Saturday, December 29, 2007
This loss goes on the whole team. Ya, people are going to look at LeBron's final line of 21, 6 and 5 (assists and rebounds, respectively) and conclude that he got no help. Well... kinda. James was extremely passive for the 80% of the game (about the 8 minute mark in the fourth). He didn't attack the rim, he let the double team come to him and he just didn't seem... well, interested. Sure, he had 10 points in the final period, but it was a case of 'too little, too late' as the Cavs were already down 20 points by the time he turned it on.
Drew Gooden had an awful game. Now, the stats show that Drew was 5-10, with 10 points and boards. So, double-double and 50% shooting... awful game? Yes. Gooden got lost countless times on defense (he bit on practically every David West pump fake) and he made some weird decisions offensively (like trying a reverse lay-up rather than, oh, I dunno, dunking the ball). I'm kind of perplexed that Dwayne Jones didn't get on the court until the final minute of the game, cause no one stopped West (27 points on 11-17 shooting to go with 15 boards).
Ilgauskas has 12 points at halftime... and 14 for the game. Some of this was Z's fault, as he rushed shots late in the game, but they weren't solid possessions overall (no movement, rushed shots, etc). Part of the blame falls on Mike Brown, as he watched Z abuse the New Orleans big men in the first half, only to turn away from the post after halftime.
I have more issues with the coaching. First problem: Drew spaces out and Brown doesn't do anything (can Varejao play West? Jones?). Second problem: Z lit up the Hornet big men and the Cavs spent the 3rd period hoisting crappy shots. Third problem: set plays after timeouts. With roughly 5 minutes to go, the Cavs had cut the to 82-70 and had the ball following a timeout. This is a big play; they're on a 9-0 run and they could get the lead down to 10 or possibly single digits. The shot they get after the TO? A 28 foot fade-away 3 from LeBron (AFTER A TIMEOUT!!). Then with about 2 minutes to go, they have possession and call another TO to set things up. Now, at this point I'd figure they'd go for a 3 or at least a quick 2. Nope. Instead they passed the ball around until it landed in Z's hands on the block... where he waited for people to cut... and waited... and waited... and then he took a terrible hook shot. Awesome.
So, was Larry Hughes mediocre or awful? Awful. 1-9, 2 assists, 1 rebound and a steal. He had two awful possessions back-to-back in the 3rd quarter. The first time he dribbled the ball up the court and took a contested 17 footer with 11 seconds on the shot clock. No passing... nothin' but Hughes. The next time down, Hughes was pushing the ball... all the way to the hoop... where he jumped and... passed the ball to Z at the last second (who clearly was expecting a shot). Larry, you've made your point, you're not a point guard. We get it. Stop taking it out on the rest of Cleveland.
And Pavlovic, mediocre or awful? Neither really, so let's go with just plain crappy. He had 7 points (3-7) with 3 boards and 2 assists. To his credit, he hit a 3 and he didn't pick up any charges (though not for lack of trying...). I don't know if he doesn't have legs, his confidence or what... but his jumper was extremely flat.
Days off ahead. The Cavs don't play until Wednesday (when they face Atlanta at home), so it makes perfect sense that they loafed around in the bayou... This wasn't a real bad loss (I mean, the Hornets are 20-10) but in no way did the Cavs play anything close to "well". The Cavs face the Hawks and Kings coming up, so they have a chance to rebound from this. I assume there will be some practice time in upcoming days, hopefully the offense will get some work.
Friday, December 28, 2007
LeBron James did some LeBron James type things. Early in the fourth Dallas had cut the lead to 2 (70-68) and James came right back down the court and nailed a 25 foot fade away 3. It was quite ridiculous. James also had an insane dunk with just over a minute to go that sealed the victory (he broke a few ankles, made his way towards the rim and slammed it home with a ton of force). James didn't shoot particularly well (9-21 FG, 5-10 FT) but he led all scorers with 24 points to go along with 8 boards, 7 assists and 3 steals. LBJ only played 36 minutes but that was due to foul trouble. I really enjoyed the fact that James stayed aggressive even though he kept taking shots from the Mavs (hell, he actually posted up on a regular basis too).
Larry Hughes was mediocre (and that's a good thing). Sure, Hughes still only shot 6-15 (40%!), but to his credit, he did take a lot of good looks (but, on that same token, he missed a lot of good looks- I swear, check out his shot chart on ESPN). Hughes finished with 17 points, 9 boards adn 3 assists. This is all I'm asking for at this point; I don't care if he shoots a poor percentage if he's taking good shots and actually doing other things on the court. Nights like this, win or lose, are much more palpable than his 1-9, 2 boards, 1 assist evenings.
Z played pretty well. The big fella had 18 points, 11 boards and 1 assist (on a nifty bounce pass to Gooden. I've said it before, but the guy can pass when he has the opportunity... you know, cutters and other such things). Z also had two big shots on the fourth quarter (including one where he went glass). It was nice to see Ilgauskas 16 shots (hey, more attempts than Hughes!) and I'm glad the Cavs actually looked toward Big Z throughout the entire game.
Can Devin Brown get Sasha Pavlovic's minutes? Brown is more active, takes better shots, plays more consistent defense and he actually rebounds (on both ends of the floor). Brown got 20 minutes and gave the Cavaliers 7 points (3-7 shooting), 6 boards, an assist (on a great find to Z) and a steal. Meanwhile, Pavlovic continued his recent nightmare, going 1-5 for 2 points and 3 boards. Oh, he also had another charge (this time at least he actually was out of control).
Daniel Gibson played well, but didn't shoot great. Boobie was just 1-6 from behind the arc but the one he made was freaking money (pushed the Cavs lead from 2 to 5 with 4:28 to go). Gibson had 8 points, 3 boards and an assist and he also drew a couple fouls with the Reggie Miller leg kick.
The shot selection was not pretty. Both sides was simply hoisting shots. This game will help out the Cavaliers' defensive stats, but this was ugly. All those terrible shots helped the Cavs win the rebounding battle handily (56-45 overall and 16-6 offensive). At least the Cavs went inside, they dominated the points in the paint (which kills me, they go inside against Dallas, who has two of the better shot blocking centers in Dampier and Diop, but they'll settle for jumpers against the Knicks. Please explain that to me).
Joe Tait is awesome. I was out and about for the first 3 quarters so I heard bits and parts of this on the radio (I also tivo'd so I could see the whole thing- which is why this is late). Tait was in rare form and just seemed so disgusted by some of the Cavs mistakes. Good times. Unfortunately, it seemed that every time we turned the radio on, Ira Newble would check-in soon thereafter. Needless to say, we weren't near a radio for the fourth quarter.
Can this be the start of a win streak? Sure, the Cavs have lost 10 of their last 15 but now they're 3 of their last 4 (and 4 of their last 6). Things could be looking up. They're in New Orleans on Saturday to face the Hornets and then they have Atlanta and Sacramento at home the following week. If the Cavs continue to be aggressive at both ends of the floor, I see no reason why they can't put together a nice 4 or 5 game win streak.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
First play of the game: a dunk by LeBron. The Cavs actually focussed on getting LeBron the ball inside the 3 point line and it paid off. James was 9-19 from the field for 25 points and he dished out 12 assists (he also pitched in 6 boards). When LeBron can receive the ball at least somewhat near the rim, he's practically unstoppable. Why the Cavs don't emphasize this is beyond me.
Shaq looks old. Real old. It's not a good sign that Pat Riley had to keep him on the bench for the last 6 minutes just so he wouldn't foul out for the 6th straight game (which would tie a record). The big fella had 13 points (4-7 FG, 5-10 FT), 9 boards, 4 TO and 5 fouls. At least he isn't owed roughly a billion dollars over the next couple years...
The Cavalier big men showed up. Gooden had 16 points and 9 boards, Z had 13 and 8 and Varejao came off the bench to pitch in 16 and 7. They were very active on the offensive boards (they each had 2 apiece) and they played solid defense and stayed out of foul trouble (though it helps that Shaq looks around 55 years old). My one quibble of the afternoon is with Drew Gooden, so seemed hesitant to shoot the ball. Drew got a couple of good baseline looks that he passed up in order to pump fake or pass the ball. Those baseline jumpers are his shot and he needs to take them when he's open.
