Overview: The Cavs played well offensively, but were no match for the red-hot Spurs, who shot 53%/48%/82% and had six players score in double digits.
– I actually liked a lot of what I saw from the Cavs in this game. They shot nearly 50% from the field, scored a lot of points in the paint, and were able to get out and running. The only problem is that the now 11-1 Spurs were rolling on all cylinders, and that was too much for the Cavs to handle on the road.
– The Cavs were really aggressive and moved the ball well offensively. Antawn, Mo, and Boobie were all getting to their spots and knocking down shots, and that kept the Cavs in it early. The only real problem with the Cavs offense was that they got burned by turning the ball over or hunting for an offensive rebound instead of running back in transition, and Tony Parker and Co. took advantage nearly every time. The Cavs never really got stagnant offensively, but they gave the Spurs some windows, and that was all San Antonio needed on Saturday.
– Wow, that Spurs offense. It is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing. It’s hard to say what weaknesses the Spurs exploited, because they were incredibly dynamic and just about every look they tried worked. They pushed the break beautifully, played some drive-and-kick while moving the ball from side to side, and someone was always ready to receive the extra pass. They would go into pick-and-roll basketball with Parker/Ginobili and Duncan/Splitter and get great looks out of that. They didn’t go to Duncan in the post much, but they got some good looks out of it when they did.
They put pressure on the Cavs in the paint and were ready to kick out to their shooters if they had to — the Spurs got 100 of their 116 points from the paint, beyond the arc, or the free-throw line. That is freaking absurd. If you like pretty offense, there’s the Spurs, there’s the Lakers, and there’s everyone else. Watching this game was like having Penelope Cruz beat the living hell out of you. I’m still in awe. So many playmakers, so many shooters, and every possession involves five players with a plan.
On to some individual notes:
– Mo was on his game tonight. A lot of people define “mid-range” shots as being shots taken in between the rim and the three-point line. Personally, I think of “true” mid-range shots as shots taken in between the first defender and the help defender, and that’s where Mo lives. He was on-target with his pull-ups, runners, and floaters; since the Spurs’ defensive strategy is about running guys off the three-point line (Cavaliers not named Jamario only attempted seven threes on Saturday), Mo was able to have a lot of success. He couldn’t stay in front of Parker, but nobody can stay in front of Parker this season.
– Hickson and Varejao both looked really out of it again, which will happen against a team like the Spurs. Andy doesn’t look nearly as confident passing or shooting from the high post as he did earlier in the season, and that does change the spacing. J.J. looks to be in one of those funks young players go into. He needs a game against a cupcake defense to get some of his confidence back — he was really rushing in San Antonio.
– Jamison started the game 5-7 and finished it 6-12. Antawn Jamison’s game is a tribute to the law of averages.
– Gibson seems to love coming back to Texas — he looked like he knew everything he put up was going to go in. 17 off the bench for Boobie.
– Hollins gave some good minutes before getting tossed. Let’s try to stop committing flagrant-twos when down double digits.
– Not a lot of Ramon because Boobie and Mo were both on, but he was mostly looking to pass — good to see.
Bullets of Randomness:
– Lord, Manu Ginobili can flat-out play. Contested threes, some beautiful passes, serpentine drives on the pick-and-roll, and one off-hand finish in traffic after beating his man with a freaking Shammgod dribble.
– Tiago Splitter with his best game as a pro. He reminds me a little of Varejao with how well he knows how to move without the ball and finish from odd angles when he gets it down low. Also, the lefty hook he pulled out early in the game was very Jamison-like.
– DeJuan Blair and Leon Powe have to play closer to the floor than any other big men in the league.
– Danny Green ended up getting garbage-time minutes, but for a while there I thought his game was going to consist of 57 seconds of playing time and one “hey, thanks for cutting me” three. I’ll admit that was kinda funny in a “I needed something to laugh about tonight” kind of way.
That’s all for me tonight. Have a good rest of the weekend, campers.