Thursday, May 08, 2008

Boston 89, Cleveland 73

There's only so much you can say. The Cavs played a good first quarter and then got their behinds handed to them. Boston's pressure D definitely messed up the offense, it seemed as if the Cavs were falling away from every shot they took. They were throwing passes off of each others feet.

Look, this offense has been a problem for awhile. You simply cannot have two quarters where you don't break the 16 point barrier. You can't shoot sub-40% in back-to-back games. ESPN's game recap has a graphic of the Cavs' lowest point totals in the playoffs, and every single one has come in the LeBron/Mike Brown era. Think about that, they're scoring less points than Mike Fratello's walk-it-up teams and they have the greatest player of this generation. That is not good.

I love Z, but he shouldn't the most consistent offensive threat. The big fella had 19 points on 9-12 shooting. The Cavs shot 36% as a team and non-Ilguaskas players shot 28%. Daniel Gibson played 20 minutes and only attempted 2 shots. Sasha Pavlovic led the bench scoring with a whopping 5 points.

Boston just wanted it more. They played harder, smarter and looked like a team. They were the aggressors, they forced the issue. Their bench stepped up, their role players stepped up and their stars carried them.

And when get down to it, you have to focus on LeBron. I know Coach Mike hasn't exactly put him in the best situations, but none of this is exactly new. Simply put, the Cavs won't beat anyone, let alone the Celtics, if LeBron goes 8-42 over two games. Make all the defensive adjustments you want, hustle for more loose balls, get a better sub pattern, doesn't matter. This team is built around James with the assumption that he'll get his. And he hasn't (for a myriad of reasons). Now, I'm not blaming the guy, but this team can't afford to have him shoot sub 20%. This is a team filled with spot up shooters and offensive rebounders... to work off of James. When he's not effective, they aren't effective; they aren't built to withstand many off nights.

and finally...

All that being said, we've seen them in this position before. If they would've lost 99-98 with James scoring 50, the Cavs would still be in the same position: down 0-2 and heading back home. These scores aren't cumulative, we're not counting total points here. The Cavs and LeBron have rebounded from 0-2 twice before to make it a series of things, so there's some reason to be optimistic. They've done it before. The Celtics have yet to win a road game all playoffs, they've stunk in crunch time away from Boston and they're still coached by Doc Rivers. All is not lost. But things have to improve.

5 comments:

geoffrey said...

Lebron is struggling. hes missing free throws, hes missing lay-ups, both easy and tough, and hes missing so many shots that he normally makes. A part of it is bostons D, but c'mon, hes missing open shots too.

How Boobie gibson isn't getting more shots is beyond me. but then again if the cavs didn't piss the ball away so much there would be more shots. Their turnovers are just BAD.

It took too long for the small lineup. Lebron got some space with a group of shooters out there (aka Smith, Wally, Sasha, Boobie).

Where is Devin brown? a guy who contributed all year, a guy who gets junk points, hustles and brings some toughness. I am all for playing Sasha, but Brown should be playing more. He can run around and guard Allen, or guard posey or cassel when they are in there.

graham said...

I can't help but think the Cavs and their fans will look back on this series and wonder how it would have turned out had they not blown game 1.

There are a lot of overarching problems with this team, as Ben points out, but that they let a golden opportunity pass them by. I think the momentum would've swung heavily in the Cavs favor, while the Celtics seemed to gain confidence that led directly to this drubbing and possibly a quick series.

You don't win or lose a series in game 1, but it just feels that way.

Erik said...

Boston held serve. The Cavs have to do it now. No secret that Games 3 and 4 are must-wins. The good news is that Boston has been vulnerable on the road. But if LeBron continues to shoot poorly, there isn't going to be a Game 5.

This series is starting to remind me of last year's Finals. Boston is a great help defense team like San Antonio, and as Windhorst pointed out, that allows the Celtics to play much tighter on the perimeter, which gives LeBron much less space in which to create.
To date, Mike Brown has proven incapable of coming up with enough sleight of hand to overcome good help defense. Or maybe the blame rests on Danny Ferry for not bringing in more dynamic offensive players to augment LeBron.

I guess the only real advantage if the Cavs get swept is it will force Danny Ferry and Dan Gilbert to go back to the drawing board, re-examine Brown's insistence that he doesn't need an offensive coordinator, and put backcourt upgrades at the top of the to-do list.

At the end of the day, this is what is supposed to happen. 66-win, 1-seed teams are supposed to dominate 45-win, 4-seed teams in the playoffs. If the Cavs want to get back to the Finals, they should win more games during the regular season and get a higher seed.

The Other Ben said...

Simply put, this team got a lot older and a lot less athletic after the trade. Regardless of what happens this series, I think Gilbert and Ferry are playing with the houses money. Last year was the best chance of winning the whole thing without going back to the drawing board. Ben wrote an article a few weeks back detailing which players would be available this summer. I think that is what this trade boiled down here: I doubt management thought wally, delonte, joe, and ben were the missing pieces. Its their contracts we can get rid of after this year and next. Based on what Ben said, if we can dump Wally, Ben, and Joes contract, we could feasibly sign TWO high priced talents by the end of summer. I would glady trade a successful run in this years playoffs for long term stability/talent for Lebron in the coming years before his contract ends.

Ben said...

I don't think management thought that these guys were the missing pieces, but I do think that they thought they got A) better and B) deeper. Which I still think they did, despite the .500 post trade record (lots o' injuries)

I also don't think that Ferry thought he was just going to turn around and dump these guys either. I think West is a keeper, but as the first guard off the bench. Wallace... well, they're basically stuck with him.

If the Cavs do get swept (and I don't think they will) it should be the final straw for the offense of Mike Brown. There is absolutely no reason to allow him to run the offense for another season. None. If a bad playoff exit accomplishes this, I'll be thrilled.

To be honest, part of me hopes that D'Antoni doesn't choose a job just yet, just for the possibility that the Cavs could woo him here (either as head coach or assistant). (though I don't honestly expect this to happen, nor do I think that Brown will get fired).

Also, Daniel Gibson needs to get a better handle. He's a first rate shooter, but he won't start in this league until he can pass and dribble while facing pressure.