I'm not sure point guard is the Cavs biggest problem... If you saw a line that read 9 points, 7 assists, 6 boards and 5 steals, you'd say that's a pretty decent game. Except that's the combined stats of Sasha Pavlovic and Larry Hughes. Oh, and they also shot a combined 3-15. Bravo boys. Bravo. (adding... I'm still not sure what Sasha needs to do in order to get a favorable call at the offensive end, but may I suggest bribes?)
FYI, Daniel Gibson can shoot. LeBron actively looked to get Boobie the ball and it paid off. Gibson scored 15 points and shot 4-6 from beyond the arc. He did all of that off the bench too (I guess Mike Brown watched Pavlovic and Hughes shoot 30% over the last 5 games and thought to himself, "instead of benching these losers, I'll start both of them!). The Cavs need to exploit Gibson's shooting ability more often. Run some plays, run him off screens... something! I am happy to report that he did get more shots (11) than both Pavlovic (8) AND Hughes (7).
I dislike watching Dwyane Wade. Maybe I don't see enough of his games to appreciate him, but all I'm seeing is him drive to the hole with reckless abandon in order to draw contact and thus free throw attempts (8-16 from the stripe). I know he's got a great mid-range game and that he can finish at the rim, but he gets a lot of calls that would go against LeBron or Kobe just because of his size (meaning, LeBron would draw a charge, while Wade bounces off defenders).
Merry Christmas Cleveland! After the ugliness of the Browns' loss and the thumping of the Cavaliers by Golden State, it was nice for a Cleveland team to actually beat a bad team. The Cavs next game is in Dallas on Thursday... so... I guess I'm saying enjoy this win, cause I'm not expecting much against the Mavericks.
Monday, December 24, 2007
From Brian Windhorst:
• According to several league sources, the Cavs have been calling around to investigate the trade market. They are not directly shopping any players — more getting a sense of who could be available. Most teams are in this mode right now.
• The Cavs have been in contact with the Philadelphia 76ers about point guard Andre Miller. Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry and Miller were teammates with the Cavs in the 1999-2000 season and have a good relationship. According to sources, new 76ers General Manager Ed Stefanski has hinted he is willing to trade Miller, perhaps packaged with another player, for expiring contracts and a draft pick. The 76ers are in position to have salary-cap space next summer and may want more. The Cavs have some expiring contracts, but would probably need to put together a multiplayer deal to acquire Miller.
From Branson Wright:
I'll be shocked, shocked, if the Cavs can get anything of value for Hughes. He can't shoot, he can't stay healthy, he has bad attitude and he's extremely overpaid. What GM wants that?
Larry Hughes' time with the Cavaliers might be just about over. According to several league sources, the Cavs have contacted several teams about a deal involving the 6-5 guard.
One source said the Washington Wizards are one of those teams and another source said another team is in the Atlantic Division.
Hughes spent three years with the Wizards before signing a free-agent deal with the Cavs in 2005 worth between $65 million and $70 million.
The trade deadline is Feb. 21.
"Hughes will be gone way before then," said one source, who did not want to be identified.
The relationship between the Cavs and Hughes has not gone well. Hughes was GM Danny Ferry's biggest signing, but Hughes' two-plus seasons have been riddled with injuries. When healthy, Hughes has not been comfortable in the Cavs' offense, which takes away from his strength as a slasher. He's instead asked to take outside shots, which is not one of his strengths.
That being said, at this point Hughes needs to be dealt, just so everyone can move on. Fans are booing before he even shoots the ball... and then booing louder once his shot clangs off the rim. I mean, he's bitching about playing time after going 1-8 from the floor.
It's time to move on.
[Update] Joel takes a look at which other Atlantic team could be in the mix:
Boston: already has a great SG in Ray Allen. Not sure where Hughes would fit in there. They already have three massive contracts in Allen, Pierce, and KG.
Toronto: built like a Euro League team and Hughes might be the epitome of an anti-Euro League style. Their GM is too smart to take Hughes.
New Jersey: already has Vince Carter slotted in as the overpaid, under-producing SG. Not sure where Hughes fits in with New Jersey, either.
Philadelphia: might be the destination in a deal that could return Andre Miller, but I have no idea why the 76ers would want to take on a massive contract like Hughes’s. Maybe if King were still the GM.
New York: acquiring terrible contracts and guards seems to be what Isiah Thomas thrives on, so Hughes looks like a natural fit here, and now that Thomas has been (once again) publicly reassured that his job is safe, maybe he can pressure the Knicks brass into one more terrible trade. But probably not.
I blame everyone for this loss. Coaching - awful (Mike Brown's technical foul was maybe the worst thing I've ever seen). Defense - awful (allowed 52% shooting). Offense - awful (41% shooting). The bench - awful (combined to shoot 12-35).
The Warriors did play pretty well. The Cavs didn't play any defense at all, but to their credit, the Warriors actually made their open looks (they made 17 out of their first 21 shots!). Golden State hit their first five 3s and scored 38 points in the first quarter alone (the Cavs didn't cross the 38 point mark until 4:45 in the second). Every time the Cavs got close (like under 14), the Warriors would make another run to push the lead back up to 20.
The Cavs have two players that the Warriors simply cannot guard, LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Both guys got their points (25 for LeBron, 20 for Z) but they needed to be much more involved with the offense. For yet another game, James was receiving the ball way out on the wing and nowhere near the basket. I know its hard to criticize a game where he went for 25, 8 assists and 5 boards... but he has to be more aggressive. He can't spend these possessions watching the ball move around the opposite side of the court while he camps out by the 3 point line. He must demand the ball (and he must get it in a good spot).
The coaching was awful. How Brown isn't calling the James-Z pick and roll every single time is beyond me. I'd also like the Cavs to design a play or two where the goal is to get Daniel Gibson and open look (run him through picks without the ball Reggie Miller style, I don't know). The offense was a complete mess, the defense was out of sorts and Brown did nothing the entire game to give me confidence that this will be fixed any time soon.
The biggest head scratching moment came with 7 minutes to go in the second quarter. Drew Gooden is about to shoot free throws and Mike Brown gets called for a technical foul. Now, normally in a game like this, I want Brown to get a tech. I want him to find some injustice, blow up, get thrown out and hopefully light a fire under his team's ass. Instead, he got a tech after the Cavs got a call! He got it while Drew Gooden was at the line. So Stephen Jackson goes down to the other end and makes a free throw all while Drew is just sitting there at the stripe. Gooden then proceeded to miss both freebies. Only the Cavs can manage to get free throws out of a blocking foul and end up trailing by an addition point. Well done boys!
Larry Hughes is worthless. He was 1-8, with 2 points, 1 board and 1 assist in 18 minutes. He missed long jumpers, he missed short jumpers, he missed wide open layups and he missed the rim on one particular shot. He was nothing short of awful. After the game, Hughes had the balls to say he needed more than 18 minutes to get into a rhythm. Say what you will, but I wish he showed that kind of testicular fortitude during the game.
Sasha Pavlovic is close to worthless. Pavlovic was 2-7 for 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He got called for another charge foul or two. He needs to learn how to pull up. He needs to learn to take better shots. He needs to learn a lot of things....
If LeBron is serious about being a leader, now is the time. A players only meeting? Hiring a thug to take out Hughes' kneecaps? Demanding 45 shot a game? I don't know. But something has to be done and he's the only player who will get everyone's attention.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Things I want for Christmas (from the Cavs):
a solid 3rd quarter
a coach who knows when to get a technical foul (hint: not when your player is about to shoot free throws)
a coach who can juggle minutes (how Shannon Brown didn't see time before the 4th period boggles my mind)
and so much more...
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
LeBron was good... the rest, notsomuch. James had 32 points, 8 boards, 6 assists and 6 steals. He shot 12-21 overall, 3-6 from 3 and 5-6 from the line. Basically, he was awesome. The only other Cav to hit double figures was Drew Gooden with 11 (and he had 9 at halftime).
I'm including Fox Sports Ohio along with 'the rest'. Austin Carr went from talking about how the Knicks are team full of one-on-one players but not 3 minutes later praised them for always finding the second and third options on plays. Carr also warned the Cavs not to let the Knicks think they can win... while they were leading by 22 points in the third period. Also, for some reason FSN's scoreboard was blocking the rim on certain shots. All in all, this was not a pleasant experience.
The sad thing is, after first quarter, the game was never close. The Cavs ended the first 12 minutes of play down 31-30. Then things got ugly. The Knicks outscored them by 12 points in the second and another 4 in the third (where they got down by as many as 22). What surprised me is neither Shannon Brown or Eric Snow got any playing time, even at the end.
