Friday, June 8, 2007

Mike Brown Is Not A Good Coach

If you had a friend that was drunk you would probably try to convince him not to drive, right?

And if your friend was about to smash a Ferrari, you would probably try a little harder to stop him than if he were trying to drive a Yugo, right?

Well, Mike Brown is about to smash the LeBron Ferrari into a wall. Honestly, if you have been watching the Cavs this postseason it is obvious that Brown has no imagination on offense. Running a pick and roll every play or hoping that Pavlovic or James makes a huge drive at some point is not an offense. Granted, Brown has greatly improved the Cavs defense since he arrived last season. Kudos to him for that. He does not however, have the chops to be the coach of a championship team. Granted, the Spurs vastly outman the Cavs in all ways except for small forward, but the fighting chance the Cavs may have had against them solely based on LeBron's sublime talent goes out the window as soon as you realize that Brown is the man calling the shots. He is a great defensive coach, and that is exactly what he should be: a defensive assistant coach somewhere, helping a contender stiffen their D.

Brown has indeed seen Cleveland improve under his guidance. The season before he became head coach the Cavs were 42-40. In both of Brown's seasons the Cavs have been 50-32. The problem though, is that I don't think that Brown can really take that much credit for the improvement. Consider that Paul Silas improved the Cavs by 18 wins in LeBron's first season, and was on pace to win 44 games in the season he was fired, which would have been a 9 game improvement over the previous year. Point being, Silas already had the train moving in the right direction, and Mike Brown has merely jumped on and since brought the momentum to a screeching halt. It also helps that Brown and the Cavs have been the beneficiary of LeBron's natural progression as a star player, as well as the addition of Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, Daniel Gibson, and Donyell Marshall to replace the likes of Lucious Harris, Robert Traylor, Jeff McInnis, and Jiri Welsch. Let's think about that for a second. You take what was essentially a 44 win team that was starting Jeff McInnis and Ira Newble, let LeBron marinate for two more years, and swap nearly half of your ten man rotation for better players, and you are only 6 games better? Seriously, just look at the top ten Cavs in 2004-2005 as compared to this season, in order of minutes per game:

LeBron James
Jeff McInnis
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Drew Gooden
Ira Newble
Eric Snow
Robert Traylor
Anderson Varejao
Lucious Harris
Aleksandar Pavlovic

LeBron James
Larry Hughes
Drew Gooden
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Anderson Varejao
Eric Snow
Aleksandar Pavlovic
Damon Jones
Donyell Marshall
Daniel Gibson

You are telling me that Mike Brown should be applauded for taking that vastly improved roster, plus a more mature LeBron, Gooden, and Varejao, to a meager six game improvement over two seasons? And don't give me that crap about improved playoff performance this season: the Cavs beat a JV Wizards team, a downright bad Nets team, and a tired Pistons team (on the strength of one of the greatest performances of all time) on their way to the finals. Lets put it this way: if the Bulls had been the 2 seed instead of the Cavs (which they could have been if they had not choked on the last night of the regular season) the Bulls would likely be the Eastern Conference team in the finals, and the Cavs would have probably been shown the door by the Heat in the first round. So is this team really that much better since Mike Brown came? Nope.

Now, Mike Brown did have a way to fix things, to make the Spurs series more competitive. He could have made the gutsy call and inserted Daniel Gibson into the starting lineup. It was almost sad seeing Larry Hughes against the Spurs last night, having Tony Parker and Manu blow past him with ease. Say what you will about how admirable Hughes' actions are, playing through pain and all, but the truth is that he is a liability on the court right now and if Brown keeps insisting upon leaving him on the floor then Tony Parker is going to keep abusing him on his way to 25 PPG and a Finals MVP award. It's that simple. Brown could stop this of course, or at least try to, if he put Gibson in and rode him for 35 minutes a night. In watching the game last night, yes, Gibson did get beat a few times by Tony and Manu, but not nearly as often nor as easily as Hughes. Gibson also had four steals and countless hustle plays on the defensive end, and oh yeah, there is that little factor of him being the Cavs leading scorer the past two games, and having only 6 turnovers in the past six games.

So if Gibson is so hot on both ends of the court, why won't Brown play him? The answer is simple: Brown his covering his own butt on this one. Everyone expects the Spurs to win this series in four or five games. So Brown is more concerned about not being second-guessed for playing a 2nd round rookie than actually winning, for fear that if that rookie falters Brown will be crucified for leaving a high priced player like Hughes on the bench. That is what this all comes down to, and that is truly why the Cavs have no chance. No chance in this series, and no chance to improve beyond a 50 win, slightly above average team as long as Brown is coaching the team.

Just remember: Jordan never made "the leap" until Doug Collins left and Phil Jackson came to town.


GMoney said...

I really miss Tractor Traylor...I wonder what Denny's he's working at these days.

As a Cavs fan, I will not defend Mike Brown. But I will say that he doesn't handle the offense AT ALL, much like Tony Dungy, and that he's a young, inexperienced guy with room to grow.

I'm not giving up on him yet. I wish he'd get some strategic technicals though to inspire the team and let the refs know he's there.

Doberman Demeanor said...

In defense of Brown, if the 04-05 roster was one Ferrari and a bunch of Yugos, the 06-07 roster is still only one Ferrari, a couple Camrys and a bunch of Yugos.

enigmatik said...

gmoney - i believe tractor traylor is on his way to the big house for co-operating in drug trafficking.

I'm sure the Bulls could have won at least a game in this series. Cleveland is looking woefully out of place.