Cleveland Cavaliers (7-17) vs
Miami Heat (18-8)
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
7:30 PM EST
Well, here we go again. The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to take on our dear old friend and his freshly rejuvenated Miami Heat. 2 weeks ago in my Miami preview, I climbed upon my soapbox and I preached about closure and beginning to let go before approaching the game with a mixture of excitement, sadness, anxiety, and most importantly, hope. Most of those feelings are gong this time around. And not because the Cavs aren’t playing good basketball. My passion for this team hasn’t changed one bit. What’s different this time around is that I honestly don’t care that the Cavs are playing against LeBron. Maybe it’s just me, but this game doesn’t feel all that much different than any other game. I think I was able to exorcise most of my anger and sadness last game and now I’m all business. So let’s buckle up and get ready to try to figure out how the Cavaliers can win this basketball game.
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Mo Williams (14.4 ppg, 5.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 15.90 PER)
-G Boobie Gibson (13.2 ppg, 3.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 15.99 PER)
-F Anthony Parker (8.0 ppg, 2.5 apg, .460 3P%, 10.04 PER)
-F Antawn Jamison (13.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 16.16 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (8.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 15.17 PER)
Key Reserves: JJ Hickson, Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, Manny Harris, Joey Graham, Jawad Williams
-G Carlos Arroyo (6.9 ppg, 2.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 12.04 PER)
-G Dwyane Wade (23.4 ppg, 4.3 apg, .288 3P%, 24.50 PER)
-F LeBron James (24.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 7.2 apg, 24.74 PER)
-F Chris Bosh (17.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 20.12 PER)
-C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (5.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 14.01 PER)
Key Reserves: James Jones, Eddie House, Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers, Erick Dampier, Juwan Howard
Injuries: Udonis Haslem (out), Mike Miller (out)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (93.2 ppg, .427 FG%, 39.6 rpg, 20.2 apg, 13.3 TOpg, Eff-97.7, Rank-29)
-Def (102.9 ppg, .479 FG%, 43.0 rpg, Eff-108.5, Rank-26)
-Off (100.8 ppg, .476 FG%, 42.3 rpg, 20.5 apg, 13.0 TOpg, Eff-109.1, Rank-5)
-Def (91.00 ppg, .426 FG%, 39.7 rpg, Eff-97.2, Rank-2)
- Miami 118 at Cleveland 90 – 12/02/2010 [box]
- Mon, Jan 31 at Miami
- Tue, Mar 29 at Cleveland
The ultimate kick in the teeth for us Cavs fans is, of course, the fact that Cleveland was the catalyst for this rejuvenation within the Miami Heat. The Heat players predictably credit their players only meeting, but as I warned in my last preview, the Heat are such a terrible matchup for the Cavaliers. Not that most teams aren’t, but Miami specifically is the strongest in the aspects that the Cavaliers are weakest against. It has all the makings of a blowout, and that’s what it was, and it gave the Heat their swagger back, which they have carried into this entire 9 game winning streak. Teams are playing scared against the Heat now, and they are beginning to impose their will on teams. So, you’re welcome, Miami.
As for this game, we could just give up and say nothing I write will matter because the Cavaliers are going to get slaughtered again. The truth is, they probably will, and what I write doesn’t matter because I have no connection to the team, but what I can do is point out that Miami is not a flawless team and there are certain things the Cavaliers can do, things that I would emphasize if I actually did have any influence, to at least give themselves a chance to fight.
First of all, I like the Cavaliers starting lineup change. Sure, Gibson can’t defend Wade and Parker certainly can’t defend LeBron, but so what? Nobody on the Cavaliers can defend either of those guys, so you might as well at least counter with most effective offensive lineup and your best offensive talent. Bringing in Boobie and ‘Tawn accomplishes that goal. Furthermore, Varejao has been working quite well beside Jamison and has arguably played his best basketball of the season since Byron Scott made those changes.
Next, I would say don’t worry about anything except LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, James Jones, and Eddie House. When House or Jones are in, have your worst perimeter defender guard them and stay on them. No matter what. Seriously…..stay on them. They don’t move too much without the ball, you’re not going to have to fight through screens or watch for backdoor cuts. Those guys like to stand outside the 3 point line and catch and shoot. Get in their face and stay there. Do not let them shoot open 3s because as funny as it sounds to talk about James Jones and Eddie House on a team with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, I have seen those 2 role players continuously demoralize opponents by knocking down open 3 after open 3.
Next, you take your best defensive big man and you have him defend Bosh. If Bosh is going to go off, then you have no chance anyway. Otherwise, you defend him with a single defender as best as you can and try not to let him get too many easy baskets. Be physical with him and make him work, using pivots and footwork to get open shots.
Finally, with LeBron and Wade, you simply must make them take jump shots. The further outside, the better. Take all the rest of your defenders and have them sag off the wings and play sort of a roaming cloud inside the paint. Be ready to rotate quickly as soon as Wade and LeBron get by their guy with their first step, because that’s going to happen a lot. By sagging into the lanes more, you can actually rotate quicker. The trade off, of course, is a wide open big man (Z, Anthony, or Dampier usually) under the basket. That’s the trade off you have to live with. Test LeBron and Wade’s patience. My philosophy with the Heat is that it’s better to make them have to have a successful pass, a successful catch by a big man, and a successful layup by a role player than it is to let LeBron or Wade go off on you like LeBron did last game.
This is by no means a fool proof route to success, but it is, in my opinion, the best way a team with minimal talent like the Cavaliers can at least make the Heat do a thing or two that they are less comfortable with than usual.
Otherwise, on offense, the Heat are almost certainly going to come out with that high trap that they used to force Mo Williams into difficult passes that lead to turnovers in a hurry. As soon as Z begins to show on Mo, he needs to have the awareness to recognize it and either get a high screen on Z’s side or else he needs a well timed bounce pass to break the trap. I was rather appalled last game at how much trouble Mo had at recognizing Miami’s trap, and I hope he’s ready for it this time.
Nobody had a particularly good game for the Cavaliers last time. I don’t have very high expectations for this game either. I just want to see more competitive spirit from the Cavs and less joking around and less fear in their eyes this time around. Just play better basketball and try to be competitive. That’s really about all they can do.
From The Outside Looking In
Birds Of A Feather
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Friday, December 17, 2010
7:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers