Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cleveland 102, New Jersey 92

We finally saw one of those "LeBron James" performances. LeBron hasn't really wowed anyone so far this postseason but he did on Tuesday night: 36 points, 12 assists, 3 steals and (somehow) just a single rebound. LeBron dominated offensively; he didn't bail New Jersey out by settling for jumpers, he got to the line often and he found his teammates when they were open. James kept the Nets in foul trouble (Mikki Moore and Jason Collins both had 5 fouls) but he shot just 9 out of 13 from the stripe. With the way the supporting cast has been playing (all five starters in double figures) if LeBron starts going off, New Jersey is done for.

Dear National Media... look, I know that the Cavs haven't exactly had the most taxing of playoff opponents thus far... but they're 6-0. They haven't lost a game since Easter. I know it's not as sexy as Steve Nash getting his face cut open or a 45 year old pitcher signing with a sub-.500 team, but LeBron James hasn't lost in a month. You'd think this would be news.

Can Sasha get a little respect (and can we get rid of that "offensive is my defense" quote? God Damn is that annoying)? He got two terrible whistles (both while going against Vince Carter- one was a on a play were Sasha literally did nothing wrong and another was a block/charge call that happened to include Carter's shoulder) and he notched another by retaliating and knocking over a flopping Moore on a pick (I say retaliation because Moore had set a blatant moving screen the possession before and Sasha fought through it pretty hard). Even though he ended up with five fouls (though he stayed out of trouble early on), Sasha played extremely well at both ends of the court. He hassled Carter on the defensive end (just 10-26 shooting for Vince) and made Carter work defensively (Sasha had 17 points on 7-13 shooting).

The Cavs didn't exactly get any 'home cooking' tonight. On the same play where Moore illegally screened Pavlovic, Collins set a screen on James that involved the hooking of arms and holding (and this wasn't initiated by LeBron). Plus their bigs are holding Z every time down the court (off rebounds mostly but also on pick and rolls). I'm not saying that this was on purpose or that there's any malice in these calls- but they didn't do the Cavs any favors (here's a few more: the Nets had 24-second violation that wasn't called (luckily they missed) and James blocked a shot that was called a goaltend).

Hey Larry, just because they give you the shot, doesn't mean you have to take it. I don't want to rag on Hughes too much; he hit a big shot late in the game, played some nice defense and grabbed 7 boards. However, he took some absolutely terrible shots. These were, of course, jumpers. That weren't in the flow of the offense. That weren't good looks. With a lot of time left on the shot clock. Hughes finished 4-14 (which isn't as bad as it seems, he started 2-8 so that means he finished 2-6...).

The foul shots need work. Hughes was hot at the line as well, going 3-6 from the charity stripe. James was just 9-13, Z only 5-7 and Sasha was just 2-4. This needs to improve (but fortunately for the Cavaliers, the Nets shot 64% to their 60%).

The Cavalier bigs are playing really well. Z had 13 points and 9 boards (3 offensive), Gooden had 10 and 14 (3 offensive) and Anderson Varejao showed some signs of life by chipping in 6 points and 6 offensive boards (9 overall). Hell, even Donyell Marshall grabbed 2 offensive boards (one of which led to his only 2 points). There is no reason why this should not continue.

Look TNT, this offensive rebounding edge isn't going to go anywhere. People are acting like the Cavs' giant edge on the glass is some weird thing that is just now happening ("the main reason that the Cavs are ahead is due to their second chance points"). This isn't some fluke thing like Ira Newble getting hot or something ("the Nets are only down 3, but Ira Newble hit 18 shots in a row, they're in pretty good shape"). The Cavs are the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA. This isn't a quirk. This is by design. The Nets best rebounder is their point guard, are we really surprised that the Cavs own the glass?

Speaking of TNT (though every network does this)... Show the game! I'm sick of these baseline cameras and sideline shots. Just show the game from the normal view. I like to be able to see the entire court when I watch a game. At least they don't have that camera on a string thing that ABC has (is it a string? Is on some kind of track? I hate it).

and finally...

Go read a book. Go outside. Go read a book outside. You'll have the free time as the Cavs don't play again until Saturday. Which makes sense because you have that extra travel day in there... and that other extra day for... um... it takes time to get to Jersey. I initially thought that the extra day was so they can showcase the Vince vs LeBron matchup. Nope. They have the rarely seen and rarely effective 5:00 PM start time. That'll reach a lot of viewers...


Anonymous said...

It's big-city bias. That's just the way it is. I've learned to just accept it because it isn't worth the price of blood pressure medication to get worked up over it.

If this were the Knicks or Lakers (or even the Clippers) gutting out six straight postseason wins and 10 overall, it would contending with the Warriors as the NBA's feel-good story of the spring. But it's Cleveland and nobody outside of Ohio really cares what the Cavs do, good, bad or otherwise.

It would be the same way if Roger Clemens decided to sign with the Royals for some reason. Even if the Royals were halfway decent. ESPN and Co. would say "OK, that's interesting, now let's get a trauma surgeon in here to talk about the long-term ramifications of Steve Nash's busted nose. Will he ever be the same player again?"

You know how it was during the Indians-Marlins World Series. All NBC could do is gripe about how they had to preempt "Seinfeld." If the Cavs and Spurs were to meet in the NBA Finals, the only thing you'd hear about is how low the TV ratings are and how no one wants to see a bunch of 83-81 games from two teams that no one cares about.

Ben said...

I'm not expecting in depth reports on the Cavaliers or like some Ira Newble human interest stories, I'm just looking for a little bit of love from the PTI and Around the Horn guys. Discuss the Cavs and their series every now and then.

They follow LeBron when they think there are rumors of him leaving, but when it comes to actual basketball (I don't care who they played, 10 in a row is 10 in a row) they'd rather talk about Roger Clemons for 20 minutes (not that Clemons doesn't deserve some pub or coverage, but calm down already).