July 28, 2014

Round Two Game Two Numbers And Words

LeBron SalutingDisgusting. That game barely feels worth writing about, and I doubt many people want to re-hash it and read about it, but for those of you who are sadists, this one’s for you. You can read Scott’s comments here, you can read Rick’s recap here, and if you really want a lesson in brutality and futility, you can read the live blog here. What follows, though, is my analysis in numbers and words.

-I feel embarrassed. We all should. We let ourselves be deluded into thinking that this team could win again in the playoffs despite not having the first clue how to run an offense. Shame on us. Our first clue should have been when this team lost a playoff game by 40 points in the first round. Championship teams don’t do that. Good teams don’t do that. How dare we pretend like this team could be an elite team. They barely won more games than they lost. They rarely looked like a good team, let alone a championship caliber team. Sure, they had those rare games where everything clicked and they looked unstoppable. Somehow I think we let that get in the way of what was really happening. The saying goes “Fool me once, shame on you….fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, the Wizards blowout was the first one. This is the second one. And I’m done being fooled. The Cavaliers are a mediocre basketball team with one transcendent superstar. All year long I’ve said how unfair it is of this organization to lean so heavily on LeBron, and now we were are finally seeing the side effects of it. LeBron can’t do this all by himself, especially when he’s not making his shots. We can all take hope in the fact that the Cavs have been in this position before and won…..but more often than not when they’ve been in this position, they’ve lost. Yes, they’re going home where they are much better. Yes, the Hawks came back on this same Celtics team after losing the first 2 games. Yes, LeBron is bound to bounce back and start making an impact on this series. But I’m just tired of putting my hope in this head coach and in this roster. My spirit has been broken by a Boston franchise once again. Congrats to you, Boston. Lets just hope the Cavaliers players’ spirits are much more resolute than my own.

-Cleveland was outrebounded once again. This time it was 45-39. Coaches and players say all the time that rebounding is all about heart and desire. The Cavs were a better rebounding team than Boston all year long. The fact that Boston is killing the Cavs on the boards says a lot about the effort being put forth. It also might say a lot about the impact of losing Ben Wallace for a whole game.

-2 players deserve a lot of credit. One is Zydrunas Ilgauskas. How can any true Cavaliers fan not love Big Z? This guy has given everything of his body to this franchise. In these last two games, when nobody else could seem to get their heads in the game, Z was the best player on the court in a Cavs jersey. Sure, his rebound numbers are down, but go back and watch your DVR of the game last night (why would you have deleted it already??….), and watch how many times there are 2 or even 3 Celtics players crashing the board while it’s just Z for the Cavaliers. Yes, he could be doing a better job rebounding, but it’s not his fault alone. The second player worth mentioning is Delonte West. He may not have been scoring last night, but he was making an impact in every other facet of the game. His 7 rebounds were a team high. He had 5 assists (would be higher if someone other than Z were knocking down shots in this series). Defensively, he was all over the place. Rondo didn’t have NEAR the impact in this game as he did in Game 1. West also had 4 blocks in that game. 4 blocks and 7 rebounds from your point guard. You have to tip your hat to that kind of effort.

-I was checking the obituaries this morning for Daniel Gibson’s name. Haven’t seen his shot yet in this series and I’m starting to worry about him.

-Mike Brown’s refusal to shake up the roster and give some other guys a chance to do something is infuriating. Daniel Gibson played 20 minutes and took 2 shots. What’s the point of that? Give Devin Brown some minutes…..he at least will try to do something. You know Damon Jones would find more than 2 shots in 20 minutes.

-I wish LeBron would cool it with the pre-game antics. The above photo is from a pose in LeBron’s pre-game “whatever-you-want-to-call-it” with Damon Jones. That sort of thing is fine when the team is winning and LeBron is playing well. But it’s a little disheartening to watch that before the game and then watch LeBron go out and lay another egg.

What The Inside World Is Saying

“In the first quarter, Zydrunas Ilgauskas made five shots and four of them came off passes with assists (as opposed to straight post ups). This is a result of ball movement. Guess how many more he got in the game? One. An example, again, of the Cavs offense getting stuck in a rut. But I’m not going to rehash old discussions.” [Brian Windhorst]

“Anderson Varejao is now 8-of-32 from the field in the postseason. Last year he was a great pick and roll partner with James because he was great finishing at the rim, it was a weapon the Cavs needed. Right now he’s an offensive disaster across the board. I understand his season took a turn when he stepped on Sasha Vujicic’s ankle on that afternoon in L.A. I believe that ankle is still not right. But how do you explain his offensive breakdown. I cannot.” [Brian Windhorst]

“Boston’s defense has been dominant. The Cavs are shooting just 33.1 percent from the field in the first two games. Of course, most of their struggles have started with LeBron James. He’s averaging 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 7.0 turnovers. He’s shooting 19 percent from the field.” [Bob Finnan]

“Anderson Varejao replaced Wallace, and the first 12 minutes were a success. But when Ilgauskas took a break and the second quarter began, the Cavs forgot how to score. The Celtics went on a 21-4 run, capped by Paul Pierce’s jumper, for a 39-30 lead. The home team’s defense was masterful. James was always double-teamed or he faced a semi three-man zone in his area. The Boston big men — Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and reserve Leon Powe — were quick when they made their switches.

