Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thoughts from The Game

Irregularly updated

Ugh. Ugly game by the Cavs. Notes for next game: Take out Hughes, who shoots less than 40% when he's healthy - and he's not; let Pavlovic and Gibson get a lot more touches and let them create and have Lebron move more away from the ball; and concentrate more on defense and fundamentals, like boxing out on free throws. This looked a lot like a "getting their bearings" type game more than a completely overmatched team, at least... but obviously, this wasn't good.

Nice run by the Cavs, cutting it to single digits. Under 3 minutes left, though. Still some time left, but they need to keep getting stops.

..and the Cavs' third quarter woes continue. They've got to crack down on D to start, and Lebron is running off the picks a little further outside than he normally does, which makes it easier for the Spurs to come back and pick him up on the outside. Either he needs to go 1-on-1 on Bowen or he has to run those first couple steps a little faster like he normally does.

40-35 at halftime. Obviously not amazing, but not bad.

That pass by Parker to Elson for the three-point play was sick.

One of the reasons Tim Duncan is so great is his ability to shoot in two ways from the side - straight up or by banking it, which is so hard to do. It gives him two angles to choose from when going up for a shot depending on what is being defended.

That the Cavs are staying even - within five despite Lebron being 0-6 and Ginobli/Duncan/Parker all playing well is a great sign.

I think people have severely underestimated just how good the Cavs are at two aspects of the game: Defense and rebounding. One of the most important aspects of the D is something the announcers (who've been surprisingly decent so far) touched on, which is forcing teams to take long jumpers but not giving them open threes.


  1. Ezzie,

    The East is a joke. The Cavs haven't spent any real time facing a real team like the Spurs.

    The Pistons are nothing compared to the Spurs. They are not even the team that they used to be with Ben Wallace.

    If the Cavs played in the West they might not have even made the playoffs and never would have made it out of the first round.

    I am not trying to be a jerk, just realistic.

    They'll be lucky not to be swept. Lebron isn't enough.

  2. If the Cavs played in the West they might not have even made the playoffs and never would have made it out of the first round.

    I think they're better than the Lakers and the Warriors and on par with the Nuggets who weren't in synch until the last few games of the season. But I agree they wouldn't have gotten out of the first round. I don't think it's a stretch to say that no finals team in recent memory has had such an easy road to the finals.

    Reminds me of the 95 Rockets who had to beat Stockton and Malone, Barkely and KJ and Robinson in his MVP year just to have a right to play Shaq and Penny in the Finals. This Cavs team couldn't have beaten any of those teams.

  3. Bill Simmons says it well

    Myth No. 1: Maybe the West was better than the East this season, but not by THAT much.

    Ummmmmm ... no.

    Did you watch the Pistons-Cavs series? Did you see how gawdawful Game 2 was? Did you see all the coaching mistakes? Did you see how disjointed the offenses were? What about Game 6 when Doug Collins actually said something along the lines of, "I can't remember the last time I've seen that many bad plays in a row in a basketball game"? Seriously, this was Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals! Collins made it sound like he was watching two hungover intramural teams playing in a 90-degree gym at 8:30 in the morning on a Sunday.

    This isn't baseball, where an underdog from an inferior league can catch fire for a few weeks and win the title (see: the 2006 Cardinals). The cream always rises to the top in the NBA. Back in 2002 and 2003, when we had the biggest imbalance between the East and West, a decent New Jersey team got smoked by the Lakers and the Spurs in consecutive Finals, losing eight of 10 games, with their two victories coming by a combined total of three points. Everyone who picked the Nets in either one of those series felt like a complete imbecile afterward. You know why I know this? Because I picked the '03 Nets to win in six games. Some of the highlights:

    "When was the last time there was an even matchup in a Finals?"

    "Maybe New Jersey couldn't have handled the Lakers, Mavs or Kings in a seven-game series, but the Spurs are perfect for them."

    "I'm picking the Nets. And I'm not just picking them. I'm telling you, they're going to win. The team with the best player always wins the title ... [and] nobody's playing better than Jason Kidd right now. Nobody. That's why I'm going with the Nets in six."

    Call it a lesson learned. When the talent disparity between two conferences becomes this pronounced, the Finals for the conference's representative turns into one of those "Madden" seasons when somebody can't handle the jump from "All-Pro" to "All-Madden." That's what will happen to the Cavs in this series. The Spurs just rolled through three of the best six teams in the league: Denver, Phoenix and Utah, all of whom were better than Detroit. Meanwhile, Cleveland played a ravaged Wizards team, a three-man Nets team and a Pistons team that clearly needs to be blown up. ... Somehow, the Cavs made it through the entire playoffs without facing a team that could (A) attack them with a penetrating point guard (taking advantage of their lack of shotblocking and lack of a true point guard), (B) make LeBron work on defense, and (C) trap LeBron and force his teammates to beat them.

    (Important note: Flip Saunders finally realized the trapping thing after Game 5, when LeBron scored 29 of the last 30 points and insured that Flip will spend the rest of his life on ESPN Classic staring out onto the court like Michael Corleone staring out onto the lake at the end of "Godfather: Part II." In Game 6, he adjusted and trapped the living hell out of LeBron, and it even worked for the first 30 minutes -- LeBron was frustrated and the Cavs looked discombobulated, even more than usual -- until they eventually adjusted and Daniel Gibson started bombing those open 3-pointers. Flip's biggest mistake was not mixing up the traps with conventional defenses; he was like an NFL defensive coordinator who called the same blitz for 55 straight plays. Eventually, the quarterback can figure out who's open, right? The Spurs won't make this mistake: They'll trap LeBron one play, play straight-up the next, trap the next two times, and so on ... they'll make sure he never gets into a rhythm. Really, this isn't rocket science.)