left).

LeBron saved the Cavs from a horrendous start (instead it was just 'barely watchable'). LeBron scored 13 of the Cavs 21 first quarter points (and I was shocked they even broke 20, they had 13 with 1:15 left). James attacked the hoop and gave the Cavs a much (much much much) needed energy boost early on. James finished with 24 points, 10 assists, 8 boards and 5 steals. This was one of his better games (stats and energywise) since he returned from injury. This was one of those games where James was aggressive; he actively looked to post up and he ended up taking 12 free throws (making 9).

Neither Pavlovic or Hughes shot the ball well. Hughes was 2-11 while Sasha was 4-11. Pavlovic at least grabbed some rebounds (6) and attacked the rim (though I'm not sure if missing close range shots works for or against him... but at least he tried to do something). Either way, neither guy looked comfortable but I'd say Pavlovic at least had something to build on.

Give Mike Brown credit, he kept with a lineup that was working. In the fourth quarter, the Cavs began to click with a lineup of Gibson, Brown, James, Varejao and Ilgauskas (one could argue that this should be the starting five... could argue...) and Brown rode them til the end (well, almost, for some reason Pavlovic replaced Z on the Kings final possession(??)). Brown actually does this fairly well from time to time (sticking with a lineup that works) and I wished he'd ride the hot hand (or hands) more often.

I still hate Mikki Moore. I don't care what team he's on, he's always annoying. Him and Pavlovic had a couple of rough run ins throughout the game (which I assume is a carry over from last year).

Z bounced back with a decent game. After barely making a dent in the Hawks game Wednesday night, Z played a very active game against the Kings, scoring 14 points and grabbing 15 boards. He didn't shoot particularly well (a Larry Hughes-esque 4-15) but it wasn't like he was taking bad shots or forcing things, his jumper simply wasn't falling (and neither were his tap ins). Z also had a nifty pass from the post to a cutting LeBron (for a 3 point play) which should make some nightly highlight reels.

Odds vs Evens. The Cavs first and third quarters were terrible; there was little to no energy, there was terrible shot selection and even worse defense. The crowd was booing (I mean, Larry Hughes turned the ball over by stepping inbounds... while inbounding) and the team looked rather abysmal. However, the second and fourth quarters were practically inspirational. Varejao, Brown and Gibson actually played with passion and their played ignited the crowd (and, to a certain extent, LeBron). LeBron took advantage of his active teammates by sitting back and distributing the ball (only 5 points in the second half). He didn't exactly 'let the game come to him', but at least he started looking to pass after he scored a ton of points (and it sure helped that his teammates moved without the ball).

Hey... wasn't that guy cut by somebody? Beno Udrih looked very much like starting point guard on his way to scoring 11 points (just 5-12, but he did miss a few point blank layups. Like Pavlovic, I'm not sure if this a point for or against him) and dishing out 9 assists. Udrih looked very (very very) quick with the ball and I was really impressed with some of his passes (they seemed to hit players right in the hands. Weird).

and finally...

Keep 'em coming. This game wasn't the prettiest (the first and third quarters) but it wasn't the ugliest either (thanks to the second and fourth). They've won 4 of 5 and they're only a game out of .500 (16-17). They travel to Toronto for a matinée game against the Raptors on Sunday and they follow with games against the Sonics, @Hawks, Bobcats and @Grizzlies. Another 4 out of 5 isn't out of the question (and 3 of 5 is a must).

5 comments:

davemanddd said...