With James missing all five shots he took in the quarter, the Cavs hit on just two of 17 attempts. Only the Celtics’ inability to make free throws (they missed 10 for the game) kept the halftime margin to just 44-36.” [Branson Wright]

“Every star takes a couple of bad shots a night, but James had too many jumpers with about as much chance of going in as tossing a baseball into a soup can from 25 feet. There also were drives to the basket where he seemed more concerned with flopping to the floor to draw a foul than finishing tough at the rim after being bumped.

James isn’t sure when to pass, when to shoot, or when his teammates will help him. Right at the end of the first half, James seemed utterly distracted, allowing a 154-year-old Sam Cassell to drive right past him for a layup.

He’s in the same scoring swamp that sucked the life out of him last year in the Finals against San Antonio, when he shot only 32-of-90 (36 percent) as the Cavs were wiped out in four games. He had 23 turnovers in those four games, and was 4-of-20 (20 percent) from 3-point range. He’s at 17 turnovers in two games in this series, 19 percent shooting, and struggling to find any semblance of the LeBron James who averaged 30 points and shot 48 percent in the 6-game Washington series.” [Terry Pluto]

Look, this offense has been a problem for awhile. You simply cannot have two quarters where you don’t break the 16 point barrier. You can’t shoot sub-40% in back-to-back games. ESPN’s game recap has a graphic of the Cavs’ lowest point totals in the playoffs, and every single one has come in the LeBron/Mike Brown era. Think about that, they’re scoring less points than Mike Fratello’s walk-it-up teams and they have the greatest player of this generation. That is not good.” [Random Thoughts]

“I blame Mike Brown for all of this. I really do. His personnel decisions tonight have been somewhere south of baffling. Anderson Varejao has been a complete albatross on both ends of the floor, and yet Brown has seen fit to leave him out on the floor for endless periods of time. I told JTBI at the Cavs timeout at 8:45 pm that if Varejao was on the floor after the commercials, I would turn off the game. And I have.

Better luck on Saturday, I guess. What a joke.” [Sons Of Nev]

What The Outside World Is Saying

“Boston deserved this win. I saw the first half in real time and the second part of things after I knew the outcome, and it just felt like a fight that should have been stopped before the opening bell even rang.

That’s not me trying to be cute with the sports analogies, this is just a one-way series that – even if the C’s take a holiday upon their two-game visit to Ohio – pits one team that knows what to do versus another that has no clue how to put together a game plan that makes sense.

Also, I’m not entirely sure Kevin Garnett will let his team lose a series. He’ll pull a fire alarm if he has to.” [Ball Don't Lie]

We are all witnesses…to an alien invasion! The Martians have struck again. This time, they kidnapped our King and replaced him with a near-to-exact duplicate. It looks like LeBron James. It rumbles through the paint like LeBron James. It probably even cries like LeBron James. They only thing our soon-to-be space overlords forgot was to turn the doppelganger’s basketball dial up to 11. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that The Chosen One suddenly forgot how to play basketball? Nice try, Zi’Zhizhipheq of Thooq. But we humans didn’t evolve from ocean sludge yesterday, you know. We’ll be sending Bruce Willis to kick your space butts now. Yippee ki-yay, you green bastards.” [Deadspin]

“When LeBron was held to 2-18 shooting in game one, you could excuse us for thinking it was just an off night for him. When he is then held to 6-24 shooting, as he was tonight, you have to start giving credit to the Celtics amazing defense. Sure he got his 21 points and 6 assists, but in no way was he a factor in this game.

The Boston players clogged the driving lanes and contested every pass, making it difficult for his teammates to get the open looks that he normally gets for them. Posey, Powe, and others worked in unison to bother James when he did make it near the basket. The only space LeBron found was on the perimeter where he was 0-4.” [CelticsBlog]

“LeBron James missed some shots he usually makes. There’s no denying that. But two games in a row now he has struggled mightily from the floor. And a lot of that has to do with how hard he has to work. Cavs fans love to talk about game 5 against the Pistons last year. And rightfully so. However, I remember LeBron running free and dunking with abandon. That has not been the case so far. And yet it was not just LeBron. How many times did Wally Szczerbiak get trapped along the sidelines? A lot of blogs have moaned about Cleveland’s offense. And they’re right. Giving LeBron the ball inside the half court line and giving him the green light has numerous issues. I’d even argue that’s why LeBron is making over the top reactions to any kind of contact.” [Green Bandwagon]

“The game began like a nightmare. Boston’s offense mimicked the complete lack of flow from game 1. The Cavs were triple-teaming KG on the block, not allowing him any good looks. Not only was Ray Allen missing his field goals, he was missing free-throws as well. Worst of all, the Cavs head coach Mike Brown, decided (intelligently) that he was going to let Big Z anchor the Cleveland offense. Zydrunas scored the Cavs first 8 points (not missing a shot), Cleveland jumped out to a 12 point lead and it had all the makings for a looooong night in Beantown.

