Cavaliers Preview Game #3: Cavs at Timberwolves

Cavaliers vs TimberwolvesCleveland Cavaliers (0-2) vs
Minnesota Timberwolves (1-0)
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Friday, October 30, 2009
8:00 PM EST
FSOH/WTAM

Ok, now that we’ve all gotten our cathartic musings on the decline of Cavalier civilization out of our system these last two days, it’s time for the Cavaliers to get on the court and make us forget about this insufferable start to the season. Quite frankly, there’s not too many opponents I would rather see right now than the next 2 the Cavaliers have on their schedule. If the Cavs can get right over these next 2 days, it will go a long way to help get everyone through the upcoming stretch that includes games against good teams like the Wizards, Bulls, and Magic as well as the team’s only trip to New York this year. Fun times ahead! Tonight’s game against the Wolves isn’t a must win game…..but the Cavaliers better win. This city will likely implode upon an 0-3 start.  

Projected Starting Lineups

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-G Mo Williams (14.0 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 8.71 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (11.0 ppg, 2.5 apg, .667 3P%, 6.74 PER)
-F LeBron James (30.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 10.0 apg, 29.42 PER)
-F Anderson Varejao (5.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 6.82 PER)
-C Shaquille O’Neal (11.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 10.63 PER)

Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamario Moon, Delonte West

Injuries: Leon Powe (out), Delonte West (doubtful)

Minnesota Timberwolves:

-G Jonny Flynn (18.0 ppg, 2.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 18.57 PER)
-G Corey Brewer (7.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 4.55 PER)
-F Damien Wilkins (12.0 ppg, 2.0 apg, .000 3P%, 26.83 PER)
-F Ryan Gomes (10.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.0 bpg, 10.02 PER)
-C Al Jefferson (9.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 12.96 PER)

Key Reserves: Wayne Ellington, Ryan Hollins, Brian Cardinal, Ramon Sessions, Sasha Pavlovic

Injuries: Kevin Love (out)

Team Efficiency Stats

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Off (90.0 ppg, 40.5 rpg, .379 FG%, 18.0 apg, 14.5 TOpg, Eff-93.1, Rank-26)
-Def (98.0 ppg, 43.0 rpg, .449 FG%, Eff-102.8, Rank-14)

Minnesota Timberwolves:

-Off (95.0 ppg, 50.0 rpg, .366 FG%, 14.0 apg, 10.0 TOpg, Eff-94.6, Rank-24)
-Def (93.0 ppg, 52.0 rpg, .420 FG%, Eff-91.4, Rank-5)

Previous Matchups

None

Future Matchups

  1. Wed, Jan 27 at Cleveland

Game Notes

I’ll keep this short and sweet. If you want the extended version of my thoughts on what the Cavaliers should be doing, you can read this article. For tonight’s game, we’re just looking for baby steps. The Wolves have some good players. I’ve always like Al Jefferson’s game and Jonny Flynn showed flashes of excellence in his NBA debut. Then off the bench you have Ramon Sessions who seems to be unfortunately tied to teams where his talent will go unnoticed, you have another rookie that looks real good in Wayne Ellington, and then there’s the always annoying Brian Cardinal. Oh, and then there’s Sasha Pavlovic, too. None the less, the Wolves, particularly without Kevin Love, are not a very deep team nor do they look like all that great of a team to me. This is a team the Cavaliers might be able to use to get back on track.

If I have a worry, it’s that Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions are going to continue this trend of slicing apart the Cavaliers’ perimeter defense. If they are able to do this, they can draw defenders away from Al Jefferson who could potentially have a nice night. We’ll see if Mike Brown has figured out any wrinkles to stop this yet. The most obvious wrinkle would be to let Delonte play, but I don’t see that happening. Hopefully Mo Williams came ready to turn his defense up a notch. The Cavaliers need it.

If the Cavs can slow down the Wolves’ perimeter attack at the point, their offense will likely struggle against the Cavaliers’ style of defense. I worried going in to the Raptors game that their offense might hurt the Cavs defense with their ability to replicate the Rondo-Pierce-Garnett dynamic in Calderon-Turkoglu-Bosh. Of course, granted, it was Andrea Bargnani and not Hedo Turkoglu that killed the Cavaliers, but regardless, the point is that the Raptors’ offensive explosion wasn’t totally surprising. If the Wolves’ offense blows up on the Cavs, though, it could be a very, very bad sign.

When the Cavaliers are on offense, they must start doing things differently and start getting Shaq or Mo involved early. You can’t keep splitting between the two of them. Pick an offensive system and stick with it. The Timberwolves were 25th in defensive rating last year, and they could be slightly better this year, but I wouldn’t expect a drastic change. The Cavaliers have been overloading the strong side of the court a bit too much this year, it seems, and I’d like to see that get straightened out. Last year, the spacing with Mo and Delonte was superb. This year Anthony Parker hasn’t quite figured that spacing dynamic out yet. If they can start to develop that chemistry, perhaps it will help lead both of them out of their poor performances. Baby steps.