What kills me is that the Knicks are awful defensively and the Cavs still didn't go inside consistently. New York is last in the league in opponent field goal percentage (at 48%) and they held the Cavs to 43% shooting. The Cavs almost shot as many 3s (20) as they did free throws (21) - and they missed a lot of both (35% for 3 and 61% from the line). This is the worst defensive team in the league and the Cavs did nothing.
Never fear, the defense was just as bad too. To be fair, the Knicks are the worst offensive team in the league (8 teams score less points and two shoot worse) but they aren't good. The Cavs allowed them to shoot freaking 56% from the floor and 47% from behind the arc. There was nothing redeemable about this game at all.
I used to think point guard was the Cavs' biggest hole, but shooting guard is pretty terrible as well. Sasha Pavlovic and Larry Hughes shoot 3-10 and the only other contribution of note was Sasha's 4 boards. At this point I'm not sure which shooting guard is more painful to watch; both take questionable (at best) shots, both only play defense at times and neither contributes anything besides points. It can't bode well for Shannon Brown if he can't find playing time in this game...
I'm sick of this. I know these Knicks have given the Cavs trouble in the past, but this game was awful. Neither Zach Randolph or Eddie Curry had more than 6 boards but the Cavs still got outrebounded (41-33). They let David Lee score 22 points (17 in the first half). There's no good reason why the Cavs should be playing this way. This is the same group of guys that won 50 games last year and if anything, they should be better (Daniel Gibson's 3pt shooting and LeBron's improvement). Maybe it's lack of motivation, maybe it's poor coaching (Mike Brown gets to juggle minutes... joy) maybe its... I don't even know. They shouldn't be this bad.
Monday, December 17, 2007
2. I would've preferred Les Miles. I'm rather confident going into the Championship game and I think Tressel could've handled Miles.
3. How about those Bowl Games coming up? I don't care. And I have a hard time understanding how anyone else can care either (if it's not your team playing).
4. In most sports, the playoff system is win-or-go-home. College football? Win-and-go-home. Teams are playing for 5th place. Who cares?
5. Of course, my conference is the one screwing thing up. The Big Ten and Pac-10 don't want to give up the Rose Bowl. I knew that these guys were part of the problem, I just didn't realize how big. I mean, there's no good reason for Illinois to be playing in the Rose Bowl this year. None.
6. The PAC-10 is doing their part as well. They won't participate in a playoff system. Well done.
7. Dan Shanoff is starting to look reasonable. This is a problem.
8. Um, what? 13 Ohio State juniors are testing their NFL stock. Awesome...
9. If they win, then I won't care. IF OSU can beat LSU, I wouldn't mind too much if a lot of guys left. You win a National Championship, you've accomplished what you set out to do... if you want to bolt for the NFL and pick up a paycheck, by all means go ahead. If they get slaughtered... the NFL losses would sting a little bit more.
10. Who doesn't love a snow game? Terry Pluto sure did.
11. "Finally catch the Steelers"? Well, not really. They have the same record, which is nice, but I don't see the Steelers losing to either the Rams or the Ravens (of course, I couldn't see them losing to the Jets either).
12. Phil Dawson is pretty ridiculous. He's been pretty money for the Browns over the years. Sure, he doesn't have the best leg, but he is pretty accurate. Yesterday's 49 yarder was one of the best kicks I've ever seen (from him or anyone). I wasn't looking forward to the result of that boot; 49 yards is risky Dawson territory as is, let alone in the conditions yesterday.
13. Biggest surprise from yesterday's game? Andra Davis. The guy had a hell of a ball game and seemed to be everywhere.
13. I'm not the biggest DA fan, but... He looks like he's having a blast out there, doesn't he? He's played well and he's definitely enjoyed this season. Check out the last picture of this slideshow (can't link directly because of flash). Good times.
14. Worrying about DA vs Brady? I am. First of all, only in Cleveland are we worrying about next season before the Browns even play a snap in the playoffs (much like we're worrying about LeBron and CC leaving, even though their teams are winning now).
15. But we're thinking about it. Mistake by the Lake and The Disappointment Zone have had discussion on this and I'm torn. On one hand, I think Anderson is benefiting from the improved offensive line and the receivers (Edwards and Winslow make some ridiculous catches on balls thrown too high or behind them) and I'm not too sure how much of his success is due to his supporting cast. At the same time, Quinn is unproven and I don't want to see the Browns pull a Drew Brees.
16. But if they get compensation for Anderson leaving... Phil Savage has said that he'll most likely give Anderson the highest tender this offseason, meaning the Browns would net a 1st and 3rd round pick if he signs elsewhere (assuming they don't match). If a team with a top 10 pick signs Anderson, I'd think very hard about matching the offer. The Browns could use those picks to fill out the defense (d-line!!) and then hand the keys to Quinn (who would've beaten out both Frye and Anderson if he showed up to camp on time).
17. I dunno, I'd hate to see the Browns let go of the next Drew Brees. But I'd also hate for them to miss out on a 1st and 3rd package just to keep the next Kelly Holcomb. No matter what, it is an interesting debate.
18. Peter Kings likes Jamal Lewis. A lot.
19. Dammit. Dan Haren didn't make it to Cleveland. It would've been quite a price...
20. LeBron is concerned about the Cavaliers. After the Sixers game:
I’m very concerned, we’re not playing good basketball. Right now we are not a very good team. It looked good (Tuesday) but a loss to New Jersey and a loss at home puts things in perspective. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re just not a good team, simple as that.21. Blame Ferry! Not surprisingly, message board posters are all worried that LeBron is unhappy and the Ferry needs to do some or LeBron is going to leave (OMG!!). Me? Meh. I'd feel for LeBron a bit more if he didn't spend the last two games hoisting fade-away 20 footers.
22. I'm not sure what fans want Ferry to do. Well, I know what they want him to do (trade for Jason Kidd or Mike Bibby), but I'm not sure how they expect him to do it. The Cavs have practically nothing to offer the Nets (Shannon Brown, Ira Newble and Drew Gooden work for you?) and I really, really, really don't want Mike Bibby.
23. I think the bigger share of the blame goes to Mike Brown. So Daniel Gibson is out and the Cavs start Eric Snow over Damon Jones. Hmm... which player would be more likely to disrupt the offense, another 3 point shooter or a guy who teams don't guard... The Cavs didn't lose to the Nets or Sixers because of lack of talent, they lost because of lack of effort and execution. In fact, I'd put the losses on Coach Brown and LeBron. Brown has to call the plays and get the guys motivated, but LeBron needs to play the entire game with the same intensity that he showed at the start of the season (and he has to go back to the post).
24. For all of Ferry's faults, I think he's rebounded well after a rough start. The Cavs had to overspend to get FA's early on, but they've become pretty resourceful. Daniel Gibson has noticed.
25. Senator Dodd goes to Washington. At least someone in the Senate gives a shit.
26. This will never get old. Liberal Fascism, really?
27. I love year end lists. I love finding all the albums I've missed out on. At some point I'll have a music list for 2007. In the meantime, take a look at these.
27. Speaking of year end lists... Top 10 Music Videos of 2007.
28. This writer's strike is killing me. No new Daily Show, no new Colbert Report (though I did just pick up Colbert's book) and my favs (30 Rock, Journeyman, Heroes) are running out of episodes (if they aren't done already).
29. Led Zeppelin and Metallica at Bonnaroo? I'm not sure how I feel about this (though the rumors were struck down). I mean, no matter who is there, I'll be going but... having both Zep and Metallica there would really change the crowd type (though that's not always a bad thing), but I'd prefer either one or the other (with Zeppelin being my preference). I'd also love to see David Bowie or the Chili Peppers headline one year (Springsteen would work as well).
30. I'm really digging the new Streetlight Manifesto album, Somewhere in the Between. I know this isn't exactly a video, but it is the full song.
Streetlight Manifesto - Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe
Saturday, December 15, 2007
On the plus side, Andre Miller looks pretty good (especially for 35 years old- according to Austin Carr). Of course, anyone can look good when the defense lets you go exactly where you want. Miller finished with 20 points on 7-14 shooting. I hope Danny Ferry saw what we all did.
Rebounding was pretty awful. The Cavs got outrebounded 45-39 and gave up 14 offensive boards. The Cavs starting frontcourt combined for 25 boards... Samuel Dalembert had 19. Reggie Evans had 14. Well done. The Cavs would go for the ball without boxing out their man; it was pretty frustrating to watch.