That’s when Doc went to his bench, and the tide turned for good. Posey did all the same, great Posey things he did in Game 1, Cassell kept his finger off the trigger and focused on getting his team good looks and hitting his open shots, Powe was a monster under the rim, and even PJ Brown got in on the action. With the energy group on the floor, Boston quickly turned the deficit upside down, putting the Celtics on top (where they’d stay for good). At the end of the half, the bench had outscored our starters 26-18 — Powe had 9 points (and 6 boards), and we went into the half up 44-36.” [BostonsportZ]

“I have one question about LeBron… and I’ll see if the the WaitingForNextYear.com guys have an answer for this. Why not post him up? He’s spent 2 games getting swarmed, banged, dropped and confused on the perimeter. He’s got a power forward’s frame. He’s ridiculously quick. He knows how to finish and pass…. it just makes sense to me. His outside shot is off… he can’t penetrate…. so instead of making him dribble by everyone to get 4 feet from the hoop… why not let Delonte bring the ball up, make 2 passes and then GIVE him the ball 4 feet from the hoop? Let’s hope Mike Brown doesn’t get that message. Hey Brown… you keep doing what you’re doing too. It’s working great!” [Red's Army]

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  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    Even as players sometimes have bad shooting nights, we as writers sometimes have bad writing days. My apologies in advance for this column. I had much more I could have said about this game, but I didn’t have the heart to write it.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    Could have used a few paragraph breaks, but i’ll live. Will just bill my eye doctor appt. to you… :)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    Yeah, that first paragraph turned out a lot longer than I intended. And my analysis of the game turned out a lot shorter than I intended. Watching that game took a lot out of me….

  • MacNip

    The answer to Red’s Army question is ‘because Mike Brown is to offense as Bill Bellichek (no clue how to spell that last name) is to fashion’

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    You got that right, MacNip. The question for all of us…..does Danny Ferry realize what we are all realizing? I mean, he HAS to, doesn’t he????

  • MoBot

    I said it last in the game blog, but why don’t they run a two man game with LeBron and Gibson?

  • Rick

    (slaps forehead, sighs, and shakes head)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    @ MacNip: ..or what you are to grammar?

  • Aaron

    I feel your pain… as a Celtics blogger, after a couple of the loses in round 1 (versus the Hawks), my anger and frustration didn’t allow me to post anything coherent.

    You’re a stronger person than I.

  • MacNip

    @ Scott….what are wrong with me grammor?

  • MacNip

    Actually, the real question is, does Dan Gilbert realizing what is happening here. Gilbert is a man of action, extreme action in some cases. I don’t think he would handle a beating by the Celtics very well

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    I’m more concerned about Usher…

  • Tim

    If I’m Dan Gilbert, I have Mike D’Antoni on line one. (Although “Every 7 Seconds” might suck without shooters.)

  • DCBucks

    I keep hearing about Boston’s defense, which don’t get me wrong has been very good, but the Cavs are missing wide open jumpers and layups for the love of Pete(never thought I’d use that in a sentence, who is Pete and why would we love him?)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    Obviously, the Cavaliers’ offense is making it that much easier for Boston to dominate on defense. Credit goes to Boston’s defense, but lets see the Cavaliers start hitting some shots from the perimeter, and then we can judge Boston’s defense a little bit better. But the Celtics had the #1 defensive efficiency rating this year for a reason.

  • MacNip

    The shots will be falling at home. Trust me

  • Rick

    If the Celtics win this series, and the Patriots knock the Browns out of the playoffs…my head might explode.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    Well, at least we have time for the Red Sox to eliminate the Indians again in between those two……er, wait…….ugh……………….

  • http://www.icanlevitate.com Jeremy

    Boston’s defense hasn’t impressed me at all. Doc Rivers is fortunately enough for them just barely adequate so he isn’t complicating this series.

    “You mean they just give the ball to Lebron and stand around and watch? And they run pick and rolls with the center every other possession? Well… why don’t we just guard against those two things…?”

    Well done, Rivers… well done…

  • MacNip

    actually Rivers doesn’t coach their defense…their defensive assistant does.

    Now if we could just get an offensive assitant

  • Tim

    >>Well, at least we have time for the Red Sox to eliminate the Indians again <<

    Yeah, but that might happen in a series against them in July or August.

  • McFad

    I like to try and be the last one to blame the coach, but I have to agree with everyone.
    Screen and Roll worked for years with Stockton&Malone because Stockton could hit an 18 footer. Resigning the hold-outs is looking like a big mistake, I’d kill to have Drew Gooden instead of every guy we got save for Delonte. He was another big guy who could hit a jumper and above average rebounder. Instead we have Dizzy Ben and Sideshow Bob who have us playing a man down on offense and seem to be standing in cement on D.

    It seems to me that Boston didn’t play a great game last night they just countered our makes, which we didn’t do with them. They’d rattle off 6 in a row, we’d hit a shot then go dormant maybe turn the ball over 4 or 5 times in a row. It’s time for Mike Brown to let his horses run, don’t run a set play unless it’s off a dead ball situation