Archive for November, 2010

Recap: Cavs 123, 76ers 116 (Or, from good to bad to winning the game)

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Overview: The Cavaliers scored 34 points in the first quarter and 44 in the fourth to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers by a final score of 123-116. The Cavaliers blew a 19-point lead, but were able to recover thanks to big performances by Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

There’s something about hitting those first few jumpers that makes our starting big men unstoppable. Varejao started the game off by hitting two long jumpers the 76ers were more than happy to concede, and spent the rest of the game on a confidence bender that saw him attacking the rim, finding spaces, and finishing from a variety of angles. 23 points and 12 rebounds for Andy, who didn’t miss a shot from the field. Absolutely amazing performance from him.

Good God, the 76ers started the game off playing horrible basketball. They were bored and a step slow defensively, and offensively they’d just walk into their offense and fire a long two. It’s about the lowest possible level at which professional basketball can be played, and give the Cavs credit for taking advantage and jumping out to an early 25-8 lead, because they’d need all of those points later on.

Then Jrue Holliday and Elton Brand absolutely started going off, and things looked bad. One thing about this team is that it doesn’t have a superstar, so it will experience some more extreme runs than it did in the past; the “okay, things are going bad, let’s throw it to LeBron and watch him get a basket” plan is no longer an option, so there will be some prolonged funks.

Just when it looked like this was going to turn into an ugly loss, the Cavs roared back. Big shots from Boobie Gibson, a nice pass and drive from Ramon Sessions, a great and-1 for Varejao, some big plays from Mo Williams, and all of a sudden the Cavs had a 44-point quarter and their second win of the season. Great win, and one that showed that Cleveland can score on anyone when they have it going. Few other notes:

– Ramon Sessions made some nice plays out there, and actually looked like a point guard a few times. Let’s see more of that.

– Not a huge game from Hickson, but he still showed some great, quick moves for baskets that really show his maturation as a player.

– If Gibson can run the point and draw fouls like he did tonight on a regular basis, it’ll be a huge, huge deal.

– Very good game for Mo, especially considering that he didn’t hit any of his five three-point attempts. He needs to focus on running the offense first, and that’s what he did on Friday.

Bullets of Randomness:

– Did anyone else see how easily Andre Iguodala scored from the high-post, low-post, and by catching it on the blocks and finishing and wonder why he doesn’t do those things a LOT more? By the way, I just described all three of Iggy’s field goals.

– I nominate Elton Brand for the “best player who plays like the old guy at the YMCA” award this season.

– Jrue Holliday. Wow. That was impressive.

Preview: Cavaliers at 76ers, November 5th

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Relevant Statistics:

Offensive Efficiency: Cleveland 96.6 (26th) vs. Philadelphia 99.8 (21st)

Defensive Efficiency: Cleveland 105.6 (20th) vs. Philadelphia 98.5 (6th)

Pace: Cleveland 94.3 (22nd) vs. Philadelphia 97.0 (18th)

Notes:

-The keys to this one will be slowing down Philadelphia’s frontcourt (Elton Brand is actually not sucking, like, at all, and Thad Young is a good player), keeping Lou Williams from doing too much damage in the limited amount of time the 6ers give him, and finding ways to score on Philly’s surprisingly stingy defense.

It’s an athletic team, so every mistake the Cavs make is going to bite them. Hopefully Mo will start to settle in tonight, J.J. can take it right to their frontcourt, and the Cavs can get back to fundamentals on defense. I’ll be in the dime tonight, so come say hi.

Week One Thoughts

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

— Things to feel good about: J.J. Hickson. He’s the future, and looks like the real deal. Right now I’d put his ceiling as “2nd offensive option on a legit playoff team,” which is something to get excited about.

— Biggest worry: Ramon Sessions. He’s fearless, but his shooting game is non-existent¬†and he’s disturbingly adverse to passing. I love his tenacity, but driving to the basket over and over again with no plan is not winning basketball.

— Biggest unknown: How Mo will do as the #1 option and primary creator. This is the thing to watch next week.

— Biggest ambivalent: Anthony Parker. He’s doing what the team is asking him to do, but a good team wouldn’t be asking him to do this much. He’s simply not that talented.

— Well, the Heat are going to be good. Really good. Prepare yourself accordingly. Good to see the LeBron jersey guy’s 15 seconds appear to be coming to an end.

— On KG’s trash talk: I’d like to have seen this discussion happen when he was caught on camera screaming “F****ng F*****ts” a few years ago. What he said to Charlie V. was very wrong and offensive to people with his condition, but there are others who should have been spoken up for, and the latter would be addressing a pretty big issue.

— So, the fast-breaking hasn’t really been there. Running the ball in the NBA is much easier said than done. Mo might help this when he gets back.

