Deja Vu

We just saw what we already knew.


Mike Brown, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers just aren’t ready.

Cleveland is no longer in New Jersey where the Cavs roamed freely about the paint and dominated the glass. They’re in Detroit, where the backups backup will come in and score at will against their soft and inexperienced front court. Jason Maxiell provided the timely baskets that Detroit needed while spelling Roscoe and the Cavs had no answers from their starters. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden had a combined seven points and eight rebounds tonight, out produced by their own backup, Anderson Varejao who labored for 14 &14. Their collective reluctance to execute on the blocks and an unhealthy dependency on jumpshots leaves the team without another reliable scoring option, which makes it all the easier for Detroit to defend LeBron James.

Bron attacked the basket early and often in the first half and his penetration put the Pistons at a disadvantage. He seized upon their defensive indecision, dishing and dunking the Cavs to a twelve point halftime lead. But his offensive limitations were revealed when Detroit began to consistently shadow him with a help defender. His driving lanes were shut down and with no jumper to fall back on, he forced passes which quickly became turnovers. The second half offense was stagnant and predictable, isolation plays that went nowhere. Detroits team defense is too skilled and aware for them to be beaten by Bron off the bounce and they simply watched him dribble away the shot clock before collapsing on him. Cleveland continued to flail away from three instead of nourishing their halftime lead and suffered through an eight minute drought which kept the Pistons around.

Then he did it again. This time ahead by one, with a chance to extend a lead, LeBron attacks the basket and draws a cluster of white jerseys. As he and the primary defender both left their feet, Bron had a prime opportunity to draw contact and a whistle by attempting a shot at the rim. Instead, he passed out to Sasha Pavlovic, who wasn’t ready to shoot and traveled. Thirty seconds earlier, he missed the first of two free throws. Coincidence? I think not.

Rasheed Wallace recognized and exploited his mismatch with Varejao throughout the fourth and put Detroit ahead with a clutch fallaway over James. Instead of going for a quick two and fouling to extend the game, Mike Brown, who had wasted all of his timeouts anyway, called another isolation play for his star. After pushing off of Richard Hamilton to get a step, LeBron spun directly into his outstretched arms in a weak attempt to draw a foul and was denied. As if. The Cavs scrambled for two more attempts, but the game was sealed with a technical foul on an incredulous Coach Brown as the King was left shaking his heavy head.

Cleveland loses 79-76. Again.

And Detroit hasn’t even played well yet.

*And no Cleveland, you don’t get to complain about the refs unless you’re also gonna acknowledge that Bron should’ve been suspended.


12 Responses to “Deja Vu”

  1. Maybe if LeBron changed his jersey number to ‘3’ and put the letters WADE above it, the Cavs would be up 2-0 now.

    Still, I don’t fault him for his endgame performance. Donyell missed a wide open game winner, and tongiht he got fouled and didn’t get a call. I fault them for the mid-game execution. You don’t allow a team like Detroit to come back. I was following online and I saw the 50-38 halftime score and said meh, Detroit’s coming back. Sure enough, half hour later I got back and Detroit’s up 1. Net result is that Detroit has no fear, and your team has no confidence no matter how big the lead is.

    Also, no one says it, but LeBron has regressed as a shooter. His shot is ugly, off balance, and ineffective. He might want to work on that while not playing at the Olympics. It doesn’t matter anyhow, the Cavs aren’t going anywhere until they get rid of the trash from around LeBron [larry hughes wtf?], and more importantly, find a coach who has more presence than him. An old school, big name coach who is not afraid to bench and discipline him if he fails to play hard. Right now he’s immature and I can’t blame him, he’s young, but Mike Brown is not the man to take him to that next level.

  2. That fingernail chewing is absolutely amazing. To see inner turmoil come out so clearly in his body language…

  3. […] at the Starting Five, a deconstruction of LeBron’s failure to play like a franchise […]

  4. padraig Says:

    Is anyone else at the point where they can’t distinguish the point where quality defense gives way to awful offense in this series? I’m inclined to credit the latter more than often than not. I mean, Chauncey Billups with 12 TOs in 2 games? It’s not as if the Cavs have great perimeter defenders either. This series was supposed to be fairly ugly but I’m still overwhelmed by how much horrible basketball we’ve seen from both teams in the first 2 games. Can someone tell what Mike Brown does besides look astounded as his “let the players sink or swim on their own initiatives” game plan crashes and burns?

    LeBron’s mental makeup and tenacity are frequently questioned but I think the lack of versatility in his game is far more dire. If a solid defensive team can more or less control his drives and funnel him into their shot blockers he really has nothing else as a scorer. His jump shot is suspect, he can’t pull up off the dribble and he has no post game to speak of. His fabulous court vision and passing ability are going to waste too often as well b/c the Cavs don’t have a single other reliable scorer.

    I think the Cavs and LeBron need to make a decision. Either 1) he’s a PG and they get rid of Larry Hughes in favor a pure 2/wing scorer to complement LBJ or 2) he’s their primary scorer and they get rid of Larry Hughes and try to accquire at least a reliable PG. Note that both options involve the necessary step of jettisoning Hughes ASAP (as someone remarked in another thread, is there a shot Larry can’t miss?). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a testament to his amazing talent/attributes that LeBron is able to put up MVP-candidate numbers without a refined game, offensive scheme or a clear role. Right now they’re asking him to be, so to speak, their Magic and MJ at the same time and it’s an impossible feat. Plus, of course, he desperately needs to develop more offensive options going forward so he doesn’t spend every possession endlessly dribbling around/holding the ball while everyone stands around watching decide between driving or shooting a contested fadeaway 3.

    maxairington: I just got the chance the other day to read your “Podoloff’s Box? Part I” piece the other day and I wanted to offer a belated kudos. Fantastic, engaging and well researched.

