Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Cavs are up 3-1 vs the Nets, and I am happy. Yesterday's game was the Cavs' season in a nutshell: moments of inspired play featuring dedication to the low post game and lots of movement, huge stretches of undisciplined dribbling and LeBron holding the ball stationary at the top of the key, Hughes taking outside shots instead of penetrating the defense (as Brian Windhorst says, "All roads..."), Gooden and Z doing more than their share on the offensive boards, Varejao positively impacting the total number of Cavs' possessions, LeBron missing too many free throws, LeBron making fantastic passes, Mike Brown standing with his hands in his pockets, and Damon Jones sitting on the bench. And yet they were an above average team during the season and they were above average last night on the road in New Jersey. Despite some excruciating play they controlled the game, up by around 4 points for most of the second half. NJ made some runs but were never able to get ahead by more than 3 or so. I think Mike Brown deserves some credit for his myriad substitution adjustments throughout the fourth quarter - he did an admirable job juggling Z, Varejao and Gooden while the former two were in serious foul trouble.

I'm sorry, but if you shoot only 40% for the season you have no right being the second leading scorer on your team. That only means you're taking way too many shots. Z should absolutely be scoring more points than Hughes. This has been better in the playoffs, and Hughes has played well some games, but in general this is a huge, albeit obvious, problem. Of course, you've got to give your guards shot attempts to keep opponents from packing the paint, and this is why the Cavs will not win a championship with the current team. The best guard, FG % wise, is Pavlovic, and he's only a 43% shooter. Shannon Brown could be a solid contributor in a year or two - so could Gibson - but that's it. Pavlovic will not improve much more, and Hughes is a lost cause as an offensive weapon. Despite being injury-free for much of the season he's actually playing worse than last year on all statistical levels. His only real hope is to work exclusively on the drive-and-kick in the offseason; I don't think I've ever seen him perform that most basic of point guard duties. 70% of the time he passes the ball to LeBron on the perimeter, 5% to the SG, and the other 15% he takes a (bad) shot. I'm OK with him using a screen to take an open 15-footer from the top of the key, I'm not OK with anything else.

I just checked some stats - Hughes is taking roughly twice the number of shots as Z in the Nets series. This is fundamentally unacceptable and should be the #1 offensive issue to fix. There is no downside to Z taking more shots and Hughes less. None.

I've been petitioning both Brian Windhorst (of the Akron Beakon-Journal) and Bill Simmons (of ESPN Page 2) to publicize The Wages of Wins to their readership, but neither has complied (I myself have no readership). This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.

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