The Cavs played the second game of their short road trip last night in San Antonio against a Spurs team coming off a loss to the Lakers on Wednesday night. After a convincing win in New Orleans on Wednesday, the Cavs visited the Spurs before returning home.
The Spurs, still without point guard Tony Parker, brought an aggressive defensive game plan against LeBron James. The Spurs trapped James in isolation sets, forcing him to give up the ball. Early in the game this strategy seemingly was not working for the Spurs, as James found open teammates (most notably Antawn Jamison) for points.
The Cavs were simply outplayed down the stretch, with Manu Ginobili playing the role of game-clincher. While LeBron ended the game with 27 points, Ginobili had 30 points (shooting 4-of-7 in the fourth).
The Cavs were without forward/center Anderson Varejao in the second half, who sat out with a hamstring injury. One would think, then, that reserve PF/C Leon Powe would get minutes – but Powe finished the game with 4 minutes logged.
With Varejao out in the second half, the Cavs’ big man minutes were logged by Antawn Jamison (who finished the game with 24 points, 9 boards in 37 minutes played), JJ Hickson (20 points and 8 rebs in 30 minutes), and Z, who played nearly 20 minutes.
However, down the stretch the Cavs saw no real minutes from Daniel Gibson or Jamario Moon (Moon was a DNP-CD; Gibson finished the game with a trillion). Jawad Williams played 4 minutes total.
The Cavs also got little offensive production from their guards, with Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, and Delonte West scoring 6, 5, and 7 points, respectively. Each of the players had 4 or 5 assists, but did not contribute much to the game.
The Basketball Cavaliers also shot 15-23 from the free throw line, continuing their poor shooting from the charity stripe.
I know these are a lot of negative-sounding talking points, and all the while the Cavs lost just their 15th 16th game of the season. However, it’s easy to focus on the negatives, and this game had plenty of those. It’s good to see that Antawn Jamison is clicking with the offense, and that Z is contributing to the team.
The truth of the matter, however, is that the team has yet to hammer out its rotation issues, and there isn’t a lot of time left before the playoffs. Shaq will be returning at some point in the playoffs, meaning that the Cavs will have even more of a traffic jam in the front court, and all the while JJ Hickson is producing more and more consistently on the offensive end. Maybe we’ll get to see more of the ‘big’ lineup going forward, with Hickson, Andy, Jamison, Lebron, and [guard].
A tough loss, yes – but a loss that occurred on the road to a playoff opponent that knows how to change up defensive looks.
(Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)