The starting frontcourt were the only guys who showed up for the wine & gold. LeBron shot 10-18 for 21 points, Gooden was 8-11 for 21 and Z was 5-11 for 12. No one else was worth a damn. The rest of the team combined to shoot 9-35 (roughly 26%). The worst offenders were Larry Hughes (1-9), Sasha Pavlovic (2-9) and Shannon Brown (3-10). One could say that the shooting guard play left much to be desired (one could also say that they sucked ass).
Fox Sports Net said the Cavs played poor transition defense, I say they played awful offense. Yes, the Cavs played poor transition defense, I'll give you that. But 35 points... that's a lot of transition opportunities. Giving up 35 transition points isn't just a defensive problem, it's an offensive problem too.
I don't want to say put this loss on LeBron but... His numbers aren't exactly bad (21, 6 and 6) but he didn't seem interested. LBJ scored just 3 points in the fourth quarter and he stopped attacking the rim roughly around the end of the first period (where he had a ton of dunks and transition points). James was content to let other Cavaliers shoot the ball in the fourth period and ended up watching the terrible offense with the rest of us. Maybe it's the injury, maybe it's the fact that we're in the middle of December, but James hasn't looked to enthused the last two games.
The fourth quarter was freaking brutal. With eight minutes to go, Damon Jones hit a 3 to give the Cavs a 75-74 lead. The next time the Cavs made a basket was at the two minute mark when Z swished a jumper to cut the lead to 86-84. Six minutes without a field goal. Half of the fourth quarter without a field goal (and narry a Snow jumper in sight). This game wasn't lost at the defensive end; the Sixers shot just 38% and were held to 92 point. The offensive execution simply wasn't there. There was no post play for LeBron. There was no drive and kick. They reverted to last season.
This was supposed to be the start of a winning streak. New Jersey and Philly back-to-back, Hughes returning, Varejao returning, LeBron James returning, things were looking up... but no. They haven't come close to matching the energy they displayed against the Pacers. One would think that with four of the next five on the road (against the Knicks), the Cavs would be in a good position to turn things around. And they are (they have the Bucks, Lakers, Warriors and Heat at home- all very winnable games). But they won't beat many teams playing like they did on Saturday.
Friday, December 14, 2007
The level of energy just wasn't there. Maybe it was the bad jumpers, maybe it was having the whole team back together or maybe it was see Eric Snow play extended minutes, but this game reminded a whole lot of games from last season. For most of the year (when LeBron has played) the Cavs have had decent energy and focus. Friday night... not so much. There were a lot of bad, unforced turnovers, more than a few misreads (I don't even want to know how many times they got beat backdoor) and too many dumb fouls. The Cavs are obviously the more talented ballclub through and through, but they played down to the Nets and allowed them pull ahead late.
What happened to all that post play we were seeing early in the season? I know it's LeBron's second game back, but I'm not sure he posted up once in this game (and hey, remember last year where he just destroyed Richard Jefferson inside? Where was that?). I was getting worried about their love for the jumpshot before LeBron hurt his hand and Friday the old offense showed up. Though, partially I think LeBron was a victim of his own success; he took some ridiculous "I'm LeBron James and I'm shooting this" type shots that dropped. Which is all well and good... but he kept taking them and they didn't keep dropping. Down the stretch the Cavs were all jumpers and they didn't drop.
The rebounding left much to be desired. The Cavs got outrebounded 31-24 and they let the Nets grab14 offensive boards. Some of this was just being unlucky; blocks, miscues and loose balls seemed to find the right Net hands at the right time, but let's not kid ourselves, the Cavs didn't have enough energy to win.
The foul situation hurt as well. No one was in foul trouble (though Drew Gooden did have 5 in just 28 minutes) but the Cavs were whistled for 28 fouls while New Jersey drew the refs' ire just 15 times (including one bizarre double foul on Anderson Varejao and Jamaal Magloire, where Anderson's mistake was letting Magloire pop him in the face). I don't want to make it seem like the refs cost the Cavs the game though; the Nets were more aggressive, the Cavs were lazy on the defensive end and the Cavs were intentionally fouling Josh Boone late in the final period. However, I do have to mention this: LeBron James attempted just three free throws and one of 'em was because of a technical foul. Jumpshots of no, I'm not sure how LeBron can have 25 shot attempts and only end up shooting 3 freebies.
This was one of the games where Vince Carter shows up. VC had a pretty damn nice evening, going 13-22 for 32 points and added 7 boards and 6 assists. Austin Carr wondered if Larry Hughes' annoying, pesky defense may have woken Vince up. I'm hesitant to agree with Carr on anything, but I think he may have a point here. I was more than a little surprised the Coach Mike kept Hughes on Carter. In the past, Eric Snow was called on to shut down the Carter's of the league, but the Cavs rarely (if at all) had Snow matched up with VC.
Pavlovic didn't see Carter much either. Hell, Pavlovic didn't see much of anything, he only got 14 minutes (which just one more than Damon Jones). Pavlovic missed the two shots he took (both of which came in the second half) and only a rebound and turnover to his credit (but again, just 14 minutes). Look, I'm a bid advocate of bringing Hughes off the bench, but if you're gonna do it, do it right. When Hughes goes 4-15 with an assist and a turnover, he shouldn't be getting 34 minutes to Pavlovic's 14. On the bright side, Sasha wasn't called for any bogus charges... so he had that going for him...
With everyone back and healthy, Mike Brown is going to have to manage the minutes. Joy. Look, I'm a bid advocate of bringing Hughes off the bench, but if you're gonna do it, do it right. When Hughes goes 4-15 with an assist and a turnover, he shouldn't be getting 34 minutes to Pavlovic's 14. Hell, Larry had more minutes and shot attempts than Z (who was 8-13 for 21 points, 12 boards and 6 assists in 32 minutes). I don't want to pick on Hughes here, because at this point I'm not blaming him, I'm blaming Mike Brown.
Oh ya, that LeBron guy. 29 points, 8 assists, 6 boards, 2 steals and a whopping 6 turnovers. He had some really nice, aggressive plays early on but as the game wore on, he fell more and more in love with his jumper. And don't get me wrong, he shot it fairly well (he was 12-25 from the field), but he wasn't making the Nets work too hard on defense.
It can't be a good sign when your small forward and center combine for two-thirds of your assist total. LeBron had 8, Z had 6 and everyone else combined for 7. Gibson, Damon Jones and Snow each had 2 while and Hughes notched another. That's it. 21 assists for the game. I will that Z had showed some very nice touch; he found Gooden on a great over the top lob pass and he fed Drew for a layup on a sweet touch pass (I've said it before, but when he wants to, the big fella can pass the ball extremely well).
Hopefully they can bounce back from this. The Cavs play (yet another) back-to-back, but this time the second game in on their home court. That should be nice. Playing Philadelphia however, should be much nicer. Hopefully the Cavs can wash the taste of this loss out of their mouth and rebound with a solid victory over the Sixers.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
If you're suprised that Roger Clemens is on this list, you are a fool. I mean, he's basically the Barry Bonds of pitchers (except that he's white and not as big of a douchebag).
The list... Ctrl+F: "Boone" = 0 hits. Ctrl+F: "Beltre" = 0 hits. Ctrl+F: "McGwire" = 0 hits. Ctrl+F: "Sosa" = 0 hits. Ctrl+F: "Palmeiro" = 0 hits. Ctrl+F: "Gonzalez" (as in Juan) = 0 hits.
Ctrl+F: "Ivan" (as in Rodriguez) = 0 hits. Kinda surprising, no?
I'm not gonna lie, I was kinda suprised that no major 90's Indians (unless you count David Justice) were on the list (a quick glace for former Tribesmen showed Justice, Matt Williams, Paul Byrd, Jason Grimsley, David Bell, Glenallen Hill, David Segui, Tim Laker and John Rocker). There's no Albert Belle. No Carlos Baerga. No Jim Thome. Or Manny or Lofton or either Alomar brother (no Brian Giles and Richie Sexson too!).
Mo Vaughn's name appears in the report as well. But if you think this gives me an excuse to bring up Albert Belle getting hosed for the 1995 MVP, you're totally off base.
Here's the thing, this list has a mix of players. Hitters, pitchers, MVPs, medicore journey men (Jim Parque? Fernando Vina?)... basically every type of ballplayer.
