Cavaliers vs Timberwolves

December 7th, 2012 by Tom Pestak

A higher percentage shot than anything the Cavs came up with

Minnesota’s NBA team beat Cleveland’s – by almost 20 points.  Alonzo Gee, who plays SF for Cleveland’s team, successfully converted multiple jaw dropping hammer drop slam dunks.  Kevin Love read this and other Cavs blogs and decided to put an end to all the Anderson Varejao is the best big in the NBA talk.

First Half Highlights:

These horrific first quarters are becoming all too frequent.  Against Detroit: 30-17 deficit, against Chicago: 27-11 deficit.  Tonight they spotted Minny 8 points before finally scoring with under 9 minutes left in the 1st quarter.  You really can’t survive this.  This team, without its best playmakers, is going to struggle when the screws tighten late in the 4th.  But in the 1st quarter?  They finished tonight down 25-16 at the end of 1.

The second quarter was a slight improvement. Kevin Jones got his first bucket and the bench played about as well as you could ask.  Casspi had a nice dime for a Boobie 3 and then proceeded to knock one down himself.  Alonzo Gee tied the game with a 3, and the Cavs looked to have all the momentum going into the half.  Of course, the Wolves went on a 9-2 run in under 2 minutes including 2 layups by Luke Ridnour (the only white NBA player named Luke we haven’t gotten our hands on yet) and all the work the Cavs had done to claw back was for naught.  The Cavs have had some pretty putrid end of quarters.

2nd Half Highlights

In the 3rd quarter, the Cavs showed some signs of life midway through.  Of course, they started out just like the 1st quarter, needing 4 minutes to score a whole 3 points while Minnesota extended their lead to double digits.  Alonzo Gee threw down some ferocious dunks that you should definitely find video highlights of.  The Cavs were once again chipping away and playing with some momentum.  Tristan Thompson even made a shot that wasn’t an uncontested dunk.  That cut it to 6, and of course the Timbers proceeded to go on a 7-0 run.  The Cavs finished the quarter down 9.

The Final Quarter

Byron Scott trotted out this lineup to start the 4th: Donald Sloan, CJ Miles, Omri Casspi, Luke Walton, and Tyler Zeller.  The strangest thing about this game was that the Cavs lost by 20 and they didn’t really lose it because these guys started the 4th.  CJ Miles made a shot off a pretty Luke Walton pass to cut the Sota’s lead to 7 with just under 8 minutes left in the game.  And then, Donald Sloan stole a lazy pass and started streaking up court.  It really looked like the Cavs were going to cut it to 5, using the “worst bench ever” as it’s been referred on this blog, and would check in the “starters” to have a dog fight.  Only, Sloan was somehow caught from behind by Dante Cunningham, which was kind of surreal because it wasn’t like he tipped it forward into the waiting hands of a teammate (there was no one upcourt of these two), but he just took the ball away and started heading the other direction – reminded me of Maurice Clarret coming from behind to steal the ball away from Sean Taylor.  We couldn’t have known it at the time but that was apparently the dagger.  The T-Wolves scored a quick 4 and the Cavs kinda stopped playing.  The Cavs barely mustered a point a minute the rest of the way – 8 points in the last 7:50 minutes, and lost by 18.  So they sandwiched two decent quarters between two slices of 25-16 thrashings.  Hard to win that way.

Highlights and Lowlights: Alonzo Gee had a nice game.  He’s really not meant to be a playmaker – he’s a worker bee on defense and he can spot up for 3 and throw down the occasional dunk.  That’s exactly what he did tonight – only his dunks were VICIOUS and the only reason for Cavs fans to tune into this game.  I’d love to see Gee in the dunk contest.  He hit a few 3s too.  His shot chart looked exactly how you’d want it.

It’s a shame that Omri Casspi and Alonzo Gee can’t be on the floor together at the same time.  It was disastrous last year, it’s been disastrous this year. But it’s got to be the only reason that Casspi doesn’t play much.  I get that, Gee is very important to this team.  Casspi got 15 minutes tonight, hit a 3, had 2 steals and 4 rebounds.  He was active and good things happened with him on the court.

