- LL Cool J–Mama Said Knock You Out (the new Detroit Pistons anthem)
Can someone please explain to me how the Cleveland Cavaliers, complete with LeBron James and Kevin Love in the starting line-up, could lose to the Stan Van Gundy-led Detroit Pistons by 23 points…in Cleveland?
Sure, the Atlanta Hawks beat the Cavs by 29 points, but at least the Hawks were 17-7 coming into that game at Quicken Loans arena, and were 10-1 in their previous 11 games. The Pistons were 6-23, had simply released Josh Smith, one of their best players, and had lost 17 of their last 20 games.
Ugly isn’t the word.
(alright, alright, before I begin this, I must admit that Josh Smith was likely an addition by subtraction, at least on this Pistons team…but…they just released him…seriously)
If you want to make excuses, you could point to the fact that Kyrie Irving was missing his second straight game with a left knee contusion, and throw in the fact that Anderson Varejao is out for the year with his torn ACL. It’s not easy for any team to miss two starters and win a basketball games.
But Detroit is truly terrible.
How did it happen? It starts with perimeter defense.
The Pistons shot 54.8% from the three point line, going 17-for-31 from behind the stripe. The bench, behind Jodie Meeks, Jonas Jerebko and even Caron Butler (didn’t he retire five years ago) went a combined 7-11 from behind the stripe, and compensated Brandon Jennings 25 point, 15 of which were from his five threes.
On top of that, Pistons center Andre Drummond scored 16 points, while pulling down 17 rebounds underneath and blocking five shots, controlling the paint without Varejao there to man the post.
This isn’t to take away the play of Tristan Thompson, who is filling in at center, and scored 18 points himself, with 11 rebounds. It’s funny how his game has stood out this year, as he’s the one guy on the team with a continuous motor, that plays hard and in control on every play. The fact that it stands out among a team that boasts James, Love and Irving really says it all about this team. That’s not a knock to Thompson per se, but it does really make you wonder about the effort that this team puts forth on occasion, starting with James himself.
Can someone please tell me what in the hell “Chill-Mode” is?
LeBron mentioned this after Friday Night’s game against Orlando, stating that once Magic guard Tobias Harris got into his face and told him to “stop flopping,”
“…It was the words that he said that got me going. I was actually in chill mode tonight but chill mode was deactivated after that.”
If you haven’t subscribed to Brian Spaeth’s Cavs’ newsletter via Waiting For Next Year, you really must. You can join it here, if you haven’t already. I admit that prior to reading his newsletter, I was scratching my head about this term, “Chill-Mode,” but Spaeth really nailed down my thoughts on this.
“3) I don’t undertand all the headlines and story threads about how Harris ‘woke up the monster’ and how Tobias harris ‘should’ve know better than to talk trash to LeBron.’ Where are the essays on why the f–k LeBron James has an actual setting called Chill Mode.”
You’ll have to follow Brian to get the rest of his take on Cavaliers basketball, but that’s exactly what I was wondering, and really have wondering all season. Why is it okay that LeBron is laying back for much of nearly every basketball game?
I suppose that ‘Chill-Mode’ makes sense when you are a dominant team, that understands roles and can turn it on whenever their backs are to the wall. Unfortunately for LeBron, against Detroit, he was full bore ‘Chill-Mode.”
He was 5-of-19 from the field, but what was worse, and what is really getting to be a major concern for this team, is that he turned the ball over seven times. There are times in every game when LeBron just doesn’t seem all that concerned about what he does with the basketball. Whether it’s a flippant pass, or someone easily tapping the ball away, there’s just a laziness to it all that’s hard to watch.
Sure, he ended up with 17 points, 10 boards and seven assists, but this wasn’t a solid game for the four-time MVP. His carelessness with the basketball carried over to the rest of the team, who had 18 total turnovers during the game.
Kevin Love had 20 points and ten boards, but went 1-for-7 from behind the three-point line. You want to talk about a player struggling to figure out how to play along side LeBron.
In the end, this was as ugly a game as you could possibly want, and while I’m far away from serious worry about this team, losing by 23-points to a team that already had 23 losses certainly doesn’t build confidence.
David Blatt was clearly irritated during the press conference, and it’s still hard to figure where his influence begins, once LeBron’s ends. It’s clear that his system is beyond this team at times, and while there’s still more than half a basketball season left, things should be clicking a lot more than they are…right?
Right now, this is a team that doesn’t play defense all that well, hasn’t figured out their offense yet, doesn’t have a legitimate center, and I’m starting to wonder if they doubt their head coach.
It’s still far too early to worry about this team. They are 18-12 at this point, still have ten games to go to get to my 40-game threshold of real worry, still have LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, and I still think Dion Waiters will prove to be an important cog as this team begins its push to the playoffs.
But boy, it’s hard to see a team that loses by 23-points to the third worst team in the league…at home…as a serious NBA title contender, but thank goodness there’s 52 games left to hash out Varejao’s injury, and all the other gaps that any team with this many new players and a new coach might have.
Just get rid of Chill-Mode.
Next up? Those same Atlanta Hawks that beat the Cavs by 29, are 4-1 since the last time they played, and are 15-2 over their past 17 games.