Recap: Prime-Time is Sasha Time

March 12th, 2009 by John Krolik

Overview:

The Cavaliers were able to beat the Suns at their own game on national television, outscoring the Suns 119-111 behind 30-point efforts from LeBron and Mo. LeBron also notched his third triple-double in a row.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

It’s really, really hard to lose a game when you go 17-33 from beyond the arc. Great shooting is the universal deodorant in the NBA, and it made up for some supremely sketchy play on both ends for the Cavs.

I know it’s the Suns and all, but giving up 55%¬†shooting when you hang your hat on defense is just not good enough. With the Suns, you do have to throw up your hands and let what happens happens a lot, but to give up easy baskets in transition and the paint isn’t-the Suns only went 4-18 from deep tonight. They were far from impossible to stop on that end.

LeBron had a supreme case of getting quiet numbers tonight, spending a lot of time out on the perimeter either trying to establish his shot or look to set guys up (he did A LOT of playmaking tonight on the perimeter), and it didn’t really look like he was driving aggressively all that much, but he got himself to the line, peppered in what could only be described as a smattering of jumpers, and fed hot three-point shooters all night for the ugliest 30-point triple-double ever.

Most of LeBron’s fireworks were on the defensive end-holy crap, those blocks were cool.

One more thing that should be adressed-I can’t remember a blown LeBron dunk off the top of my head, and all of a sudden he’s blown three easy ones in four games (four times if you count the bricked tip slam tonight.) I don’t really have a salient point here that relates to anything that would make us better at winning basketball games, but it’s an oddity I’ll point out. Also, if he doesn’t brick that dunk and get his own board, no triple-double tonight. Which one would you rather? I’m conflicted, honestly-after New York, I can tell you that having to qualify a 50-9-11 performance with an “almost” gets really annoying really fast.

Oh, and I so call shenannigans on LeBron for saying that he didn’t know his 10th rebound was his 10th when he left Matt Barnes for an open three so he could get under the basket and flew to a meaningless rebound like the game was on the line when only Andy was near it. ‘Cmon, LeBron. Honesty’s the best policy.

SASHA AND TARENCE ARE OUR BEST BENCH SWINGMEN. IT SHOULD NOT TAKE AN INJURY TO GET THEM IN THE GAME OVER BOOBIE AND WALLY. Sasha came in with some righteous fury tonight, making some nice drives to the basket (he learned to go where the 2nd defender isn’t!), and draining three threes in a row. Since Pavs came into the game shooting 46% from deep, the fact that he could shoot the ball really only surprised Mike Brown, who continues to play Wally and Boobie, two one-dimensional shooters who are actually worse than Pavs at shooting. For all the great stuff Mike Brown has done this year, this makes me insane.

Mo was pretty ineffective off the dribble tonight, but every time he could catch and shoot it was just in the basket. He definitely came out looking to balance the books after LA. How long have we dreamed about LeBron playing with a truly great shooter? Savor it as it happens.

Z-like a clock. Andy-like a crazy ball of energy that makes its own time. You know what you’re getting from those guys.

Delonte had another off-game, and hopefully his injury wasn’t too serious. Let’s hope he can get back on his game soon-he’s a guy you root for with all your heart regardless of what he’s giving you on the court.

Bullets of Randomness:

Matt Barnes is just a guy every team could use; how great would he be as a moderately priced bench swingman on this team? Actually, he’d probably get to sit and watch Boobie force up contested threes or dribble nowhere all game.

Steve Nash is so gorgeous to watch offensively. Any time he takes a dribble, he can go left or right for the finish, take the jumper, or make the pass the next time his hand touches the ball. He’s not fast or even quick, but he just sees everything before it happens. At one point, my dad was talking about what kind of midrange game I wanted to see from LeBron, and I started explaining it before saying “Just watch what Steve Nash does on this possession.” On cue, Nash drove left, got cut off by a man 8 inches taller than him, kept his calm, took a dribble out, and drained an 8-foot fadeaway under total control while staying absolutely balanced and focused.

The turning point was definitely J-Rich’s blocked 360 attempt, which is a great example of a blown call with purpose: yeah, you got hit on the wrist, but you didn’t deserve a foul there. Although I wonder how I’d feel about this if I didn’t run a Cavs blog. And nobody but LeBron gets to that for the block, maybe ever.

LeBron dribbling at full speed, meeting Barbosa, expecting a foul, picking up the ball, throwing it forward, and attempting to resume dribbling, then arguing the travel call, is definitely the watershed absurdist LeBron moment of the year, at least on-court. (“Crab Dribble” still takes the cake overall.)