Cleveland Cavaliers (1-3) vs
Philadelphia 76ers (1-4)
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Friday, November 5, 2010
7:00 PM EST
For the 2nd Friday in a row, the Cleveland Cavaliers play a road game against a team that many have low expectations for. Last Friday, the Cavaliers forgot to show up and were humiliated by an arguably less talented Raptors team. The Philadelphia 76ers have much more talent than the Raptors and are coming off their first win of the season Wednesday night when they took it to the Indian Pacers at home. For the Cavaliers, this game marks the return of Mo Williams to his rightful starting spot, but Antawn Jamison remains questionable. The Sixers are another very athletic team with a dynamic backcourt to go with a couple of solid bigs, including the resurgent Elton Brand. They play very tough defense, although their offense is still a bit of a work in progress. They may not be playoff team just yet, but there are some pieces in place for Philly and if the Cavaliers don’t come ready to play, they’ll face a similar fate to last Friday’s game.
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Mo Williams (12.0 ppg, 2.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 12.49 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (10.5 ppg, 3.3 apg, .583 3P%, 10.43 PER)
-F Jamario Moon (6.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 9.80 PER)
-F JJ Hickson (18.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.3 bpg, 22.17 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (6.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 9.31 PER)
Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions, Antawn Jamison, Jawad Williams, Ryan Hollins, Leon Powe
Injuries: Antawn Jamison (game-time decision, knee)
-G Jrue Holiday (10.2 ppg, 5.4 apg, 2.2 spg, 12.55 PER)
-G Andre Iguodala (14.4 ppg, 6.2 apg, .333 3P%, 14.86 PER)
-F Andres Nocioni (7.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 9.43 PER)
-F Elton Brand (18.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 26.04 PER)
-C Spencer Hawes (4.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 6.35 PER)
Key Reserves: Evan Turner, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, Jason Kapono
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (92.0 ppg, .436 FG%, 37.3 rpg, 19.0 apg, 15.3 TOpg, Eff-96.6, Rank-26)
-Def (98.8 ppg, .476 FG%, 42.5 rpg, Eff-105.6, Rank-20)
-Off (98.0 ppg, .460 FG%, 41.8 rpg, 23.2 apg, 16.0 TOpg, Eff-99.8, Rank-21)
-Def (98.2 ppg, .433 FG%, 43.2 rpg, Eff-98.5, Rank-6)
- Tue, Nov 16 at Cleveland
- Tue, Dec 7 at Philadelphia
- Sun, Feb 27 at Cleveland
I’m not crazy about this matchup for Cleveland. The Sixers may be 1-4, but 3 of their losses have been competitive losses. They lost a game to Miami that maybe wasn’t as close as the score indicates, but it also wasn’t as bad as some of the other eviscerations the Heat have handed out this season. They also lost a close battle with the Hawks and a brutal overtime loss to the Wizards thanks to a game tying three by Cartier Martin at the buzzer in regulation.
The Sixers have been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA this season. They’re an excellent defensive rebounding team who loves to turn around and run off those defensive rebounds. They’re 3rd in the NBA in fast break points per game and the Cavaliers are one of the worst teams in the NBA at getting back in transition. The Cavaliers are an extremely poor offensive rebounding team, which means they are going to brutally susceptible to the Sixers running on them all game long off Cavalier misses.
The Sixers do a decent enough job defending the paint. For the past couple years Elton Brand has suffered from a lack of explosiveness and has looked painfully mediocre. So far this season, his burst is back and he’s rebounding and blocking shots once more, as he’s averaging almost 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game to go with his 18 points. In other words, he’s finally looking like the Elton Brand the Sixers thought they were getting. Even though Hickson would give up some size to Spencer Hawes, I fully expect the Cavaliers to switch out and let Varejao defend Brand and have Hickson slide down to the low post to defend Hawes. Varejao is extremely effective at defending the 4 and with Brand being the Sixers’ best player so far this season, it will be beneficial to have the Cavaliers’ best defensive player guarding him.
On the perimeter, the Sixers are loaded with fast and athletic guards who love to get to the basket as much as possible. They rarely settle for outside shots and are always looking to pressure the defense by driving. Jrue Holiday got off to a slow start this year, but he looked phenomenal against the Pacers on Wednesday and he is sure to be a handful for Mo Williams defensively. He loves to drive and then either pass to a guy cutting into the lane for an easy basket or else he dishes off to a guard coming off a curl for a good look on a close jumper. No team in the NBA shoots more jumpers from 10-15 foot range than the Sixers, and a lot of those attempts come off of initial drives from the likes of Holiday and Williams.
For OSU fans, it might be nice to see a familiar face in Evan Turner, but the rookie is definitely struggling to find his niche in the Philly offense. After 2 years of dominating the ball in college, you can see how painfully uncomfortable Turner is without the ball in his hands. He spends most of his time just standing on the wing watching the action and then maybe crashing the boards once a shot goes up. When Philly actually does run a play for Turner and gets the ball in his hands out on the wing, he tends to do good things with it. He still has a keen sense for passing in traffic and he’s able to get his own shot off. The key for Turner, though, is to figure out how to be productive in the offense even when the ball isn’t in his hands.
Offensively for the Cavaliers, this could be a great time to get Mo Williams back. The Sixers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, but if there’s one thing I’ve noticed it’s that they tend to focus so heavily on crashing the defensive glass that they don’t close out well on the perimeter. They leave a lot of good looks for 3 point shooters, and the Cavaliers happen to have 3 excellent shooters in Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, and Daniel Gibson. The problem for the Cavaliers is that they still aren’t running much of an offense.
For all the talk about all the motion and passing the Cavs were supposed to be using this year, not to mention all the running, the results simply aren’t working out that way. The thing that bothers me more than anything is that the Cavaliers are averaging a pathetic 19 assists per game. A lot of it is because they have been relying so heavily on JJ Hickson to provide them with any consistent offense. In the past 2 seasons Hickson has been assisted on over 75% of his baskets, but this year that number has dropped to 53.8%, indicating that the ball is slowing down through Hickson. None of this is to say they should use Hickson any less, of course, it’s just that it seems that they are forcing the issue rather than letting him get baskets in the flow of the offense.
We expected this thing to take a while to set in, and that’s exactly what’s happening. I’m not really worried, because there’s nothing to worry about. If the Cavaliers don’t pick up the offense, then they are going to be a horrible team and get a good lottery pick, which isn’t the end of the world. Beyond that, they will know which players don’t work in the system and the team can build from there.
On the other hand, if the team gets this offense now that Mo Williams is back to help shoulder the load with JJ, then the team is going to win some games and fight for a playoff spot. So there’s no need to fret over the way the team is playing now, but it’s important to continue watching for signs of growth and development. Playing the Sixers on the road is a perfect test for this team. If the Cavaliers can begin to rebound, not turn the ball over, and start being more efficient in the offense, then they will be in this game and have a chance to win. Otherwise, the Sixers will run all over the Cavaliers and make them pay over and over again.
From The Outside Looking In
Birds Of A Feather
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Saturday, November 6, 2010
7:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Washington Wizards