The Spurs have been pretty good for a while now, but never actually this good. In beating the Jazz in Utah last night, San Antonio extended their season record to 10-1, which is the best mark after the first 11 games in franchise history.
The win over the Jazz also upped their current winning streak to 9-straight, Timmy D became the all-time Spurs leading scorer, and the current run they’re on is the best one they’ve had since winning 11 in a row in late February / early March of 2008.
So the Spurs are playing well, in summary. Now they welcome the Cavaliers (5-6) who are on the second night of a road back-to-back against two teams with a current combined record of 20-2. Not ideal for the Cleveland hoops squad.
The Cavaliers have now dropped 3 of they’re last 4 after losing down in New Orleans last night, and come into tonight’s match-up in desperate need of stringing four quarters of quality basketball together in row…if for no other reason than to simply illustrate the fact that this feat is possible at this point. Because they haven’t done something like that yet, and they didn’t do it last night either to be sure.
Now in a glance back at last night’s game, there first are some positive takeaways I suppose. Through 11 games this season the Cavs are the only team to score over 100 on New Orleans, which is worth something I guess I’m just not sure what exactly. Besides that, they did play for the first time at full strength with Mo Williams (8 pts 2 asts) making his return, and everybody else in the line-up alongside him as well. That’s an encouraging step in it’s own right. It’s also good that the Cavs were able to display the character and effort that they did in rallying back during the second half after trailing by 19 at intermission last night as well. Hat tip for all that fellas.
Just nothing in the win column for it. The negative takeaways are obvious ones, and they far outweighed the positives. First, you can’t spot a quality team 19 at the break in this league. You’re not going to end up winning pretty much ever when you do, and besides that, you’re just setting yourself up to repeat the cycle of losing. A team in the NBA really does themselves a huge disservice to sleep-walk through one quarter (the second last night for CLE) only to then wake up and expend massive amounts of energy to do everything you can to make the final verdict a respectable showing. That’s a receipe for losing not only nightly, but consistently.
To be clear though, I’m not saying they shouldn’t have dug deep and rallied like they did in the final two quarters last night. I applaud that as much as anybody, and in some ways efforts like that could help this team grow in time as the season progresses. What I am saying though, is the Cavaliers need to begin to develop consistency, and they need to develop it now. They have shown in spurts that they can compete with anybody, they just can’t spend a quarter or two every night beating themselves in the process.
In order to develop that consistency though, it starts at the top of the depth chart. The starters have to play much, much, better. Only Varejao reached double figures last night, and he went 4 of 14 to get to 10 points. In the end, the starting five only combined for a pedestrian 36 points on the night – that’s 5.1 points per starter, on average. That’s terrible.
And don’t think those same starters factored much in the rally late either, as Kirk Lammers pointed out this morning:
“In the fourth quarter, where the Cavaliers closed a 17-point gap to just three with 20 seconds to play, the starting unit was responsible for only FIVE of the thirty Cleveland points in the quarter. The run was primarily fueled by Ramon Sessions and Antawn Jamison, who have both shown themselves to be consistent double-digit scorers off the bench. Give Scott credit for sticking with this group as he nearly rode them to an upset victory. But, the real problem that Scott has in front of him now is how to balance having one of the worst starting fives in the league with one of the more energetic, higher-scoring benches. The quick thought is to put Gibson or Sessions and Jamison in for Parker and Moon, but the only thing that does is weaken the bench and allow opposing second units to make their runs more effectively.”
Not an easy play for Byron Scott. Jamison (20 pts), Gibson (10 pts), and Sessions (16 pts) combined for 46 points. Parker (7 pts) and Moon (3 pts) combined for 10.
It certainly wasn’t all Cleveland’s fault last night though either. Chris Paul - the front-runner for the MVP Award right now - completely controlled all facets of the game going for 15 points – 10 assists – 6 steals – and 4 rebounds. He’s good, and David West (34 and 11) completely dominated TheHickson (8pts 8 reb) last night.
But as good as the Hornets are, I’d argue the Spurs are better. Here’s hoping for that fourth quarter effort all night long tonight down in Texas. Go Cavs.
Tip at 8:30.