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Cavs take their licking, will they keep ticking?

By admin Published: May 8, 2008

Celtics 89, Cavs 73 --The Cavs now have some serious regret about Game 1, that turned out to be their chance to steal one. The Celtics blow teams out at home, they have done it all year and they will continue to do it as long as they advance in the playoffs. This game had all the markings of one of their typical blowouts. This series is far from over, but the trends obvious do not favor a drastic turnaround. However, I would advise you to limit your frustration from this game and not to rule the Cavs out yet. But they have a lot of work to do. --The Celtics defense is excellent and very sound, they don't make many mistakes. The reason for this is they have athletic and generally intelligent players. Even Kendrick Perkins does what he is supposed to do. They are very good when they can set up and they are good defending the pick and roll because they bring in their athletic big men to form a back line. With LeBron they are allowing him to come around the screen (as in not trapping him unless he's way out on the perimeter) and then the big is guiding him to the baseline so he can't turn the corner and create a scoring angle. They are also extending their arms outward instead of upward to take away passing lanes. None of this is unheard of. Again, though, I do not understand why the Cavs continue to play into this strength by running the same pick-and-rolls. I asked LeBron this after the game and he said that pick-and-rolls are 85 percent of the offense. OK, but not from the exact same spot on the floor. Anyway, adjustment time for Mike Brown. Didn't work so well from Game 1 to Game 2. --In the first quarter, Zydrunas Ilgauskas made five shots and four of them came off passes with assists (as opposed to straight post ups). This is a result of ball movement. Guess how many more he got in the game? One. An example, again, of the Cavs offense getting stuck in a rut. But I'm not going to rehash old discussions. --It is still not clear what happened to Ben Wallace. He said he started having an allergy attack and then he got dizzy about three minutes into the game. He said he thought some of the smoke from the pregame fireworks contributed to it. When it got bad, he just committed a foul and walked over to the Cavs' bench with a wild look in his eyes. Everyone on the bench got up and it was a chaotic scene for a few moments, LeBron came over while the game was going on to ask what was happening and so many players were standing up around him that the bench was pouring onto the court. First the Cavs said he had vertigo and was not coming back, then they said he was. He warmed up for the second half and didn't seem to be unsteady on his feet but he went back to the locker room and did not play. He's going to get some tests in the morning.
Here's what he said: "It was like a tough headache, my head was spinning, I couldn’t really turn my head up or down...I got light headed, my head started spinning, there was smoke in the first quarter. You cant play basketball with your head spinning like that." --Anderson Varejao is now 8-of-32 from the field in the postseason. Last year he was a great pick and roll partner with James because he was great finishing at the rim, it was a weapon the Cavs needed. Right now he's an offensive disaster across the board. I understand his season took a turn when he stepped on Sasha Vujicic's ankle on that afternoon in L.A. I believe that ankle is still not right. But how do you explain his offensive breakdown. I cannot. --Brown is going to have to make some personnel adjustments in my opinion. I believe Devin Brown needs to play, as I have written several times. Also, Daniel Gibson and Delonte West are a combined 5-of-23 and 1-of-8 on 3-pointers. If they do not get it going soon, I would consider Damon Jones. Mike has abandoned him because of defensive issue, but the Cavs offense needs 3-point shooting so badly to be successful. Though I doubt it will happen. Not that these really will turn the tide, LeBron needs to return to form for there to be any chance.
Recap:
Pregame
Starting lineup
Cavs: Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kedrick Perkins
Officials Derrick Stafford, Joey Crawford, Bill Spooner
