Game Recap #70: Nets 98- Cavaliers 94

Well that was one ugly basketball game. Anytime a game goes into overtime and neither team manages to reach 100, you know the offense was struggling. Both teams shot like NCAA tourney teams and not coincidentally both teams will end up very high in the draft in order to draft NCAA players from those tourney teams. Neither team managed to shoot above 38% from the field. That’s just tough to stomach.

Hard for me to really give any praise for any Cavalier. Even the one guy I was going to praise ended up not deserving it by the end of the game. For the most part, I thought Hollins played some really good defense on Brook Lopez, that was untill he fouled him 3 times in overtime. A couple of them, especially his last one, was an incredibly stupid foul. With the Cavs still in the game and nearly a minute to play, Hollins made a fatal error by reaching in after an offensive rebound attempt and fouling Lopez 80 feet away from the basket.

Hickson and Sessions weren’t much better in OT. Sessions, I have to say, is wearing my patience thin. The guy makes up his mind long before the play actually develops that he’s going to drive and shoot and that’s that. Multiple times down the stretch he put his head down, headed towards the rim, and through up some wild lay-up attempt with no intention of actually playing like a PG and setting up a teammate. For once, his box score actually backs up the way he normally plays. 2 assists to 5 turnovers. Not nearly good enough for a point guard. He’s a selfish, shoot first PG, only he can’t shoot and he isn’t overly athletic. A really terrible combination.

Hickson was close to brain dead during the OT. He had multiple turnovers, tried to dribble drive, committed a foul, and simply hurt his team far more than he helped it. For the game, he rebounded the ball well if you ignore the fact that the man he was guarding rebounded the ball even better. These are the things I mean about empty stats. Yes, Hickson grabbed 17 boards, but the man he was supposed to be boxing out grabbed 23, 9 of which were offensive. So did Hickson really have a good night on the boards? Questionable.

Anyway, it’s a sign of the times where this team is at when it can’t beat the lowly Nets, at home, without Deron Williams. Things are bleak.

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Around the NBA: Power Rankings

Time for another power rankings update.

  1. San Antonio Spurs– It will take a mini-collapse for them to be knocked off of this spot. Everytime they suffer a bad loss (being blown out in Miami) they come back with an impressive win (a win over Dallas).
  2. Chicago Bulls– Right now, with the way Boston has been playing, it seems pretty obvious and clear that Chicago is easily the best team in the East. Two straight blowouts, one being in Atlanta,
  3. Los Angeles Lakers– They’ve been the best team in the league since the break, going 12-1 with some really impressive wins. Bynum is playing his best basketball since the start of the 2008 season before he got hurt for the year.
  4. Dallas Mavericks- I feel that this team has more overall talent from 1-12 than any other team in the league. They have defensive post players and wings as well as offensive post players and wings. They have big time scoring off the bench and a guy that I feel should be the leading candidate for the MVP (even though he won’t win it).
  5. Boston Celtics– Yikes. They’ve been playing really poor lately with some god awful losses to the Clippers, Nets, and the Rockets (which was a blow out). They are still hurt, but at this point you have to wonder if either O’Neal is going to actually be fully healthy to give them what they need come playoff time.
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Game Recap #68: Cavaliers 92- Clippers 100

The most eventful part of this game? The pre-game wild west standoff between cops and a crazy man. The most uneventful? Watching the Cavaliers’ guards attempt to be good.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 573 times, the Cavaliers can’t guard any position on the court. Griffin goes off. Eric Gordon in his first game back goes off. Craig Smith comes in and goes 6-9. The Clippers shoot 9-17 from three. The Cavs can’t guard good post players AND they can’t guard the 3-point line. Just like most of the season, they continue to make so-so offensive teams look like the second coming of the 2005 Phoenix Suns.

On a good note, Hickson played pretty well in this game. He got a couple of jumpers to fall which is normally a all or nothing type of thing for him. If he misses one, he’ll keep shooting and continue to miss them. If they go in, well then great for us. He still shouldn’t be shooting to many of them. That said, he worked hard and had himself his best game since Jamison’s injury.

