Blog Entry

Brown, LeBron respond to Gilbert rant

Posted on: May 12, 2010 8:37 pm
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – After a loss that shook his title aspirations and $100 million payroll to their respective cores, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was both strident and measured in comments to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. While Gilbert didn’t point fingers at anyone, the importance of his message wasn’t lost on coach Mike Brown. 

“Our entire franchise has done everything in its power to put all of our players and its coaching staff in the best possible position to execute when it counts,” Gilbert said. “And to deliver to the highly supportive fans of Cleveland a proud, intense, impassioned all-out drive to achieve a championship. 

“The last two home playoff losses and the manner in which we lost these games does not come close to being anywhere near the high expectations all of us have of our organization. Our fans and supporters deserve more.” 

Brown, under scrutiny for his use of personnel in the series against the Celtics, had those comments read to him Wednesday by members of the media, along with this one: “Above all, the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as the entire franchise, deserve and need our players and coaches to dig deep within themselves.” 

Brown could find no cause to argue with any of it. 

“If what he said wasn’t the truth, I shouldn’t be here,” Brown said. “We’ve got to do better. The coaching staff's got to do better. The players have got to do better. We’ve got to go into Game 6 and win that game and make it a one-game series. I don’t know if what he said was not true or wrong or anything like that. The fans have been great. Ownership has been great. There's nothing that I can say even negative about it. We’ve got to do better.” 

Given all that is riding on this season for the Cavs – the financial commitment from Gilbert and LeBron James’ looming free agency – Brown almost certainly would be fired if the Cavs lost in the conference semifinals for the second straight year. As Gilbert pointed out, it’s not just the losing, but the 50-point margin of defeat in the last two home games that is particularly disturbing. 

The Celtics have gained a strategic advantage at every turn, exploiting the Cavs’ two weakest defenders, Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. Couple that with the Celtics’ 36-7 advantage in second-chance points in Games 4 and 5, and Brown has been left searching for combinations on his bench that have not only backfired, but left players uncertain of their roles at the most crucial point in the season. Jamison has been lit up by Garnett in the first five games, while Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen have taken turns torching Williams. In Game 5, Paul Pierce had his first impactful game of the series with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. 

Brown called the criticism of his coaching in this series “part of the business” and “expected.” In fairness, Brown went into the playoffs with Shaquille O’Neal rejoining the starting lineup after a long layoff that didn’t give he and Jamison enough time to get comfortable playing alongside each other. After what Brown termed one of the best film sessions the team has had all season, he said he wasn’t planning any lineup changes for Game 6 Thursday night. 

“We've thought about everything,” Brown said. “But right now, there is nothing that has changed.” 

Given a chance to speak up on Brown’s behalf Wednesday, James took a pass. 

“The coaching staff, they put us in position to win games,” James said. “It’s up to us to go out there and execute that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But you can’t question the effort that we had.” 

Asked about assertions – such as this one – that Brown has been getting outcoached, James said, “I’m not going to get involved in that, man. That’s for you guys to write. You guys are at a point right now where you’re trying to divide the coaching staff and the team, the players. I’m not going to get involved in that. As players, we can control what we want to control. And right now, the most important thing is Game 6.” 

When Gilbert’s comments were read to LeBron, it became clear that the owner’s opinion was one area where Brown and James can agree. 

“It’s an owner who cares about our team and cares about the fans,” James said. “It’s a reaction that I guess he’s supposed to have. I don’t get involved in what owners say. That’s how he feels.”

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: May 13, 2010 9:41 pm

Brown, LeBron respond to Gilbert rant

sounds like the cavs need to grab avery johnson

Since: Feb 23, 2010
Posted on: May 13, 2010 3:27 pm

Brown, LeBron respond to Gilbert rant's time for Brown to go.  He has horribly (under)used Shaq this post-season.  I really don't understand his inconsistent rotations and mind boggling match-ups.  He's fine for the regular season, but when you really need a great coach is for the post-season, when you are playing the same opponent repeatedly and need to make adjustments.

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: May 13, 2010 2:53 am

Brown, LeBron respond to Gilbert rant

I hate to point fingers at Mike Brown, but there have been whispers (and louder comments) for years that he had a tendency to get out-coached once the playoffs arrived. Back in 2007 when the Cavs were swept by the San Antonio Spurs, I remember wondering why the heck the Cavs offense so invariably started with the ball at a dead stop in James' hands. Why wasn't he moving without the ball to make it more difficult for the Spurs defense to focus on him and put up a wall between James and the basket? Why wasn't there more movement by his teammates?

Last year, when the Cavs got surprised by the Magic, I wondered the same. The ball always ended up in James' hands and he was expected to do it all. Now there are other players who have the closer role - Kobe Bryant comes to mind rather quickly. But Kobe does not always receive the ball at a dead stop and is as likely to play decoy these days as he is to launch an impossible shot. So too does Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobli down in San Antonio during their championship run. And even Paul Pierce in Boston utilizes his teammates and trusts them to make the big shot. So why can't LeBron?

What it boils down to, in my belief, is that Mike Brown, while an acceptable or even above-average coach during the regular season, has not the skill to make the adjustments between games that the Playoffs require. I am not a big fan of Doc Rivers, but he has shown he can make better adjustments than Brown has done. The Celtics, just as the Magic did last year, have identified the mismatches wherein they can be successful, but the Cavs are still trying to bull their way thought on the back of their superstar. They have not identified an area where they can punish Boston with a similar mismatch to what Rondo and Allen are doing to Mo Williams and Kevin Garnet is doing to Antawn Jamison. This despite the fact that they are a more-talented team overall than is Boston!

So ultimately, I think that if LeBron James is to win a championship, he needs a coach who is capable of making those adjustments. It needn't be a Pat Riley or a Phil Jackson. Even a Stan Van Gundy or a Doc Rivers is capable of winning a championship with James on the roster. But I think that if Cleveland falls short again this year and if (a big if, I know) James chooses to remain in Cleveland, the Cavs will be searching for a new coach. And I would recommend one who has proven he can make adjustments over the course of a playoff series. It's not always enough to have the best player - a good coach also must recognize that he needs to find the most favorable matchups and protect against the mismatches on the other end. That is what separates a good coach from a great coach and is why I am doubtful that Mike Brown, for all his talents, is the right coach for a championship Cavaliers team.

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