Not ready for primetime just yet.
The Cavs have struggled against quality teams since making their deadline deal a few weeks back. On Monday night they went down to Orlando and faced a quality team. The result was a 104-90 loss to the Orlando Magic.
The Cavs actually had a five point lead at the half before the roof caved in late in the third quarter. That five point lead was built on the fact that the Cavs were doing a nice job against the perimeter shooting of the Magic while forcing Dwight Howard to work for his points inside. But in the second half the Cavs, coming off a game Sunday evening against Charlotte, lost a step on defense and allowed the Magic's dangerous outside shooters some open looks that they knocked down with regularity and ease.
Howard paced the Magic with 23 points and he was supported by three teammates that reached double digits in points. Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, and Maurice Evans all scored 10 or more on a night when the Magic shot up an astounding 32 three-point shots and connected on 14 of them.
The Cavs actually led by seven points with two minutes to play in the third quarter before being outscored 43-22 the rest of the way. LeBron James again paced the Cavs with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists but even the King seemed to lack that extra bounce in his step. You're not going to complain about 30, 9 and 6 on most nights but James was just ordinary on a night the Cavs needed more. Delonte West and Sasha Pavlovic added 16 points and 14 points respectively for the Cavs.
Well, there was....umm...well...actually there was nothing and no one that would warrant a paragraph on what went well. James finished with less than his average in regard to points but scored 30 on an ‘off' night. West showed some flashes of what he could ultimately become when he aggressively pushes the ball and looks for his shots.
Oh yeah, as far as we could tell no one got hurt. With that said, let's move on to ‘the suck'.
Maybe we shouldn't assume no one was hurt.
Szczerbiak played a total of 6 minutes in the ballgame and was 1-4 from the field. His shooting has been atrocious since he arrived in Cleveland but he's not going to improve that aspect of his game playing 6 minutes per game. And let's not forget this is a player who has shot 49% from the field over his career and 40% from 3-pt range.
James is going to demand his touches and he's going to take over a ballgame when he feels the need whether West is feeding him the ball or not. West needs to assert himself and penetrate to the rim while the getting is good and to open the floor for LBJ and the rest of the Cavs. Not doing so slows everything to a crawl and works against this Cavalier team.
A man can only take so much.
The Cavs are in a rugged stretch of games. Not only in quantity but also in quality of opponent. The Wine & Gold get a day off to recover Tuesday before squaring off against the Detroit Pistons Wednesday at ‘The Q'. Out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Cavaliers. The Pistons are obviously aware of what James and the Cavs can do when firing on more than cylinder. But it will be interesting nonetheless to see how the new-look Cavs fare against the Central Division leaders and the Eastern Conference's second seed.