yes, a win is a win is a win, but i don't know what upsets me more, a lackluster cavs win like this one, or a blowout loss like when they were in the midst of their 6-game losing streak when lebron was out with his injured digit. the kings were without their top 4 scorers as kevin martin, mike bibby, ron artest and shareef abdur-rahim were all out injured and yet the cavs barely won this game and actually even trailed by 12 at one time. what a revolting development that was. they should have won this game by 30, but for some reason the cavs old bugaboo for having a lack of passion for the game depending upon the level of competition that the opponent provides reared its ugly head once again and the cavs were in another unnecessary dog fight right to the very end. why can't the cavs just do us all a favor and actually put forth even a semblance of effort for an entire game against an inferior opponent and win by 20 for a change instead of having to expend maximum effort in just the 4th quarter just to play catch-up and pull it out in the end??? no wonder they have had such an up-and-down roller coaster season when they don't consistently play their game versus the dregs of the nba as compared to their increased effort against the elite. when a team has offensive lulls like the cavs are usually prone too having, especially in the 3rd quarter of games, it's almost always due to a lack of willpower on the part of the players. they just lack that sparkplug that can often mean the difference between winning and losing the 3rd quarter and ultimately winning or losing the game. while the bench sure came through for the cavs tonite with daniel gibson, devin brown and anderson varejao all scoring in double figures, they're still not getting consistent offensive production from their bench and certainly not the sort of spark they need like what the detroit pistons teams of the 80's got from vinny "the microwave" johnson. i still say it's just as important to have an offensive sparkplug as the cavs have a defensive "energy guy" like anderson varejao. that offensive sparkplug is very much available on the free agent market in the form of earl boykins. yes he might be a defensive liability at his diminutive 5-foot-5 height, but he is very much an offensive asset that other teams won't be able to handle on that end of the court. you just have to pick your spots for when you play him and make sure that he's on the court at the same time that guys like andy are who can make up for his defensive shortcomings. all i know is that earl is certainly a much better fit for this team than what guys like eric "yellow" snow, _amon _ones and shannon brown are and the cavs would be stupid not to consider signing him for at least the veteran minimum. if all their worried about is going over the luxury tax threshold, then i question whether or not they truly are interested in winning a title or not??? we can only hope.

Ben said...

I like Boykins myself (as does Terry Pluto) but the Cavs think he's too small (especially on the defensive end).

Now, having Boykins and Hughes in the backcourt could net a lot steals... and a Gibson/Boykins backcourt could be rather quick and annoying (and lethal offensively).

Quite frankly, I'm surprised that Boykins is still available at all. You'd figure someone would've picked him up by no.

Erik said...

It doesn't matter if the Cavs beat the Celtics or the Kings or the Hawks. They're all going to look fairly similar: a margin of seven points or less and razor close until the Cavs bail themselves out with some clutch shots or defensive stops. Pretty, blowout wins just aren't going to happen with this team.

This is just my opinion, but can we fans please get off this Earl Boykins kick? No Cavs fan would give a crap about Boykins if he wasn't from Cleveland.

We already have enough undersized combo guards who are defensive liabilities taking up roster and payroll space. Boykins can shoot and pass a bit, but honestly, if you put him on the same roster with Boobie and the World's Greatest Shooter, you basically have triplets. There aren't enough minutes to go around for those three, and Mike Brown would probably just as soon pound rusty nails into his eye sockets than play two of them at the same time.

If the Cavs wanted to pick up a guard who could have made a difference, they should have picked up Udrih, who did indeed look impressive last night. Udrih, unlike Boykins, looks like a starter in this league.

(Unrelated, but I was at the game last night, and when they flashed to a picture of Masa Kobayashi sitting in the stands on the Jumbotron, complete with a headline that said "The Cavs welcome MASA KOBAYASHI," about 12 people in the whole arena offered lukewarm applause. I think most of the people in the arena seriously didn't realize he was the Indians pitcher. Or this fan base is REALLY pissed off at the Tribe for sitting on their hands all winter.)

graham said...

I have no idea how much Boykins would really help, but the fact that he could come in and make a jumpshot makes him intriguing.

Erik, you're right about the difficulties of playing him with Boobie and/or Damon.

In any case, the Cavs are desperate, and looking at Boykins makes sense. However, Ferry needs some guards and Boykins has been available, so its pretty clear the Cavs front office isn't all that crazy about him. If they wanted him, he'd already be in Cleveland.

Ben said...

I'm surprised that some kind of fast paced team (Memphis, Toronto, Phoenix, Golden State) hasn't picked him up.

He can shoot and he can pass. He's not the greatest defender (simply due to his size) but he can push the ball and get up and down the floor.

If Boykins signed here, he'd have a game where he scores 20 off the bench then Coach Mike would bench him for a week due to matchup problems.

I think signing Boykins would just anger me.