By Jason Wojciechowski on November 6, 2009 at 5:50 PM
Carried on by waves of depression, anxiety, and frustration that are slowly turning toward anger, combined with worries that all of this nonsense is going to run my Fun Fun Fun Fest, yesterday's NBA action, which was just the two TNT games, both of which I sorta watched.
Bulls 86, Cavs 85: Cleveland has a major size advantage against almost anyone, and the mostly undersized Bulls are no exception: Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and Brad Miller can't match the height and strength of Big Z, Shaq, and Varejao, not to mention LeBron's ridiculous size and strength for his position. Of course, the score is up there in bold, so you already know that all of that didn't matter. The Bull bench outscored Cleveland's 25-12, helped along by Big Z's putrid 0-9 shooting, despite six offensive rebounds. Charles Barkley and Chris Webber said on the halftime show that playing Z and Shaq at the same time was flat-out dumb, and I have to agree. Z isn't Pau -- he can't play power forward. He has a nice outside shot for a big man, but he's much too slow to hang with power forwards defensively, and power forwards are exactly who can guard him on the outside. And if he tries to go inside, now you've got both him and Shaq down low and there's no room for LeBron to make those powerful cuts he's so good at.
Chuck wants the team to speed up, and as he acknowledged last night, he's been saying it for three years now. The problem is that the team has now been built to slow down. It would have been one thing to tell Z that he was going to play less and have Varejao running around as the center. Now you've got both Z and Shaq, not to mention Anthony Parker, who's not particularly slow, but he's not blessed with athleticism and giddyup, either. So it's time to stop asking Mike Brown to speed up, because that's just not going to happen. Brown wants to slow it down and have a stout defense, in the style of Boston. He's been given the players to do this, and we'll see how far it goes. You already know what I think is going to happen: I'm counting on a "shocking" second-round playoff exit, followed by LeBron exiting to New York. (If the Cavs somehow end up better than this and make the Finals, I think he'll stay in Cleveland. If they make the conference finals but get knocked out again? I don't know. I'd lean toward him leaving.)
Spurs 99, Jazz 113: Carlos Boozer got booed by the home fans, and they weren't saying "Booooooozer" either. He shut them up with a 27/14 effort, though. The Jazz just couldn't be stopped on offense, shooting 53% while only taking seven threes.
Mehmet Okur, by the way, has developed an up-and-under move that, until defenses figure it out and start guarding it, could be really profitable for him. He takes an advantage of the fact that defenders basically only guard his jump shot by faking a turn-around and pivoting around his man for a (relatively) easy shot moving toward the basket. It's the kind of move that Kobe added a few years ago, although Okur's size and length means he can execute it from farther away and still get a relatively close shot out of it.