So... for Hall of Fame voting, what do you do? I mean, Mark McGwire didn't show up in the report and he never tested postivie of any drugs (and he never broke any of baseball's rules either). The only reason he won't get elected to the Hall is because Jose Canseco wrote a book. That's it. I still stand by my stance of "elect everyone or elect no one". You can't pick and choose.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
That being said, we saw a pretty strange starting five. Your Cleveland starters were Eric Snow, Shannon Brown, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Awesome. They actually didn't do too bad; by the time the first subs came in, the Cavs had a 15-11 lead. Snow started because Daniel Gibson was out cause of his wisdom teeth (speaking of Snow, I love how the bigs grab a defensive board, everyone runs out... except for Eric Snow. It's like he doesn't want to run; he always waits back for the ball, rather than move ahead for an outlet pass).
I'm like this whole "Larry Hughes off the bench" thing. James, Hughes and Varejao all came off the bench together (LeBron said so there wouldn't be any boos). Hughes was nothing short of spectacular (this was definitely one his best games as a Cavalier); he scored 36 points on 13-17 shooting (5-8 from 3) to go along 4 boards and 3 assists. Obviously, Hughes isn't going to shoot this well on most nights, but he took good shots and attacked the rim in spots (mostly when LeBron was sitting). I know it's only been two games, but it could be huge if Hughes can get in rhythm coming off the bench.
More Larry off the bench. Last season, the first subs were Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall... not great. Now if those first subs could be Hughes and Varejao... Coach Mike could have a lot of flexibility. Hughes can come in for either Gibson or Pavlovic and Andy can spell both Z and Gooden. Plus, Hughes could move back and forth between the point and the two.
Oh, by the way, the game wasn't nearly as close as the final score looks. Four minutes into the game, the Pacers led 11-10.... at the end of the first it was 37-16. Every once in a while Indiana would make a run to get within 13 or so (and at one point 10) but the Cavs would simply refocus and bury them again. They had a 65-49 halftime lead and very nearly gave fans a chalupa in three quarters, leading 97-74 heading into the final period.
The refs continue to hose Sasha Pavlovic. At this point it's comical. Sasha had two fouls and both were terrible charge calls. The first charge was called as Danny Granger sidestepped under Pavlovic while he was in the air. The second call was even worse; Granger again slid under Pavlovic, but this time he was inside the circle. I have no idea how an offensive player gains an unfair advantage by having defender undercut him while airborn, but apparently Pavlovic did it twice. I was hoping that after last season, Pavlovic might get a little benefit of the doubt every now and then, but apparently not. Pavlovic finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
The starting bigs were pretty good. Gooden didn't shoot that well (3-9) but he did grab 11 boards. Z's offensive game was working, scoring 17 points (5-11 FG, 7-9 FT) but he only nabbed 5 rebounds. Both were only so-so on defense. Z got burned on a couple Troy Murphy drives (not completely unexpected) and more than once Gooden lost his man on the way down court, leading to an open lay-up or dunk.
Does Donyell Marshall have to come back? I have no problem with Ira Newble getting some minutes at the four every now and then. He's shooting that corner 3 pretty well and Newble's just a tad quicker than Marshall at this point in their careers.
Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Sure, the losing streak hurt, but I think the Cavs can come out of this pretty well. Shannon Brown has gotten some minutes and looks more and more comfortable (but he's trade bait at this point), Dwayne Jones looks like he can be more than just another body and Devin Brown looks like he can give the Cavs a bit of everything (now, do you want all three playing crunch time? No. But having one of those guys out there won't kill you). This new deep, healthy Cavalier squad has a chance to rattle off a few wins coming up; they're in New Jersey (hey, hear about Jason Kidd...) on Friday, then they face Philly and Milwaukee at home on Saturday and Monday, respectively. They then head to New York to face the Knicks next Wednesday.
Which got me wondering, why can't he do that more often?
I like the offense a lot more with Sasha Pavlovic and Daniel Gibson starting, as they're better at the catch-and-shoot jumpers that LeBron (and sometimes Z) sets up. Larry just doesn't have the set jump shot, he's most effective when he's moving with the ball (and when he's on the court with LBJ, he's not going to have the ball that often).
If Larry can continue to play as he did in Charlotte (being aggressive and finishing inside), I would love to see him come off the bench permanently. I think if he's out there without LeBron, he'll get better shots and he won't have to settle for bad jumpers. Plus, he'll give Brown some flexibility, as he can sub for Gibson, Pavlovic or James.
From the PD:
Obviously, this only would work if Larry accepts the role as 6th man. Sure, he gets paid like a starter (and an all-star) but a bench role might be best for the team and Larry. And having a highly paid 6th man isn't exactly breaking new ground, just look at San Antonio (Manu Ginobili) and Dallas (Jason Terry).
Cavs coach Mike Brown seems to be at least interested in having Larry Hughes come off the bench.
Hughes, out since Nov. 14 with a deep bone bruise in his left leg, returned and played 26 minutes in Charlotte, leading the team with 22 points.
"I enjoyed having him come off the bench against Charlotte," Brown said. "I think he enjoyed that role, too. That's something we can always explore. He started for us for two years. He has started his whole career. But Larry's a guy who definitely wants to win.
"I feel if I spoke to him about it and he wanted to do it and I wanted to do it and it was best for the team, he'd keep coming off the bench if it was something that we feel good about."
Does the coach plan to use Hughes at point guard or shooting guard?
"He's got to still do both, because he's that talented and that versatile," Brown said. "He's terrific off the ball coming off screens. But he does have to play some point for us, too."
I'm not sure if this will happen, but I think the Cavs at least need to explore the scenario. Maybe I'm just desperate for any kind of change regarding Hughes, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
Larry Hughes for 6th Man of the Year!
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
This was some sloppy basketball. Haphazard passes, bizarre shot choices and lots of foul shots (Charlotte shot 48, Cleveland shot 31)- this game wasn't pretty. The third quarter was probably the worst, as neither team scored 20 points in the period. For the game, the Cavs had 25 turnovers and the Bobcats had 19.
The Cavs could not execute down the stretch. Z got blocked (or fouled) off a pick-and-roll, Daniel Gibson turned it over with a carry and Shannon Brown missed multiple 3s from the corner. The Cavs also called a timeout with 30 seconds left only to have Larry Hughes dribble the ball off his foot. This was ugly.
Though the Bobcats kept bailing them out. Shannon Brown got fouled twice on made layups down the stretch and Daniel Gibson got fouled shooting a trey with under 10 seconds to go. Some of the mental lapses in this game were just mind boggling (I mean, Jason Richardson just grabbed Shannon Brown on an open layup... I don't get it).
However, for the most part, Larry Hughes played really well. This was Larry's first game back and he led the Cavs with a season high 20 points (his previous high for the year? 12). Hughes looked remarkably different Saturday night; he took the ball to the rim (and finished!), he played nagging defense and, most of all, he played with confidence. Austin Carr and Fred McCleod kept babbling about Larry's recent upper body lifting playing a part in this, which begs the question: was Larry Hughes not lifting before? Is this possible? The announcers kept remarking that Hughes looks different and stronger, but I couldn't really tell, I mean, I haven't seen him play in about a month.
Shannon Brown got 12 shots, Zydrunas Ilgauskas got 7. I don't care for this.
Not that Brown played poorly. Sure, he still takes some head scratching shots, but for the most part he was under control. Brown scored 15 points on 6-12 shooting (0-3 from behind the arc) but was just 3-6 at the foul line (including one miss where McCleod remarked that he didn't think Brown "missed it on purpose"... that's a never a good sign). Brown did break out his statue of liberty dunk again... he only has one dunk, but man, its pretty badass.
The bench showed up. Kinda. Cleveland's bench outscored their Charlotte counterparts 36-20 (yay!). 34 of those 36 points were from two players (um... wah?). Ira Newble had 14 to got with Hughes' 20 (Dwayne Jones had 2). Newble was active around the rim, grabbing 5 boards and Hughes played the role of LeBron James; creating with the ball in his hands and attacking the rim (he wasn't shooting any set jumpers tonight).
Better, but not there yet. This game was better than the Cavs last couple outings simply by the fact that it was watchable. The Cavs actually showed some heart and kept the game competitive, but they really needed to keep things under control. It was a better effort overall, but give up 48 free throws while turning the ball over 25 will kill ya. The Cavs don't play again until Tuesday, when they have Indiana at home. Hopefully LeBron and Anderson Varejao will ready for action (however limited).
