Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Cavaliers 100, Denver Nuggets 99

Cleveland Cavaliers 100 Final

Recap | Box Score

99 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 PTS | -1
Brewer contributed to other areas of the game besides scoring, although it’s nearly impossible to overlook such a poor shooting performance. Since becoming a starter Brewer hasn’t quite played with the type of energy we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him when coming off the bench. Hopefully Gallinari soon takes his rightful spot as the team’s starting small forward soon so that Brewer can play the spark-plug role he’s much more comfortable with.
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -7
Nine rebounds in 20 minutes is solid by any standard, however, at this juncture Nuggets fans expect much more from the “Manimal” than just rebounding alone. His defense against Antawn Jamison to start the game was atrocious and opened the flood gates for Cleveland to gain confidence, which they ultimately utilized to win the game. Although his interior defense is decent, Faried’s one-on-one perimeter defense must improve dramatically.
Nene, C 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -9
The story of the game was Nene’s inability to play any sort of help defense whatsoever in the dying moments of the fourth quarter. On key possessions late in the final several minutes of the game Nene didn’t even contest Kyrie Irving’s shots as he dribbled right down the center of the lane for multiple layups. The worst part: Nene was clearly not only within striking defense of blocking Irving’s shots, but likely could have at least altered them if he had just tried. Yes, Nene also had a few important buckets on offense to keep the game close, but this production was virtually erased by his inability to prevent Cleveland from scoring on the other end.
Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | -5
In 40 minutes, Afflalo simply must produce more. He’s been a revelation the last month but against the Cavaliers he was invisible for most of the night. In fact, I was shocked to see he even played 40 minutes as I only remember him making a true impact for about 15. His defense on Irving at the end of the game also played a big role letting him get the rack for the game-winning basket.
Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 6-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | -6
Grading Lawson is extremely difficult. He finished with 18 points and had another solid night statistically; however, he also committed a ghastly seven turnovers and could not stop Irving if his life depended on it. In the Cavaliers last offensive possession of the game Ty easily could have stepped in for a charge, but instead moved entirely out of the way for Irving to made yet another easy layup. Then, with four seconds left, Ty took it upon himself to drive to the hole yet failed to convert a fairly routine layup of his own. Bottom line: Lawson has been spectacular of late and his willingness to step up in the clutch should be applauded, but key defensive mistakes and a carelessness with the ball really cost his team some big possessions on Wednesday.

Al Harrington, PF
33 MIN | 10-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 22 PTS | +6
Harrington was one of the lone bright spots on the evening. While he took quite a few shots he also made 50 percent of them which is always appreciated. Like everyone on the team, Harrington struggled defensively but his effort and ability to knock down clutch baskets made up for many of his mistakes.
Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 5-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | 0
It’s not often that Miller receives an A but on Wednesday he played superb, all things considered. His defense, as always, was questionable at best, yet his offense was not forced and came within the flow of a fairly rugged basketball game. Seeing him play team ball, after a few selfish outings, was extremely refreshing.
Chris Andersen, C 18 MIN | 0-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +7
Birdman deserves nothing but a solid A tonight as he was the only Nugget who brought focus, defense and enthusiasm to the floor for almost every minute he was on it. His three blocked shots were monumental in terms of swinging the momentum back in the Nuggets’ favor, while his seven rebounds in only 18 minutes were hard earned.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 22 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | +10
Still rusty, Gallinari somehow managed to contribute in other areas of the game besides scoring. His defense was the best of anybody on the team and in a night were getting stops virtually meant winning the game, this was very admirable especially considering how fresh off injury he still was.

Prospecting: In search of a more “content” Felton in the NBA Draft

In the upcoming Draft, the Denver Nuggets will likely steer towards selecting the best player available at No. 22, with small forward being the exception due to the current bounty already on the roster (Gallinari, Chandler & Harrington). Exercising this strategy means putting the franchise at risk of potentially taking a player who doesn’t necessarily fit a position of need. With Ty Lawson appearing to be the perpetual starting point guard of the Nuggets for years to come and Raymond Felton still on the roster (nominally, at least), the demand for another point guard isn’t quite a Mile High right now in Denver. But what happens if the best player available at No. 22 just-so-happens to be a point guard? Do we take that player and groom him into a back-up behind Lawson, who similarly played this exact role behind Billups? Or do forgo this opportunity in order to address a more pressing position of need? It’s tough to say, but just in case this situation plays out on draft night, Roundball has you covered as to which players might pose this conundrum, and which — if any — are worthy of selecting. (more…)

A brief diary of the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery

Quite a few storylines unfolded on Tuesday night in Secaucus, N.J., but none were bigger than the Cavaliers winning two of the top four overall picks behind the fortuitous, and confident, 14-year-old Nick Gilbert, son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and team representative for the night. (more…)