Cavaliers 102, Memphis 87 (Box)
During the Cavs beatdown of Boston last Friday night, the ESPN crew told us to watch out for this game. We’ve been warned repeatedly by local and national media that this was a potential ‘trap’ game. Could have been. Perhaps the absence of Ben Wallace focused the team, or more accurately- motivated LeBron to carry the team to victory.
The Cavs were fortunate that the long range shot was on tonight. They made 12 triples, shooting 51% from behind the arc. They were also fortunate that the Grizzlies were missing point blank shots. Without Z and Ben the defense suffered. Lorenzen Wright got the start at the 4, but had to be removed quickly after picking up early fouls. Actually, early fouls would be a great way to describe this game. The Cavs found themselves just out of position to stop Memphis on drives to the hoop, particularly in the first half.
They pulled together in the third quarter, playing tough defense on the ball at the top of the arc, and denying entry passes. LeBron found himself in the passing lanes, which led to an easy break away. He was whistled for a tech in the first half on a dunk, and for the life of me I can’t understand why Austin Carr and Fred McLeod didn’t know why he was whistled. It wasn’t because he hung on the rim too long. It was because he pumped his arm against the glass. It was a showboat type move. I’ve actually been surprised he hasn’t been called for it before. He has slapped the backboard on dunks this season, and I’m pretty sure that is a violation.
Speaking of Austin Carr. Our writing team had an email exchange discussing Carr’s announcing. I don’t understand the outpouring of love for Carr. I know he has this kind of aw shucks charm going, but his pet phrases…they’re getting a little tired to me. For example, can you not think of ANYTHING else to say when a Cav hits a 3 pointer? “Deep in the Q” loses something when you have to say “Deep in the FedEx Forum”. And Fred, when the team is on the road, there is more than likely not a Euclid Street for the Cavs to drive down on the way to the hoop. And Carr did not invent “Get that weak stuff outta here.” Sigh. I know. You hate me now. Whatever. Back to the game.
Watching the Cavalier ‘reserve bigs’ play against Memphis, a thought popped into mind. I think it’s time Danny Ferry started working the phones. I like Wally Szczerbiak. I like his grit and willingness to take on bigger players in the post. I like that he moves without the ball as much as any other Cavalier. But I have serious concerns about the depth of big men on the bench, and Wally’s contract could land us some help. Sure, Z could come back and play the rest of the season at the same level he was playing before the injury. Yes, perhaps Ben will keep father time off his back and give us 25 minutes a night the rest of the way. But maybe they won’t. Are you ready to go into the playoffs with Lorenzen Wright or JJ Hickson getting significant minutes? I don’t know that I’d feel very comfortable if I was Ferry. Not with the 2010 countdown clock ticking louder everywhere he goes.
Besides, there is always the chance that Wally will pull an Antonio McDyess and find his way back to Cleveland if he is moved. I think the Cavs really need to add a legit big man to the team. Brad Miller seems to fit the bill. I’d still take Jamison as well.
For fun, check out this clip of the TNT crew doing LeBron’s chalk ritual.