Well, I can actually do a somewhat lengthy recap because we actually had a different game. For the first time in over a month, the Cavaliers played hard on defense. They ran at shooters, hedged on some screens, and just played with a little more grit on that end of the floor. Let’s run with this.
Defense, Because the D is Back.
The Cavaliers, for literally the first time since the first 15 games of the season, contested threes. Even if they were late and couldn’t get out, I still remember plenty of times, specifically from Eyenga of him helping, turning, and running back to the shooter. He didn’t always get there, but it at least some effort that we haven’t been seeing for some time.
On another play that took place in the 4th quarter, Ryan Hollins showed quick feet to help force Derrick Rose to the base line, and then cut him off, causing Rose to have to kick it back out instead of getting a free drive to the rim. It was maybe one of the finest examples of team defense that I’ve seen this season out of this team.
The most impressive thing in all of this for me is that the Cavs, so clearly overmatched at every position, managed to hold the Bulls to 41% shooting while only giving up 20 FTs. To think that the Cavs would shoot more FTs than a bigger, stronger, more athletic Bulls team is quite amazing really.
The Offense: Little did you know that it sucks too
Well, I haven’t had to talk much offense since starting this blog, because no amount of offensive production would have won the Cavs any of these games with the way the defense was playing. Finally, here was a game. But, it was not meant to be. Understand this wasn’t some fluke thing and think the stars just somehow didn’t allign. No, no, this is the Cavs offense on most nights. It is bad too. As I pointed out in my last recap, they rank worst in the league in offensive efficiency just like in defensive efficiency.
The primary reason, you ask? Not a single guy on this offense has the ability to create anything for himself, let alone other people. If this team plans on scoring, it has to come from an offensive set that creates an open shot for them. Sadly for them, they have a bunch of players who aren’t very adept at running plays or even remembering plays (according to Scott) and this is the result. Low scoring efforts usually mirrored by atrocious FG% numbers.
When it comes to team eFG%, the Cavs rank next to last. When it comes to true shooting, the Cavs rank next to last. When it comes to FG%, the Cavs rank next to last. Milwaukee is the one team worse than the Cavs in all of those categories.
The great difference? Milwaukee does have a difference maker on offense in Andrew Bogut, while the Cavs have…..Antawn Jamison? This is the big problem, folks. Our best offensive player is a guy who is a volume shooter without any passing ability to speak of and no great ability to take someone off the dribble. Basically, our best offensive player is a volume jump-shooter. Not good.
The front office, I’m sure, was hoping Ramon Sessions would be a guy who could come in and use his speed to create shots for others. As it turns out, Ramon doesn’t do much creating and instead does a lot more shooting than realized. Add to that that he isn’t particulary good at shooting, from anywhere, and it isn’t quite what they were expecting. The one guy who conceivably could, and sometimes did, create shots for others was Mo Williams. He was slumping and not really doing a great job of that, but the problem of to many low percantage shots has only increased since his injury. Thems the breaks.
Hickson, oooohhhh Hickson
Hickson is turning in to the anti-Amare. Terrible jump-shot. Even worse hands. Awful decisions on offense. Gets blocked way too much. But man, is he attacking the boards. If nothing else, I’ll hang on to this one glimmer of hope. He truly is a poor, half-court offensive player. The one play that stood out in my mind was in the 3rd quarter, when Hickson received the ball at the top of the key. He decided that not only was he going to take his man off of the dribble but also cross-over and split the oncoming double team. Of course, he got his pocket picked and it resulted in a fast-break lay-up for Chicago. It is these type of plays that consistently lessen Hickson’s offensive value. He tries to do WAY more than his ability is capable of allowing. Whether it be dribbling or shooting. But, he is giving more effort on the boards in the last week and half than he has in the entire rest of his career combined. I’ll reward him with kind words so long as that continues.