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Something tells me that Jason Kidd wouldn't mind playing with LeBron James. Sooner rather than later.My sweet lord, don't tease me like this. Jason Kidd and LeBron together? I vowed not to think or write about it. This is complete speculation and I thoughts of Kidd throwing lobs to James is just too much.
"I always keep in touch with LeBron,'' said Kidd, who became friends with James while they played for USA Basketball last summer in Las Vegas. "I think the sky's the limit for him. We hung out a lot this summer in Vegas and I appreciate the work ethic, that he doesn't just rely on his talent and that he wants to get as much information as possible. Me being on another team, I don't mind cheering for somebody because I want him to be the best that he can be.''
Kidd admits that he and James daydream about contending for championships together in Cleveland. "There's a little talk,'' Kidd said. "But I told him, 'What-ifs can get you in trouble. You go out there and do your thing, and if I don't get to play with you until this summer [at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing], then that's the way it's meant to be. But the big thing is for you to go out there and lead your team.' And that's what he's doing.''
But then I saw that Kidd sat out last night's game against the Knicks 'on strike' and read this headline "Kidd wants to play with James in Cleveland" on Yahoo! Sports. Don't make me dream. Please... The Yahoo! article contained this:
There was no migraine headache holding Jason Kidd out of the New Jersey Nets' loss to the New York Knicks Wednesday night, but a superstar sending a message to a floundering franchise that he's irate with management and teammates, several league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
As the Nets flew back to New Jersey late Tuesday from a victory over Cleveland, sources said Kidd already had decided he would be sitting out against the Knicks in the Meadowlands. Kidd didn't tell Nets officials until Wednesday afternoon, but several people inside and outside the organization were made aware of the meaning behind his sick day.
Kidd's agent, Jeff Schwartz, isn't believed to have formally demanded a trade, but Wednesday's bold act could be the precursor to starting that process. Two sources said Kidd has been a constant text messaging partner with LeBron James since playing with him this summer on Team USA and that the Cavaliers are his preferred destination.
"They've been communicating about the (trade) options that could get them together in Cleveland," one Eastern Conference official said.
Wow. Just... wow. I have a trade option for you: Cleveland gets Kidd while New Jersey receives Larry Hughes and the expiring contracts of Ira Newble and Shannon Brown (and it works according to the trade machine. Get off your ass Danny Ferry!).
According to HoopsHype.com, Kidd's Salary for this season is $19.7 million and $21.3 next season. That's gonna be a tough go for the Cavs, cause the only eight digit contracts they have are James, Hughes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I can't imagine the Nets want either Hughes or Z (but I'd be willing to part with either for Kidd) so I don't really know where that leaves the Cavs.
He will be a free agent in two years and he very well might end up coming out ahead because maybe at that time he will sign the $9-$10 million per season deal he wanted. Maybe Fegan will look smart and collect the massive fee and respect, too. But maybe Andy injures his shoulder again. Maybe he continues to average six points and six rebounds. Maybe the Cavs make a trade that marginalizes his role on the team. He is accepting risk and the third year of that contract is not guaranteed, no matter what you read elsewhere. Which means that he is leaving $8.5 million on the table than if he’d signed the deal with the Cavs. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t.Exactly. If Varejao blows up and becomes a complete player, the Cavs are in a good spot because they'll have the cap space to sign him to a larger deal (if he warrants it). But if Andy doesn't improve and grow, the Cavs aren't going to be stuck paying a flop machine $9 million a season for the following three years.
Over at ESPN, Rich Bucher sided with Varejao and his agent (I am shocked, shocked I say, that ESPN sided against the Cavs in this) and trumpeted their success thusly:
The deal with the Bobcats, meanwhile, is nothing short of a masterstroke for Fegan, who has been publicly vilified by an increasing number of voices as the weeks passed while Varejao sat at home and the Cavs, defending Eastern Conference champions, struggled to stay above .500.Varejao left more money on the table (and more years), he held out for a month into the season and he looks like a fool for asking for $60 million. I wouldn't exactly call that a masterstroke. To be fair to ESPN (and to give credit when credit is due) Bill Simmons actually praised Danny Ferry:
Kudos to Cavs GM Danny Ferry (now there's something I never thought I'd write) for refusing to pay Anderson Varejao and getting him at a below-market price for two years. Are the NBA GMs slowly getting wiser, or is it just me? Five years ago, somebody would have stupidly given Varejao $50 million. Now he's basically getting $17 million for two years. This is progress, I think.Simmons also linked to this article by Johnny Ludden at Yahoo! Sports, which says this:
So Anderson Varejao gets his $17 million and a chance to prove he's worth more in two seasons, and the Cleveland Cavaliers get back their floppy-haired, frenetic forward at a below-market cost.
And, for that, even the Cavaliers' rivals should be thankful.
By staring down Varejao's stubborn agent, Dan Fegan, Cavs GM Danny Ferry struck a blow for front office officials everywhere. Ferry didn't just beat one of the league's toughest negotiators -- "Danny Ferry cleaned (Fegan's) clock," said one giddy rival agent -- he prevented Fegan from setting a precedent for other prospective holdout candidates.
Say what you will about Danny Ferry, but I think he's done a pretty good job as Cavaliers GM. While players like Nene, Matt Carroll, Jerome James and countless others (like the entire Sixers roster) received head scratching contracts, Ferry retained his young guys (Gooden, Pavlovic and now Varejao) at team friendly deals. And hey, Ferry wasn't the guy who let go of Carlos Boozer, he's not the guy who traded all their draft picks and he wasn't the guy who traded for Eric Snow. Ya, he signed Larry Hughes, Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall to large deals, but that was A) his first year (week) on the job and B) before the Cavs and LeBron made the playoffs. I doubt he's going to have to overspend that much to lure veterans to play with LeBron anymore.The Cavs and Ferry haven't blinked in the contract negotiations and this has really set them up nicely in the long term.
If you've gotten your news from the World Wide Leader, you're well aware that LeBron's current contract has a player option for the 2010/2011 season, meaning he'll be around through at least the 09/10 season. In the summer of '10 he has the option to stick around here for another year or sign an entirely new deal in Cleveland or elsewhere.
So this means that the summer of '09 is the offseason before LeBron can walk away. As of right now, the Cavs are looking pretty good for that summer (all contracts from HoopsHype).
Assuming the Cavs don't make any trades, they'll have some cap space to work with as Eric Snow ($7.3 million), Drew Gooden ($7.1 mil), Donyell Marshall ($5.95 mil), Anderson Varejao ($5.7 mil) and Damon Jones ($4.46 mil) all come off the books (the Cavs also hold a $2.6 million player option for Cedric Simmons)- that's roughly $30 million in cap space. Plus, the contacts for Larry Hughes ($13.65 mil), Zydrunas Ilgauskas ($11.54 mil) and Sasha Pavlovic ($4.95 mil) come off the books the following offseason, making all of them 'expiring contracts' for the summer of '09. The Cavs will have roughly $30 million coming off the books plus an additional $30 million in expiring trade assets before LeBron can opt out. Well played Danny Ferry.
So ya, Varejao may have not signed the long term, team friendly deal the Cavs may have wanted. But he didn't sucker the Cavs into a six year monster deal where they'll end up paying $10 million a year for a guy who can't shoot either.
I'm OK with this.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Now, it's entirely possible that I'll turn this on at some point tonight (or tomorrow), but there's definitely a chance that I won't. Not gonna lie, I have no desire to watch Sasha Pavlovic shoot 1-7, Shannon Brown shoot 6-14 and Drew Gooden shoot 5-14. All I know is, if Brown and Gooden combine for 28 shots while Zydrunas Ilgauskas gets just 7 (with both LeBron and Larry Hughes out) then something is extremely screwed up.
So ya... can't wait to cue this one up...
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Part of this is because of all the young guys. The starting backcourt was Daniel Gibson and Shannon Brown. Individually, both guys put up decent numbers, but I wouldn't say either second year guard played particularly well. Gibson had 17 points but shot 6-16 for the field (though 4-8 from 3) but also pitched in 6 boards and 4 assists. Brown made the most of his first start by scoring 20 points on 8-16 shooting (plus he was 4-7 from downtown) but I would say about half of his 16 shots were 'good' while the other half were forced.
Sasha Pavlovic received just 24 minutes. Surprised right? I mean, with LeBron James and Larry Hughes sitting out and going up against Vince Carter, you'd figure Sasha would get a lot of court time. And maybe Coach Mike had planned on it. But no one planned for Pavlovic to go 1-9. Also, like Brown, Pavlovic's shot selection left much to be desired.
