Saturday, March 06, 2010

Not to pile on, but...

(It's a just one road loss in early March. It's a just one road loss in early March. It's a just one road loss in early March. It's a just one road loss in early March. It's a just one road loss in early March. It's a just one road loss in early March. It's a just one road loss in early March. )

Mo Williams, via Twitter:
I apologize to all my fans and Cavs fans for a shitty performance to say the least. I will get past this a get better, stay with me pls
I hope he doesn't get in trouble for the expletive. He's right. 'Shitty' is the perfect way to describe Mo's evening (and in all seriousness, I really do hope he doesn't get in trouble for saying "shitty").

The Cavs (already without Shaq and Z) gave LeBron the night off (giving his body, specifically his ankle, a rest) and they started off poorly, trailing 25-14 after the first quarter (Williams went 0-5). Interestingly, Jawad Williams got the start over Jamario Moon (not sure I agree, despite Moon's questionable shot selection. I mean, which guy do you foresee getting playoff minutes?).

Led by
Antawn Jamison (30 points, 11 boards, 2 assists, 5 steals and a block) and Delonte West (27-4-6-0-1), Cleveland managed to pull within 42-41 going into halftime. The Cavs scored 27 points in the second period and all but two (from Mo incidently, his only basket of the first half, as well as the Cavs' last) came from either Jamison and West. While Milwaukee regained the lead in the second half, the Cavs were were down only eight (80-72 with five and a half minutes to go (that's well within striking distance).

While you can't put the entire loss on Mo (I mean, J.J. Hickson, Anthony Parker and Jawad Williams combined for 12 points and 14 boards) his overall performance stood out, at least to me (especially compared to Delonte West). Mo's box score is bad, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Williams finished 3-17 from the field overall and 1-7 from behind the arc (he had no free throw attempts).

But you can live with a bad shooting performance. These things happen.
What drove me nuts was his poor defense and the way he ran the offense (and both of these things have been a problem for awhile now).

Mo has never been known as a good defender but he's gone from passable to just plain bad (teams have attacked him all season long). I don't know if it's simple lack of effort or he's worried about the shoulder (he did hurt it reaching in for the ball) but got burned quite a bit Saturday night (personally, I wonder if he's healthy).

Too often Brandon Jennings (25 points, not a coincidence) would drive by him and Mo would just end up taking a desperate poke at the ball as they went past. The Cavs don't need him to be Gary Payton circa 1997 but he's going to have to step it up at some point (odds are they'll meet either Rajon Rondo or Jameer Nelson in the playoffs).

At the other end, Williams takes too long setting up the offense (the Cavs, as a team, have trouble with this from time to time). Mo isn't aggressive enough in starting the play; when the Cavs finally get themselves into their offense, shot clock is already down to about 12-10 seconds. There's no reason to waste all that time (especially late in the game) and it puts too much pressure on them to execute whatever play Mike Brown didn't design (zing!) to perfection.

On one hand, this is still just one loss, on the road, to a playoff team, on the second night of a back-to-back, without LeBron, Shaq, Z, and Boobie (and Leon Powe didn't play either). Andrew Bogut (15 points, 9 boards, 3 blocks) would be a load to handle even with Shaq and Z and the Bucks do own home record of 20-9 (I like the atmosphere that Bogut helped create but I want to strangle whichever guy kept blowing freaking that horn).

On the other hand, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little concerned about Mo's recent play.

Mo hasn't looked comfortable in the ten games since returning from his shoulder injury (10.9 ppg on 34% FG% bear this out). Personally, I think he's pressing a bit, especially following his Eastern Conference Finals performance and the 13-game win streak that coincided with his absence.

The Cavs just have to hope that Williams can work through this (it's not like he's doesn't have time) because they don't have a ton of options if he can't (well, they do and they don't, both West and Gibson have flaws). As much as I love Delonte's game (he posts up, attacks the rim, plays defense, and isn't afraid of LeBron), the Cavs simply can't trust him as the starter (he just sat out a game "as part of the recovery process", whatever that means). And Gibson is still a shooting guard in a point guard's body; LeBron would be running the offense too much in the playoffs.

But I'm getting way way way way ahead of myself.

Mo Williams had a shitty game. It happens. Best for everyone (including and especially Mo) to move on. The Cavs face the Spurs on Monday at 7pm.

1 comment:

Erik said...

Mo has the exact same problem that C.C. Sabathia had for his entire pre-Yankees career: He puts a ton of pressure on himself to perform, and when he doesn't come through in big situations, he gets down on himself and becomes unraveled.

That is 100 percent of what happened in the playoffs last year. Windhorst alluded to it on several occasions: in the regular season, Mo was ice water. In the postseason, he let his emotions take over and, for him, that's not a good thing. Some guys thrive on emotion. Emotion is a destructive force for Mo.

The shoulder injury and favoring his right side can be blamed for his defensive lapses, especially on the P&R. But his bad shooting is all between the ears. And I don't know how you really cure that type of mentality.