Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Cavs offense was sharp early on, scoring 30+ in the first quarter. The defense was just as poor, allowing their opponent to stay in the game despite shooting better than 50% for the first half. A poor third quarter ensued as the movement on offense stopped and the Cavs played one on one basketball. More troubles with the pick and roll defense and suddenly the Cavs found themselves trailing. I know you said stop a while back.
Let’s start with some facts. The Cavs are still without Shaq, and even though Delonte West was active for this game, he didn’t play. (Really Mike? On the front half of a back to back? With the defense struggling early on?) The Cavs also struggle in Indy. They dug deep in the end and won this one with defense. (Indiana didn’t make a field goal in the last 3:00.) LeBron played team basketball for the most part, and still finished with 40 points.
I do have to question LeBron about one thing. While announcers might wax poetic about it being a dagger, and teammates chest bump and high five him, that three point shot with under a minute left was a terrible decision. I don’t care that it went in. Doesn’t matter that he was able to get his legs under him, square to the basket and shoot in rhythm. He wasted shot clock then rose up 3 feet behind the arc. Nobody was in rebounding position because the floor was spread anticipating a drive to the rim. What kind of percentage shot is that? Is that even a 30% chance of going in? No way he gets criticized for it though…
J.J. Hickson won his battle against ACC foe Tyler Hansbrough. Zydrunas was dreadful shooting the ball, missing 11 of his 12 shots, and 4 of his 6 free throws. The depressing thing about those numbers is how many times Z is just wide open on those shots. Mo struggled to hit his jumper, but made up for it at the free throw line.
As alluded to earlier, the Cavs utilized only an 8 man rotation, which could hurt them tomorrow against the Sixers. Darnell Jackson, who had a strong performance against Washington played less than a minute. Delonte didn’t see the floor, and Jamario played only 18 minutes, but may have tweaked his ankle.
Last season the Cavs had several games in which they played intense defense for the majority of the game. We are still waiting to see that kind of effort from the current squad.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)