Though, it wasn't just Sasha. As a team, the Cavs shot a blistering 34.6%. Devin Brown was 3-10, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was 1-6, Eric Snow was 0-3 and Drew Gooden was 6-16. The Cavs had just 16 assists on their 28 field goals. This was one of those games where, if I was the Cavs coach, I would've gotten myself thrown out. I'd have done this for two reasons 1) maybe me getting a technical would light a fire under their collective behinds and 2) if it didn't work, I wouldn't have to stay around and watch the rest of the debacle unfold.
The rebounding was awful. New Jersey out rebounded the Cavaliers 49-41 (and part of me thinks these numbers are skewed because of garbage time, the Cavs weren't close all game). The Cavs starting frontcourt combined for 12 boards which is as much as Dwayne Jones had in 28 minutes and only 2 more rebounds than the 10 the starting backcourt put up (Gibson had 6 and Brown had 4). Pavlovic managed to go 1-9 AND grab 0 rebounds. Drew Gooden played 38 minutes and had just 5. The Cavs gave New Jersey 12 second chance opportunities.
Dwyane Jones is trying to make the Cavs think twice about matching Anderson Varejao's offer sheet. The Cavs had 16 offensive rebounds, Jones had 8 (he had 12 total). Jones was chippy out there; he got into a few shoving matches and seemed to make his presence felt. He also made 3 of 4 shots from the floor (and 3-4 from the line) in his 28 minutes. If the Cavs do match Charlotte's deal (and I expect they will), hopefully Jones will continue to get minutes- he's earned the time.
Richard Jefferson killed the Cavs. I've never been a big fan of Jefferson, but he demolished the Cavs on the offensive end, scoring 36 points on 11-18 shooting and forced himself to the line 15 times (the entire Cavalier team had 19 FTA's). Jefferson also pitched in 2 rebounds and 2 assists, but those came pretty late in the game, as I remember at one point FSN showed a graphic in the second half and RJ had a point total in 20s but goose eggs across the board.
I feel weird saying this, but where was Ira Newble? Was he hurt and I wasn't aware (which is possible, I've been out of town)? Is he in Coach Mike's dog house? He's gotten semi-regular playing time throughout the season and I'm kinda surprised we didn't seem him at all during this game. I'm not a huge fan of Ira's game, but the guy plays hard, which is something that the Cavs could've used.
LeBron, come back, you've made your point. You're the MVP. The Cavs need to get you more help. We get it. The Cavs have some winnable games coming up (even with James out) but I wonder what their mental state is at the moment. LeBron and Hughes are out and the Cavaliers have lost 4 in a row. The offense is a mess (Z isn't nearly as involved as he needs to be) and the defense is awful (the Nets shot 51% from the floor). These past four games (Pistons, Raptors, Celtics and Nets) would've been tough even with James, so I'm not surprised that they've lost, it's just how bad they've looked while doing it. The Cavs are Washington tomorrow (another back-to-back) and then in Charlotte (could be awkward) on Saturday. Both games should be winnable, LeBron or no.
In need of a big man, the Charlotte Bobcats reached agreement Tuesday on a three-year offer sheet with Cleveland restricted free agent Anderson Varejao, giving the Cavaliers a week to match the deal or lose him.
ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher reported the offer sheet is worth $17.4 million, which would fit the Bobcats' mid-level salary cap exception.
This seems weird to me. $17.4 million for 3 years is very reasonable and I'm suprised Varejao signed for it, considering this:
He also refused Cleveland's opening offer of five years, $20 million, and then its latest offer of five years, $32 million, with a starting salary slightly below the midlevel exception.
So the Cavs basically have three options: let Andy walk, work out a sign-and-trade or match the (very reasonable) offer and have to deal with a disgruntled Brazilian.
Personally, I'd like to see the Cavs match the offer, if only because they need a backup big man and the contract won't kill the cap. And if Varejao balks and wants out of Cleveland? Fine, trade him to someone besides Charlotte (I don't care for the Bobcats roster, who would the Cavs want? Adam Morrison?).
Either way, things just got interesting.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
But ya know what? This is why you need a playoff system. This is what we have. Ohio State backs in? I'm not gonna lie, I'll take it.
Now... the other team?
Does #7 LSU jump to 2? Does Georgia or Kansas get in, despite not winning their own conference? Is everything OK because "we're talking about college football"? Is "the entire regular season is a playoff" if we're arguing over title game participants at this point? I know I'm going on a limb here, but the BCS sucks.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The first half wasn't awful. The Cavs were obviously tired; it was their fourth game in five nights, they were coming off an emotional win against Boston (where the starters all logged big minutes) and they had to travel the night before. All the excuses were there for them to mail this one in, but to their credit, they stuck around. Cleveland was down by 10 with about 2 minutes to go in the half and they cut the lead to five at half, 48-43.
Sure, being tired isn't an excuse, but wow, could you tell. In the first half, Detroit shot 54%, they out rebounded Cleveland 22-14 and they had 16 assists (the Cavs had 12 for the game). The Cavs were simply getting beat; they let players go back door, they were at least three steps slow on defensive rotations and they had a lot of miscues on offense. But, like I said, despite all that, they were only down five at half.
Z in particular looked bad. He missed some gimme shots early on and he finished just 2-8 from the floor for 8 points to go along with 3 boards. As long as the Cavs don't have a viable back up big man, Z's minutes will remain an issue, especially on back to backs. Fortunately (I guess), once LeBron went down and the game became a laugher, Coach Mike stuck Z on the bench and Ilguaskas finished the evening with just 23 minutes.
You know what is a bad sign? LeBron led the team in scoring. Now, to be fair, most of the starters didn't play in the 4th period (and one could argue they didn't play in the 3rd either), but it isn't good that LeBron plays just 24 minutes and ends up with a team high 15 points. Sasha Pavlovic (who played decent in the first half) was the Cavs' runner up with 13 points.
In case you were wondering, the Pistons still complain after every play. Z is mugged on the last play of the first half and Rasheed Wallace sits there with a "are you kidding me" look on his face (this was after he hit a jumper and jawed at an official). Detroit also wasn't pleased that the refs weren't awarding them for their novel 'stand in front of LeBron and pray for a charge' defense.
Garbage time wasn't even fun. The Pistons just kept hitting (open) shots and the Cavalier scrubs didn't do much on either end. Shannon Brown got some long awaited court time and promptly shot the ball whenever he could. I'm sure Larry Hughes appreciated Shannon's 1-6 performance, but I'm not sure anyone else did.
I'm not really sure what to make of this game. Ya, the Cavs stunk without LeBron, but he did leave mid- game (so it wasn't like they were prepared, mentally or physically). They played kinda well without James last season (for short periods), so I don't think they'll be helpless. I'm not sure how much you can take away from this game, besides the fact that the Cavs' bench needs to step up so the starters aren't so whipped at the end of these tough stretches (note: this doesn't mean give Anderson Varejao $60 million).
On a personal note, I won't be around for the Toronto game on Friday and I won't be able to watch the Celtics game until Monday morning (so no recap to later Monday). I'll be in Arizona this weekend for the Browns game/drinking with college friends.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I was pretty worried in the 3rd period. The Celtics had built a seven point lead, the Cavs offense wasn't moving... I'll be honest, I was waiting to see if they would fold or not. But they didn't. Maybe they've learned from their long playoff run of a year ago, but the Cavs stayed focussed for the entire game and got back into it.
The biggest loser of the night? Anderson Varejao. The Cavs 3rd quarter hero was Drew Gooden, who went 8-8 in the period- he kept the Cavs in the ball game. Now, say what you will about Gooden (and I have) but he had a monster night and the Cavs don't win this game if Varejao is starting in his place. Gooden finished with 24 points (on 11-15 shooting) and 13 boards and kept Kevin Garnett off the glass (just 5 boards for KG, who averages 12 a night).
That M-V-P chant at the end was a nice touch (noticed that no one cares about that Yankees cap any more, huh?). I'm not sure anyone is noticing (nationally or in Cleveland), but LeBron James is having a monster of a season. James finished the night with 38 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. What makes his 38 points even more impressive is that the Celts were focussed on keeping LBJ out of the lane (and for the most part, they succeeded) and the ball out of his hands. LeBron hit some absolute daggers in the face of the Celtics defense (mostly Paul Pierce) and, oh by the way, made 14-15 from the line. The man is unstoppable right now.
