Overview: The San Antonio Spurs were able to snap the Cavaliers’ 8-game winning streak, beating the Cavs 102-97 behind Manu Ginobili’s 30-point effort. LeBron James had 27 points to lead the Cavaliers, who played without Anderson Varejao in the second half.
-The Cavs are generally ludicrously good in games like this. The game was up in the air with about seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Generally, that’s the part of the program where the defense locks down and LeBron takes over.
-In what 82games.com define as “clutch” situations (less than five minutes to play, neither team leading by five points or more), the Cavs have been a crushing machine. In those situations, the Cavaliers have an offensive efficiency of 119.4 and a defensive efficiency of 81.3. That’s 38 net points per 48 minutes of crunch time.
-Against the Spurs, the Cavs didn’t gain a single point in the final five minutes, and were outscored by six points after LeBron entered the game in the fourth quarter. Most of the fingers will be pointed at the offense, but the fact is the Spurs were unstoppable down the stretch. With Manu Ginobili slicing through the lane and raining threes, the Spurs managed to score 15 point in just over five minutes during the time spanning from when LeBron entered to when Tim Duncan hit a five-footer to make it 92-86 with 1:43 to play.
-The big issue here was Anderson Varejao missing the second half with a tight hamstring. The Cavs normally give up 23 points per game in the fourth quarter; on Friday, the Spurs scored 33. Not having Varejao to show out on Ginobili and defend the paint was huge.
-The Spurs also had some success trapping LeBron in the third. Normally, the Cavs counter on-ball doubles of LeBron by having Andy find room on the weak side or Mo hit an outside shot. With Andy in the locker room and Mo ice-cold, the Spurs were able to frustrate LeBron.
-LeBron’s line looks nice, and he was scoring from everywhere on the floor. However, the Spurs were able to take away some of his greatest strengths. LeBron missed five shots at the rim by my count, and only three of his 10 assists led to shots at the basket. Mike Brown’s a great defensive coach, but remember who taught him what he knows.
-In a five-point loss, Antawn and LeBron missing seven of 14 free throws is VERY frustrating to see. It might be time to get ‘Tawn to a hypnotist.
-Jamison is what he is — he rebounds, gets shots up, and makes about as many as he misses. 24 points on 20 shots for AJ, who also missed four shots in the paint. Tim Duncan is still a really good defender. Don’t forget this.
-Good game for JJ, who got a few dunks off of cuts and did a great job on the offensive boards, snagging five and putting them right back up for a few second-chance points.
-The Cavs did have a lot of success on the break, scoring 32 points in transition. Unfortunately, they found themselves living off those baskets, and that didn’t cut it in crunch-time.
-Powe probably would’ve helped more than Z out there, but let’s give Z a week to get his timing back before we make any snap judgements.
-Man, the rotation is a logjam right now, and Shaq isn’t even back yet. Good problem to have, I suppose.
-Alright, that’s all for tonight. Nine games left. The Cavs need six of them to guarantee home-court throughout. Six are at home, but two of those six are against Atlanta and Orlando. Z returns to the Q on Sunday. Get excited. Until later, campers.