The FT disparity was 35-9.  The Cavs were the 9.  The Cavs were blocked one less time than they shot free throws.  Kevin Love shot twice as many free throws as the entire Cavs team.  No, I haven’t forgotten how to make things bold or italicized or LOUD.  It really wasn’t the Cavs getting hosed or Love getting superstar treatment.  The Cavs can’t finish fast breaks or drives to the rim (except Gee) and the Cavs couldn’t guard Kevin Love who is incredible.  He is a top 10 post player AND a top 10 three point bomber.  When was the last time that happened?  Larry Bird?  Maybe Dirk?  Kevin Love is an MVP-caliber player.  Tonight was a reminder for me that Anderson Varejao is probably the best role player in the NBA.  And the best role player in the NBA is still inferior to a superstar.  It’s silly for us to expect Varejao to be scoring 16 a night on mid-range jumpers.  The guy scores on PnR, backdoor cuts, and tip-ins.  Since the injuries his offensive game seems to include more deep jumpers every game.  That’s just not a winning formula.

CJ Miles does 2 things.  The first is he shoots basketballs.  The second thing is he periodically decides he should do something to try to improve the likelihood that the first thing will be successful.  Usually, when he decides this, he turns the ball over.  Tonight was more of that, only Miles actually hit a few shots.  He was 5-12 with 5 turnovers and 0 assists.

Samardo Samuels played 7 minutes and had 1 assist.  Luke Walton played 7 minutes and had 1 assist.   In 31 minutes, Donald Sloan had 1 assist and was blocked 3 times.  The Cavs are lacking playmakers.  [And the Cavaliers block party rages on!!!]

Tyler Zeller is as bad on defense as Tristan Thompson is on offense.  Seriously.  He is beyond ineffective.  He’s 7 feet tall and I’m quite sure Nate Robinson would have more success trying to prevent someone like Kevin Love from scoring on the block.  I’ve seen bigs repeatedly abuse Zeller and tonight was no exception.  A number of times Love got deep post position by quietly farting in Zeller’s direction.  So then Zeller would hold his breath and bearhug Love in hopes that he wouldn’t make his FT.  Makes sense since Kevin Love can’t shoot.  The silver lining is that Zeller is starting to come alive at the offensive end this last week.  He was 2-6 so it’s not like he set the world on fire but he’s shown at times he can be a competent offensive player.  He’s kind of like a poor man’s Zydrunas around the hoop – which is still decent.

I’m sure Tristan Thompson had the greatest defensive night in the history of the NBA.  I’m not really good at analyzing defense beyond the simple on-ball stuff.  So I’ll just let everyone rip in the comments – feel free to explain how awesome Thompson is, I’m providing no resistance to the contrary.  Offensively I can say that Thompson is not taking advantage of the absence of KI and DW.  He’s a complete non-factor.  About once a game he hustles for a loose ball and flushes it home or finds himself without a defender in the same combined statistical area and throws down a patented 2-handed Tristan slo-mo dunk.  (In that intro video where throws down the windmill dunk I’m pretty sure the fire is fake.  Now I’m wondering if the ball and hoop are fake as well?  Maybe TT was just wearing sweatpants and a beater in his living room and some nerdy multimedia editor asked him to send in a webcam video of him doing an air windmill dunk.  If so, that guy is a KEEPER – because that looks real, and I’m seriously starting to question whether Thompson can dunk without 2 hands.  and a 10-Mississippi)  You’d kind of hope that a #4 pick would be contributing something at the offensive end- but the Cavs are living and dying by Donald Sloan, Jeremy Pargo, and Alonzo Gee right now.  You cannot run offense through Tristan Thompson unless your goal is to turn the ball over to the other team.  Thompson is a role player, and he’ll be in a better position to succeed when KI comes back.

So this game was bad.  All 12 active Cavaliers played and all 12 of them attempted at least 2 shots.  Only 1, Gee, made more shots than he missed.  This was Jeremy Pargo’s worst game in a  few weeks.  He’s not always SUPARGO from the field but he usually drops a few dimes.

Other than CJ Miles, no one on the Cavs has a documented history of being able to create offense at the NBA level.  Offensively:
Gee = Role player
Casspi = Role player
Varejao = Role player
Boobie = Role player

There’s nothing wrong with role players – you need effective role players to win championships.  Role players can put teams over the top.  Generally, role players need high-usage ball-handlers to temporarily create chaos for the defense.  Role players take advantage of this chaos.  The San Antonio Spurs dominate the NBA with this concept and a well oiled machine of role players.  The LeBron-led Cavaliers were almost entirely very-high-quality role players – and I will forever contend that those teams had more than enough talent to win an NBA title.

The problem with the Cavs is their two high-usage creators are not playing, so the only chaos opposing defenses are facing is the mental anguish suffered wondering whether or not CJ Miles is going to Care Bear Stare them before he fires another contested jumper.  After the 3rd shot, they realize he doesn’t have those powers and act accordingly.

Care Bears, Care Cousins, Care Commenters - the Cavs are doomed unless we CARE more.