On Tap: The Cleveland Cavaliers

Kurt —  March 19, 2006

Record: 37-29, 4th seed in the East
Record last 10 games: 5-5
Offensive Rating: 108.8 (10th in the NBA)
Defensive Rating: 106.6 (14th in the NBA)

Laker’s playoff chase: The Lakers are up 1.5 games against fading New Orleans and 2 games on Utah. The Lakers, by the way, still play the Hornets twice, including the last game of the season. Let’s hope that it doesn‘t come to that.

How Tired is Kobe? Even Phil Jackson was commenting on Kobe’s legs looking a little tired last game, with the note he is playing more than 40 minutes every game now. How bad has he been lately? In his last 10 games he has a true shooting percentage (think points per shot attempt) of 51.5%, down from his season average of 55.4%. While he is still getting to the line (average of 8.8 free throws per game in the last 10, down from 10.3 on the season) his shooting when not at the line has dropped to 44.2% (eFG%), down from a season average of 48.4%.

The problem is, when can you rest him? This isn’t baseball, you can’t give him a day off. He has to play and has to be the focus for the Lakers to have a chance. You just hope he can fight through it and someone can relieve the burden, a little.

Hoops thought of the day: What helps your team win more, scoring 40 points or having a triple double? Well, in the last two years when a player has scored 40+, his team has won 64.2% of the time (with the Lakers, when Kobe has done it, 29 times, the Lakers win just 58.6% of the time). However, a triple double leads to a 73.2% winning percentage. Check that out and more at an interesting new piece up at 82games.com.

The Cavs: This is a team that really misses Larry Hughes, providing someone you had to respect on the perimeter besides LeBron James. While we’re talking LeBron, the franchise has been a little off his game of late, shooting 45.2% (eFG%) in the last 10 games, below his season average of 50.9%.

Last time these two played — a one-point Laker win in January — James had 28 but Zydrunas Ilgauskas was the Cav’s high scorer with 29 on 11 of 15. In that same game Drew Gooden added 15 and 11 boards, and he’s been playing better of late.

Key to a Lakers win: As always with this team, it starts with defensive effort. But there are some other things.

If you remember the end of the game the last time these two played, LeBron asked to cover Kobe in crunch time, and Kobe proceeded to hit his last three shots and secure the win. The last was a great shot over James and Ilgauskas. The Lakers need another big night from Kobe, no matter how tired he is, because the Cavs don’t have anyone who can stop him.

The Lakers also got a good offensive game but a weak defensive one from Chris Mihm last time. Kwame needs to reverse that — stop Ilgauskas and help out against a very good rebounding team. Points are just the cherry on top.

Two other Lakers who have been playing better of late also need to continue — Lamar Odom and Luke Walton. Both also played well when these two hooked up before.

to On Tap: The Cleveland Cavaliers

  1. DJ not damon jones March 19, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    one of the poorest games i’ve seen thus far. leading by 15 during the 4th and losing at the end? c’mon lakers have to keep their lead in order to make the playoffs. they need a stop. and during that last play when flip murray drove to the lane, he slipped , and was not fouled by kobe. this game i blame on the refs and the laker’s inconsistency for losing close games which they should’ve won. i don’t care what u say but if the lakers make the playoffs and lose the close games, there is no chance of advancing.


  2. chris henderson March 19, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    you know the refs had to be blowing it for Kpbe to get a “T”…he’s very aware that he’s close to drawing a 1 game suspension, (without pay) so he’s been trying to avoid getting caught up in poor ref calls, but today, there were just too many obvious bad calls going against him today. I feel bad for them, this one had to be a tough one to take. I can’t really point my finger at any one player either, Lamar played a great game, I don’t know, I can’t seem to find the cause of this one…another tough loss for our Lakes.


  3. Wait, this has been Kobe trying to avoid getting a T? He’s doing a very poor job. I bet he would just like the day off. Another 45 minutes today, another L.

    Its looks like they will make the playoffs though, even if they end up below .500. You guys don’t really think the Lakers have a look at it though this year do you? I mean, Jerry Buss thinks so http://endofthebench.mostvaluablenetwork.com/general/lakers-owner-jerry-buss-is-crazy/ but that doesn’t make it true.

    The cause, simply put, is the Lakers have an inferior roster. Once you can accept that, its easier to understand these things. In fact, if the Lakers make a playoff run this year, I think its bad for the NBA. It would TOTALLY dismantle the notion that good team basketball is important.


  4. ouch, this season is really giving me indigestion and ulcers!


  5. notreallyimportant March 19, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    Some times I think the lakers hate their fans. Why else do they keep showing incredible flashes of offense and team defense, only to spend the next few games wollowing in mediocrity?