  5. CJ Scudworth Says:

    Regardless of how clutch he is, or may or may not ever be, it’s pretty obvious the Cavs have nothing around LeBron. Is Cleveland’s second-best player really Varejao, the big flopper with the floppy hair?

    That play at the end reminded me of Lakers/Kings, when the loose ball magically winds up with Horry, and he calmly drains the winning three. Only last night, the loose ball wound up with Larry Hughes, who pathetically clanked what would have been the winning seven-foot jumper.

    Odd playoffs. The intrigue dwindles the longer they go. San Antonio will beat Detroit in five…

  6. maxairington Says:

    Padraig, thanks. I was hoping that piece, along with HNIC’s followup, would’ve generated more discussion about the award but apparently not. Just know that D-Wil is going to bring the whole thing home with Part III, and we’d appreciate some insightful commentary to get the ball rolling.
    Bron really is a one dimensional offensive talent. He doesn’t have the on demand offensive game of a Kobe or Wade and it’s due to the points that Ray and yourself have already raised. His mechanics on his shot are awful and his shot selection is also suspect. How many times did he just iso at the top of the key last nite, only to turn the ball over after forcing a bad pass out of the double?
    If he had a pull up to keep the D honest maybe things would be different, but the real problem to me is his staunch opposition to shooting and his insistence on holding the ball. He just wastes the whole shot clock to pass it to an unsuspecting and overwhelemed teammate. The plays he’s trying to create for others are only going to work for him after hes established himself as a scoring threat. If he’d get some more shots up it would give him an opportunity to refine his game and through that experience he’d have the confidence to make the right decisions in the clutch. Mike Brown should consider putting Larry Hughes at the point and taking Bron off the ball. Barkley has said it numerous times and I have to agree, LeBron has to be the one finishing the play, not trying to create it. He doesnt have the personnel.

  7. MaxA & all-
    Ball movement! Mike Brown does a great with the Cavs D. But offense??? whew, that thing stinks! I always wonder what his relationship with Brown is like. It’s reallt difficult to believe that the Cavs coaching staff derived an offense that consists of Bron Bron holding the ball looking confused until deep in the shot clock.

    With the players the Cavs have, ball movement is paramount. The King’s “James'” need layins and short shots and there are only two ways to get those shots, offensive rebounds or ball movement. The problem is, it looks like the King has chosen offensive rebounds for his teammates instead of ball movement.

    Larry Hughes is a perfectly capable PG, but isn’t allowed to play to his strengths which are in a more open-court game. So the Cavs are stuck with what they’re stuck with until they can get a PG who is comfortable telling the King to stop begging for the ball and go the spot he needs to be in for whatever set play is being run to work.

  8. fantasybowl Says:

    First off it’s obvious none of you know the game of basketball. Detriot hasn’t played well yet and neither have the Cavs, Detroit has been at home where they’re supposed to win, and the Cavs had a chance to ‘steal’ a game and didn’t. Is Marshall (game 1) supposed to miss a wide-open three, and is Larry Hughes supposed to fall away from the basket while shooting a 6-footer. The entire game doesn’t boil down to 2 plays, but you have to take these things into consideration. I’m sure Flip Saunders has. On top of that you blame Lebron for passing up a shot to Pavlovic when he “wasn’t ready”. Nice try! Lebron is now responsible for a grown man not being “ready”. Gimme a break!

  9. fantasybowl Says:

    Maxairington is right when he says “Lebron doesn’t have the on demand offensive game like Kobe, Wade” but not for those reasons.

    Lebron doesn’t have the “on demand” offensive game because he cannot take a person off the dribble and pull up that short 10-14 foot jumper. He will, he’ll learn it, he’s never had to do it, and when he does that’s when we can mention him in the same sentence as the NBA greats, and possibly the best ever. When you don’t have other offensive threats, you tend to get your feet crossed up a little. But not one of you can say that if Lebron had Shaq like both Wade and Kobe had, he wouldn’t have won a championship. Remember, he’s only 22 years old.

  10. fantasybowl Says:

    Wow, here’s a guy (RAY) who didn’t even watch the game and has something negative to say. There’s no question Wade is a great player, but could Wade lead this years or last years Cavs team to a championship. Hell no! Mike Brown is young and inexperienced so since everyone blames that along with Lebron’s play and bad jumpshot, who’s responsible for the Cavs getting this far. You people have no clue what you’re talking about. I could’ve written an entire post with these multiple comments. 🙂 CJ Scudworth has the only realistic and accurate thing to say. I’m from Akron, Oh and if you guys ever watched Lebron play in H.S. you’d know that his fingernail biting is something that’s been around for years. Nothing to do with inner turmoil (Dr.)Extra P.

  11. Fantasy Bowl…id love to just flat out agree with you, except that your remark about being from Akron has betrayed you as a Lebron apologist, even though he doesnt need to apologize for anything.

    Youre trying way too hard.

  12. And for the record…

    The MVP posts are so exhaustive…its almost impossible to bring much else of value to the table.

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