Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cleveland 109, Memphis 89

They look pretty good, don't they? Ya, they were hyped up and ya, it was against Memphis, but the Cavs came out and dominated. Defensively, the first quarter was just about perfect; Cleveland held the Grizzlies to just 13 points on 28% shooting. I thought Delonte West really gave the Cavaliers a noticeable difference on the defensive end; West brought great on the ball pressure and he went inside to rebound (6 boards) and help out (1 block). All in all, this was a beating; the Cavs had more boards (46-33), more assists (27-12), more fast break points (19-13) and their biggest lead was 28 points.

LeBron and Z meshed well with the new guys. James had 25 points, 11 assists, 7 boards, 3 steals and a block (to go along with 6 turnovers) while Z had 22 points (8-17 from the floor), 13 rebounds (7 offensive) and a block. With the addition of West, LeBron didn't have to run the offense as much (especially after the last game) and we frequently saw him set up on low block. LeBron also had a completely ridiculous double pump dunk, which I can't even begin to describe.

Ben Wallace had some good moments and some so-so moments. I thought Big Ben looked really well speed wise; he defended the pick-and-roll really well and he even forced a 5 second violation on his own. From a pure speed/in shape standpoint, I thought Wallace looked good. However, one area I found lacking was his rebounding. His reaction speed seemed a bit slow; Wallace got beat on the boards more than once, but as this seemed to improve as the game went on. Offensively, he didn't force anything (he tied his season high of 12 points) and he actually finished strong at the rim (4 dunks).

Delonte West could end up having the biggest impact of all these guys. West had 5 points, 6 assists, 3 steals and a block. He pushed the ball, he got inside (and dished) and he was active defensively. However, West didn't shoot well; just (a Larry Hughes-esque) 2-12 from the field. He was just 1-5 from beyond the arc and most of his misses were short.

Wally seemed to be forcing things while Joe Smith looked completely at ease. Maybe it's just because I haven't seen him play in a couple years, but it looked like Szczerbiak had almost no lift on his jumper. Wally had 10 points on 4-10 shooting (2-4 from 3) and he looked a bit unsure of where his shots will come from. On the flip side, Joe Smith fit right in. Smith knocked down open looks from the baseline and from the elbow and when he ran the floor, he was actually looking for the ball (I'll miss ya Drew!). Smith was 6-8 from the floor and finished with 14 points and 6 boards.

The Cavs announcers were pretty sweet themselves. At one point, Fred McLeod actually said the phrase "spank job" and things got dicey anytime that Rudy Gay was involved in a play. However, a special mention must be made to the "interview" with Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert. Gilbert sat in with the guys for the bulk of the second quarter, and wow, was it painful. Every time there was a commercial break, I was hoping that'd be the end of Gilbert in the booth... but nope, he was still there. Gilbert spent his TV time questioning the critics of the trade, commenting on the negative press from the national news media and making a shameless plug for the Lake Erie Monsters (hey fans, do you like fast paced NBA basketball? Then you'll love minor league hockey! Minor league hockey goes with Cavalier basketball about as much as that redneck dating site that always advertises during Cavs games).

The bench was one aspect of the trade that didn't get a whole lot of talk. The Cavs got 36 points from the bench crew. Damon Jones continued his strong play with 11 points while shooting 3-5 from behind the arc. Once everyone gets healthy, this is going to be one of the deepest teams in the league. I'm more than anxious to see how Coach Mike juggles the minutes of these guys (especially the big man rotation). Guys like Devin Brown and Jones have played themselves into Brown's rotation, I'm interested in seeing how this works out.

and finally,

So far, so good. The Cavs travel to Milwaukee on Tuesday then face the Celtics in Boston the next night. The team looked good in their first time out, but we'll see how things look after a couple road games. After Boston, the Cavs face the Timberwolves at home on Friday and meet the Bulls for the first of four meetings. That should be fun.

6 comments:

Erik said...

For the first time in a long time, I get the feeling that the Cavs are going to be the type of team against which you need to make the baskets you take, or you won't have a chance of beating them.

(Before you think I've ventured into Austin Carr commentary, it really makes sense).

If you're opposing the Cavs, you can't rely on them to have a lot of cold-shooting nights. They have too many weapons now, too many guys who can pick up the slack for each other. If you start clanging shots the way Memphis did last night, you will lose to these Cavs. They will open up a 20-point lead on you if you shoot less than 35 percent from the floor.

This should make winning games a lot more systematic for the Cavs. Granted, beating the Pistons and Celtics is still a totally different ballgame, but this is a team that should kick the butts of the Memphis Grizzlies of the league on a very regular basis.

Ben said...

Combining Joe Smith and Z's mid-range games with the long distance arsenal of West, Gibson, Jones and Wally gives the Cavs the ability to hit shots from all over the court.

Wallace actually finishes strong at the rim, Smith actually pays attention on offense and West can penetrate. How anyone thought that the Cavs would lose offense (looking at you Munch) is beyond me.

The Cavs needed someone with PG abilities, but with LeBron, they'll never need a "pure" point, because LeBron will have the ball much of the time anyways. If West can avoid the 2-12 type games, he'll change the whole dynamic of the team.

In his first game with the Cavs, West had 6 assists. 6 assists was Larry's high mark for the year...

Erik said...

What is a "pure point guard" anyway? Just a point guard who thinks pass first? Heck, Jason Williams thinks pass first, and I doubt anyone calls him a "pure" point guard.

Is it Andre Miller or Jason Kidd, who can set an offense but are totally unrealiable shooters outside 15 feet? Is it Mark Price? Bob Cousy? Magic Johnson?

The whole notion of the pure point guard seems to be like chasing the leprechaun's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

If you have a guy who can pass accurately on the fly, doesn't shoot unless he's open, and doesn't commit tons of turnovers, what more does a pure point guard do?

I'm not saying Delonte West is the be-all, end-all for the Cavs. It's too early to say that. But with LeBron running the show, he would seem to be as pure of a PG as the Cavs will need.

The Other Ben said...

Happy birthday Ben. Thanks for the wishes and it looks like we dont just have the corpse of Ben Wallace. I was watching the game last night and tried to compare how the guys we got rid of vs who we got looked on the court. On paper, the trade is nice. While watching the game, it opened my eyes to something that could be really fun to watch these next few months.

Ben said...

other February 25th birthdays: George Harrison and Kurt Rambis.

Also, the Cavs traded Kevin Johnson for Larry Nance on my b-day (we'll see if this deal beats out that one for "Best Cavalier deadline deal"

Anonymous said...

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