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Cavs Forget to Call Plays, Lose to Wizards

November 19, 2009

I hate it when the Cavs play their 2005-06 offense. You remember it. Get LeBron the ball at the top of the arc. Stand and watch. Repeat for 48 minutes.

It wasn't the most effective offense. It also prominently featured Eric Snow, Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, and Drew Gooden. Not exactly the Showtime Lakers. Last night's offense featured sharp shooters Delonte West, Boobie Gibson, and Anthony Parker, All-Stars Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a blossoming J.J. Hickson, a scoring Jamario Moon, and Darnell Jackson's best career game. The Cavs had a 41-24 lead early in the second quarter. The ball was moving. The Cavs were making extra passes. Players were cutting. Shots were falling inside and out, largely because players were open. The Cavs assisted on 14 of their first 15 buckets. Wow. LeBron had 7 assists and Mo had 5. Things looked good. Things got ugly.

The Cavs then stopped doing all of the things that make their offense successful. Moving the basketball. Setting up dead eye jumpshooters (Williams, Parker, West, Ilgauskas, Gibson, James, Moon) and going inside to slashers and bigs (James, Ilgauskas, Hickson, Moon, Jackson). The Cavs got back to moving on offense like an arthritic octogenarian. Even when the Cavs regressed they were supposed to have a solution for that problem. Throw the ball inside to the physical anomaly called Shaquille O'Neal. He creates space around him by sheer force and creates space around standstill shooters by sucking the defenders in with his incredible gravitational pull! Or something like that. However, Shaq was out last night. Even if he were playing, the Cavs should not have resorted to the Pick-and-Roll's really ugly cousin, the Stand-and-Watch.

On the other end, the Wizards were able to initiate fast breaks and take advantage. Oppenent's fast breaks can be slowed by making your shots. It's harder to run a break when you have to take the ball out. However, a well placed outlet pass can allow a team to run the fast break off of almost any miss. So the Wizards got easy shots, which got their shooters going. Meanwhile, the Cavs continued to stand around, and a 17 point lead turned into a 17 point loss.

Consider me annoyed.

I know it is one game in November. I know that this is an excellent basketball team that probably still didn't reach its potential in winning 8-of-9. I am convinced this team is that good. So I am going to take them to task for a crappy showing like last night. I do it because this team should, and I believe does, expect more of itself. The coaches needed to get the offense moving and communicate the importance of cutting, picks, slashing, and extra passing. It's not that these guys don't know that, but they looked like they could use a reminder last night.

Blame falls on the players too. They know how to be successful. They proved that in the first half. So what if shots aren't falling for someone? The team's second best scorer couldn't put the ball in Lake Erie in the first half, yet Mo Williams had 5 assists and the offense came out hitting on all cylinders anyway. This team is deep enough to succeed when one or two or three or even four guys are having off nights shooting the ball. A bigger chunk of the players' blame goes to the offensive initiators. Mo Williams, Delonte West, and LeBron James needed to get the offense in gear. LeBron is the captain and the leader of this team. Without question. He needed to speak up and get his teammates playing better. LeBron knows this. He will learn from this. That's part of the beauty of LeBron James the Basketball Player.

Ultimately, it sucks. Today sucks after having to watch last night. They didn't come out and get beat. They came out and fell apart after building a big lead. No excuses are acceptable for a team this talented. Injuries, second night of a back-to-back, hot shooting opponents, not getting the calls, blah! Shut up. No excuses. Luckily, this is a veteran team that knows how to succeed. They will learn from last night.

They can show off their newly learned lessons Friday night. It's a quick turnaround. That's part of the beauty of the NBA.

Jack Bacevice

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