It was close folks. Somewhere in the late 2nd quarter I started fiddling around with my Korean cook books with the full intention of having to pull out yet another recipe for yet another blow-out game wrap. While the game really wasn't as close as the final score indicated (LeBron only played 30 minutes while Shaq played less than 20, effectively turning the Cleveland LeBrons into the Cleveland Boobies with 38 minutes from Mr. Gibson), it was close enough to write about a few key points.
Let's start with a very interesting Four Factors:
The Wolves ended the game with 8 turnovers. Where they were done in was at the line and from inside the paint. The Cavs went 24-28 from the line. They took 22 fewer shots from the floor as the Wolves yet they made 3 more shots. That's pretty damn impressive. They did this on a night where LeBron went 3-8 from the floor. How did they score so many points? They did it with a massive positive point differential in the paint. 69 of the Cavs' 109 points came from their front court rotation. Their entire roster was able to get into the lane and score at will. LeBron was able to set up his teammates at amazingly close ranges to the rim. According to HoopData's box score, the Cavs shot a mind-bending 30-41 from inside of 10 feet. The Wolves ended up with a 16-34 mark. 20 of the Cavs' 30 makes within 10 feet of the bucket came off of assists compared to only 4 of the Wolves' interior shots. Ish, ish, ish, and more ish.
We're holding off on an in-depth look at Kurt Rambis' rotations until we have a few more games worth of data, but last night's tilt featured some doozies. Kevin Love and Ramon Sessions ended the game with a positive +/- (3, 1) in 32:54 and 26:24. At several times during the game Kevin Love and Al Jefferson substituted in for one another. At several times during the game, effective pairings were swapped with ineffective ones. I think we all know that Rambis is dealing with one of the most talent-deprived rosters in the league but at some point the question has to be asked if whether or not he is putting the rotations with the best chance to win on the court. Maybe that's an unfair question. Maybe it's an untenable situation. It's clear at this point in the season that Big Al and the Big Piranha are the best players on the team followed by Ryan Gomes and Ramon Sessions. Does Rambis overload the starting unit with all 4 of these players and hope that his massively over matched and D-Leagueish bench can fill in the cracks or does he split them up 2/2 or 3/1 and hope that a mutually depleted set of rotations can provide a more balanced approach to the game? Maybe Rambis has decided to roll with the later approach and he really can't be faulted for trying to give the team its most balanced set of rotations throughout the game. The flip side to that take is that by splitting up his 4 best players for long, long, long stretches of time he is clearly not giving his team the best chance of winning for roughly 20-25 mpg, or whatever time these guys would be on the court together. As a fan I'm kind of torn on this dilemma. I'd like to see what all of you have to say about it.
- How fun must it be to watch LeBron on a night-in/night-out basis? I'm really hoping that the Wolves get their mitts on John Wall or that Ricky Rubio turns out to match the hype. I have a feeling that there would be no Korean Cuisine Game Wraps with a player like LeBron on the roster. Of course, there's also the fact that writing about LeBron would include writing about a dancing idiot who cuts his nails on the bench and throws a hissy fit by hitting a bunch of Gatorade into the 1st row after he doesn't get a call to go his way. Last night, LeBron exhibited more d#%k moves than a Greg Oden sext and I hope the Wolves remember how badly he clowned them when they (hopefully) get the personnel to match the
- The Wolves took an interesting approach to guarding LeBron: they fouled him the second it looked like he was gaining a head of steam towards the basket. This turned LeBron into a facilitator and he torched the Wolves for 11 assists, but I'm pretty sure that this is the correct approach to take against the Cavs in the playoffs. Make LeBron be a point guard and don't let him get a bunch of and-1 chances. Foul him early and away from the bucket. This was a good strategy and it's too bad the Wolves didn't have the personnel to pull it off.
- I'll say it again: Jonny Flynn really needs to learn how to do something else besides score.
- Kevin Love had a very interesting offensive game. He was 2-5 at the rim, 1-2 inside of 10 feet, 2-2 from 10-15 feet, and 3-7 from 16-23 feet. He is quite simply a threat from everywhere and it will be nice to see him get back into the starting lineup and with some regular minutes. He seems to be getting jerked around here of late and I don't really know why. He's the team's best player.
Well folks, that about does it for this game wrap. It's time to give the baby a bath and my honey-do list has exploded since the little critter came home. I'd appreciate any thoughts on the game from y'all in the comments.