Friday, May 16

Re-evaluating Brown

After reading Nick's article evaluating Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown (actually while reading it in draft format), I had a few things I'd like to add. In particular, while our friend makes many good points, I think Nick grades out Brown's offensive coaching too harshly.

I found some interesting numbers on ESPN's site from John Hollinger. What we find is not as great a disparity between offensive and defensive performance as one might think, using the metric of points scored or allowed per 100 possessions. We see that during this past regular season, the Cavs placed 19th in offensive efficiency and 11th in defensive efficiency. They're not a top-level scoring club, but not embarrassing themselves either.

In the playoffs, the Cavs are 11th of the 16 qualifying clubs offensively, putting them at basically the same percentile as regular season. Defensively they rank second, trailing only Boston. Make no mistake how this Cavalier club makes its money in the postseason.

Back to the offense. When you factor in that, as Nick says, they don't really have a whole lot of offensive weapons other then LeBron, and considering that they don't get too many easy points off of fast breaks (how much of that Brown is responsible for is another debate), Coach Brown must be doing at least an adequate job on offense. I would bump the grade up to C-, maybe C.

The other point I'd like to make in Coach Brown's favor falls under the "intangibles" section, which I might have re-headed "in-game strategy." Before that, let me say that I fully agree with Nick's points about Devin Brown and Damon Jones being nailed to the bench instead of nailing shots this series. I thought Brown (the player) gave the Cavs good minutes all season and contributed quick scoring on a number of occasions where the club was struggling to find baskets, and I'm surprised they haven't taken advantage of that in the playoffs. Likewise with Damon Jones and his 3-point marksmanship.

The other thing I wanted to mention was that (Coach) Brown typically does a good job identifying his best late-game lineups. The Cavs have recently been one of the best 4th-quarter clubs in the NBA, leading the league in come-from-behind wins this past season, and part of that is having the right guys on the floor at the end. I first noticed this matchup strength in the 2006 playoffs, when the Cavs weren't really even that good, but Brown put them in a position to win by finding an effective closing crew in LBJ, Marshall, Varejao (then largely unproven), Eric Snow (then still alive), and Damon Jones/Flip Murray. Since that time, Coach Brown has proven adept at making in-game adjustments to find the right mix of players to secure wins.

Let's hope he finds a winning combination for Games 6 and 7.


Carolyn said...

Thank you!! Fan hate can only lead to bad things on the court. I'm all about positive reinforcement.

Nick said...

All good points. LeBron still handles the ball far too much, making it easy to trap him. I'm more positive on Coach Brown than most, but I'm still willing to concede that our offensive output is unacceptable. Fans/media love the "we need a point guard" argument, but I think the bigger need is a second slasher to keep the defense from loading up on LeBron. Let's hope the expiring contracts let us trade for just such a player over the summer.

Nick's Dad said...

Andy, you are full of crap! :)