Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cleveland 111, Charlotte 81

Hey, a recap? Due to holidays, family and friends, I've missed a few games these past couple weeks. I do apologize, but seeing family and friends takes precedent over a late December Cavalier game (no offense or nuthin). If it makes you feel any better, one of my new years resolutions is to get these things done quicker and more consistently. Wish me luck.

This is the best UCLA Bruins team I've seen in awhile. Wait, that's the Cavs? Oh good, they're wearing "throwbacks" from alternate history. Makes sense. Maybe Harry Turtledove will appreciate it, but I sure don't (anyone get that?). I've been waiting in vain for some orange and blue throwbacks, but noooo. Heaven forbid I can buy some jerseys from the last great/good/above average Cavs era. While it's great that I can grab a blue and yellow Wally Szczerbiak jersey, but I can't find a blue Mark Price jersey (or Ehlo, Daugherty, Nance, Brandon or even Bobby Phills) anywhere in The Q. Maybe I'm biased (that was the team that I grew up with and made me fall in love with basketball), but while the wine and gold is sweet, some love for the early 90s would be greatly appreciated (seriously, I'd probably end up giving them hundreds of dollars).

The game was over before they threw the jump ball. It really didn't matter who Charlotte played on Wednesday night, they weren't winning. After going toe to toe with the Celtics in an draining overtime win, coming into Cleveland was the last thing the Bobcats needed- they were dead on arrival. The Cavs dominated Charlotte early (leading 29-12 after the first period) and never looked back. The bench provided a nice spark, scoring 25 points in the first half with Gibson (3-4) and Wally (2-2) nailing some treys. The Cavs led by 18 at halftime (60-42, though two of those points came on some weird technical fouls on Juwan Howard) and 84-56 after three. That's right, the Cavs could've not scored a basket in the final period and they still would've won. Ouch.

LeBron was pretty good. 21 points (9-16), 4 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 31 minutes ain't shabby. He drove to the rim with authority and his aggressiveness opened things up for Cleveland's outside shooters. My favorite part of the night was when LBJ jumped off the bench stomping and yelling after a Gibson-to-Hickson alley-oop. Every time Hickson (who finished with 13 points and 6 boards) does something remotely positive, LeBron is always right there in his ear.

You know, maybe Wally shouldn't be the one inbounding the ball. I mean, this guy was a nortorious ball hog while in Minny, maybe they should have someone used to actually passing the ball throwing it in. Wally's two turnovers off inbound plays weren't a big deal in this game, but something like that could murder you in a close one. Besides that, I thought Szczerbiak played well; scoring 15 points to go along with 5 boards and 2 assists.

Varejao continued his strong play. It's gonna take a little time to get used to life without Z, but Varejao's great play has really eased the transition. Of course, Varejao gives the Cavs a little different look (way better at pick and rolls, way worse on pick and pops) but his 14 points and 6 boards are always helpful. Andy showed off a couple of nice little post moves, which I think will be the key to how well the offense runs in Z's absence. You're not going to replace Z's shooting from the 5 hole, you just aren't, but if you can throw the ball down to Andy on the block four or five times a game, it'll give the defense enough different looks to keep them on their toes. Offensive life is much harder without any type of post presence (hint hint LeBron).

Williams and West were solid as always. Mo pushed the Cavs in the first half and they responded; they ran out on breaks and kept a tired Charlotte team on their heels. Williams finished with 15 points (5-11 FG, 1-4 3pt), 6 assits and boards. Meanwhile, Delonte West didn't score in the first half. But no worries, Brother Red ended up stuffing the stat sheet regardless. Delonte had a nice all-around night with 7 points, 7 assists, 5 boards, 3 steals and a block (and his opposite, the vastly over-paid Matt Carroll, finished the evening 1-8).

Possible future-Cavalier Gerald Wallace had a so-so performance. On one hand, Wallace finished the night 6-10 from the floor for 14 points. But he missed a couple of jumpers (badly) and he had zero (zip, nada) rebounds in 31 minutes on the court. Not a one. However, he did take the ball to the hole quite nicely and he also had 3 assists. All in all, I still think I'd rather have him than Mike Miller.

and finally...

You hear there's a game on Friday? The Bobcats gave the Cavs a nice little tuneup/confidence boost before Friday's show down with the Celtics. Boston has been on a slide lately, going just 4-6 in their last 10 games and have fallen behind the Cavs by a half game in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs haven't been in 1st place this late in the season since the 88-89 season (you know, the Mark Price years! Gimme those jerseys!). So while the Cavs haven't been tearing it up lately (Bobcat game excluded), Boston has been playing worse. Either way, I'm just glad Varejao is starting, he'll get more minutes to annoy the hell out of Kevin Garnett.

5 comments:

Erik said...

Some Boston fans are in favor of the Celtics signing Darius Miles because obviously he can't be any worse than the rest of their bench, right?

Good to see Cleveland fans aren't alone in the hilarious overreaction category.

Please, please let the Celtics sign Darius Miles and Stephon Marbury. The look on KG's face the first time Steph chucks a 25-footer instead of passing to him in the post will be priceless.

Ben said...

re: Marbury. See, I'm not so sure he wouldn't work with Boston. Remember, he did have some pretty good on court chemistry with KG in their time in Minnesota. Of course, Marbury's hurt feelings over KG's contract led Stephon to bolt (and basically dooming KG's tenure in Minny to mediocrity).

As for Miles, I wonder how he'd do on a contending team. Who knows what he can give you. His gift was always athleticism. It wasn't like he had a sweet jumper or a great handle- he was a leaper (well, not that bad, but more or less).

graham said...

The problem with the "new" Marbury is he's certifiably insane. I hate to go all Bill Simmons, but have you ever been to a party or some kind of social function and there's that nutty guy who wherever he goes brings a really uncomfortable vibe into the room, and you talk to people later and it turns out everyone noticed it? That's Stephon Marbury right now.

But, Danny Ainge is a moron so he just might actually do it. He completely lucked into the KG deal, and Hardwood Paroxysm brought up a good point the other day - why would you get rid of Posey, who was huge in the playoff run and actually guarded LeBron decently, when you know your windown of opportunity with the Big 3 is so short? Add on top of that their acquisition this offseason was Patrick O'Bryant, a total stiff. Now, I know they don't have much space, but they certainly could've brought in someone more productive.

The more you look at the Celtics, the more you're unafraid. Now that being said, I think this is would be a big win for them if they could knock off the Cavs in Cleveland.

Ben said...

The deal with Posey was the fact that he wanted 4 years. The Cavs would've loved to have Posey, but you can't overpay role players. (Could you imagine Posey on this team? Dear lord...)

But Boston, well, they could afford to be overpaying a bench player in a few years, because they won't be that good anyway. They'll all be old and past their primes.

graham said...

Right, the Cavs were right not to sign him, but the C's literally have about this year and maybe next. Signing him to that deal would've seriously helped their bench.