Since Games 1 and 2 were so similar in outcome, and since I was busy moving this weekend, I thought I'd offer ten observations on the games in San Antonio.
1.) Why is Larry Hughes still playing? The guy had zero points in 20 minutes in Game 2. Two points in 23 minutes in Game 1. And he's no longer able to shut down the opposing team's point guard like he did in the Detroit series. I know that having an injured guy play gives some inspiration to a team, but I think we are well past the point at which the Cavs care about him "gutting it out."
2.) Why is Boobie Gibson not starting? The kid can get to the hole, he is quick enough to at least come close to staying with Parker, AND he can hit threes. I am more perplexed than ever with Mike Brown's coaching strategy on offense.
3.) And on that note, Mike Brown sitting LeBron James for 9 minutes in the first quarter was just absurd. I know, as Brian Windhorst noted, that we only dropped six points with LeBron out of the game. And that we lost a bunch more when he came back in. But LeBron was setting the tone for the team in the few minutes he played. He was aggressive, he was taking it to the rim, he was moving on offense. The second they took him out, it was like all the wind came out of the Cavs' sails--the Spurs instantly had to expend about 50% less energy on the defensive end and thus had more energy on offense. LeBron is a smart player--and he only had one foul for the REST OF THE GAME. This move was a complete bonehead blunder by Mike Brown. You don't sit your superstar in a game of this importance unless they get 4 fouls in the first half. No way.
4.) Our best lineup, believe it or not, is Daniel Gibson, Damon Jones, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, and Anderson Varejao. This lineup gets almost no playing time in the game. When they do get time, they play well. People say this isn't a great defensive lineup--but the Cavs play team defense, not individual defense. They have a scheme and these guys can execute it as well as anyone. With Larry Hughes getting beat more frequently than Mark Madsen in a game of one-on-one against Michael Jordan, and Raggedy Andy being enough of an offensive liability so as to not play him at the same time as snow, AND Z getting destroyed by Tim Duncan with great regularity, I don't see why Mike Brown does not play this lineup more. It would be one thing if the three aforementioned Cavs were playing at a high level. But they couldn't be playing worse (except for Snow, who was OK in the minutes he played).
5.) One thing I just don't get is the Cavs' attitude in this series. They have been written off by just about everyone, especially after Game 1. They're playing in the NBA Finals against a superior team. They're way ahead of schedule in getting to the finals. So why are they the more lackadasical team on the floor? Why are they treating these finals like the coast-at-all-costs regular season? Hell, even LeBron James admitted today in the Post that the team is not playing particularly hard for most of the game. I just don't get it. All throughout the playoffs I figured that the Cavs might rise to the occasion in the Finals and play like the Golden State Warriors--not really sure what the hell they're doing, but ready to give it all the energy they have and enjoy the experience. Instead, they seem moribund and depressed. What am I missing here?
6.) For any fans who went to the Q for Game 2, I'm curious to know what it was like to watch the slaughter in 3-D; I was nauseous enough watching it in 2-D.
7.) I would really like to see the Cavs get up the floor quicker. I hate to toot my own horn, but the "walk it up" effect is in full force here. When we are slow getting the ball in the frontcourt, we get slow and stagnant and are easy to defend. When we bring the ball up quick, we are a much better team. Yet another argument for starting the explosive Boobie Gibson -- and yet Mike Brown doesn't do it.
8.) Does anyone know if LeBron has continued his pregame ritual from the Detroit series of shooting for several hours before the game? His jumper is looking balky again and I'm wondering if that's why. In Game 2 he showed an ability to get to the rim and finish most of the time (though he did have a few key misses on tough drives). If he could start hitting that jumper again, it would open up the offense a lot more.
9.) Back to the Finals. In this online chat on ESPN, someone mentions the thought of mugging Parker as he goes through the lane. I think this might be a good idea. I'm not talking about a McDyess hooligan foul, I'm talking about a good, hard playoff foul that maybe gets a flagrant but makes him think twice about being so fearless in the paint. I'm talking about the equivalent of a brushback pitch, not a heater to the forehead. Why the hell else is Pollard on the roster?
10. All of this said, I don't think the series is over. San Antonio is going to win, but we still can make the series competitive and at least avoid the sweep. If Mike Brown sees the writing on the wall and plays the lineup that works; if LeBron keeps driving to the rim instead of trying to get his jumper going early (he's an inside-out player, I think--his shot gets better as he keeps driving); if we can stop having fourteen defensive breakdowns on Ginobli every quarter; we can sneak a few wins away. Plus we'll have home court, and as I mentioned last night, that has been big in the past for the Cavs. But, it's definitely going to be an uphill road. Who knows, maybe I'll finally get to start writing about the Indians by the weekend (though I hope not!)