Dribbles: For Cavs, softness won’t cut it vs. Celtics

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 107-94 road loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.

1. Right now, the Cavs have nothing on which to hang their hat. Honestly. Do you see anything that’s working?

2. They have gone back to being a whole lot of LeBron James, a little bit of Kevin Love and zilch from the supporting cast.

3. James was great with another remarkable triple-double stat line: 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Love was pretty good, with 22 points and 15 boards. But for about the fifth time this postseason, the rest of the Cavs looked dazed and confused.

4. Actually, Kyle Korver (11 points) was pretty good in the second quarter.

5. But that was about it. Everyone else carried over their Game 1 hangover. And man oh man, has J.R. Smith (0-of-7 shooting and a Flagrant 1 foul) suddenly gone back down the tubes.

6. Maybe the Cavs will luck out and Smith will get suspended for Game 3 after shoving Celtics center Al Horford in the back. Apparently, no matter how bad Smith is, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue will keep right on playing him.

7. And let me ask you this — who on the Cavs plays with any sort of physicality? OK, James. And OK, Tristan Thompson (eight points, seven rebounds). Other than that, well, if any Cavs player were on trial for being too nasty, they would quickly be set free.

8. And what on earth is Lue telling these guys at halftime? That third quarter was again a nightmare. Sadly, it’s been a major problem under Lue all season. It’s not about to change now.

9. I specifically wrote “under Lue” there because the Cavs were much sharper in the second half in Larry Drew’s 10 games filling in as coach. The Cavs went 9-1 in those games, by the way.

10. I hate to pick on Lue. He’s a wonderfully nice person. But he just seems so confused about so many things important to game management. Who to start. Who to put in the game. When to call a timeout. The list goes on and on. Sometimes, not even LeBron can make up for Lue’s confusion.

11. Meanwhile, the Celtics are making all the right plays and continuing to hustle and keep their heads up even when all appears lost. They move the ball, get good looks at the basket and are playing with a major pep in their step. The Cavs are just sort of dawdling along.

12. Along with all that, the Celtics are far and away the best defensive team the Cavs have faced all season. They just flat-out beat on LeBron, daring the officials to make a call. That’s not dirty. That’s playoff basketball. And in the Eastern Conference Finals, only one team is playing it.

13. Three Cavs scored in double figures. That lack of balance almost never works. On the other hand, all five Celtics starters scored in double figures, led by Jaylen Brown’s 23. Marcus Smart added 11 points and unlimited feistiness in reserve.

14. The Cavs’ bench has completely fallen apart. That’s not intended to praise the starters, either. Lue finally dusted off Larry Nance Jr. But Jordan Clarkson never got in the game. I don’t understand.

15. Nothing wrong with Nance Jr. getting in the game — far from it. But why did it take this long? He has progressively gotten worse since the February trade that delivered him to Cleveland. That’s on Lue.

16. Then again, every time I think Lue needs to sit someone such as Smith, I look down the bench and see Rodney Hood. He too has been a disaster for most of the playoffs. Like Nance and Clarkson, Hood has slowly become less effective as the season has gone on. Why, why, why??

17. Lue on the Celtics winning the battle of the brawn: “We’ve got to be tougher. I think they’re playing tougher than we are. We see that. They’re being physical. They’re gooning the game up and we’ve got to do the same thing.”

18. This thing isn’t over. I’ve written it a hundred times and I’ll say it again — a series doesn’t start until both teams play a home game. The Cavs now get two at home, starting Saturday night. They darn well had better win both. As James said, the Cavs are about to “find out what we’re made of.”

19. If the Cavs can take care of business at The Q, the series is suddenly tied at 2-2. They’ll have momentum and LeBron. That’s a lot working in your favor. But that’s a hypothetical. Right now, the truth of the matter is the Cavs are in a hole and not showing any signs that they understand how to dig out of it.

20. So what now? The Cavs should start by running an actual offense with some real ball movement. They have to stop being so doggone soft. They have to stop chucking up 3-pointers — especially when it’s not working. They have to take the ball to the basket, and at the very least, drive to the hoop and kick it out to the shooters.

21. Defensively, the Cavs could use yet another lesson in energy. There were a few plays where James failed to rotate. He’s clearly tired after carrying so much of the offensive load. Someone else had better really step up, and fast. Otherwise, we can go ahead and start revving up those LeBron-is-leaving rumors. And it’s much too soon for that.

8 Comments on "Dribbles: For Cavs, softness won’t cut it vs. Celtics"

  1. Aurora Dizon | May 16, 2018 at 4:16 am |

    Poor team. Trash. Lebron saying shooting is in their DNA. Is he crazy? Even he is not a shooter. They are all lousy shooters. Imagine Korver “shooter of all time” only score 11. Tatum and the rest were better than him. Stop getting old people. This age is for the young. You cannot intimidate them. Even in managerial position, they get young ones. Why do you insist on Cavs coaching staff. They are old, passive and does not know anything. Maybe get young coaches from NCAA. They may have new, creative ideas. Unless they do not want to go to Cleveland.

