Milwaukee Bucks (5-8) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (5-8)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
7:00 PM EST
……..God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. I don’t mean to make light of a useful tool in the recovery of addiction, but the Cavaliers need guidance in their recovery from a post-LeBron hangover. There are some things that can be changed, and the Cavaliers need to make them. If you take the 35 points the Cavs scored in the 2nd half of the Spurs game and combine it with the 37 points the Cavs scored in the first half of the Indiana game, and you have a stretch of 4 quarters in which the Cavaliers scored a total of 72 points. The Cavaliers didn’t even cross the 50 point plateau until 1:43 was left in the 3rd quarter. They went the entire 1st quarter with a total of 2 points from their backcourt. TWO POINTS! The starting backcourt of Mo and AP was scoreless for the entire first half. Mo Williams attempted a total of 2 shots in the first half. For the game the Cavaliers got a total of 32 points from their starting lineup, with new starter Joey Graham setting the pace with 11 points. Those 11 points made up 34% of the starters’ scoring. When 34% of your starters points equals 11 points, you have a problem on your hands.
And yes, the Indiana Pacers are a quality team with an extremely solid core of Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, and Mike Dunleavy. So lets not forget to give them credit for the way they played and defended. But that culture of winning I preached about in the offseason looks like it’s gone. There was no fight in the eyes of the Cavaliers last night. They rolled over and just took it. And combined with the bad 2nd half performance against San Antonio, along with some other lethargic performances already this season, I’m beginning to worry that this team is already losing their edge. How they come out and fight at home tonight against a struggling Milwaukee team will tell us a lot about where this team is mentally, and where they are headed mentally.
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Brandon Jennings (17.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 17.01 PER)
-G John Salmons (12.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, .349 3P%, 10.30 PER)
-F Luc Mbah a Moute (5.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 9.20 PER)
-F Drew Gooden (11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 16.66 PER)
-C Jon Brockman (1.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.0 bpg, 6.27 PER)
Key Reserves: Corey Maggette, Ersan Ilyasova, Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins
Injuries: Andrew Bogut (doubtful), Carlos Delfino (doubtful), Chris Douglas-Roberts (out), Darington Hobson (out), Michael Redd (out)
-G Mo Williams (13.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 15.88 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (7.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, .464 3P%, 8.05 PER)
-F Joey Graham (7.3 ppg, 0.4 apg, .400 3P%, 8.89 PER)
-F JJ Hickson (13.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 15.35 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (9.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 13.62 PER)
Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions, Antawn Jamison, Jamario Moon, Ryan Hollins, Jawad Williams
Injuries: Team Pride (questionable)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (91.4 ppg, .411 FG%, 44.6 rpg, 17.2 apg, 15.3 TOpg, Eff-96.2, Rank-30)
-Def (91.1 ppg, .428 FG%, 41.5 rpg, Eff-97.2, Rank-1)
-Off (95.8 ppg, .440 FG%, 40.6 rpg, 20.0 apg, 13.4 TOpg, Eff-100.2, Rank-26)
-Def (101.2 ppg, .464 FG%, 42.2 rpg, Eff-106.6, Rank-22)
- Fri, Jan 21 at Cleveland
- Wed, Mar 9 at Milwaukee
- Sat, Apr 9 at Milwaukee
In many ways, I feel like I said most of what I needed to say in the opening paragraphs. The Milwaukee Bucks come into this game carrying their own 3 game losing streak, and this season has been a bit of a nightmare for them. Besides just not winning, the Bucks are also hammered with injuries, and tonight’s game is no exception as the Bucks are expected to be without Andrew Bogut and Carlos Delfino in addition to the regular absentees (Redd and CDR). Salmons is back to playing bad basketball again and the Bucks bench is painfully short, particularly with the injuries factored in.
The interesting thing about the Bucks, of course, is that in terms of efficiency, they are the worst offensive team and the best defensive team in the NBA. Defense is always the hallmark of a Scott Skiles coached team, and the Bucks don’t disappoint. This, of course, is not what the Cavaliers need. The Cavs’ lifeless offense is getting to be about as bad as the worst case scenario I imagined in my head before this season. There’s no go to guy, not a lot of consistency, and after an initial burst early in the season, JJ Hickson’s play continues to regress as he disappears into the offense. Anthony Parker is the team’s 2nd least efficient player (behind only Jawad Williams) and yet is playing the 3rd most minutes on this team. Mo Williams looks completely detached from this team and Anderson Varejao is frequently the only starter who looks like he’s trying out there.
But hey, the good news is the Cavaliers have found one of the 3 offenses that are actually somehow worse than theirs in the Bucks. The Bucks offense is essentially 5 guys all trying to go at defenses one-on-one. No ball movement, no action off the ball, and essentially one of 2 things happens almost every possession for them: either the ball goes into the post and never comes back out as a shot goes up, or else the ball is dribbled on the perimeter before said ball handler either puts his head down and drives into the lane or else jacks up a jump shot. Lets face it, when your backcourt consists of Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Corey Maggette, and Keyon Dooling, there aren’t going to be a lot of passes to be had. These guys all love to have the ball in their hands and create on their own.
This means the onus for the Cavs defense will be on their perimeter defense, which, unfortunately, is by far the biggest weakness on the Cavaliers. Well, defensively, at least. The Cavaliers give up the 8th fewest points in the paint per game, yet are 23rd in opponents’ eFG%. Generally teams that give up high shooting percentages are teams that struggle defending the paint. The Cavs’ interior defense, though, has actually been solid. Yet their perimeter defense is so atrocious that opposing teams are able to get any shot they want at any time against the Cavaliers. The good news for the Cavaliers is that with Bogut out, the wing defenders won’t have to sag into the paint to offer as much help as usual.
In general though, we can throw out all the Xs and Os. If the Cavaliers have any semblance of pride and winning left over, this is a game they will not allow themselves to lose. The Bucks are struggling, decimated by injury, featuring the league’s worst offense, and travelling into the Q. Should the Cavaliers come out lethargic and unfocused again in this game, then we will know that with games against Orlando, Memphis, Boston, and Miami up next that the team could be heading into a dire tailspin that will result in massive changes and shakeups. So, yeah, buckle up folks. Tonight’s game has more on the line than you might think for a Wednesday night game between the Cavs and the Bucks.
From The Outside Looking In
Birds Of A Feather
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Friday, November 26, 2010
7:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic