Ugh. Not again.
It was just one of those games that the Warriors had to play catch up nearly the entire game. They were down 10 in the first and climbed back to within 6 at the end of the quarter. They were down 7 in the 2nd quarter but fought back to get it tied at the half even taking a 1 point lead at one point. In the 3rd quarter, they were down 10 with 3:41 to play and ended the quarter up 1 on a big 3 by Monta. Then in the 4th, the Warriors led for most of the quarter but could never pull away. The lead never got to more than 4 and the Cavs always seemed to have an answer to any bucket the Warriors scored. Sitting there watching the game, I just never felt the Warriors were in control of the game. It was as if the Cavs were just waiting, biding their time and keeping the game close until they were ready to finish off the Warriors. And they did that with a big time 3 from Daniel Gibson. Ugh.
Overall the team looked much better. They still didn't look great, but it's a step in the right direction. The offense seemed more fluid and the team was actually playing as a team. In a game that I thought the Warriors would get killed on the boards, the difference was just 4. Everyone seemed to hit he boards tonight trying to swarm around the defensive rebounds. A better effort overall tonight, just not enough to win.
+/- Stat in Boxscore
This is the first time I noticed this, but the nba.com boxscore now includes a +/- stat. Let me pull out some interesting nuggets:
- Brandan Wright = -8
In Brandan's 4 minutes of play the Cavs outscored the Warriors by 8 points. Ouch. I guess that's the reason Nellie doesn't like rookies.
- Dwayne Jones = -9
Even worse than Brandan was Dwayne Jones who had a -9 in just 2 minutes of play. Only if the Cavs had played him more.
- Monta Ellis = +9
He really did a nice job tonight. Brought the team back in the 2nd quarter and also in the 2nd half. Along with Al Harrington, he kept the Warriors close.
- Daniel Gibson = +23
Man oh man. It says a lot when your team wins by just 4 and you have a +23 +/- stat.
Watching LeBron in person
I have to say that watching him on tv does not do him justice. He has such an amazing presence on the court and affects the game in so many ways. I don't think I ever truly appreciated his greatness until tonight. His near triple double may have something to do with it, but even still, he's one of those players that you just can't take your eyes off. Everything in basketball comes to him so easily. No look behind the back pass in traffic? No problem. Silky smooth. Hustle back on D to prevent a fast break layup? No problem. Heck he even puts on a show during warm ups with some dunks and alley oops.
As great as he is, it's that much better when he gets dunked on. Al Harrington threw down on him HARD on a fast break. Funny thing is, they didn't show it on Sportscenter, haters. Last year, Al seemed content to have just lay it up on uncontested fast breaks. But I guess this is the new Al.
I'm not sure if getting dunked on awoke his inner demons, but he sure seemed angry. He swatted/spiked/demolished/blocked 3 fast break layups that would have led to 6 points. All 3 blocks came from behind. One on Barnes, one on Monta, and another I forget who. He could have given up on the play but he hustled back and prevented the Warriors from getting easy buckets. That's what you love to see in your leader.
Please go practice them. Please. There's no telling how big of a difference it would have made of the Warriors hit on more than 69% of their 26 free throws. Pretty funny chant from the guys in the back of section 109.
First guy: "Make your free throws!"
POB, B Wright, and Marco
Welcome to the NBA, Brandan Wright! As nice as he dresses in suits, I sure was glad to see him out on the court in his jersey. Even though he didn't impact the game much, he saw his first taste of live game action. I'd like to see him get a little time each game to let him develop and get some experience under his belt.
Then there's the Warriors first round draft pick from last year, Patrick O'Bryant. He didn't look so bad out there. He didn't look so good either, but you can see some potential to be a solid low post defender and the ability to challenge and block shots. His 4 minutes were also uninspiring, but if he can continue to crack the lineup and get some real experience outside of the D-League, this team will be better off in the long run.
I was shouting "Marco?!" but nobody said "Polo!" I guess that's why he didn't get to play. Nobody could find him.
How about we play some defense?
Where did the scrambling, hectic defense go? The defense that consistently yielded near double digit steals and blocks, where is that? The Warriors aren't playing with any sense of urgency or heart. At times, the players look lethargic and take plays off. You cannot do that. This team cannot do that. A Don Nelson team cannot do that. This team thrives on deflections, blocked shots, and steals. We need some of that again.
You know it doesn't seem that difficult to figure out the Cavs offense. They try to penetrate, kick the ball out, rotate it (quite nicely I must say) and find the open man for the jumper. It seems so simple. They really didn't take the ball inside too much except for when LeBron was driving or passing it off to Ilgauskas. The Warriors needed to close out better on their shooters and prevent them from taking the open shot. Challenge the shot and make the man put the ball on the floor. Boobie and Drew Gooden are not nearly as comfortable taking the ball to the hole as they are taking jumpers. You have to make them do something they're less comfortable with.
The Closing Minutes
In the last few minutes, LeBron guarded Baron in Cleveland's man to man defense. He forced Baron into some tough shots and made sure that Baron didn't get a chance to bring the Warriors back. If the Warriors were going to win, it was going to be someone else. He flat out played excellent man defense in those final possessions. LeBron took out the Warriors best player and made the offense stagnant.
Is Baron Regressing?
No, I don't think he's returning to his Monty days where he'd hog the ball for much of the shot clock, but it is frustrating to see our best player and point guard go 11-28 from the field and 6-9 from the line. His final numbers looked nice, but the way he went about it closely resembles the Monty days rather than last year's playoff run. It's frustrating especially when you have Al Harrington with the hot hand at he start of the 4th, but then ignored for the rest of the quarter. If he's hot, feed him. Al scored on LeBron, Gooden, and whoever was guarding him. The same thing happened in the Clipper game when Kaz got hot in the 4th only to be ignored in the closing minutes. Baron, you don't have to do it all by yourself. This team is capable of knocking down shots if you create for them. I have faith in them, I hope you do too.
Welcome back Monta! He provided a big spark off the bench. The starters looked a little lethargic and he did what a 6th man is supposed to do, bring the energy. The shooting % is not pretty, but I was very happy with the way Monta came off the bench and brought the team back with consecutive buckets in the 2nd quarter.