Cavaliers Preview Game #77 – Raptors at Cavs

Toronto Raptors (38-38) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (60-16)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
7:00 PM EST

I would give anything to feel as good about losing to the Celtics as the Cavaliers do. Whereas I saw a team that continues to get worse and worse at the FT line, continues to needlessly turn the ball over by making careless and unnecessarily risky passes, continues to shrug their shoulders at the prospect of actually playing defense to the level they are capable of, and continues to be ok with playing bad basketball as long as they still win. Instead, the Cavaliers feel great because they almost beat the Celtics without Shaq and Andy. And here I thought the Cavaliers were beyond the days of moral victories, but what do I know?  

This has nothing to do with tonight’s game, but watch the Magic play sometime. That is a team that is tightening up the reigns and working themselves into top form and getting ready for their playoff push. Meanwhile, Cleveland is playing worse and worse by continuing to develop and foster bad habits. A lot of this has to do with boredom and the fact that March was such an easy schedule and the Cavaliers could beat those teams without playing anything even remotely close to their best basketball. And now that the Cavaliers schedule is getting more difficult again, they are going to start winding down and resting guys….which I suppose is a good thing so it gives them more chances to earn more moral victories by just barely losing to good teams.

In case you can’t tell, I am not happy with the way this team is playing basketball. I’m not happy at all that LeBron decided to make a mockery of the game by just pulling up and jacking up a three to win the game when he was already 0-8 from distance when he could have easily driven to the rim and tied the game. I’m not happy that this doesn’t look to me like a team that is ready for the playoffs. I understand it’s easy to get bored when you already have the NBA’s best record clinched and there’s seemingly nothing to play for. But you would think that last year’s loss to Orlando would still be stinging so deeply that this team wouldn’t allow complacency to set in. Turning it off and then back on for the postseason is always a dangerous prospect.

So what about tonight’s game against Toronto? This one certainly means more to the Raptors than it does to the Cavs, so expect Cleveland to mess around and jack up a bunch of jumpers and largely stand around on defense. If they keep it close, they’ll turn it on and win it in the 4th quarter. If not, no big deal, the loss means nothing to them.

No standard preview tonight because I share in this team’s boredom. I’m so done with this regular season. The goal is to get healthy and get to the playoffs without anyone else getting hurt. From there, Cleveland will have 2 rounds to get themselves prepared for Orlando. I would love for Cleveland to start working on cutting down the TOs and ramping up the defensive effort and getting the ball movement on offense back to optimal levels, but I have a feeling Cleveland will wait and use the first 2 rounds of the playoffs to do that.

So since I’m not doing a standard preview, we’ll treat this as an open thread. Let me know, what do you guys think? Is there something here to be worried about? Can this team win in the playoffs in spite of the atrocious FT shooting and the excessive turnovers? Are you worried about how well Orlando is playing right now compared to the Cavs?

  • Chris

    I’m with you Andrew, these guys really look like they couldn’t possibly care any less. I know that technically the game on Sunday meant nothing (after the fact), but for them to let Boston walk all over them for 3 quarters was really distressing. Given that, I have a feeling that the game wasn’t even close if Shaq and Andy are playing, so it leaves me wondering if they really can just bury a team for a full game if they decided to put the effort into it.

  • Lloyd Braun

    Serenity now, serenity now, serenity now…

  • Swig

    It’s annoying and makes me disinterested in the games. However, last year they fought through every game, and where did that get them?

    I would think that challenging the bench/reserve guys to step up and earn their post-season playing time would inject some energy, especially in the 2nd & 3rd quarters. But I’m no Mike Brown…

  • Billy Thomas

    wow this is the most doom and gloom article i’ve read about the cavs all year.. I am concerned as well but I think your inner clevelander paranoia is getting a little carried away.

  • boogeyman

    Actually I understand where Andrew is coming from because I’ve felt much the same for awhile. Whether it’s guys coming back from injury, returning after a trade, not playing particularly well plus if you ask me Antawn Jamison still not really being worked into the offense there are a ton of ?s for the Cavaliers to answer come the playoffs. I think it’s quite clear the team with the best record isn’t playing or looking like it’s wins and losses.

    Hopefully it’s as correctable as ending the regular season and starting the playoffs but time will tell. I seriously doubt free throws will be made more then missed but the turnovers should be immediately corrected. If they are not a series between a #1 and a #8 will be alot closer then it should.

  • Scott

    I’m covering tonight – I’ll be tweeting throughout.

    Updates from pregame:

    Andy’s playing. Delonte is not (back spasms). All five starters will start, but expect a lot of Danny Gibson and Jawad Williams in this one.

