I’ve been a little harsh lately. But, in my defense, I feel like I have been completely on point with my assessment of how this team has been playing. I am an athlete, myself, and hate losing as much as any other athlete. But I can handle losing as long as I know that I’ve left everything out on the field/court each and every time I play. That is what it’s about.
And that is why I’ve been so frustrated with the Cavaliers as of late. They just haven’t taken the floor ready to compete each and every night. As a fan, I won’t accept that. And I know Byron Scott won’t accept that either.
But Wednesday night’s game against the Miami Heat was certainly a step in the right direction. Cleveland came out poised and ready to attack right from the start. The combination of Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao was absolutely lethal. Not because they were scoring in bunches – though Gibson did that, too – but because they were coming up with every single loose ball. Every rebound. And every close play. In fact, when I talked to my parents (and then my brother) at halftime and they asked how the game was going, all I could say was “Daniel Gibson is a freakin’ monster.” Because he is.
After eight straight losses, it would have been easy for the Cavaliers to hang their heads and concede the game to a more talented Miami Heat team before the game even began. But they fought. And they fought hard the entire 48 minutes.
Gibson went wild, going 10-of-16 from the floor with four assists added to his 26 point effort. He was just incredible. The guy was coming up with every loose ball in the first half. And, in the second half, he went toe to toe with LeBron James on a fast break attempt, fouling his former friend pretty hard while grabbing hold of the ball to assure James couldn’t finish the play. And, most impressively, he didn’t let go of the basketball and never even blinked as he look James right in the eye. Not as a friend or former teammate of LeBron. But as a competitor and as a (excuse my language) pissed off enemy of James. To me, that is all I can ask for. And that is all I wanted to see.
Mo Williams played a pretty solid game, as well. He was 6-of-20 from the floor in a 13 point, nine assist effort. My only complaint is that I’d like to see him be a little more efficient with his shot selection. He was just 1-of-10 from downtown in what was a less than stellar shooting performance. The Cavaliers had a real shot to win that basketball game if they could have gotten a little more efficiency from Mo Williams. But it happens. I can’t fault the guy because he played his butt off for the Wine & Gold tonight.
The other three starters (Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker and Anderson Varejao) combined for 44 points and 26 rebounds on the evening. Varejao held true to his typical Wild Thing persona and snagged a game-high 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Like Gibson, he was getting to just about every loose ball, especially in the first half. Jamison canned 15 points and snagged eight boards for the Cavs but, like I keep saying, he is settling for way too many three pointers. He is not a three point shooter and, in my mind, needs to find a way to get his mid-range game on par. Parker was the Anthony Parker that we have all come to love – or hate, whichever you prefer. I, myself, am a big fan of Parker because of the leadership and intangibles he brings to the basketball game. I mean, the guy covered LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the same night. And he did so rather effectively. Props to him for being a professional and going about his business tonight.
However, remember when I said I am an athlete and that I will never be able to accept losing? Well, with that comes the fact that I cannot be completely positive after a losing performance. The starting five were spectacular. There is no doubt about that. But two of the three guys that came off the bench for the Cavaliers tonight were miserable. Ramon Sessions was OK. Not great. But he was OK. Joey Graham picked up four times as many fouls & turnovers (4) as he did field goals (1).
And JJ Hickson just stinks. His efficiency rating (-12) was the worst on the team. He was a liability on the defensive end. And he was virtually useless on the offensive end. He got upset the other day when Byron Scott called out his bench for being a major reason for why the Cavaliers cannot win a basketball game. But he hasn’t responded to the challenge and, instead, has been quite content to come off the bench and play like absolute crap. I’m sick of watching him play. And, quite frankly, am looking forward to the day that he gets dealt elsewhere. I can’t support a guy who doesn’t work hard and doesn’t come to play every night. Get him out of here.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I am actually very pleased with what I saw out of the Cavaliers tonight. As a whole, they played great team basketball and had themselves in great position to beat a team that is much more talented than they are. That is the kind of competitiveness I like to see from a Cleveland sports franchise. We don’t roll over for anybody.
Come Friday night in Indiana, I expect our Cavaliers to be standing victorious screaming Hoosier daddy, Indiana?!