Post-game Reactions

Chris Ballard has very nice profile of Shaq in this week’s Sports Illustrated.

At one point Ballard points out that Cleveland’s offensive and defensive numbers were worse this season with Shaq on the floor, and he asks Cavs assistant Michael Malone if it might be better to bench Shaq “until—or if—[the Cavs] face Howard.”

Malone’s response: “Then he’d be coming into a potential Orlando series, and he’d still be trying to find his rhythm.”

Yeah, so, they’re not going to have to worry about that. I’m not picking on Malone; Ballard asked him a question, and he answered it, and his answer contains no presumption that Cleveland would beat Boston; he’s careful to say “potential” Orlando series.

But the notion of Shaq as Howard stopper highlights the fact that Mike Brown just could not figure out his big man rotation in a way that would slow down Boston—and, specifically, Kevin Garnett. Brown’s “adjustment” of putting Shaq on Kevin Garnett in the 1st quarter was one of the ultimate elimination game panic moves I’ve seen in recent NBA history. Poor Shaq. The dude is 38, and he’s being asked to guard KG 20 feet from the hoop and on screen/rolls.

In Brown’s defense, my hunch is that we’ll learn Anderson Varejao’s back problems were limiting him more than we knew during the series. There is really no other explanation for why Brown would spend the bulk of the series assigning everyone but Varejao the task of defending Garnett in the post when it was obvious to everyone that Varejao is easily Cleveland’s best match-up for Garnett .

Make no mistake: The Celtics won this series in the Garnett-Jamison match-up. KG averaged 19 points per game on 52 percent shooting and turned the ball over just 8 times in 6 games.

And Jamison? The vaunted stretch four who will earn nearly $29 million over the next two seasons? The guy whom the Cavs acquired when they might have been able to make an honest run at Amare Freaking Stoudemire had they been willing to part with J.J. Hickson? He averaged about 12 points per game on 42 percent shooting, and he made a whopping 3 three-pointers in six games. He was a disaster on defense, and it was a disaster the Cavs should have anticipated. Jamison, at a short 6’9”, had no chance against Garnett in the post. It’s not his fault; he’s just not equipped to guard a seven-footer with touch in the low post.

And yet he was asked to do it for the bulk of six straight games, and when the Cavs finally conceded that he could not do it, the answer was not to double-team KG or to play Varejao extended minutes. It was to assign the job to a plodding 38-year-old who hasn’t defended a screen/roll well in 10 years.

And so the Cavs are out.

Onto Orlando, with a ton of analysis to come later today.

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Zach Lowe

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  • Ian

    This series would have been a LOT different with Amar’e on KG

  • Sweeney

    Glad that Ainge is our GM. How could you not make that trade for Amare? Potential never won a championship…

  • Jay P

    Yes, Amare would have made that entire series different.

    However, I can understand their trepidation in giving up Hickson. And anyone here who can sit here and “Well I knew Jamison wouldn’t be that good.” Is a boldfaced liar. Jamison is a talented player, and defensive match ups aside he can be a great scorer.

    The trade made sense for Cleveland, and no one could have foresaw Jamison’s just absolutely complete disappearance in this series. They gave up basically nothing to get him, so how can you go back and say it was a bad move?

    It didn’t work out, but hind sights 20/20, you can’t fault them for it.

  • @JayP: Plenty of people at the time questioned the decision.

  • joe

    all they had to was give up little used (in the playoffs) jj hickson to get amare. but ferry was hell bent on a stretch 4 lol. foolish. amare is a #2 guy. jamison & mo are #3 guys.

  • john

    @jayp I agree with zach when they made that move I definitely questioned it yea he was 20-10 with washington but they were washington

  • joe

    i kept telling people jamison was gawd awful on D, people thought he was solid cause WAS was never on espn or tnt. well the cat’s out of the bag now

  • I wouldn’t say he’s universally awful on D, though he’s not good. He’s just a terrible match-up against Boston. That’s all I meant–John Crolik makes the same point in his recap on Cavs The Blog, which is incredibly depressing to read, by the way.

    He says the team was built for Orlando, not Boston, and that the Cavs paid the price.

  • Jay P

    Agree to disagree, I thought a lot of people really supported the trade, given the fact that the Cavs had to give up nothing to get him.

    I’m not saying I don’t agree that they should have went for Amare, just that I don’t think people expected Jamison to be this bad, and the potential at least was there for him to have been equally as good.

    It didn’t work, but that happens.

  • Jay P

    Can we please start talking about Orlando now? Zach, we need a thread to start talking about Sunday. Enough about the Cavs.

  • DRJ1

    “In Brown’s defense” — While small individual issues can be defended, all in all there is no defense for Mike Brown. The man is a coaching fool.

  • joe

    @Zach, you’re right i exaggerated but amare would’ve had a much better chance against the KG’s and pau gasol’s of the world.

  • joe

    at this point in his career, jamison is a glorified spot up shooter

  • Ricky

    I don’t understand this revisionist history…the Cavs wanted Amare. More than Jamison. But Phoenix wanted more than just Hickson, Danny Green, two first round picks, and expiring contracts. Phoenix balked, not Cleveland

  • Perry


    As long as we’re this subject, which is nothing more than a sidebar in this emerging plot line, I have to agree to with Zach. Jameison was Ferry’s second option, but don’t ever think Lebron wasn’t consulted.

    In fact, to my knowledge, Amare didn’t want to come to Cleveland or anywhere else for that matter. There was even a rumor of Danny reaching out for Amare. I guess anything is plausible if you’re dealing with Kerr.

