I’m a guy who came to the realization long ago that this team would be bad. I knew this going into the season. They didn’t just lose LeBron. They lost Delonte West, Shaq, and Big Z. So, I had no high hopes. However, I must say I did not expect them to play like this on a regular basis. To lose by 15 points to one of the worst teams in the league, AT HOME, is quite the sign of where this team is. Sadly, it will be getting worse before it gets better. Anyway, on to the game itself.
On the Youth Movement
Plenty of folks in Cavalier land have been clamouring for Coach Scott to play the young guns. I’ve agreed with that sentiment (to a point). The team isn’t going anywhere no matter which group of players are on the court, so they might as well see what they have for the future when it comes to the younger players. This would refer to playing Eyenga, Harris, Hickson (more on him later), and Gee. Scott seems to now be of the same mind-set as the minutes for these guys has started to increase. Eyenga and Gee both played 20+ minutes tonight. Eyenga played well enough for a guy in his second NBA game going 7/10. However, the box score is misleading. Every single one of these players I’ve mentioned (save Samuels) who are part of the youth movement have been complete and total disasters on the defensive end. They have taken a bad defensive team and made it worse. The Raptors were dead last in terms of 3-point shooting coming in to this game and the Cavs’ “defense” helped fix that problem by watching (yes, watching) them go 9-18. Amazingly, this was the LEAST of their problems on defense. The Cavs actually out-shot the Raptors from 3 and shot 15 more FTs than the Raptors. Yet they gave up a ton of points in a multitude of other ways, especially easy buckets in the paint. A lot of this has to do with playing the young guys. This is what you and I can expect for the foreseeable future. They will be worse, at least right now, than the vets. Eyenga will hopefully be better than Anthony Parker….eventually. This brings me to my next point which is Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams.
The Guys Who Seem To Be Trying To Do Too Much: Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams
I’ll start off by admitting I feel bad for these two guys. I have a soft spot in my heart for them so it probably clouds my judgment somewhat. However, during this game it looked as if both Mo and Jamison were forcing shots when it wasn’t there. In other words, they were trying to do too much and some might even say being selfish. If you saw this, then your eyes weren’t fooling you. That is exactly what happened in this game. But understand it is not because of selfishness. When Mo or Jamison look around the court and they see Alonzo Gee, Christian Eyenga, Ryan Hollins, and Anderson Varejao (love the guy, but he can’t play offense) they pretty much understand they are going to have to do the bulk of the scoring. This is the other problem with the youth movement. It forces the vets who aren’t getting replaced by younger guys to take on an even bigger role and do things outside of their comfort zone. I especially see this with Mo Williams, who has had to do way more this year than his skills will allow. Playing all of the young guys only exacerbates this problem. The only way to counter this is to simply put these two guys on the bench and replace them with young guys (which we don’t have) or to trade them. The latter of the two will eventually happen with both, I feel.
All of that said, I do feel Jamison and Mo played about as well as they could tonight. Jamison continues to have monster scoring nights, which can only help us it terms of trade talks. Mo continues to dish out more assists than I ever thought he would be capable of doing which will also help us in trade talks.
The team was about as bad as a team could possibly be on defense tonight. I already touched on this, but there is one play I have to outline. In the 2nd half, off of a missed FT, the Raptors were able to rebound the ball and get a fast-break, uncontested lay-up. That is totally unacceptable. Even bad defensive teams shouldn’t be beaten down the court off of a missed lay-up. Ever. That one play was a pretty good indicator for how the rest of the night went. Jose Calderon looked like Pete Maravich. Andrea Bargnani looked like Dirk Nowitzki’s brother. Julian Wright actually looked like a legit NBA player. The Raptors looked like an elite offensive team tonight, when they are quite average in reality. That was mostly due to the effort, or lack thereof, by the Cavs on defense.
J.J. Hickson: Not Really Bright
Apparently, Hickson missed some sort of mandatory practice/work-out which was the reason for his DNP. It’s getting to the point that Hickson might have to be moved no matter what. It’s very clear he doesn’t like Scott, and Scott doesn’t like him. Much like the Jeff Fisher/Vince Young situation, management will absolutely side with Scott. I expect Hickson to be moved at the deadline unless he goes on an absolute tear before then AND doesn’t have any more run-ins with Scott. Hard to see both happening at this point.
Until next time.