Also a bright spot is Samardo Samuels. The guy is far more polished on the low block than I thought he would be. He also has a fairly reliable mid-range jumper if left wide open. A couple of years from now, a decision will need to be made on Hickson and Samuels (if Samuels continues this play). They can’t play together if you expect your team to actually defend the paint like an NBA team. It will have to be one or the other, in which case either the other guy comes off the bench or isn’t here. How that works out is anybody’s guess.

On the flip side is this team’s horrid guard play. Sessions again had a nice box-score that makes you think he actually played well. He didn’t. This guy’s game is just totally flawed. He doesn’t actually improve his teammates at all. His assist numbers are extremely mis-leading. In this particular game, he also had 4 turnovers, which is entirely to much for a guy who isn’t expected to dominate the ball. His problem is pretty simple: he’s a score first point guard except he can’t shoot and isn’t very big. It’s hard to be score first as a guard if you can’t shoot the ball. Still, people will look at that box score and be impressed. Oh well…

Daniel Gibson has been a total disaster for over a month now. He can’t hit an open three. He can’t finish at the rim (never has been able to) and for most of the season his defense has fallen off the Earth. Why, I’m not sure, but he doesn’t defend with anywhere near the same intensity he did last year or the year before. His injuries + his play this year makes me think the Cavs will think about moving him in the off-season. He just isn’t performing.

Eyenga………is playing really bad. That’s all I’ll say about the kid. He needs to get better, a lot better.

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Around the NBA: A Statistical Comparison of the Heat and Cavs

This will be fun. I looked at stats from last year’s Cavs team and compared them to this year’s Miami team.

Offensive Eff
CLE-108.8
MIA-108.7

eFG%
CLE-53.23%
MI-52.06%

Deffensve Eff
CLE-101.5
MIA-100.3

Pace
CLE-93.4
MIA-93.0

Opponent FG%
CLE- 44.2%
MIA-42.9%

PT. Diff.
CLE- +6.5
MIA- +7.2

Last year’s Cavs’ team was better offensively and amazingly played faster than this Miami team and neither team plays/played fast. Miami is a better defensive team to a degree. Both teams are roughly the exact same league rank in all of these categories. For instance they both ranked 22 in pace, and were just a spot or two apart in the other categories listed.

Obviously, if I were to compare Miami to the 08-09 Cavs’ team, the Cavs would win every single category. Basically, not only will this Miami team fall short in terms of regular season wins each Cavs team accumulated the last two seasons, but at the very least it only equals them statistically, and if compared to the 08-09 team, falls extremely short.

Question: if this Miami team has more talent, shouldn’t it show up somewhere? If not the win column, than at least the statistics?

One day I will really venture into a fairly untouched question: Does LeBron James make his teammates better? In Cleveland, it was widely believed he did but that his teammates just sucked so bad that that was as good as he could make them. The excuse now is what? There are serious flaws in the man’s game that need to be adressed and can’t continue to be discounted. Untill he fixes them, I think he’s always going to be on a team that struggles in the half-court offensively simply because he dominates the ball so much. I say all that because I know a lot of people will simply blame the coaches. Mike Brown was considered to be a poor coach (including by me) and I’m thinking most people are starting to think Spoelstra is too. Perhaps we need to take a long, hard look at the common denominator. Just perhaps.

Obviously this post is rendered null and void if the Heat go on to win the title this year.

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Game Recap #66: Cavaliers 97- Kings 93

This recap will be pretty short and sweet. Honestly, there isn’t much to analyze about the rest of these games. We know what we know about these players and this team already. Unless something major happens, like Eyenga starts to really develop, then there is only so much I can say. Also, after turning on the game following watching the Thunder vs. Heat, this game was hard to watch. Just bad, bad basketball.

A pretty solid defensive effort all the way around. Obviously, the big Samardo plays down the stretch on defense stick out in terms of the impact on the game. He gave Cousins trouble on the final possession and played solid man-to-man without fouling him. Question: what the hell was Cousins doing? Seriously, I see the major potential with the guy, but he’s a head case on and off the court. He thinks he’s about 27x better than he is, and it causes him to do things like try and take someone off the dribble from the 3-point line with the game on the line.

On a negative note, Eyenga seems to be going backwards. He hasn’t played well for a long while and it’s causing him to get less and less minutes. His jumper is still way off, and he’s making some really bad mistakes on defense. This was to be expected, as the guy is really young and hasn’t played organized basketball for very long, but it’s still tough to see. I have high hopes for the kid (at least high hopes to me) but I won’t be seeing him reach those hopes for some time.

