Game Preview #33 - Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers

[Thanks to chgobr for today's preview. Better than KC's preview, where he mentions 3 players potentially guarding LeBron while not including Tyrus Thomas in that group. -ed.]

I hope to write previews that have a positive spin.  Being positive today is a real challenge.  I was at the Orlando game and was a witness to the effortless, painful to watch massacre.  The pain and anger, as usual, are well-documented in the game thread and Matt's post mortim.  This team has made me into a cynic.  I assume even Gordon's politically correct post-game comment  documented in the Trib is done to facilitate him getting a contract verses really being upset by the lack of effort.  

"We didn't play hard," guard Ben Gordon said. "We weren't ready, so it really didn't matter who was out there. I'm not going to make excuses. I wasn't ready. My teammates weren't ready. It's not acceptable."

The BaB frustration for wanting change can be seen in a diary posted by  NextgenNextgen proposed a trade that normally would have generated some discussion.   The reaction was emphatic, no more talk, post after a trade is made.  It is painful watching us outmatched time and again.

The good (which there was very little):  I was fortunate to have been close to the floor and I really thought Noah was trying and was somewhat effective.  And,  .... please do not kill the messenger, but Nocioni was really trying and despite being outmatched by talent and height was somewhat effective.

Tonight's game:  After the Orlando embarrassment I anticipate we will try harder, keep the game close at half-time, be down 5-10 after three and lose by 15-20.  Ilgauskas is out with a left ankle injury to be replaced by Varejeo.  Drew Gooden is a game-time decision.  Wally Sczcerbiak returns after missing two games with a knee problem.  Cleveland 26-5, 16-0 at home, is one game behind Boston 28-5.  It is hard seeing Cleveland losing to us tonight.   KC Johnson matches my pessimism by the goal trying to avoid a blow-out in anticipation of maybe beating some of the upcoming putrid teams in the NBA.

The Bulls need to avoid another blowout loss for their psyche in advance of, on paper, a winnable stretch.

Cleveland is improved this year and Maurice Williams may be an important addition supplementing you know who.  He can hit big shots down the stretch and adds a dimension not there last year.

The future:  Is this terrible stretch emblematic of dysfunctional Reinsdorf-Paxson management or are we at the precipice of a new golden era led by Derrick Rose?  I thought Sam Smith did a great job documenting the thoughtfulness that Pat Riley used to groom Erik Spoelstra as the coach.  Compare this to the dysfunctional process Paxson had hiring VDN.

"Birds of a feather flock together," Riley joked, though adding, "Every time I hire someone in some part of them they think like me."

The old story about Riley when he makes a hire is that he first checks the trunk of the applicant's car. If there are golf clubs in there, they're not hired. With Riley it's about work.

Though it's way more, an understanding of the system, a belief in the philosophy, a patience. When things go wrong, Heat owner Mickey Arison doesn't begin looking for successors.

"I won 15 games," noted Riley. "There never was anything written I'd be fired. You take the good with the bad with a franchise and stay with it until you get back on track. In the league now, there's a chasm (too often) between the coach and GM. You have to be tied in some way. I feel it's important that me and Erik are almost one person.

"He's old school and new school," said Riley. "He's in tune with me and the whole computer terminology, the internet, the statistical innovations. One thing that stands out in all the years was he's someone you converse with about what you've done, who to trade, someone who has a lot of thoughts and not your typical thinking. He's someone who respectfully disagrees but after that we can unite on a situation.

"He's one of those guys who apply their trade and don't look for recognition early, just work and learn," said Riley. "He wanted to learn before being recognized. You teach them and they take some of the culture and learn from a lot of people. I thought he was a guy ready a couple of years ago. You watch them grow, groom them to take your spot and that's the position I'm in."

I remember the Danny Ainge bashing here which I was a participant before the Garnett trade.  There is hope.

Blogging with the enemyThe Cleveland Plain-Dealer is a good site.

TV/radio: 6:30 p.m. Friday; Comcast SportsNet, WMVP-AM 1000.

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