Welcome back to earth Mr. Pargo.
Last Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76er,s Jeremy Pargo had what was for him an out-of-this-world performance. He had 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers. His surprising contribution seemed to energize the Cavs and helped snap their six-game losing streak.
Since then Pargo has been more like the rest of the Cavaliers; good in spots, but overall too inconsistent. As a result the Cavs are once again on a losing streak, with the loss at Miami being particularly heart breaking.
While Pargo struggled from the field (4-of-13 shooting) the rest of the Cavs took it to the Miami Heat and nearly pulled off the improbable upset. They were leading the entire game until a defensive breakdown led to a wide-open Ray Allen (all-time leader in 3 point shooting) nailing a three with 16.3 seconds left.
Unfortunately it only gets tougher for the Cavs.
Memphis is one on the NBA’s best this young season, winning eight of their last nine. With them it starts with the great play of their two big men, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. They are dominating the inside most of the time which leads to great defense (fifth overall) and open shots for their perimeter players like Rudy Gay, who is averaging 20.1 points this season.
Here’s a quick comparison of the stats:
Memphis Offense – 100.7 ppg (6th), 44.5 field goal percent (16th), 10th in NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio
Cleveland Offense – 97.0 ppg (28th), 42.4 field goal percent (25th), 28th in NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio
Memphis Defense – 93.1 opponents ppg (5th), 43.8 opponents field goal percent (11th), 45.1 rebounds per game (16th)
Cleveland Defense – 102.2 opponents ppg (29th), 49.2 opponents field goal percent (30th), 40.9 rebounds per game (22nd)
As you can see the stats favor Memphis, but to me the most glaring difference is on defense. The Cavs on average give up more than nine points per game than the Grizzlies, and on the road this year they are even worse.
Another factor is injuries, Memphis comes into the game pretty healthy with no one on the injured list. While the Cavs, as we all know, are missing their best player, Kyrie Irving.
The Bottom line – Memphis is clearly the better team at this point of the season, and they are fresh and in the middle of a six-game home stand. Meanwhile the Cavs have only one win on the road this year. They simply do not have the big men to compete with Memphis, so they will need big plays from their guards, contributions from their bench and plenty of hustle, or this could get ugly.