— Team is currently 26th in offensive efficiency and 20th in defensive efficiency. And 22nd in pace factor.

— As conspiracy theories go, “Doc let up on the Cavs to mess with LeBron” isn’t bad. Still stupid, but pretty far ahead of most NBA conspiracy theories.

— You know what would be nice? Beating the 76ers. They’re not good.

Recap: Hawks 100, Cavs 88 (Or, let’s talk about J.J. Hickson and nothing else)

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Bumper Car WIN / Traffic FAIL

Overview: The undefeated Hawks rode a red-hot start and effective fourth quarter to a 100-88 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 22 points, and J.J. Hickson led the Cavaliers with a career-high 31 points.

Game Summary:

The Hawks couldn’t miss early. If pressed I’d say that about 60% of their made jumpers, mostly long twos, were “well, you can’t give him that look” shots, and the other 40% were “I suppose you have to live with that” shots. Of course, they all counted on the scoreboard. The Hawks rotated the ball, they pulled up off the dribble, and let fly from just inside the three-point line, and made everything. Josh Smith made two long jumpers in the fourth quarter, which ranks just below a light fixture falling on a point guard on the bad omen scale. The only reason the Cavs were in the game in the first was that the Cavs were hitting tough shots themselves, with Hickson, Hollins, and Anthony Parker all pitching in some tricky jumpers.

The Cavs fought back when the Hawks inevitably cooled off from the field, but ultimately failed to get it done in the fourth. What used to be LeBron time turned into a period of confusion, as the Cavs were forced to rely on long jumpers and/or Hickson in high-post ISO sets while the Hawks got clutch shots from Crawford, Johnson, and Bibby to put the Cavs away and stay undefeated.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

– HICKSON HICKSON HICKSON. HICKSOMANIA IS IN FULL EFFECT. Amazing game from J.J. Smith started the game off giving J.J. jumpers, and Hickson calmly drained them. That gave him a ton of confidence for the rest of the game, and it showed. Rather than falling in love with the jumper, Hickson used his early makes to open up his game. There were moves from the high-post. There were fake dribble-handoffs that led to drive. There were catch-and-dunks. Josh Smith looked utterly helpless throughout the contest. It was an absolute clinic from J.J., and the best evidence we’ve yet seen that J.J. can be a franchise player going forward.

– Mo came back. He did fine. Williams looked a bit rusty, and definitely forced some drives early and shots late. He also showed some flashes, though; he controlled the offense for much of his time on the floor, and hit a big fourth-quarter three from his absolute three (left elbow extended, for you new readers/watchers.) Hopefully he’ll get back in the swing of things soon, because…

– Ramon Sessions has looked God-awful. He just keeps driving over and over again with no real idea of what happens when small people come directly at large people with no real plan. I feel very bad about getting excited about Ramon. There’s still a lot of season left, but Ramon has to figure his stuff out.

– I have very mixed about Anthony Parker this season. On the one hand, he’s doing a better job of handling the ball than Ramon is, and doing a decent job making plays. On the other hand, this team has a very low offensive ceiling if Anthony Parker is the man making the decisions on offense.

– Varejao was very active and played some really good positional defense, but really failed to make an impact on offense. The ball movement on this team needs to improve, and that starts with Mo (who pulls up early too much) and Ramon (who spends way too much time making Kamikaze drives.)

Bullets of Randomness:

-Apart from some nice blocks, Josh Smith looked horrible, didn’t he? J.J. had his way with him, and 2 of Smith’s 3 baskets were on long twos. That’s not what the ATL coaching staff wants, I’m sure.

– AP did a great job on Joe Johnson, but Johnson did come up with some big baskets in the fourth, as did Bibby and Crawford. Helps to have confident perimeter players late in the game.

– Boy, does Horford look good. He seems to be comfortable with that 15-footer but not in love with it, which is such a big deal for young big men.

– Somebody explain Jeff Teague’s appeal to me. Guards with poor shots and low basketball IQs generally don’t make it far in this league, but I do plead ignorance, and he’s clearly a great athlete.

Alright, that’s all for me tonight. Yay J.J. Boo 1-3.

Preview: Hawks at Cavaliers, November 2nd

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Alright, undefeated Hawks coming to Cleveland. Let’s see if the Cavs can get back to .500 tonight. Some things to watch for:

— Another really athletic team in the Hawks. Smith is going to be a tough matchup for JJ, and Horford will take it right at Andy down low. I like both of their chances, though.

— Mo’s back! And he gets to face Mike Bibby! That’s a welcome-back present if I ever saw one.

— The key here is finding something defensively — the Hawks haven’t been doing much on defense, but they’ve been scoring at will so far this season. Make Joe Johnson work, don’t let the Hawks get out and run too much, and stick to Crawford and keep him from getting himself a mini-run. See you after the game.