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News » Cavaliers no longer dominating boards

Cavaliers no longer dominating boards

Cavaliers no longer dominating boards
Cavs vs. Charlotte

Wednesday, 7 p.m., The Q, FSN Ohio

There was a time this season when no team in the NBA rebounded as well as the Cavaliers. That is no longer the case.

A strong rebounding team for most of the past decade, especially at the offensive end with one of the best offensive rebounders in the game in Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavs dominated the league in the first six weeks of the season.

They led the NBA in total rebounding and, in the most accurate telltale, rebounding differential.

Much of this could be attributed to Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao being healthy and

teaming up with Ilgauskas and LeBron James for a powerhouse rebounding front line.

For the past several weeks, however, the team's been showing slippage in this area.

Then came Sunday against the Wizards, who battered the Cavs around chasing missed shots. With their starting center, Brendan Haywood, on the sidelines with a wrist injury and backup Andray Blatche dealing with a sprained ankle, one of the league's worst rebounding teams still whipped the Cavs to a tune of 52-35.

It was the fifth time in the past 10 games the Cavs had been out-rebounded after having it happen just three times in the first 23 games.

Some of it is the impact of the ankle injury to Ilgauskas, the franchise's all-time leading rebounder. Sunday, however, it seemed often the Wizards were more physical and worked harder to get rebounding position than the lackluster Cavs in what turned out to be the worst loss of the season.

"I don't think we're putting bodies on bodies and going to get the ball," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "We miss Z, but we're a capable rebounding team. We just haven't been getting it done. We haven't been physical, and it shows in the numbers."

The Cavs rank in the middle of the NBA pack in offensive rebounding, which is a sharp decline from years past. Some of this is easily explainable: They are making significantly more shots, so there are less offensive rebounding chances. The Cavs are third in the NBA in field-goal percentage.

Sliding back to the mean in defensive rebounding, which has limited their ability to start fast breaks, has been what has really seemed glaring recently.

"It's very fixable," James said. "We've got to do a better job of boxing out."

Of late, an issue for the team has been losing track of opponents on the weak side, or the side of the basket opposite from where the shot came. The Cavs have seen a surge in blocked shots this season as their big men, especially Wallace and James, have often come from the weak side to bring help and swat away shots.

The other result is they leave their assigned men, and if they miss the block, leave the back side open.

"We've got to look on the films and see what we've been doing wrong," said Varejao, who has been averaging 10.2 rebounds over the past five games.

"Every night, teams are going to give everything against us; it's different when you see the Cavaliers out there now."

Spooner response: NBA official Bill Spooner, who called the traveling on James on Sunday, responded to a request to explain the call. It wasn't a mis-viewed "crab dribble" as James suggested.

"Three steps on the move to the basket," Spooner said. "Basic travel call."

Offense sliding: In mid-December, James led the NBA in reducing his turnovers from last season, shaving off nearly two turnovers per game.

But over the past two weeks, James has been handling the ball a lot more on the outside, a throwback to last season's offensive struggles. His assists have surged - 8.9 per game over the past eight games and that led to his first triple double Friday.

The turnovers also have surged. After turning it over seven times Sunday, he's averaged 4.7 per game over the same span after averaging less than two per game in the first six weeks.

During the same eight-game stretch, point guard Mo Williams has averaged just 3.3 assists per game. Over the past three games, Williams is averaging just 11.3 points, 2.3 assists and shooting 27 percent.

Not surprising with those trends, the Cavs' offense has been less effective. After averaging 103 points over the first 22 games, it's 96.1 points over the past 11 games with a season-low 77 against the Wizards.

Washington woes: Over the past three seasons in the playoffs, the Cavs have a remarkable 6-2 record against the Wizards at the Verizon Center, closing out all three first-round playoff series there.

But regular-season games have been a different story. After Sunday's loss, the Cavs have lost seven of eight in Washington.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5166

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 7, 2009


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