Cleveland Cavaliers Take 72-108 Game Three Beating from Washington Wizards
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited for the new Speed Racer movie. I hear it’s a great script. I’m really curious to see where they go with that one.
See, I like to mix it up. Sometimes I love the unknown, but a lot of the time, I just like to stick with what I know. Like the Cavs!
Yes, 36 points is absolutely embarrassing, but a loss is a loss, and nobody in their right mind was picking the Cavs in Game 3. After a few good games, faced with the energy of a back-against-the-wall, in-front-of-the-rabid-home-crowd, star-studded team, it was pretty much a given that the Cavs would roll over, forget about their improved offensive execution and, subsequently, relax on the defensive end as the game slipped away.
There were no backscreens for LeBron unless he was coming to the top of the key to start the offense over. The glut of early fouls stopped us from playing physical enough to prevent layups. Andy got way too many touches. The Wizards got hot early thanks to slow rotations. We just couldn’t hit a damned thing.
I tend to take a lot of notes, like a live blog that never goes live, and even though the game was over just after halftime, I might as vomit out the half game (more than the Cavs!) I put together, complete with post game additions.
· As usual, the Cavs gave Z some touches early. Even on set plays for Z, the Cavs need to be smart and aggressive enough to move away from the ball. It’ll keep the defense honest and attentive. That nobody moved as Z spun into a collapsing defense is an early indicator of a bad offensive night.
· Active defense, though, which is leading to lots of early 3s. The game could go to whomever can manage to shoot 40%. (Technically true…)
· How was Wallace’s first foul – while going for a rebound, colliding with Stevenson – a foul when they both made the same play on a rebound, only Wallace’s jump carried him forward 6 inches while Stevenson leapt 3 feet? Shouldn’t that be Wallace’s space? He’s penalized just for being bigger and stronger? (I do really think the tenor of the game was set early by all the early calls. Stopped us from playing physical defense. Glad that happened tonight, in our lame duck game.)
· 4+ minutes in and I don’t think there has been a single possession I haven’t rewound and rewatched. (Makes up for watching the 4th at double speed)
· I know I read about it earlier, but I just noticed the white out, almost 6 minutes in. Do I not care or was it just not effective? (The Cavs shot poorly… but how would a white background bother one team more than the other? Meanwhile, how about Orlando with the blue/white split?)
· Ben Wallace needs to keep his head on. He won’t play more than 25 minutes, but 2 quick fouls just means he won’t be as aggressive later and Mike Brown’s rotations get less flexible.
· We just got an update on Gilbert Arenas’s health. I’m still undecided as to whether I want to see him out there a full game or not. I’m scared of him getting hot; I’m not sure if it’s his running the point that makes Caron Butler disappear; but early on their offense halted with the ball in his hands. (post game update: pinched nerve, should be back Sunday)
· Remember when it used to be embarrassing to miss layups on breaks? I know so many of them are off balance, in traffic, while jumping through a hoop of fire now, but it seems like a lot of 3 on 2s become missed layups and blown possessions. Thank you Delonte West for inspiring that jag.
· 2 possessions so far for the bench: a running one hander for Andy and a turnover. At least the opposite end has resulted in 2 offensive fouls. At the end of the day turnovers pile up but don’t affect the future and Andy is bound to hit a shot now and then. Offensive fouls only hurt.
· And then another turnover for each team. Boobie Gibson is not a very good point guard. Wait, out of bounds on the Cavs. The Wiz get another chance and another after a blown layup.
· And then a LeBron 3, which I almost want to argue is worse than a turnover… (What does he work on more this off season, free throw shooting or 3s?)
· I love seeing what LeBron does to finish quarters. It’s the best way to measure his growth. This time, it’s an And-1 with 9 seconds left. A little early, otherwise I’d say he’s perfect. Early and points is much better than the late, off balance junk we’re used to. He even hit the free throw. (Next year, this is definitely something I’ll track and measure over the season.)
· What percentage of possessions in which Andy touches the ball results in points? I want a metric that simple for every player on the team. I’m sure he’d be the lowest, and it would only get worse if you measured things like turnovers. (I’ll leave this tracking to somebody like 82games.com.)
· And the deficit is double digits… Can we stop turning it over? I’m not even close to worried. This can’t possibly keep up. (…)
· What a late whistle on Devin Brown’s 3. Would the whistle have blown if the ball went in? I hate those conditional calls. At least the Wizards over aggressiveness is starting to catch up. Another jumper-to-free throws for Delonte. And as Mike Fratello says, paraphrased, "stupid, stupid Washington".
· We might have 20 turnovers at halftime. This is unbelievable. Up to 13 with 6 minutes left. That should be our max for a game! (ended with 15, and 8 more in the 2nd half.)
· How – in this game! – is it not an offensive foul on Butler to lead with an extended hand to create space between himself and the shot blocker? How is something that obvious not called or remarked upon? Does a pretty spin move just leave the refs admiring?
· This time LeBron ends the quarter with a turnover/miserable shot attempt without any rise in traffic. To be fair, he did seem to get hacked, but usually he has the body control to jump through it.
· How’s this for a halftime recap: We’re playing sloppy and tentative while they’re aggressive on both ends. No shocker we’re down big. We ended up with 15 turnovers, which usually means a layup on the other end, plus we’re giving up lots of easy shots when we can slow them down. Things started well enough, but we couldn’t keep it up long enough to suppress their home court energy. I wonder who’s giving the pep talk in the locker room this time. (Apparently nobody.)
In the 2nd half, we showed flashes of energy on the offensive glass and some ball movement, but our shots never fell. Once you’re down 20 with less than 20 minutes left, you need a lot more than just that energy.
At the 9:45 mark in the 4th the Cavs were down 20. Thanks to the magic of DVR, I knew they had just lost by 36. We’d shown some signs of making a run at that point. I just couldn’t stomach sitting through the rest. Call me a fair-weather fan, but I watch the rest of the game at double speed. And our defense was still slow.
Were there any bright spots? I want to applaud LeBron, but even he was below his usual standards. Fratello commented late that LeBron was watching and stewing, anxious for Game 4. LeBron doesn’t stew. He doesn’t seem to get angry or embarrassed. But maybe that’s just regular season LeBron. The Cavs looked great in Games 1 and 2. Let’s see if playoff Cavs and playoff LeBron come out looking for vengeance Sunday. I can’t see the Cavs losing this series, but that game will do a lot to show if this team means business.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ableman/]