So we've decided to have two recap threads for each game this season. One to get stuff off our chest, and one for real analysis.
It's games like these that depress me. We come close against a good team, but we do so by resorting to tiny-ball, riding our guys for too long instead of subbing in fresh legs and by playing no defense/grabbing no rebounds. We start to think that, hey, maybe because we came close against Detroit, we're okay, when in reality we can't beat anybody in the league playing that style of ball.
Darius Songaila, he of the limited, slow, coaches pet variety, plays 27 minutes, while Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, the supposed big men of the future who played a ton of minutes in the opener, play a combined four minutes, even as Detroit doubles us up on the glass. Nick Young and Juan Dixon, a tandem that shouldn't see the light of day in theory, play unbelievably together, but it's only because the starting duo of AD and DeShawn play so badly. Jamison and Butler play very well, but nobody else helps defensively to make their performance worth anything. We get manhandled inside, and our lack of size means our opponents get a zillion clean looks at the rim. We throw up our hands and say "we tried our hardest," even when we could have done more things to help us win.
It's depressing because all this together eliminates a lot of the positives I can take away from this game. For example, Darius was big in his second-quarter stint. He was active on defense, hedging like crazy, and was spacing the floor on offense. Without his play in that quarter, we would have been blown out. Yet the more he played, the more it became obvious that he was a liability. Not because he was doing anything wrong, but just because he's limited. He grabbed one rebound in 27 minutes tonight. One rebound! And that's the biggest guy we played for most of the game. Certainly JaVale, Dray or even Etan couldn't have done any worse than that.
Nick too was outstanding, but all his points came in vain because nobody could play defense or grab a rebound (him included). We shot ourselves in the foot playing small, and our starting guards killed us because they played so poorly. I should rephrase that; AD played okay, but didn't do much, while DeShawn played like dog poo. Nick's points all went in vain because we couldn't get it done defensively, largely because we were not big. I do have to say, however, that as much as it seems I'm killing Eddie, he deserves a lot of credit for sticking with Nick instead of going back to DeShawn. I don't think I can overstate this point enough.
Even so, we can't beat the good teams playing like this. There's a collective sense that, hey, we came close, so we should keep doing what we're doing. That's depressing to think about and its exactly what worries me the most. Without Gilbert to kill teams offensively and Haywood to deter penetration and eat space, we're going nowhere playing this mix this way. I'd rather do something different and at least give the kids a shot instead of losing like a bunch of plucky overachievers. They may screw up a little more than the vets, but they deserve a chance. A chance they received and took advantage of in the first game even in defeat.