  2. Everytime I watch a game and see a close up of Ty Lue’s befuddled facial expression I wonder to myself “Who put this man in charge of a basketball team?” I’ve never seen a coach in a professional sport look so consistently helpless.

  3. When hill,hood,clarkson, and nance were traded to the cavaliers february 8 they seemed to put life back in to the cavaliers chances of adding players with energy,vitality, and effectiveness. All of these important players have deteriorated, although their performances or resumes from previous teams makes it seem unlkely to happen. Has the coaching assembled the wrong environment for the four new commers to succeed, or is it strictly their fault? Hill,the starting point guard, 1 assist in two games. Nance, hood,clarkson combine for ) points in game 2. There is not enough over all balance to win against the versatile celtics unless there is a quick and dynamic shift in performance. The guard play is so poor,as in game 7 of the pacers series, start james at the point along with love, thompson, smith/green, korver to get better ball distribution and get more players involved. By all means start playing agressively by not hoisting up outside shots that have been errant. Drive too the basket, draw fouls and get some higher percentage shots. Use green, hood, nance in combinations of taller athletic lineups with the purpose of restruccturing the offense closer to the basket than the perimeter. Some low post plays with james facilitating to green, nance, hood thompson,love, creates greater versatility and higher percentage chances of scoring. The cavaliers must win games 3 and 4 and start wearing down a celtics team that has two reliable players in reserves by creating situations where horford, tatum, morris and others start fouling to stop the penetration into the lane. This agressive play must happen or a fleedgling team with a 20 year old and 21 year old will get more confidence and make matters harder for the cavaliers to win the series.

  4. Bi-polar basketball at it’s best. Once again we’ve resorted back to mid-season bad habits and Lue (much of it his own fault) is experimenting with the playoff rotation in the conference championship. That spells disaster for sure. As Sam said, it’s not over yet but it does not look real good right now. How is it that we acquired two double digit scorers (Clarkson & Hood) and they have looked lost and clueless in the playoffs??
    We heard rumblings from Kyrie and others on Lue and STAFF’s inability to put players in a system that maximizes their talents unless you are a superstar caliber player. Love has grumbled on how he was used and how the ball sticks to one side of the court too much. Our defensive rotations are offensive. LBJ was HORRIBLE in the second half rotating. Many times he was standing in the lane while Celtics got clear looks and knocked down shots.
    Two wins at home will cure a lot but maybe we better be careful what we wish for. Advancing to the finals with this team can end-up being a disaster of NBA record proportions if something does not change OVERNIGHT!!

  5. Kevin Love is softer than feathers. Trade him and the 8th pick for Kawhi Leonard

  6. Only on the Cavs could the 4 new guys become failures. Fire Lue!

    • IT IS ALMOST TOOOOO LATE TO FIRE LUE-SER !
      WE HAVE UNTIL SATURDAY ! THE 4 WE TRADED FOR ARE NOW SO DOWN MENTALLY, THEY CAN’T MAKE SHOTS !
      YES-LUE’S FAULT. NO COACHING ! ZERO ! HAS BEEN SINCE THE TRADE EXCEPT FOR WHEN LUE-SER TOOK HIMSELF OUT ! SHOULD’VE BEEN FOR THE REMAINDER OF SEASON ! CHUCKING UP BRICK 3’S ARE NOT A WINNING PLAN, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE A “PRAYER SHOT”. EVEN NOW, PLAYING CEDI FOR A MERE LAST TWO MINUTES AT GARBAGE TIME, HE HAS NO CHANCE TO HELP AT ALL ! HIS MID SEASON ENERGY REMINDED OF DELLY ! NO MORE. WITH THE LACK OF PLANNING LUE-SER HAS DONE HAS DESTROYED ALL THE WHOLE TEAM CONCEPT ! A WIN OR TWO AT HOME MIGHT SEEM TO TAKE LUE OFF THE HOT SEAT, BUT IT’S ALL MIRAGE, SMOKE & MIRRORS OF EXTENDING LUE-SER’S PIPE-DREAM ! IF THEY WIN, IT IS LEBRON’S SHOULDERS, NOT LUE’S. FIRE LUE NOW OR IT’S OVER. WHEN EVEN THE TV ANNOUNCER RECOGNIZES LUE IS PUTTING IN “JR-MISS” IN THE LAST 2 MINUTES AFTER ZERO HELP AND SAYS IT ON THE AIR—DUH ! TO JR’S ‘MIS-CREDIT”, HE W A S FOULED REALLY GOOD JUST BEFORE HIS SHOT AND THE HORFORD PUSH ! HORRIBLE OFFICIATING TOO ! Knock Lebron’s Jaw loose, & NO FOUL CALLED? Not necessarily Flagrant, but at least a FOUL !?
      They MIGHT get SOME calls at home, but Lue’s “solutions” are killing the already stagnant CAVS.
      GET DREW BACK IN CHARGE !

Comments are closed.