  6. chris henderson March 19, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    you know, one more thing I want to add, in both of these last second loss’s, with Kobe trying to jack up a miracle shot with 3 guys hangin on him, I noticed in the replay of today’s last shot that Smush was standing there wide open, 10 ft away! and it seems to me we should be looking, (PJ) to exploit this overcommittment to STOP KOBE and look for the (what has to be mathmattically) open man. I look to the coaching staff to help figure out what is going on at the end of close games, and that we are so predictable!


  7. Chris- Most of the time I would agree with you but I don’t really think that Smush would have been able to get a quality shot up with 1 second left.. Kobe got the inbounds pass with something like 3.7 seconds. It took him almost 2 seconds to shake the on defender that was all over him by that time it was almost too late.. I don’t think that kobe not passing the ball is the problem.. I think that kobe getting the last shot of EVERY GAME is the problem.. Teams key off on that because they know what is going to happen.. (High screen that kobe comes off to shoot the jumper.) I don’t really blame kobe as much as I blame the coaching. Why not set up a play that is designed similar to breaking a full court press.. IE.. you want to get the ball closest to the basket according to the amount of time that you have.. Kobe off the high screen works with 2 or less seconds on the clock because all he has to do is turn and shoot and most of the time he can elevate enough to get the shoot off. But when we have say 3-5 seconds left wy not inbound the ball to kobe (who is going to have at least one guy on him) then send a secondary player off a back pick or screen to get a better look. I know I am just ranting and I haven’t posted here a lot lately but its just geting frustrating seeing the same play over and over. (Oh yeah and hey Kurt how have you been lately?)


  8. chris henderson March 19, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    Christian, it seems to me that we mostly do agree, especially the part about being predictable. I don’t know if Smush could’ve gotten it off in time, but at least he was standing there all by his lonesome, and Kobe had 3 guys draped all over him…now who would you rather have taking the shot?
    I also agree that the coaching staff has to come up with some plan to distribute the ball better when Kobe draws all those double and triple teams, look at how well Nash distributes when he draws the defenders in tight (dive and dish).
    One thing I did enjoy today, was the way the lakers were cutting and finding open looks under the basket, it was much less of a 3 point barrage and that’s probably why we were up most of the game.


  9. and that’s probably why we were up most of the game.

    You are exactly right.. It seems like, no you know what it doesn’t seem like at all.. it IS when kobe or whoever start setteling for 15-23 foot shots that we start to swing the momentum the other way. Most of the time its kobe that does it because when he is on he is on and when he is off he still takes those shots.. Today he was making them in the first half and missing them in the second half.. It didn’t even come down to the fourth quarter it came down to the entire 2nd half. Kobe has to understand that this “mediocore” supporting cast has actually developed a lot more then most people give credit.
    1. Smush started the year putting up stats that no one thought that he would. .. came back down to earth.. and has settled at around a 11 ppg 5 ast per game average. (I didn’t get those stats from somewhere.. I am just intelligently guessing) by no means is he a starting point guard on any other team in the league, but he has developed a lot this season in a position that I don’t even think that he is designed to play. (he should be a back up SG IMO)
    2. Mihm- who I think is the most improved player on the squad this year. He has learned how to not get into foul trouble (every single game) and his presence has been greatly missed since the seattle game.
    3.Kwame- yeah I said it kwame.. He somehow has (and only recently) learned that he doesn’t need to score in order to be a contributer on this team. It seems like since Ronny has come back on the team he has learned a lot from him. On how to play defense with his heart and grab those boards. (I almost feel sorry for Kwame because I think that his expectations were way too high in the begining of the season, and I blame that on the trade that went down. We got Kwame for Butler… you do the math)
    I could keep going on and on of my assesment of how the “mediocore” role players have begun to learn how to step it but I will save the obvious points, because I know that 99 % of people that post on this page understand the game very well.
    My whole point was that while kobe’s shot taking during the begining of the season was justifiable, now it is not. He needs to start relying on Lamar and Smush and Cook (oh yeah and come on Cookie please hit the weight room this summer, and work on some speed cause if you can keep your shot and learn how to defend (LEARN HOW TO DEFEND!!!) you would be a great player) to hit those shots or drive when defered to. If kobe can realise this then we will be great until then we will be what we are. a .500% team.

    (sorry for the longwinded post…lol)


  10. This loss wouldn’t have happened if the Lakers hadn’t been jacking up threes in the 4th like this were still the Rudy T era.

    We gave away an otherwise well played game by letting the Cavs come back from 15 down in the 4th.


  11. notreallyimportant March 20, 2006 at 2:09 am

    Smush shooting an open three would have been mush better than Kobe launshing another fadeaway over 3 people form 30ft. I mean there is no way Kobe even has a 20% chance of making that.


  12. notreallyimportant March 20, 2006 at 5:41 am

    Is it a positive that it wasn’t Bron-Bron but flip that beat us in the final quarter?


  13. 10 – The officials clearly wanted to make that nationally televised game a “game.” When you have ABC announcers dissing the refs, you’ve got bad refs.