  • todd

    i think we are seeing what happens when you have a non-existent head coach. the lack of poise on the stripe and lackadaisical approach to D is a direct symptom of this. if this team had any sort of discipline or focus they would be getting better instead of treading water like they have been since the break. i keep waiting for them to snap out of it but time is running out. forget about the “edge” mike brown has been talking about, if we don’t go into the post season with some hard core ferocity it’s going to be yet another depressing summer.

  • Jacob Rosen

    @ Scott – “All five starters will start”

    What a concept, now that’s breaking news.

  • TJ

    I’m one of those folks watching every game on NBA schedule I’m watching it to get a feel of other teams around the league. In my opinion as of today three teams are in running for NBA championship Lakers, Cavs, Orlando. I can’t put Denver into that group because if George Karl and Kenyon Martin aren’t back don’t think they can overcome all that. When I look at Dallas the trade helped them but still think they are soft can be pushed around. For the Cavs bring home championship its going really take this team playing 48 mins of hard basketball and everything that come with it. If I’m Mike Brown I’m challening Lebron when postseason starts everytime his mind decides take three-pointer or heat check get down on block and do work. To me that sends a message to your defender that not going let you off hook you’re going have work harder try stop me. I know everyone is ready for regular season to be over. I just hope Cavs players realize they have a greater chance than ever get this done if everyone plays their role and be aggressive.

  • Scott

    @Jacob: “Starters” being a descriptive term for the typical starting five of Mo, AP, LBJ, JJ and Jamison.

  • Jacob Rosen

    True, true, I understood what you meant. Just looked funny when I read it over again.

    Any idea on a timeline for Shaq’s return? I expect he will finally bump JJ out of the starting lineup when he comes back.

  • historycat

    @ Scott – “All five starters will start”

    The Tautology Society approves of this sentence.

  • Scott

    @Jacob – Shaq appears more optimistic than Coach Brown. Personally, I’d be shocked if he didn’t play on Sunday v ORL regardless of what they say about “not circling games.”

  • JM

    I’m glad someone else pointed out what a crock Sunday was. Even Windhorst didn’t have a problem with it. Did LeBron tell you to be nice Windy? I would really like to see LeBron stop taking 3s considering he is around .300 shooting from 3 point range this year. I also don’t think any of them deserve to rest because they should be focused going in to the playoffs. Maybe a game or two but not the rest of the season.

  • Swig

    Why do I not get the games in HD anymore?

  • Josh

    Is anyone pleased with the passing display?

    And Parker scoring?

  • crazycav

    LeBron 36 mins in a meanless game? Brown what the hell are you doing? If he or any of these guys gets hurt in the last few games there is going to be hell to pay. SIT THE STARTERS!

  • akron.slinger

    Solid game. 7 players in double figures with Parker getting 18 pts 8 rb and 6 assists. Also Mo having 14 pts and 12 assist and Lebron with 13 assists. This was a pretty fun game to watch.

    In general I liked the minutes played here. All starters were around the low 30s and jawad and varejao getting high 20s was nice to see. The only thing might have been powe, moon getting low mins and gibson not getting in but i think this rotation is starting to form out to be what the post-season may look sort of like.

    oh ya 79% from FT line…i’ll take it.

    I would have liked to see the defense look a little tighter but giving up 47% isn’t terrible. It was just a fast game with both teams getting 83 and 84 shot attempts.

    I know they didn’t have Bosh but I can’t really complain about this one much.

  • akron.slinger

    oh ya Parker was 3-6 from 3pt range and had 3 steals…holy crap he can play bball. I’ll wait a few more games to see if he is actually going to start playing better but its a start.

  • Jacob

    Would agree with this. Not gonna moan too much even though it was JUST 12-point win over the Bosh-less Raptors. Speaking of LeBron’s three point shooting….

    Up until Feb 6th: 97-for-265 (.366) in 51 games
    5.2 attempts per game, 25.9% of fga’s

    Since Feb 9th: 32-for-120 (.267) in 24 games
    5.0 attempts per game, 24.3% of fga’s

    Career Per Game: 1.41-for-4.28 (.329, total of 547 games)
    20.6% of fga’s

  • MacNip

    You can’t just sit the starters. Have any of you screaming for this played sports? You need to keep a rhythm and continue to play. You can’t rest guys for an entire wek and then expect them to start playing at full intensity again once the playoffs start.

    Also, it’s not the Cavs have been playing great basketball recently. Maybe Brown wants them playing at their best before he starts handing out more rest.

  • dr. cleveland

    Ditto MacNip.

  • boogeyman

    I guess you sit guys to avoid things like what happened to Chris Bosh but I didn’t have a problem with the starters playing the game as if it were #1 on the schedule instead of #78. I’m sure from here on out that’ll change.

    Btw loved the passing display IF that was a trend that could continue it would be awesome. The problem was it was against Toronto and the Cavaliers always pass the ball well against them.