Andrew Schnitkey (Rock) at Waiting For Next Year put up a great analysis of Mike Brown yesterday, and if you didn’t read it yet I suggest you do. I had been thinking about the way Mike Brown runs his team ever since he began inserting Jawad Williams into the line-up, and have offered my opinions on the Cavaliers coach as well below.
This offseason, the Cavs acquired a LOT of new talent, like 2/5 of their starting lineup, plus a lot of the bench “new talent.” The preseason was mostly used as a time for the Cavs to work out stretch-forwards, and to see what the 12-15 guys on the bench were capable of. Also, in case you don’t remember injuries, arrests, and illnesses preoccupied the Cavs’ preseason as well, so the first time the Cavs were able to play with a lineup they wanted (minus Delonte) was opening night. So against the Celtics and Raptors, the Cavs were still working out kinks in the rotation and the rest of the team was trying to figure out how to move around 2 different 7 footers, while trying not to think of their busted postseason a few months back, and their friend and teammate who was just arrested while trying to single-handedly recreate the Battle of the Alamo in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
But after watching them so many different teams, with so many different styles, and beating teams on the road in tough arenas (Staples, Rose Garden, Phillips, etc), you can’t help but realize that Mike Brown knows that, with a pretty healthy roster, this team is team and versatile. They can go small, they can go big. They can go fast, they can slow it down. Man-to-man defense, help defense, on-ball defense. Three point shooting (2nd only to Phoenix in %), beautiful alley oops, and still the hockey assists.
Like many Cavs fans and non-fans, I’ve been known to take some jabs at Mike Brown. You can’t really avoid it if you’re an NBA fan. His career has been blessed and cursed with LeBron James. Every coach would love to have that guy playing on his team, but Brown’s pretty much been unable to criticize his star for their entire relationship, lest he want to get his resume ready. His abilities and job security have also been linked to LeBron’s lack of a championship, which if if you follow the Cavs, you know that the team’s been missing a lot more than Hall of Fame coaching during the LeBron James era.
I, like Rock, personally think Mike Brown’s offense sets have gotten a lot better. The “hockey assists” that the Cavs love to use were Mike Brown’s addition to the playbook, and pre-dated John Kuester’s success with the Cavs’ 2008-2009 regular season offense. And the “stand around and watch LeBron” play might be more about LeBron calling the play than MB. So maybe the offense is unimaginative. But there’s a lot they can do. With a lot of different lineups. And a deep bench.
There’s only one thing I don’t know about Mike Brown that bothers me: What does he say to the team during halftime? If you’ve been watching the Cavs during the Mike Brown years, third quarters are often where first half leads are lost (luckily, fourth quarter defensive shutdowns are where they are regained and kept). He’s been doing it for 5 years, but I think he just must be kinda boring during halftime, and everyone walks out kinda sleepy. Or maybe they meditate.
Well I don’t know what he does or says in there. But I can live with not knowing because he’s done a damn fine job otherwise.