--LeBron was named first team All-NBA today. He got 117 out of 127 votes first team votes. You'd have to wonder which 10 people thought he wasn't one of the top five players in the league, but whatever. He was first team two years ago and got all 127 votes then. Last year, though, he slipped to second team. He is the first Cav ever to be named to the first team twice. Mark Price is the only other player to make the All-NBA team. --Expect the Cavs to attempt to move the ball more from side-to-side in this game. It was too easy for the Celtics to set up on half the floor. But the real point is there can't be so much dribbling, from LeBron especially. You have to make the Celtics move on defense, otherwise they'll shut you down. --I expect the Celtics to reallt try to get Ray Allen going and early. I also expect the Cavs to look to double team Garnett more when he's got the ball in the post, which would open things up for Allen. Him getting just four shots in Game 1 was as surprising as him not scoring. --Mike Brown said he was happy with the way Sasha Pavlovic played at both ends in Game 1, so he'll see more time tonight. I guess that is bad news for Devin Brown, who I honestly believe helps the team because he actually runs the offense all the time. But there is only so much room and Mike believes in Wally, too. --Cavs are going back to their blue uniforms tonight, for whatever that means. They were 2-1 in the reds. --Game 1 was a defensive struggle and all that, but the teams combined for more than 40 turnovers which made it sloppy. I figure those will drop tonight and it will become a cleaner and higher scoring game from that perspective alone.
Halftime -- Celtics 44, Cavs 36
--Total failure in the second quarter at both ends of the floor. The Cavs made two baskets in the period, going 2-of-17. The Celtics are playing strong defense and they are really swarming in the paint. But the Cavs are making it easier by not moving the ball. Dribbling and waiting for picks does not work against the Celtics, I am not sure why it is taking the Cavs so long to figure this out. They had eight assists in the first half and most of them were passes to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, passes that made the defense move. Also, LeBron has lost faith in his outside shot right now and he's turning tenative. At the end of the quarter he started attacking more and got to the foul line. --The Celtics bench was fantastic in the first half, especially Sam Cassell and Leon Powe. The bench points are 26-3. Ball game right there. Also, I though Mike Brown made a strange choice when he kept LeBron in to start the second quarter. This meant he had to take him and Ilgauskas out for a spell and it resulting the beginning of the offensive woes. Again, I might suggest Devin Brown. He is not a great scorer but he moves the ball and he gets junk points, which is what the Cavs could use right now. --The Cavs have no fastbreak points and just four second chance points. The reason is because the sluggish offense is allowing the Celtics to get settled in the paint and box out. When they are moving more they can't get rebounding position. --It is not clear to me what is going on with Ben Wallace. We were told he was suffering from dizziness and that he would not return. They we were told he was going to come back but he has not. Neither Joe Smith nor Anderson Varejao is playing well. I do not understand why Andy feels he must dribble, I just don't. He got a rebound and decided he needed to dribble.
Postgame
Stars Pierce, 19 points, six rebounds Garnett, 13 points, 12 rebounds Leon Powe, 11 points, seven rebounds Z, 19 points, five rebounds
Quotes: LeBron: "I think defensively they’re very, very aggressive; they’re very good. I’m just missing the shots that I normally make. They haven’t fallen in this building the last two games. The layups that usually go down for me are just jumping out of the rim. The jumpers that I usually make are not going down for me. So I’m going to stay positive and get my way through." Mike Brown: "I will go back and watch the tapes. But I thought LeBron James had some good shots, good looks that he has hit before, and he got to the rim a couple times but the ball just rolled out. We will watch tape, but some of our looks were pretty good looks, you need to give the Celtics credit- they are a great defensive team, and they stay aggressive the whole game, and we need to stay aggressive the whole game. If LeBron is open, I want him to shoot. From inside the 3 point line or from outside, he needs to step in and knock it down, he has done it plenty of times before." Doc Rivers: "You know, LeBron is missing some shots he could make and we understand that. We understand also like I was saying before that game that he is going to get shots and it’s the defense that we are going to want to play and he’s going to make those shots. What we can’t do is overreact to that. We have to just stay solid and trust even if he gets it going. This is what we want to do, this is what we want to try at least to force him to play in. If we force him to make those shots."

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