Cavs fans, loyal Stepien Rules readers, and my immediate family. Since we last touched base, Maurice has helped the men of the Wine and Gold send the world’s most confident #8 seed off to summer vacation after only 5 games. Based on the flood of emails in the StepienRules inbox, many of you are wondering the same thing I am: can Maurice Williams get his “Mo”-jo back?
Offensively, Maurice wasn’t great, but he was good enough to help the team win. He was effective as a scorer in games 1, 3, and 4, and struggled some in games 2 and 5 when his shot wasn’t falling, but did facilitate enough to dish out 11 dimes. Dave Wooley put together his series statistics for me below:
Game 1: 39 minutes, 3-7 3FG, 19 pts, 10 ast, +14 and 0-0 FT
Game 2: 38 minutes, 0-2 3FG, 12 pts, 6 ast, +6 and 8-8 FT
Game 3: 40 minutes, 5-11 3FG, 21 pts, 3 ast, +5 and 2-5 FT
Game 4: 34 minutes, 3-6 3FG, 19 pts, 2 ast, +23 and 4-6 FT
Game 5: 36 minutes, 2-7 3FG, 7 pts, 5 ast, +1 and 1-1 FT
Overall he played 37.4 minutes per game, shot 41.0% on field goals, 39.4% from three, and 75.0% from the free throw stripe. His overall per game averages were 15.6 points, 5.2 assists, and came in with a +49 on the +/- scale. (For reference, LBJ (+60) and Jamison (+50) were the only ones better with +/-).
Offensively, I think this is what we can expect from Maurice, aside from the fact that his free throw percentage should improve. Some games he’s going to be on and really help the team, others he isn’t. When his shot isn’t falling, he will have to act as a facilitator for the offense. The nice part about this year’s playoffs is that he isn’t being counted on to pour in 20 each game. Jamison and Shaq are there to pick up the scoring slack, and Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker can provide some help shooting the 3’s. This should help take the scoring burden off #2’s back, and allow him to play free and easy within the ball movement offense.
If there is one thing that really bothers me about the Chicago series, it is the fact that in crunch time, Maurice still lacks confidence. He needs to have the confidence in himself, the swagger to put up that 3 pointer or his patented Mo-flow runner when the game is on the line. Particularly in game 5, when his shot wasn’t falling, he swung the ball like it was a hot potato instead of throwing the dagger.
Maurice, we know you can do it, your teammates know you can do it, and now it is going to be up to you to do it!
Defensively, he had his share of struggles against Derek Rose, as was expected. However, the team defense improved considerably when he was shifted to cover Kirk Heinrich. Kudos to Mike Brown for putting the longer Moon and Delonte on Rose, and allowing Mo to fight through screens and chase Heinrich around the perimeter. I expect much of the same strategy vs. Boston, with Maurice chasing red hot Ray Allen, and Parker/Delonte/Moon on Rajon Rondo. I’d love to see Maurice come out against Boston with a renewed attitude and physicality on defense. If he can stay in Jesus Shuttlesworth’s face to limit his open three point attempts, and move his feet to limit penetration, he can really help the Cavs stymie Boston’s offensive attack.
Now to what everyone’s been waiting on. I still don’t think we can shorten Maurice to Mo, but we are getting closer...
From an alphabetical standpoint, I am taking the I-C-E off of Maurice (currently Maur), and hoping he heats up in the Boston series and gets his playoff swagger. We’re going to need “Mo” in the Eastern Conference Finals!