Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Detroit 96, Cleveland 89

I guess eight is enough (I'm sorry). Also, I apparently lied, I'm not leaving for CO until tomorrow.

First half: awesome. The Cavs survived an early punch from the Pistons (down both 7-0 and 9-2) and ended up dominating the first half. They led 24-16 after the 1st and were up 49-38 at halftime. The offense was pretty good (lots of ball movement) and the played suffocating defense (lots of blocks).

Second half: ugh. The offense wilted in the face of Detroit's defense, the defense didn't match Detroit's intensity and the Cavs seemed shocked that the Pistons came back. It wasn't pretty. After scoring just 38 points in the first half, the Pistons put up 28 in the 3rd and 30 in the 4th (while the Cavs countered with 19 and 21, respectively).

Le-Iso reared it's ugly head. During the Cavs win streak, I kinda bitched about them relying too much on the LeBron isolation offense. Sure, he hit some dagger treys, but those weren't good shots. Well, he hoisted those treys on Wednesday night, this time they didn't fall. The thing is, it wasn't just LeBron going isolation; both Mo Williams and Delonte West went one-on-one numerous times throughout the evening (with mixed- at best- results). One last bit on the offense: why was Ben Wallace involved in so many plays, especially far from the hoop? Who thought this was a good idea?

The defense let them down. Well, I don't know if I'd say the defense, but they certainly didn't match Detroit's effort after halftime and it was most apparent at the defensive end. They let Iverson get in the middle of the floor and he simply killed 'em (I agree with Austin Carr, try to force him baseline to see what he does, cause he's getting easy shots whenever he went to the middle) . Also, they gave up the corner 3 ball all night long. In the final period, the Pistons made eleven (11!!) shots in a row to blow the Cavs out of the game. Now, some of this was Detroit getting freakishly hot (Sheed in particular) but the Cavs left a lot of guys open (they were scrambling).

LeBron was... I'm not sure. At times he seemed content to let the other Cavs do the work. And at other times he went iso and hoisted some terrible shots. Though it wasn't like he played poorly either; the man finished with 25 (8-21 FG, 0-4 3pt), 6 boards, 6 assists and 4 steals. I hate to say this, but the Cavs needed more from him (especially with how Detroit turned it on). The Cavs aren't going to get a win in the Palace with James going 1-6 in the 4th (all five misses were jumpers- and three of 'em were outside of 25 feet).

The refs were not good. The Cavs got a lot of calls in the first half; they got away with more than a few hacks and bumps and Varejao acted his way into a couple of calls. However, the refs swung back to the Pistons after halftime. James and Z couldn't buy a whistle and Detroit took advantage. While both teams had legit complaints against the refs (my god, does Detroit whine more than any team in the league) but the refs didn't decide the outcome by any means.

We couldn't play my new favorite game. Sasha Pavlovic took Derek Zoolander's minutes and actually didn't do half bad. Sasha did a fairly decent job on Rip Hamilton and scored 5 points in 12 minutes of playing time. However, he only had 5 points and a single rebound. I like the guy and I think he fits the team better than Szczerbiak (at least at this stage of Wally's career), but he needs to do more than just score (because he's not that great of a scorer).

Mo Williams played great. Well, check that, he shot great. Williams was 5-8 from beyond the arc (9-16 over all) for 25 points in just 23 foul plagued minutes. At times he struggled on defense (you'll have that when you guard A.I.) and he only finished 2 boards, an assist and a steal (also: 4 turnovers). I'll give Mo some credit, he was the only one who could put the ball in the hoop after halftime.

and finally...

Damn, now they won't go 80-2. This loss sucks, cause, well, I hate the Pistons with a passion. But I'm not going be too hard on the Cavs losing the 2nd night of a back-to-back in Detroit (especially coming off an 8 game streak). What I want to see is how they respond to this loss. Previous Cavs teams have been pretty streaky (win 3, lose 2 etc) and I'm hoping they can bounce back and start another win streak Saturday against Atlanta (a nice 3-5 game streak is what I'm looking for). Despite how this game ended, the Cavs are still looking pretty good; they're only losses are at Boston, at New Orleans and at Detroit- there's no shame losing in those three buildings. They have the Hawks, Knicks, Thunder, Warriors and Bucks to finish out November, so the schedule is pretty favorable, let's hope they can stay focused and take advantage.