The Spurs, playing their first game without the injured Tony Parker, lost tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers despite LeBron James and Shaq not playing and Antawn Jamison getting hurt during the game. Final score 97-95. Spurs record drops to 36-25 and remain in seventh place in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Spurs were basically a two-man team with Manu Ginobili and George Hill leading the way with 38 and 23 points respectively. Aside from no one else contributing on the offensive end, defensively costly turnovers in the crucial moments of the fourth quarter doomed the Spurs. Not to mention poor execution on the offensive end and failing to hit the shots when it counted added to this Spurs loss.
Despite the poor fourth quarter, the Spurs had a shot to tie the game and send it into OT but Roger Mason missed a three that would have tied the game.
To go over other aspects of the game, I asked fellow Bloguin NBA blogger, Brendan Bowers of Stepien Rules, a few questions about tonight’s game. Please check out Stepien Rules for the best Cavs coverage.
1. Cavs got the win tonight against the Spurs. Early in the game it was a fast tempo game. Were the Spurs playing right into the Cavs hands?
I don’t think the Spurs were playing into the Cavs hands as much as I think the Cavs were just good enough offensively to keep pace with them despite a poor effort defensively in the early going. With Shaq out, and no real inside presence to be had, its certainly true that the Cavs would like to then get out and run a bit more than they typically would, but I don’t think that was necessarily the game plan. I’d imagine Mike Brown was disappointed with their defensive effort to start the game, and just felt lucky to keep pace by coming out and shooting the lights out the way they did…and by lights out, I mean they shot 71% from the field with about two minutes to go in the first quarter, which is going to keep you at least close every time, defense of otherwise.
2. The Cavs had no answer for Manu Ginobili tonight as he dropped 38 points. Moon, Parker couldn’t slow him down. Is this lack of defense from the perimeter a concern?
Yes. Yes it most certainly is. While the Cavs did manage to win this one, if you look at their losses you’ll find that the opposing backcourt went off. Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson come to mind specifically going for about 50 in their last loss to the Bobcats. The fact that Manu exploded is absolutely a concern, and the fact that an opposing perimeter player had a night like he had is more of a trend than it is an anomaly. Like other times that’s happened this year, the Cavaliers were good enough to win anyways, but that’s something that needs to be addressed. If I could put down my blogger hat, and pick up my dry erase board with a magic marker, the move I’d make to curtail that some is to start Delonte West. Previously, I wrote on Stepien Rules that he should replace Anthony Parker at the starting two-guard spot, but lately, I also wouldn’t be opposed come playoff time to seeing a backcourt of LBJ and Delonte with Jamison, Shaq, and Hickson (or Varejao) rounding out the starting five. Mo and Parker have a tough time guarding their own shadows, let alone a guy like Manu, as evidenced tonight.
3. The Cavs shot 63% from the field in the first quarter yet were losing by two after one. Explain.
Gets back to what I said in response to your first question, they weren’t guarding anybody. Luckily the Spurs weren’t either – as evidenced by that shooting percentage from a team that’s trailing. And the idea that you can shoot over 60% for a quarter and be trailing is certainly a concern for any team. On one hand, you can argue that after Manu got going you could have put LeBron on him in an attempt to slow him down some if he played, but on the other hand, you shouldn’t have to think that LeBron would be needed to affect the defense to that degree. I guess he is though, and that’s a concern to be sure, but I’m just glad Tony Parker was out too, because if he played tonight…well he didn’t.
4. What was the key for the Cavs in the fourth which allowed them to come back from a deficit to win the game? Was it what the Cavs did or was it what the Spurs didn’t do?
I thought that Delonte West was huge down the stretch, as evidence by the pass in the direction of Manu that he intercepted on the sidelines followed by the free throws he hit late in the fourth. And as much as he was ineffective on defense, Mo Williams hit some shots too, and made some plays late that were critical. The Spurs definitely had there chances though. And all they didn’t really do was keep Manu’s toe off the line and miss that open look for three on the last possession. Had they done that, the outcome’s probably different.
5. No LeBron James, no Shaq, and Jamison left the game due to injury. Yet the Cavs had six players in double digit scoring. How did the Cavs do it?
The Cavaliers are deep, and if anything, they have a number of guys more than capable of hitting shots offensively. Daniel Gibson is a guy that can hit big shots as well as anybody in the NBA and he hit one tonight, while if the team’s at full strength, he probably doesn’t play. Other guys stepped up and did the same, and I thought JJ Hickson was particularly aggressive as well offensively in a needed capacity. As a team too, I think there’s something to be said about wanting to show people that you are capable of winning a game against a good team without LeBron, and after losing to Milwaukee last time out, I think they made it a point to do so tonight…and they did.
Thanks to Brendan for participating in this Q&A. To read my Q&A on the Spurs loss with Brendan click HERE to visit Stepien Rules.
Spurs shot 41.7% from the field, 34.5 % from the three-point line, and 68.2% from the free-throw line.
Spurs committed 14 turnovers and grabbed 44 rebounds.
Spurs bench scored 17 points.
The Cavs had six players scoring in double digits.
Richard Jefferson, Roger Mason, and Antonio McDyess had a bad game. RJ went 1-3 from the field and 0-2 from the three-point line finishing with three points in 28:26. Mason went 0-8 from the three-point line and 1-10 from the field scoring two points in 25:23. McDyess went 2-8 from the field and scored four points in 14:59.
The Spurs will next play the New York Knicks in San Antonio this Wednesday.