Los Angeles -- When I got off my flight this afternoon, I was rather taken aback my how much e-mail I got from fans upset by the way the Cavs played and lost to the Knicks last night. Obviously, you guys and gals are upset with what you saw.
In general, here's what is happening:
--With Hughes out and Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones struggling, teams are camping in the paint. They bring help when LeBron James drives and the have been double-teaming Zydrunas Ilgauskas, although I think they've been under-using Z.
--James has tried to make up for this by attempting more jump shots, like he did last night. When the Cavs got the lead in the third quarter, it was when LeBron made five straight jumpers. In fact, at one point LeBron actually made 9-of-10 shots last night, which got the Cavs up 11. He's taken seven or more 3-pointers in each of the last four games. He'd only tried seven or more four times in the first 28 games.
--Damon Jones is playing too many minutes, which is why his defensive lapses have gone up and become a real glaring issue. As for his shooting slump, that happens to everyone. As for the fans' reaction to it, he brought it on himself.
--This is very much like the Cavs played at the end of last season, with the exception that they are playing better defense. By contesting more shots and working hard on help defense, they've actually kept themselves in more games. Perhaps it will serve them well.
It is not surprising to me there are offensive problems. All year, Mike Brown has sort of just assumed the offense would always show up. He repeatedly said it would "take care of itself." Well, without Hughes and with some bad habits, it ain't right now.
So this is a real test for Brown, to see what adjustments he makes or fails to make. And if the players will respond to these issues or continue to say in their bad habits.
By the way, Anderson Varejao will probably play against the Lakers. Also, Damon is starting for the Cavs in that one, Kobe Bryant is starting there for the Lakers. Who do you give the edge to?