Cav Control

So far the Shaq experiment has yet to bloom.

I can understand Cleveland’s home loss against the Boston Celtics. While they raced to a 13-2 start, Boston’s bench was great in the middle rounds (especially in the third salvo). The addition of Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, and Sheldon Williams really brought something new to the Celtic bench.

When Cleveland was hinting to turn the tables at crunch, you saw how their suffocating defense made Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen struggle. This leaves no choice for the C’s to score jump shots from Kendrick Perkins.

This happened thrice I think… and all attempts failed.

Doc Rivers charged a timeout and out came Wallace to sub Perkins. This is the versatility of the C’s frontcourt. With Perkins, they have a player to join KG in clogging the lanes. With Wallace, a scorer with a deadly outside touch, he opens up the defense. While the problem of having fewer players in the shaded area is a concern for Doc Rivers, the fact that he has more options now is a great sign (especially when the Big 3 succumbs to injuries midway in the season).

Anyway, Shaquille O’ Neal is a player that needs to become monstrous in the first 36 minutes of the game. Sure, he is one of the best centers in NBA history, but he is a liability come crunch time. Hell, there is a term named for his free throw inadequacies. He has slowed also, making him a liability in transition offense and defense. On paper, the tandem of Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a twin tower combo with variation. Shaq dominates the paint… Z can sink mid-range jumpers. However, these two are slow players which mean Anderson Varejao is the only big man flexible enough to man the paint.

In the end, Boston gets their first win against a team that was almost invincible at home last season. The score was 95-89 where Paul Pierce barely reached 20 markers to lead Boston.

I won’t blame LeBron James because he was his awesome self in their first game netting 38 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks in 45 minutes of action. Shaq had 10 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes while new find Anthony Parker jacked up 10 points, 3 boards, 4 assists, and 2 swats in 40 minutes of action.

Parker played extended minutes with Delonte West still out due to personal problems. But in that first game, chemistry was lacking and in the end, it reverted back to the usual LEBRON JAMES SHOW.

Then came Toronto.

After a head-to-head battle with the Celts, the Cavs had no business losing to the Raptors. Again, problems haunted Cleveland. Shaq continues to become a liability at the stretch (-25 when he’s in) while Mo Williams went 2-for-10 in the two point zone. Sure, let’s say Toronto played brilliant ball. Chris Bosh was awesome piling in 21 points and 16 rebounds and Hedo Turkoglu gave the Raptors a reason for his importance. But it was Team Italia that gave Toronto the X-Factors. Prized former top pick Andrea Bargnani scorched the rim for 28 points while reserve Marco Belinelli added 10 points (+19 when he’s in the court).

Toronto won 101 to 91. James was struggling in his game but still managed to do a triple-double (23 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists). Again, most of his teammates merely watched him work. I don’t who to blame here but I like Shaq and I like Anthony Parker (who played a lot of games as a Raptor). Mike Brown needs to device plays that would maximize their strengths.

Maybe Minnesota could break them to the winning column. While the Wolves won their first assignment, outscoring New Jersey 31 to 15 in the fourth quarter to crave a come-from-behind 95-93 win, The Timberwolves is in for a tough season. Al Jefferson is a very undersized power forward that plays center for the team that also has Damien Wilkins and Ryan Gomes mismatched in their positions. Jonny Flynn led the Wolves with 18 markers against NJ but can he lead his team against a playoff-bound squad.

If he does… something needs to be done for the Cavs because they aren’t doing anything to get it right on the hardcourt.

Is this too early? I think this is WAAAAY too early. Dallas lost their first five games last season and went on to win 50+ regular season games. But certainly Cleveland needs to wake up soon.

Minnesota is a “dream” team that if you belittle, could turn into a nightmare.

Game over.


Post a Comment