Thursday, April 24, 2008

Washinton 108, Cleveland 72

God this sucked. The Cavs didn't break the 20 point mark until the final period, where they notched 21 (they went 17, 16, and 18 over the first three periods). No one on Cleveland played well, everyone on Washington played great, and the Wizards fans were just as annoying as I remember them. Sunday can't come soon enough.

However, I have a really hard time getting worked up over this loss. A big Game 3 win by the Wizards can't be totally unexpected. The fact that it was this brutal hurt, but still, it's only one game (let's not forget that the Cavs just spanked 'em by 30). The Cavs were flat and the Wizards were hot; once they got the lead the crowd got into into it and the Cavs could never sustain any type of decent run. They were a step slow the entire night defensively and they picked up a ton of cheap fouls off of reach ins and being out of position.

I'd say I'm more disappointed than mad. I can deal with the loss, but the nature of it kinda sticks in my craw. The Cavs defensive effort was horrendous and their offense shot selection was equally brutal. To me, the worst aspect of this whole debacle as the fact that the Cavaliers let a 49-33 halftime deficit balloon to 77-51 after three. There is no excuse for that. I have no idea how you can come out of halftime (in a playoff game!) losing by 17 points and proceed to get outscored by 10 in the following 12 minutes. I get that this was Washington's night, but show some heart.

In case you weren't aware, DeShawn Stevenson is a douchbag. Look, I get that he's happy he's had a good game, but this guy was celebrating garbage time 3 pointers like he's knocking down game winners. I mean, he scored 19 points in a first round Game 3 victory to cut series to 2-1 and he's acting like a complete jackass. I'd hate to see how thrilled he'd be if the Wizards actually won a game after the first round. By all means let him enjoy the victory, but damn that guy is annoying.

Stevenson will probably get all the highlights (due to his showboating) but I thought Roger Mason was the key guy for the Wizards. Mason finished with 18 points on 8-14 shooting (2-3 3pt). Mason was a major part of a key second quarter run. Mason scored 8 straight points to start the second quarter to turn a 4 point lead into a 12 point margin (one could argue that the Cavs never recovered). Mason sparked that second period run and the Wizards never looked back.

LeBron was alright, but not great. James led everyone with 22 points while also grabbing 7 boards and 3 assists. James was more of a scorer this time around, he wasn't setting up teammates and he was settling for a lot of jumpers (whether that's on him or the Wizards defense, I dunno.... but since the Cavs were lazy in every other facet of the game, I'm not sure how much credit Washington deserves). James (among others) led the Cavaliers with 4 turnovers, and most of LeBron's were due to him trying to do too much (force shots, force passes, etc). LeBron was just 2-4 from the foul line, which is only remarkable because he only attempted 4 shots (I'm not blaming the refs, I'm putting this on James).

Z had a really frustrating night. First of all, the Cavs couldn't throw a post pass to save their life. I don't know how hard this is, but if someone is helping weakside, don't throw the lob (also, you're allowed to bounce the entry pass. Really. Totally legal). Besides the post pass problems, Z picked up a couple of weak fouls, only got to the line once (1-2) and could never get into a rhythm on offense (4-10, with a ton of jumpers). Z was visibly angry for the bulk of the evening (at least someone was).

The Wizards Big 3. Caron Butler had his best game of the series, scoring 17 points on 7-14 shooting. Antawn Jamison was solid once again, scoring 15 points and grabbing 7 boards. As for Gilbert Arenas... he started, but only finished with 2 points in 10 minutes of play (he left the game before halftime and didn't return).

Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao were both equally awful. It's hard to choose who had the worse game. Gibson proved why the Cavs don't trust him with the starting point guard duties; he had 4 turnovers and never looked comfortable brining the ball up again the Washington pressure. Meanwhile, Varejao was hoisting up turnarounds and dribbling the ball off his foot while dribbling near the 3 point line. Both of these guys through the ball away numerous times and neither one had any positive plays that stick out in my mind.

Delonte West wasn't good either (hell, no one was good). West, Wallace and Wally all had sub-par games. Delonte made one field goal, had a rebound and 2 assists. He also had 4 turnovers and played some terrible defense. Wallace was pretty much worthless in his 16 minutes of court time and Szczerbiak shot a scorching 3-9 from the field. As a team, shot selection was pretty bad and they ended up shooting just under 40% (and a brutal 2-16 from downtown).

and finally...

It's only one game. With a 2-1 lead, the Cavs still control this series. If they can win Game 4 on Sunday, they head back to Cleveland with a dominating 3-1 lead. If they lose Game 4, they've let Washington back in this series and have put this thing in serious doubt. I know the Cavs have stunk on the road post-trade, but there is absolutely no excuse for another performance anywhere in the neighborhood of Thursday's.

3 comments:

Erik said...

Longtime Miami Ohio coach Charlie Coles had a great quote about these types of games once:

Approximately, he said "The one team figures, 'If we win this game, we clinch the best record in the conference.' The other team figures, 'If we win this game, we still get to show our faces in public.'"

In other words, it's really difficult to win the motivation battle against a team that's essentially fighting to keep its season alive. Particularly after you just blasted said team by 30 points the previous game.

Obviously, the Cavs were not prepared mentally for setting foot in Washington's house, with a sold-out, revved-up crowd and a desperate opponent. We've seen this before. The Cavs look great at home, but on the road, they suddenly become listless and mistake-prone.

The good thing about this game is that every Cavs player had a lousy game, save for LeBron, who was mediocre by his standards. You'd think that confluence of crappiness wouldn't happen again in this series.

That bad thing is, no one on the Wizards really had a great game. Stevenson led the Wiz with 19, they had five in double figures, but no one really went ballistic. Heck, Arenas score two freaking points in just 10 minutes.

If this is the best team effort the Wizards can manage and the Cavs reclaim their manhood in Game 4, this series should still end in five. But if the Wizards are just warming up and the Cavs continue to pull this Larry, Curly and Moe act on the road, Game 5 is going to be the pivotal contest instead of a closeout game.

graham said...

Well I'm an idiot. Game 1 and 2 somehow made me forget what players comprise this roster. We all can dissect this game a bunch of ways, but these games happen when you starting guys like West, Wally, Wallace, who are being backed by guys like Devin Brown (and to a lesser degree, Gibson - he's not a sixth man and perhaps not even a seven.) I know intensity had a lot to do with it, but generally, you overcome that with good players, and Cavs just don't have many of them.

It simply not a a very a roster of an NBA contender, and it's not even close. They can play well at times, but that's not what you need for the playoffs.

It was also depressing to see them get totally worked by a bunch of clowns. To allow Stevenson, Haywood, and Mason go off was a sad sight.

Who knows what will happen the rest of the way. They could win game 4 and close out in 5, they could lose 4 straight, or anything in between.

Anonymous said...

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