    I have a cause and effect theory, which doesn’t support the fact Lebron didn’t have the horses. What has everyone been saying about the Cavs this year? They finally acquired all the moving parts. They got Shaq for 20 million. They got Jameison for 29 million. They got Parker and Moon in the off season. Hickson was a keeper. They won 60+ games two years in a row. They have the best player on earth. Their destiny was a fait accompli. Not a question of talent. Cleveland’s house of cards fell apart due to a lack of heart, and heaping slice of humble pie.

    Forget basketball for a moment and let’s talk entitlement. Collectively this group believed the trophy was already their’s. That is the cause.

    Here is the effect. The Celts out worked them while Doc out coached Mike Brown to the point of embarrassment. In 2008 when they were on the brink Doc told them ‘you gotta go get it’. By the time Detroit rolled around they got the message Mike Brown never gave to his Cavs.

    I doubt if Amare or anyone else in a Cavalier uniform would have made a difference because the grit and championship pedigree of this team made the Cavs quit. Cleveland was never mentally sharp enough to be a champion. Pure and simple.

  • John V

    Danny Ferry gave up Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, and one month of Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s services for Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison. He got two very good players for nothing. It’s up to Mike Brown to put them into situations where they can succeed, or put them on the bench. The trades were not the problem; in fact, they were great trades. The coach was the problem.

  • Jay P

    Agree with John V. That team never bought into the system, whether that’s Brown’s fault, a lack of killer instinct, or lack of leadership from James. Who knows, but we all saw the end result.

    GM’s job is to bring in the talent, get the best value he can for every trade. Ferry did that, the rest was up to James and Brown.

  • What More Can I Say?

    I can’t see Cleveland passing up Stoudemire for Hickson. No way. Unless there is something about Stoudemire that we just do not know. I did hear dude is a serious head case, but I have no proof to back that up.

    Uhhhh…sorry to say C’s fans…but Jamison has been whack. Anyone who thinks Jamison is a bonafide good player, just watches the stats and not him. Dude is a garbage man with serious limitations. He is nowhere near Stoudemire’s league.

  • John V

    I don’t pretend to know what happened with the Stoudemire trade. I’m sure Phoenix liked Stoudemire; if they were talking about trading him, it was because they were worried about losing him for nothing. Compare that to Washington, who was simply dumping salary. The only reason they asked for Ilgauskas, obviously, was because league rules required it. If they could have just given away Jamison, they would have done it.

    But, I think it’s also possible the Cavs actually preferred Jamison. Stoudmire is a pick and roll player. The Cavs don’t do much pick and roll (relatively speaking). Their point guard barely even handles the ball. You could do a LeBron/Stoudemire pick and roll, but it would not be nearly as effective as a Nash/Stoudemire pick and roll, because (a) LeBron is not the shooter Nash is, and (b) when Nash’s defender switches onto Stoudemire, it’s much more of a mismatch than if LeBron’s defender switches onto him.

    Plus, the Cavs were planning to play Shaq big minutes. Shaq clogs the lane, making Stoudemire’s rolls to the basket more contested. Shaq and Stoudemire didn’t work out that well in Phoenix.

    The idea was that Shaq would post, LeBron would slash, and Jamison would hit wide open threes and garbage buckets. It’s a role that makes more sense for the Cavs. Just not against KG.

  • keith popsicle

    Congrats to the Cs. Unbelievable series. A team effort all the way. And yeah, I thought we covered this issue of who guards K-G last week, so it would appear that something was not right with Varejao. Oh well, its all in the past now and bring on Orlando!

  • Rich

    People are cutting Mike Brown more than to much slack here. Do not under-estimate Mike Brown’s inability to spot the obvious. We all could see Varejao should have been on Garnett, but that doesn’t mean Mike Brown saw it.

  • JP

    Jamison is also a massive front runner, and can’t score when his team is losing. He has no toughness and no defense. Not to say that Stoutamire has much defense, but his length would have been an issue.

  • Chris O

    @ all you guys….some great analysis and points…I’m on Cloud 9 still

  • rav

    well, stoudemire wouldn’t have been able to defend KG (though not doing as atrociously as Jamison), or help with Rondo.

    But he could have made KG work a bit more.

  • Kenn

    I must admit that I wanted to see Jamison in a Celtics uniform at the trade deadline. Our weakness is our rebounding and he might have been able to help us with that area. I think he is a legit player but has limitations that KG and the Celtics exposed. But just think if he had played his usual game and got 18-10. Different outcome? We could debate that all day, so I won’t. If the Celts had lost the series, we would all be talking about the failures of PP as the reason they lost this series. It was not Jamison’s fault solely. Where was their young stud forward who is so athletic, JJ Hickson. On the bench. Please tell me why. Varejo usually kills us on the boards, but did he even play this series? Not like he usually does against us. Ilgauskis, please!!!! Who is he going to defend? He needed to be wearing the same uniform Scal was. His minutes should have gone to JJ. It seems like the Cavs had a TOTALLY different gameplan from the regular season games.

    I think the blame needs to go more on the coached than the players. I have NEVER seen a team, down 9 with 90 seconds to play in the 6th game of a series, allow the opposing team to walk the ball up the court and dribble time away like that. The Celtics have some of the most memorable miracle moments EVER in sports (Havlicek stole the ball!), and so does Cleveland (The Shot, The Drive), but their moments are against them. This was the time for them to create their moment and they blew it. I’m not saying they could have, because it would have been a miracle, but you have to try. That’s why the city have not had a championship season in 50+ years of sports. NO HEART. And I put that on the coach. Goodbye coach Brown.