Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A letdown game

Bobcats 108, Cavaliers 100 (OT)

It was certainly a miserable way for an eight-game winning streak to end, but maybe this will help the Cavs in the long run.

This is reminiscent of the "coulda-woulda-shoulda" games that occurred earlier this season, games the Cavs had no business losing, but still came out on the short end because they played down to the level of their competition.

That's not to take away from the Bobcats, who played the role of spoiler perfectly. Bound for the lottery and plagued by injuries, they came in with a nothing-to-lose attitude and played as hard as they could for 53 minutes, which is all coach Bernie Bickerstaff could have asked of his team.

The Cavs, on the other hand, might have been letting success go to their heads. For some reason, it's really easy to convince this team that they've made it to Easy Street and can beat teams by just showing up. Perhaps they were expecting a rerun of what happened last week in Memphis, when they rolled over the Grizzlies.

For some reason, the Cavs are quick to let off the accelerator when they've experienced some success, and that's when games like Tuesday's happen. If this game had been played at The Q, the Cavs probably figure out a way to gut out an ugly win. But in Charlotte, with a success-starved crowd feeding their underdog team, the Cavs crumbled.

Just like in any number of early-season duds, the Cavs fell asleep at the switch, regressed to slow-motion offense and, above all, got away from the defensive intensity that Mike Brown preaches.

Curiously, the Cavs won a lot of the statistical battles Tuesday. They were nudged in overall rebounds by Charlotte 46-43, but won the offensive rebounding battle 16-14. They committed eight fewer turnovers (20-12), and had nine steals to Charlotte's two.

One stat killed the Cavs, however. Taking advantage of looser-than-normal perimeter defense, Charlotte made 9-of-16 three-pointers. Cleveland countered with an abysmal 3-of-20 from beyond the arc. Matt Carroll had two critical three-balls in the four quarter, and Adam Morrison and Walter Herrmann, who had six longballs between them, shoved a couple of three-ball daggers in the Cavs' backs in overtime.

Raymond Felton should have had another when a missed defensive rotation left him wide open in overtime.

A couple of questions for Brown: With the Cavs leading 94-92 late in the fourth quarter and a timeout to burn, why on freaking Earth did you elect to inbound underneath the basket? Furthermore, why on Earth was oversized two-guard Sasha Pavlovic bringing the ball up the court against a full-court press? Carroll harassed Pavlovic into a behind-the-back dribble, which he predictably lost, Carroll stole the ball and Pavlovic fouled him.

Carroll, a 90-percent free throw shooter, went to the line and tied the game.

Question two: After nearly a month off with a bum toe, you reactivate Dan Gibson and promptly play him for 12 unproductive minutes (zero points on three shots, two rebounds) while Shannon Brown once again sits. Think you might want to take your time and ease ol' Danny Boy back into the swing of things a bit more?

Shocking: On a night when defense was lagging, Brown's boy, Ira Newble, played one stinking minute. Don't want to get too predictable with those rotations, do you, Coach?

"I think I'll play Ira .... NO!!" (Looks into the camera with a menacing smirk) "That's exactly what they'll be expecting!"

Time to dust this one off. With Dallas coming in here Wednesday night, this spilled milk had better be long since cleaned up by the time that nationally-televised game begins.

Tuesday's mess can actually help the Cavs in the long run, especially if they draw a team that doesn't really scare them, like Orlando, in the first round of the playoffs. This is a reminder that you can't just show up like rock stars and expect the other team to submit to your will. For some reason, the Cavs need to frequently be reminded of that.

1 comment:

Top Dawg said...

Quite a change to go from 8 straight to losing to one of the worst teams in the NBA...