This has been a very painful month for the Cavaliers. In the month of December they are 1-11. There has not been very many things to get us fans excited to watch the games. In fact the lack of effort displayed by many of the players, especially earlier in the month, has left a very bad taste in our mouths. While I am not here to say that our current starting line-up (Mo Williams, Boobie Gibson, Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker, and Antawn Jamison) is going to bring a championship here, at least we have five men on the floor who are hustling, caring and showing the effort it takes to get a win in the NBA.
We still have no small forward who can do anything, our starting shooting guard is 6’2”, our power forward is like 50 years old, and our starting center is a great back-up power forward. Despite all of that, we are seeing some production from these players, especially in the last five games. The first seven games of December were a complete disaster. After losing games by 28, 34, 10 and 20 points, Byron Scott changed the line-up, moving Boobie Gibson and Antawn Jamison into the line-up, moving Joey Graham and JJ Hickson out of the line-up and moving Anthony Parker from SG to SF. The Cavaliers responded by losing the next three games by 5, 15 and 29 points. That means the Cavaliers lost the first seven games of the month by an average margin of 20.1 points per game.
The Cavaliers then traveled to Miami for a rematch with the Heat, and responded with a 6 point loss to the streaking Heat. This started a five game stretch where the Cavaliers lost by 6 and 9, won by 7, then lost by 11 and 14. More importantly, the five starters have settled in nicely into their new roles. Lets look at each of these guys more in depth:
PF – Antawn Jamison:
Last 5 games: 89 points (17.8 ppg) and 37 rebounds (7.4 rpg)
Jamison has played over 38 minutes the last five games. He had previously only had three games with 38+ minutes in his 51 game Cavalier career. This is a player who had averaged over 38 minutes per game in his 5 ½ year Washington career. He is not young anymore, but he is one of the few scorers the Cavaliers have and we need him on the floor. We might as well use everything he has left in the tank. He has been a starter in all but one of his 13 NBA seasons, so that is where he is most comfortable. He is really beginning to take ownership of this team and become a leader.
SF – Anthony Parker:
Last 5 games: 64 points (12.8 ppg), 24 rebounds (4.8 rpg) and 10 three-pointers made
Parker is an undersized and outmanned small forward at 6’6”. He is an ok defender as a shooting guard, but is not big enough to handle the better small forwards in this league. He is using his quickness though to up his rebounds and scoring over the last five games. At this point we cannot ask much more from Parker than the 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 three pointers a game he has been giving us. This is a huge weakness overall and definitely needs to be addressed in the offseason, if not sooner.
C – Anderson Varejao:
Last 5 games: 60 points (12.0 ppg) and 56 rebounds (11.2 rpg)
Varejao is averaging career highs in points (9.2), rebounds (9.7 – 11th in the NBA) and blocks (1.1). He is not a natural center and is slightly undersized. The advantage that he does have is his hustle, and he is taking as much advantage of that as possible. He is not a great leaper, he just gets into the right position and does not stop until he gets rebounds. It has been really impressive the way he has been rebounding lately (12+ rebounds in 6 of his last 10 games). Additionally he has upped his scoring the last five game putting in 12 points per game on 55% shooting from the field.
SG – Boobie Gibson:
Last 5 games: 82 points (16.4 ppg) and 16-30 from three-point range (53.3%)
Gibson is averaging career highs in points (13.7) and assists (3.0) this year. He is making better than 40% of his three pointers as usual. He is giving the Cavaliers great effort and hustle and taking advantage of the extended minutes he is getting this year. The last few games he has been up and down with his shooing (4-20 vs. the Knicks followed by an 8-15, including 7-8 threes vs. the Jazz). The 7 three pointers against the Jazz was a career high, as were his 29 points (regular season career high, he had 31 in that great playoff game 6 vs. Detroit in 2007). He needs to keep up the effort and keep shooting it!
PG – Mo Williams:
Last 5 games: 92 points (18.4 ppg) and 55 assists (11.0 apg)
Williams is averaging a career high in assists (7.0 – 16th in the NBA) this year. He has gotten four straight double-doubles. His 11.0 assists over the last 5 games are very impressive. This team was badly seeking someone who could make plays for them. At different points this year Ramon Sessions and Williams were trading the team lead in assists per game back and forth and were both around 4.5 per game. Mo has really stepped it up lately and is quickly evolving into the role of playmaking point guard. His shooting has really suffered this year with the defenses attention no longer turned all on LeBron. Soon enough defenses are going to have to account for Boobie Gibson and when that happens Mo needs to begin hitting his three pointers consistently.
These starters have put up 387 out of the Cavaliers 477 points (81%) over these five games. I do not mind this statistic. Byron Scott was playing too many people at the beginning of the season, trying to mix and match to find the right combinations. At that point our bench was scoring all of the points and the starters were not scoring at all. Now that Scott has identified his core players for this year, we need to ride them, as that is our best bet to win games in the near future.
Miscellaneous Cavaliers Stats:
The number of player who have appeared in all 29 games in now down to two: Boobie Gibson and Anthony Parker.
Mo Williams attempted his 500th free throw as a Cavalier and now ranks 2nd in team history in free throw percentage at .893, which is behind only Mark Price.
With his recent boom in assists, Mo Williams has passed Foots Walker for 10th place in Assists per Game in team history with 4.97 per game. He is one of four Cavaliers to rank in the top 10 in both assists per game and points per game. The others are LeBron James (27.8p and 6.95a), Lenny Wilkins (18.5p and 7.72a), and Ron Harper (19.4p and 5.08a)
Anderson Varejao needs 2 more blocked shots for 300 in his career.
Bonus Ohio State Basketball Stats (thru 11 games):
Big Ten Career Three Pointers Made:
1. Pete Lisicky (Penn State) 332
2. Shawn Respert (Michigan State) 331
3. Cory Bradford (Illinois) 327
4. Craig Moore (Northwestern) 320
5. Joe Crispin (Penn State) 308
6. Dee Brown (Illinois) 299
7. Jon Diebler (Ohio State) 294
Shameless Plug of the Week:
I have just recently joined the Twitter world. So if anyone is interested in getting real time useless statistical information on not only the Cavaliers, but also the Cleveland Browns, Ohio State Football, Ohio State Basketball, plus any other thing that I might notice while watching games, please feel free to follow me at @dwooley81