Props to Harangody. The guy is never going to be a great shooter, but he’ll hang around the league for a while. If you hustle, have some size and strength, and can shoot the ball halfway decent, you’ll always find a place on a team.

That’s all I have for tonight..oh, and the Clips lost.

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Around the NBA: Power Rankings

Time for some updated power rankings. Actually, that time was a few days ago but hey, better late than never.

  1. San Antonio Spurs– Despite their blowout loss to the Lakers, they are still so far ahead of L.A. that I can’t seriously think about switching spots. Also, every other team (besides Chicago) has lost games since the last rankings, so no one really did anything to gain ground.
  2. Chicago Bulls– After completing a season sweep, the Bulls then proceeded to destroy the Hawks. They are, w/o a doubt, the best defensive team in the league (especially since the Celtics no longer have Perkins). Their offense does sputter, but when you lock-down people like they do on defense, you can beat anyone in a 7 game series.
  3. Dallas Mavericks– Still going strong. They’ve been winning at a higher rate than any other team in the league over their last 20. They just had a blowout victory over New York, and more importantly, Roddy “Buckets” is filling that scoring gap Butler left behind. Just like I thought he would.
  4. L.A. Lakers– Winning 8 straight games since the all-star break followed by a single loss in Miami was enough to bump them up a spot. Had they won that game in Miami, they’d likely be my number 2. As it is, they are still serious contenders in the West. Still, they suffer from that problem that they’ve suffered from before..Kobe going “hero ball” to early in games. It cost them against the Heat.
  5. Boston Celtics– Two straight losses against mediocre teams is enough to drop them a spot or two. Granted, the loss tonight was against a VERY hot Philly team, but a loss at home the Clips? Not acceptable. That said, Green and Nenad are actually playing quite well for this team, and you have to think once Shaq gets back they will still be the favorites to come out of the East.

Side note: Philly is really, really athletic. No matter who they play in the East, they are going past 5 games with them. I am predicting at least one first round upset and it’s either coming from this team, or Portland.

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Game Recap #63: Warriors 95- Cavaliers 85

In what was a pretty boring affair, the Cavaliers managed to shoot themselves out of a game that it looked like they would easily win early. After a hot start, the Cavaliers shot in the low 30s percentage wise and wound up losing to the Warriors by 10 points.

No floor spacing

My fears are coming true. JJ Hickson cannot operate without playing next to a floor-spacing big man. Problem: There are none of those on this roster to put next to him. Harangody just doesn’t have the ability/talent/shooting/anything to justify starting him and giving him significant minutes. Even if they did, he’d have to prove to opposing teams that he actually can spread the floor in order to draw the defense out.

It isn’t just Jamison being out though that is having a negative impact on parts of the Cavs’ offense. It’s the loss of Mo Williams and Moon in exchange of Baron Davis. It’s also Daniel Gibson playing like clown that just got fired from his job of entertaining birthday parties (what?). There is no one for Scott to turn to in order to space the floor. No one. Baron Davis has been the best outside for the Cavs in the last 4 games. That’s a guy who shoots a career percentage of under nearly 30%. No team is going to give up the paint in order to get out on that type of shooter. They’ll let him shoot.

The Defense..

Well, it was certainly better tonight that it has been the three previous games. In case you haven’t noticed, the defense w/o Jamison hasn’t improved. The three games prior in which Jamison didn’t play the opponent’s all shot 52% and over. Tonight, the Cavs actually held to the Warriors to 45% shooting and only 95 points. That should have been enough to win. Still, though, there were breakdowns on that end. Quite a few easy lay-ups for the guards of the Warriors and some open threes. That is a two-fold problem. One, the Cavaliers have terrible defenders on the perimeter. We know this. The other problem is that the Cavs have 0 shot-blockers. We also know this. It’s another reason why playing such a small front-court hurts this team tremendously. If they had some lock-down defenders at the guard spots, their lack of shot-blocking wouldn’t get exposed as much.

That’s about it for tonight. I’m really, really worried about Hickson. He HAS to learn to play the 4 in order to be a viable option for this team going forward. There is no other option.

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