Thursday, April 06, 2006

Big, rotten Apple

Just to check: the Cavaliers know the Knicks are terrible, right?
They know the Knicks are a pathetic, wretched, awful team that was missing its best player Wednesday night, right?
Just checking. Because no one would have known it last night as the Knicks beat the Cavs 96-94. The game was only that close because of a spirited fourth-quarter run that erased a 19-point deficit.
And let's not forget Jamal Crawford. Against any other team, he's ... well, he's Jamal Crawford. Against the Cavs, he turns into Allen Iverson, repeatedly knocking down lethal shot after lethal shot. He dropped 37 on the Cavs last night, including the game-winner with less than 10 seconds to play.
It was reminiscent of the game-for-the-ages Bobcats guard Ray Felton had two weeks ago in nearly pulling off a huge upset at The Q.
The more I think about it, the more I want the Cavs to play the Wizards in a first-round series instead of the Bucks. The Wizards are a tougher team.
Gilbert Arenas has killed the Cavs before. He'll keep Cleveland on their toes over the course of a series. The Bucks, whom the Cavs handled in three of four meetings this year, offer the chance for a letdown and an embarrassing first-round exit.
We have repeatedly seen how the Cavs sleepwalk against lesser competition. Last night's loss to the 20-54 Knicks drops the Cavs to 0-2 against arguably the worst team in the league this year. The only other team the Cavs have failed to beat this year are the lottery-bound Golden State Warriors, whom the Cavs are also 0-2 against.
Toss in a home loss to the Hawks and two razor-close wins over the Bobcats, and you have a Cleveland team that has a positively shaky record against bad teams.
When the Cavs think they have to rise to the occassion, they can beat any team in the league, certainly at home. When they view a game in the same bothersome light as a 7 a.m. shootaround, they can lose to just about any team in the league.
There are no excuses acceptable. Even if the Cavs won last night, it wouldn't have been deserved.
The next three games are on the road, one of them against the white-hot Nets and another against a team that needs no introduction, the Pistons. With that in mind, Wednesday's loss might be the loss that prevents the Cavs from reaching 50 wins.
With the playoff-tested Wizards showing signs of life behind them, let's hope it won't be the loss that prevents the Cavs from clinching homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


Zach said...

I also think the Cavs are just not the same team with Z out of the lineup. Cleveland just doesn't have a consistent post player to pick up the slack. If Ilgauskas is out for any period of time, the Cavs are in trouble.

erik said...

I'd buy the Z-factor as a reason to fret if I thought Mike Brown had any idea how to use Z down the stretches of games.

As it is, Z spends huge chunks of the second half on the bench in favor of Donyell Marshall and Anderson Varejao. Sometimes I think how to properly use Z is a problem that puzzles Brown, who spends most of his time doting on his playmakers (i.e. LeBron, Hughes, Murray.)