I want my two and a half hours back. I know that they're missing guys and that this Denver game would've been tough anyways, but good lord that was ugly. The Cavs scored 24 points in the first period, which isn't awful for them regularly (and not bad with all the injuries) but they gave up 35 (uh-oh). The Nuggets ended up shooting only 45% for the game, but they were much higher over the course of the night (60% first period, over 50% for the bulk of the game). Missing all of the guys hurt, but there's no reason to give up 113... and lose by 30.
There's a few reasons things looked this bad. First of all, the players out there aren't used to each other and some aren't used to playing at all. Guys were lost, guys weren't rotating and no one seemed to be communicating (the Nuggets got a lot of easy baskets (especially weak side)). The Cavs started Snow and Newble to go with James, Hughes and Z, and they never really looked in sync (Snow especially).
Ya, the Cavs are missing four guys from their rotation, but it's four guys for two positions. My point being, the Cavs aren't relying on backups... they're relying on the backups' backups. The Cavs got out rebounded 48-47 and gave up 15 offensive boards (I can't believe the margin isn't bigger... I'm having a hard time with these final box score numbers, because fourth quarter garbage time is skewing things). The Cavalier big men (Dwayne Jones, Donyell Marshall and Cedric Simmons) were never in the correct position to rebound the ball. Early on, Denver got seemingly every loose ball (and turned those extra possessions into points) and just ran the Cavs off the court.
Also, the four guys who are hurt? All are young. The Cavs had to face the fast paced Nuggets squad with guys like Snow, Marshall, Newble and Damon Jones logging heavy minutes... ya. Having some players with fresh legs might've helped slow down the onslaught at least for a little bit. In the same vein, I don't care how raw Shannon Brown and Cedric Simmons are, at this point neither Snow or Marshall can make a freaking layup- they're useless. I don't care if Brown takes an ill advised shot, at least defenses have to respect his jumper just a little; having Snow out there screws up the offense, guys force their own bad shots rather than pass him the ball (guys=Larry Hughes). (also, I hate the offense when Marshall is in the game. If Z takes a shot there is no one down low fighting for the ball, because 'Yell has his fat ass camped out in the corner).
The Cavs had no answers for 'Melo and A.I. Anthony had 27 points on 11-19 shooting and Iverson had 25 points and 13 assists (note: the Cavs had 15 assists as a team). 'Melo was particularly frustrating because it seemed like he made every single jumper he took. Iverson on the other hand... well, I figured that he'd be a load, simply because that's the Cavs have trouble with quick guards (see Lue, Tyron and Parker, Tony). What really hurt was the fact that the help defense on the stars left role players like Linus Kleiza (2-4) and J.R. Smith (6-11) open from downtown (Nuggets were 11-27 from down town... the Cavs were 4-23).
The good news: LeBron still kicks ass. James led what's left of the Cavaliers in points (30) and added 5 boards and 3 assists. He didn't play his best game, but he played hard and tried to stay into it (though I have no idea why he kept trying to force a pass to Marshall at the end of the first half, it was almost like James was punishing him). Also, I'm not sure what to make of this, but the AP said that James was pissy on the sideline (I didn't think this was an issue, I just thought he was pissed off/frustrated with the game/situation).
And the bad news (besides, you know, the final score): more injuries (and no, I'm not joking). Z left the game with backspams, Damon Jones left to due to an ankle sprain and Newble had to be taken out late due to his ankle. Awesome. At the least the Cavs get to play Orlando on Monday and the Spurs on Wednesday... nothing like seeing Dwight Howard and then the NBA champs
Remember when the Cavs beat Boston on Tuesday? Good times. With this game and the Rockets game, things don't look that great. But the Cavs have looked good when they've been healthy. The All-Star break can't come soon enough. These guys need some time off to heal.