Finally, I’ll be keeping a close eye on how LeBron plays tonight. Does he still trust his teammates? Will he still be willing to defer to them at times and try to set them up for easy baskets? Or will he be too frustrated from the losing and decide instead to just take over this game and win it himself? I don’t know the answer to that. But I’m eager to find out, and I’m hoping the answer is that he still trusts in his teammates.

Vegas Line

Minnesota +12.5
Over/Under 197.5

From The Outside Looking In

Canis Hoopus
TWolves Blog

Birds of a Feather

Stepien Rules

Next Game For The Cavaliers

Saturday, October 31, 2009
7:30 PM EST
Charlotte Bobcats at Cleveland Cavaliers
FSOH/WTAM

  • Boomhauer

    Shaq, Shaq, and more Shaq to get their only offensive threat, Jefferson, in foul trouble.

  • DCBucks

    Baby steps.

  • AMC

    Does anyone know if Delonte is actually even traveling with the team right now?

  • http://shalomnovaisrael.blogspot.com/ Jordan

    @AMC: He did in the preseason to San Antonio, I’m sure he’ll be with them tonight as well. Whether he plays is a different matter entirely.

  • The Other Jeremy

    I’m expecting a more inspired effort tonight. Checked the Cavs site and they have Delonte listed as TBD for tonights game (not Day to Day or Out). I guess we’ll see.

  • MrCleaveland

    Halloween eve. Full moon. LeBron has one of those 5-for-27 games. ‘Wolves roll. Cadavs 0-3.

    Could happen.

    BWAAA-HAAAA-HAAAA-HAAAA . . .

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    Sasha!

  • Bryon Burgan

    It seems so far so good. They are already playing with better focus then last game.

  • Ricky

    The off the ball movement going on right now is the best its been all season. And they are running offensive sets. Incredible

  • Ricky

    Look out, LeBron’s jumper is sick nasty right now

  • Tim

    Have we missed every technical free throw this year?

  • Ricky

    Yes, because Gibson has taken every one

  • DCBucks

    Yes, because Gibson is taking them.

  • Ricky

    Ive never understood why LeBron doesn’t take the tech ft. He isn’t the best ft shooter but usually it helps him get into a rhythm

  • DCBucks

    Mike Brown has to be the 2nd(Mangini is the first) most pigheaded person on the planet. Still going with Z and Shaq. Ponderous. Absolutely ponderous.

  • Tim

    Yay! We did it, technical free throw made! Guess it was just a matter of Gibson not being on the court.

  • DCBucks

    gary coleman could score over Z I’d bet money on it. he’s the shortest 7’2″ man on the planet.

  • Tim

    Minnesota plays that howl at the most inappropriate times, like when we get an and-1 or they foul us.

  • steve

    FSN is the worst

  • Tim

    You can book this one to the wine and gold! Yeah! We beat Minnesota! No need for panic mode!

  • DCBucks

    Baby steps!

  • hansolo1

    Minnesota is not in our class….much like the Browns are not in the class of most professional NFL teams. It is a feel good game, and hopefully a confidence builder. I’ve decided that I am on the side of those thinking Shaq should come off the bench. And I also miss D’te.

  • Tim

    I know, I should’ve used the sarcasm font- it just seemd too obvious.

  • humboldt

    wow, hey Cleveland, feel that: that’s a win! Am living out of Ohio but found a dive bar w/ NBA ticket (or whatever it’s called). Wings + $1 pints + Cavs win = great night…although I am commenting on a sports blog at 10:45pm on a friday night, alone, so perhaps I should temper my enthusiasm, hahah

  • hansolo1

    (Ducking Isis’ negativity)..

    These 1st 3 games have left a lot to be desired. But c’mon, we have Lebron. And really a decent group of players to go along with him. It all starts with Lebron of course, but tell me you would not like to have a 7’3″ ‘shooter’ on your team or a 7′ 300# post player on your team, or a tatooed sniper (Mo) who can hit it from anywhere as your supporting cast. Or a clown cropped rebounding machine (AV). This is all on LeBron, the maestro.

    I say leave Mike Brown alone and let Lebron figure this out. Which is typically what Mike Brown would do anyway.

  • steve

    if we move the ball like that for 4 quarters of every game we have an excellent shot for the playoffs.

    however, if we only do it for the first half of the game and then return to the “stand and let lebron iso with no team movement” offense like we did most of last year then we are screwed, especially in the playoffs.