Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cleveland 109, Phoenix 92

Not a bad way to snap the longest losing streak of the season (also: a good last game before the break). The Cavs beat the Suns with Phoenix's quick tempo (and shots), hoisting 26 treys (making 11) with Mo Williams's shooting 7-9 from downtown, on his way to 44 points. Mo also led the Cavs with 7 assists, to go along with his 3 steals and 2 boards.

That LeBron fellow wasn't bad either. James had a pedestrian (for him) 26-6-6 night. LeBron moved well without the ball, getting easy buckets off of passes from his teammates. He also settled for more than a few jumpers, going 1-5 from beyond the arc. With Mo having such a hot night, James seemed more than happy to let him take scoring load against the Suns. He still had a couple of those "I'm LeBron James" plays; one where he muscled up a layup while being dragged down and he threw down a couple of quick, thunderous dunks inside.

Amare played well. Stoudemire finished with 27 points and 6 boards. Stoudemire had his jumper working, routinely hitting the faceup, and he seemed to be able to get inside whenever he pleased (though he had his shot blocked a couple times). Offensively, this guy is a stud. But defensively... well, he let Anderson Varejao drive right past him for a layup. Now, I like Andy, but he shouldn't be able to blow by a guy with Stoudemire's athletic ability. I know he's available on the trade market, but I'm not sure the Cavs have to the pieces to get him, if they'd even want him.

Shaq on other hand, I could see myself getting talked into. There's been some rumblings that the Big Cactus would welcome a trade to Cleveland and at first, I wanted none of it. But he looked pretty good Wednesday night, scoring 11 points in 5-7 shooting. He's still a load to deal with on the block (he got great position most of the evening). My biggest concern with adding Shaq (provided they aren't giving up Hickson) is if he would demand he start? I have a hard time telling Z to go to the bench and I'd really prefer not to mess with the starting unit's chemistry. If you could have Shaq coming off the bench for 24 minutes a night, you'd give the bench a solid low post threat and he could help body up some of the bigger players (plus, you think he wouldn't love to see the Lakers in the Finals?).

Wally is still playing hard. Wally has really played well these last couple of weeks which has been impressive since his name (and contract) has been the subject of every Cavalier rumor. He's been making a lot of hustle plays and it's seems like he's found his niche in the offense. Szczerbiak had 11 points and 4 boards in 29 minutes; his jumper wasn't falling (4-13 FG, 2-8 3PT) but he had a nice stretch in the first where he scored 7 straight points (with two coming on hustle plays).

There was an announcer switch in the second quarter. The Cavs traded color commentators with the Suns, sending over former Cavalier/Cavalier broadcaster Scott Williams. I was never a big fan of Williams but I thought he did pretty well. I can only image what Austin was like for Suns fans. I wish I could've been watching that feed.

We've got to stop this bitching. The FSN guys kept referencing the Pacer lost like the Cavs got totally jobbed. Look, I have a real hard time complaining when the exact same call was made .4 seconds earlier. As for the other stuff (Laker game, the triple-double, Mo's All-Star big) let it the hell alone. Go win ball games. No excuses, right? This team hasn't won anything and they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. They look distracted by all this stuff, hopefully they'll calm down and regain some composure after the All-Star break.

Both Wallace and Varejao had good games. Andy was really active offensively; he filled the running lanes well and he was active around the rim. He shot a couple of jumpers, but nothing really outrageous. Wallace also had a solid game; grabbing 11 boards and 2 steals while challenging a lot of shots at the rim.

and finally...

A much needed break. Fred McCleod mentioned that Delonte West hoped to play against the Suns, but was pushed back. I'm really hoping the time off combined with West's return will help this team get out of their recent bad habits. Plus, his return will allow Wally to move back to the bench and give a defensive presence to the Cavalier front court. The Cavs won't play until next Tuesday in Toronto. We're also down to one week until the trading deadline, February 19th. Work some magic, Danny.

7 comments:

The Other Ben said...

I gotta say, I would love to have Shaq on this team simply because of the matchup problems it would create. He can still score when he establishes himself on the low block. Call me crazy, but you put in a lineup of Mo, Delonte, LeBron, Andy and Shaq thats all sorts of options.

As you said, the problem would be where to put Z. Obviously, you cant put him and Kazaam out there at the same time, so Brown would have to find a rotation between Z, Andy, Shaq, Wallace and Hickson (if non of those 4 were included in a trade) that doesnt leave us too weak inside.

Ben said...

My thing with Shaq is this: If he's OK with coming off the bench (and we don't have to give up JJ) then I'd do it yesterday.

I think you could have him and Z on the floor at the same time, but you couldn't start them. And in no way would I sit Z at this point. He's earned the right to start here (also, they're 40-11 w/out Shaq. He's here to help, not be the focus).

If you can have a bench of Boobie, Wally (after a buyout), AV and Shaq... that's killer.

Plus, I think he'll be motivated here, especially with them dangling that Kobe/Laker carrot in front of him for the playoffs.

Brian said...

I had the PHX feed on League Pass - Austin was pretty toned down and let the other guy lead/ask questions.

I will take Shaq provided we can get Wally back.

I don't think Shaq would ever let LeBron leave, either. Shaq's contract runs a year past LBJ's, doesn't it?

Ben said...

Shaq is done after next year, same as LeBron (assuming he doesn't pick up his player exception for 2010-11).

Ya, Wally coming back would make it all the sweeter.

Erik said...

The problem with trading for Shaq is his $21 million salary, which would necessitate the use of Wally's contract.

At this point, I simply cannot see Ferry trading Wally unless another perimeter player is involved. Even if Delonte returns after the all-star break, they'll still be shorthanded in the backcourt until either Tarence or Sasha returns. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not too crazy about the idea of Trey Johnson averaging 12-15 minutes a night.

Shaq actually could play alongside Z, simply because Z's game is so unconventional for a center. Having Shaq on the block would free Z to do more spot-ups and pick-and-fades on the wings. The question is, would Shaq, one of the five or six greatest centers of all time, be willing to accept a shot-blocker/rebounder role with a greatly reduced number of touches?

The above reasons are why Marcus Camby would likely be a better fit for the Cavs. He's made a career out of doing what the Cavs need an inside presence to do. Also, with Camby's $10 million salary this year, Snow's expiring contract could serve as the centerpiece of a Camby deal without getting Wally involved.

Ben said...

I'd love Camby, but I don't see how the Cavs get him without giving up something of value.

Camby is pretty reasonably priced at $9 next season. The Clippers have some expensive contracts, but they're unmovable (B-Diddy, Kaman, Randolph) so the Cavs couldn't take on some other crappy salary. Point being, they don't have to dump Camby.

I'd much prefer Camby to Shaq, but I think Shaq is more obtainable. Wally+Snow works and it saves the Suns a ton of cash. I'm also assuming that Wally will get bought out after the trade and makes his way back here after a month of rest.

But right now, it's hard to see how they trade Wally without getting some kind of swingman in return. Now, Shaq + Hill....

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