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Monday, March 24, 2008

New rules to keep the Cavs from sucking down the stretch

Posted By on Mon, Mar 24, 2008 at 7:30 AM

wally.jpg
Wally's Rule: No dribbling. And, dude, leave your shirt on, eh?
In his blog entry following the Cavs’ loss to Milwaukee on Saturday, Brian Windhorst mentioned that Anderson Varejao needs a rule when it comes to his role in the offense. Wrote Windy: “Before Anderson Varejao wanted to prove he was a scorer he led the team in field goal percentage. Now, he routinely misses handfuls of shots in a row. He should have a rule. Any time he dribbles, he is not permitted to shoot. Catch-and-shoots or layups only.” A great call. And it got me thinking. Wild Thing isn’t the only player who could use some rules to keep himself from doing things he has no business doing, and to encourage him in doing things he’s inherently good at. Everyone on the team is guilty of this at some point. They get wrapped up in the excitement or pace of the game, are forced to improvise with the lack of a cohesive offensive strategy, or think more highly (or, in the case of Z, lowly) of their skills than those abilities merit, and suddenly you have Anderson Varejao dribbling down the paint for a fall away jumper while I ponder throwing my Budweiser at the television. Beer’s expensive, and I can’t afford a new TV. So things need to change. Here’s my list of other rules for the Cavs: ... Delonte West: At least every other time down the floor, please don’t automatically defer to LeBron and hand off the ball to him just across half court. You’re a point guard, and pretty damn good one at that. You shine when driving to the hole, creating off the dribble, and actually getting the ball moving on the offensive end. LeBron will have plenty of touches and plenty of attempts, and he’ll have more quality attempts when he’s not standing at the top of the key and trying to create against three defenders. Billy Crystal, could dribble the ball across half court and immediately give it to LeBron. That accomplishes nothing. Wally’s World: Our friends in Seattle warned us, but we didn’t believe them until now: You are quite terrible on defense. And it seems you have completely lost your shot. Tallying a respectable 46 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc before arriving in Cleveland, you have insisted on doing your best Larry Hughes impression while wearing the wine and gold, going a putrid 35 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point land. And you dribble like the ball is going to mess up your hair. New rule: You’re not allowed to shoot unless you have enough time to say a complete Hail Mary before a defender arrives. And no dribbling. Ever. Ben Wallace: In general, I have no problem with what you do on a game-to-game basis. You rebound, look gnarly, make two layups or dunks, and block a couple of shots. All you’re missing is some attitude. Once a game, at least, you have to knock the opposing team’s best player to the ground, viciously – I’m talking borderline flagrant foul territory, unless it’s a Piston, in which case I’m talking borderline assault territory. From top to bottom, the Cavs are pretty soft. Varejao pretends to be tough, but he’s too goofy to intimidate anyone, and when Z goes up to block a shot, he looks like he’s trying to deflect an egg without breaking it – sure, it works. But it looks wimpy. Just go out and put the hurt on someone, Ben. And break out the afro every once in a while. Z: Demand the ball. You have one of the best outside shots of any big man in the league, you have a soft touch around the rim, and you’re the master of the non-Nelly tip drill. Use your intimidating Lithuanian accent and giant hands to bully Mike Brown, LeBron, and Delonte West into giving you the ball early in half-court sets. You’re shooting 47.4 percent from the field, but generally get forgotten after the first quarter, even though you’re a great interior passer. Demand the ball. Mike Brown: Coach -- there’s a guy on your team named Joe Smith. No, it’s not a fake name, he’s a real guy. He’s pretty tall, improved his field goal percentage from 47 percent to 51 percent in fewer minutes after coming to the Cavs, yet only attempts an average of six shots per game. He’s also one of the few guys on your team that can hit an open jumper. I’m just saying, you should probably run a few designed plays for him instead of letting him bail out possessions with 15-footers. New rule: Joe Smith takes 8-10 shots a game. Make it happen. It’s easy: just take them away from Wally and Varejao. LeBron James: I know it’s blasphemous to say anything bad about you, seeing how you’re the Messiah and whatnot. But there’s just one thing that’s been bothering me. Don’t stand there and dribble at the top of the key for an entire possession and then hoist a jumper. The fact that you sometimes make these acrobatic shots does not make it alright to take them. I understand you can do almost anything you want, but I also understand that when you want to take the ball to the hole, there’s nobody in the league who can stop you, and your teammates are a lot better at hitting open shots when you draw all five defenders on the other team. New rule: Unless you’re going to drive the hole, after dribbling for five seconds, pass it. Not sure who to pass it to? You can start with that giant Lithuanian waving his hands and calling for the ball. – Vince Grzegorek
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