August 26, 2014

Cavs Enter March with Easy Schedule Ahead

Cleveland Cavaliers wastelandAs the calendar turns to March and we await word on Shaq’s injury and Z’s potential return, let’s look at the upcoming schedule as the Cavs try to deal with their shorthanded frontcourt and fully incorporate Antawn Jamison into the rotation. It has been well documented that the first half of the season challenged the Cavs with one of the toughest schedules in the league. It included their two West Coast trips within one month and more road games than any other team in the league.

As a result, in February the team did not have to leave Cleveland or the Q for an amazing 20 day stretch. While February provided the Cavaliers with a comfortable home schedule, as this new month begins, the March slate of opponents provide little resistance on paper. Here are some quick notes and facts about the next 31 days for the Cavs as they battle shorthanded.

• The Cavs play 15 games in 31 days starting with the New York Knicks on Monday night in Cleveland.

• They play 8 home games and 7 on the road but only play twice in a row on the road on one occasion – a final trip into the Western Conference to New Orleans and San Antonio

• The Cavs play on back-to-back nights only twice this month and the back-to-back games are never two consecutive road games.

• The back-to-back games are all within the Central Division when the Cavs travel to Milwaukee after playing Detroit at home one night prior and then play Indiana at home after playing at Detroit one night prior.

• The Cavs are on national television only twice this month when they play Detroit this coming Friday at home and when they host Boston Sunday March 14.

• 7 of 15 games are within the division including 3 games against Detroit

• Of the 11 teams they face, only the Bucks, Spurs, Celtics and Bulls would qualify for the playoffs if they started today and all would be a 6 seed or worse except for Boston

• The Cavaliers 11 opponents are a combined 268-371 with a .419 winning percentage.

• The Cavaliers 11 opponents have a rounded average 24-34 record.

• For a comparison, the team with the 2nd best record in the league, the Los Angeles Lakers play 11 of 15 games on the road in March against 8 teams currently in the playoffs and with an average .477 winning percentage.  Of the 15 opponents the Lakers face in the month of March, the rounded average record of those teams is 28-30. While they play four of the five worst teams in the league, they are on the road against playoff teams for most of the month.

I realize some of these numbers are rudimentary and do not tell the full story but it is undeniable that the Cavaliers have an easy and comfortable schedule in the month of March. Every game can be a challenge in the NBA but this stretch is not a daunting task. They could struggle on the road against the Bucks, Bulls, Spurs and Hornets but every home game, including Boston and San Antonio, should be fairly winnable and provide an opportunity to further develop the small-ball lineup. This is a huge break for the Cavs as they await word on Shaq and play without Z. LeBron is also sore and banged up as we saw on Friday in Toronto.

A coach ideally likes to spend the end of March and first half of April rounding a playoff formation into shape but Coach Brown will not be afforded that luxury in the frontcourt. March could prove to be a vital stretch of games that separate the Lakers and Cavs for the best record in the league. That achievement can be hollow as we learned last year but it is still important to note that the team with home court in the Finals has won the title in 19 of the past 25 finals. Despite the hole at center,  March should be a month of continued development and success as the Cavs move towards the postseason.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udne9JTds5A TS T 2B Cavs Dude

    Shaq is headed to Baltimore to see a hand specialist. When my thumb and wrist were out of place, it took about 90 days to get back into shape. Im thinking it may take Shaq until April sometime to get his back into basketball shape.

  • http://twitter.com/WayneEmbrysKids WayneEmbrysKids

    Great article.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    I am worried about Shaq, but if Z is coming back….not so much. As long as he is ok for the ECF and Finals thats really all that matters assuming we play Orlando and LA.

    I think without Shaq, we could dominate the Bobcats, but I think Mike Brown is incapable of noticing how well his team plays offensively / defensively when he is not out there.

    We picked up Shaq only to help with Howard and the Lakers height, and I think we are using him way too much against teams that don’t require him being out there….

    Lets get Z back, get our size back in the Front court with him and Andy at center, play PF with Powe, JJ, and Jamison and get it rolling.

    MIke Brown needs to keep our playoff roster at 11 deep. We are the deepest team in the NBA, and our real success shows when we get deep into our roster each game.

    MO – Delonte
    Parker – Moon
    Lebron – Moon
    Jamison – JJ – Powe
    Shaq – Z – Andy.

    JJ has proven himself and will be essential in the playoffs. If we use a 8 man roster we will lose.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    The reason I say if we use an 8 man roster we will lose is because of 2 things.

    1. Lakers, Orlando are better in scoring with their 6th and 7th men off the bench. We win games because we can still provide scoring all they way to 10/11 off the bench. Some nights our 7th man may be terrible, but our 9th man could put up 15 points. No way of knowing who may be on or off if Brown is reluctant to use all his weapons.

    2. Size. Our roster is still sort of small (As is now). Shaq is the only 7′ player, and then everyone else not named Andy is 6’9 and under. Only having an 8 man roster gives us Delonte, Andy, maybe Hickson? We need to be throwing the guys out there to share the fouls with Shaq and Andy at center….especially if Z is not here.

  • S-Dub

    @CavsDude: I’m guessing Shaq will have a little better medical care than you had. I dunno, just sayin.

    I’ll take those first 2 games in Cleveland as opposed to LA. I’d rather have us starting in CLE no matter who the opponent.

  • Jeff

    @Jake Those are some good points about our bench.

    I want to just commend the work that Andy has put into his game this year. Let’s face it, he went from a joke around the league for flopping to a great hustle and finesse player. (Finesse is used loosely here). I’m also glad we did not lose Hickson. Andy was in Hickson’s place a few years ago. Fortunately he had some great players around him to help him get better. Here’s to hoping Shaq, Lebron, Andy and Z when he returns groom J.J. into the best player he can be. Lebron is a great talent and awesome to watch, but I really only get up for the players who hustle up and down the court each night. Sometimes they can be a bit of a liability, but they put the work in and no one can fault that.

  • Team Brady
  • S-Dub

    I laughed when I read the article Brady. Pretty damn funny if you ask me. I could say the same statement about LBJ wanting to go back to college at Duke because Coach K loves him.

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    Good thing about the schedule especially with Shaq apparently being gone for the regular season but hopefully Z returns like everyone seems to be reporting. The positive about no Shaq is the offense should move more and hopefully we’ll see some actual fast breaks not to mention alot more work for Antawn Jamison which if you ask me could be crucial especially for the playoffs.

  • Pingback: | WaitingForNextYear

  • mendy

    @Brady

    i love lebron too. i mean REALLY love him. rumor is he might come play for my thursday night pick-up games at the akron Y. expect this story to pick up steam as thursday approaches.

  • Pingback: Cavs Beat Bulls, Is the easy schedule harmful? | WaitingForNextYear