You know who else is unstoppable? Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Check out this line from the big fella: 15 points (6-9 shooting), 14 boards, 5 assists and 4 blocks. Both Z and Gooden were key in keeping the Celtics off the boards (the Cavs outrebounded Boston 47-40, but did give up 10 offensive boards). Z has been playing great this season and, as of now, deserves his third all-star appearance.
The Cavs won the battle at the line. The Cavaliers shot 28-36 from the charity stripe (77%) while Boston was just 20-29 (69%) including two huge misses from Ray Allen at the end of regulation that could've put Boston up two with 20 seconds to go. And while we're here talking about free throws and such, I'd just like to say that, overall the refs weren't terrible, they weren't good either. Hell, Z was hacked the first play off the game and Pavlovic's foul on Allen (before his two misses) was really tough to swallow. This is the point of the recap where I'll bitch about Pavlovic not getting calls- because he doesn't. He got whistled for two pretty weak blocks and he should've gone to the line on at least one of his drives.
Speaking of Pavlovic, he had a great game. Pavs was jawing with KG for most of the evening (to be fair, most everyone was talking trash) and he took some huge shots down the stretch and in overtime. Sasha hit the game tying 3 with a minute left in regulation and he hit a big shot early in OT to put the Cavs up four (a lead they never relinquished). Pavlovic finished with 16 points (on 6-13 shooting), 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. His defense was a bit lax to begin the game (somehow Ray Allen kept getting open) but he picked it up in the second half and OT.
The bench wasn't much help and every Cavalier starter played at least 43 minutes. The Boston bench outscored their Cleveland counterparts 26-8. Devin Brown led the bench with 6 points (and one technical foul) and Ira Newble was the only other reserve to score. It worked out for one game, because Cleveland front court came up big, but if any of the starters were off, the Cavs could've been screwed.
Dear Cavs fans: please don't talk trash. Don't get me wrong, I hate the Celtics. I hate the 60 win predictions, I hate the talk of them chasing the Bulls' 72 wins (only 8 more losses to go!) and I'm more than a bit peeved that pundits have basically given them the Eastern Conference title. But the Cavs play in Boston this upcoming Sunday and it wouldn't be prudent to run your mouth before Sunday night. This was just one game (and a great win) but it's just one of many. The Cavs can't get too high on this, as they finish off their four games in five nights stretch in Detroit on Wednesday night. That being said, I think I'm going to enjoy this new rivalry, the game was physical and neither team seemed to like each other. I'll leave you with this paragraph from the AP wrap up, which brings a smile to my face:
During the closing minutes, James and Garnett exchanged a few choice words and both teams played as if it were a playoff game in June. After the final horn, there were no friendly hugs shared between two of the East's powers.
2. The pundits can fuck off. Ya, maybe Ohio State didn't look great this year. Maybe you don't want to see them in the title game after last season. I get that. Hell, I'm almost sympathetic. If I had to watch Notre Dame get reamed in a title game only to come back the next season with a weaker team, I'd be pissed too. But these are the rules we have.
3. And don't give me any of this 'the whole season is the playoffs' crap. No, it's not. Kansas only has one loss, same as Ohio State. Yet their loss hurts more. Hell, Hawaii hasn't even lost yet and they're ranked 12th. If the whole season counts as one big playoff, how can we decide which one loss team gets in? And if we're going to keep the illusion that all division 1-A conferences are created equal (at least no formal tiers) then how can you let a team that wins all of it's games not play for the title.
4. Obviously, again, we need a playoff system (thanks ESPN!). And not one of those bullshit "plus one" games either. That works out for some years but not others (why should 2002 Ohio State have to play another game?). Personally, I'd love to see a 32 team playoff, but 16 shouldn't be too much to ask, should it?
5. But we're probably going to have to start small. Sure, maybe a "plus one" or maybe a four team deal, whatever. But all I know is, at some point, once we have a playoff system, we're going to look back at the BCS and the bowls and wonder "what were we thinking".
6. That being said, West Virginia scares me. You mean a running quarterback? Like James Locker and Juice Williams? Really? The last thing I want to see is OSU get killed in the title game again, but the prospect of facing Pat White scares me just a tad.
7. So, is he the hotdog guy or the guy from Usual Suspects? Which one is it Cleveland sports bloggers? I think we need to come to a consensus before spring training.
8. Joking aside, I like the deal. Do we really know what we're going to see from him? Not really. But it's a cheap deal and it could really work out. But, as Terry Pluto says, we really don't know.
9. More Pluto. He also wants to trade Jhonny Peralta for a corner outfielder who can hit. I dunno, the fan in me likes Peralta a lot. He's been here for awhile now, he showed up in the playoffs and he always seems like the little brother to CC Sabathia, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. However, the Tribe does need to shore up their outfield corners...
10. But let's not count our chickens before they've hatched. Like Pat at the DiaTribe says, Barfield and Cabrera aren't nearly established enough to simply hand them the middle infield.
11. I would like to see some rumors however. I love baseball rumors, they don't have to be even remotely credible and I'll eat 'em up. I want to open up the ABJ or PD and see the Tribe pursuing some big name pitcher that they'll have no chance at. Can we at least get the juices flowing?
12. The Browns look good, don't they? I'm not gonna lie, I did not see this coming. I had absolutely no faith in Derek Anderson (and he still scares me a bit). Hopping on this bandwagon doesn't seem like a bad plan.
13. I didn't hate that Livingston column as much as others did. Some people (*cough* Joel) just took it apart. Now, I'm not saying that it's a good column (it's not) but this one didn't piss me off nearly as much as half of his shit. Also, for the record, I like Dick Feagler.
14. Kellen Winslow is a beast. I've been holding off on buying a new Browns jersey for awhile (I have a personal one for a few years now) until I could figure out a player. Sgt. Winslow it is. The guy catches everything thrown his way and he plays hurt, what more can ask for (also, it takes roughly six guys to bring him down). There's a lot of balls that Anderson throws his way that are into double coverage but Winslow always manages to make the catch.
15. Oh Mistake by the Lake. The only place where you'll get recaps of Josh's Cribbs.
16. Leigh Bodden, Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald? The kid had a huge game (and it would've been a good day even without his late INT). The Browns haven't been that lucky in the late rounds of the draft (hell, they haven't been lucky in the early rounds) and it'd be great to find a gem.
17. Was I aware of this? It seems that Sean Taylor (RIP) was nearly a Brown. Part of me thinks I knew this, but the details don't seem all that familiar.
18. Did anyone not enjoy that Monday Night Football game? Sure, the final score was 3-0, but I loved watching everyone slip and fall in the mud. Reminded me of last Thursday morning....
19. Alright, about this Anderson Varejao business. The guy is an idiot. These aren't bad deals:
Several other teams told ESPN.com they would have offered Varejao their full midlevel exception (starting at $5.356 million per season), but Varejao has not been willing to sign for that amount because he believes (a) the Cavs would match, and (b) he's worth more.
The Cavs' popular forward wants considerably more than the team is offering. He turned down the Cavs' one-year, $1.2 million tender offer. (To retain a restricted free agent, a team must make a tender offer.) He also refused Cleveland's opening offer of five years, $20 million, and then its latest offer of five years, $32 million, with a starting salary slightly below the midlevel exception.
5 years, $32 million? Are you serious? How is that not a fair deal? As far as I'm concerned, that deal should the Cavs final offer.20. I mean, he's screwed himself. He's at the Cavs mercy here. If he goes to Europe and plays, he'll still be a restricted free agent when he returns. Him holding out is only making things worse. There's no way the Cavs will give him a 1-year deal at this point.
21. Windhorst smacks him down. This is ridiculous:
They are trying to put public pressure on the Cavs by angling in the media, first saying they’ll take a one-year, $5 million contract, then saying they’d bel willing to go to arbibitration, now saying they demand a sign-and-trade.
That’s all sounds so good, but no team in the NBA would give Varejao a one-year deal right now. Varejao would never give up position for a rebound, so why would the Cavs give up their refusal rights to an aribitrator? Nobody in the NBA would. As for a sign-and-trade now, who is fooling whom? The summer is for sign-and-trades, the summer is for doing contracts. You don’t think Fegan has been working on sign-and-trades since July? Of course he has and there is no deal to make. There one coming now just like there wasn’t then. See, so much of this is common NBA sense, which is why so much of this is nonsense.
By the way, Varejao trying to indict the Cleveland media saying he never asked for a contract averaging $10-$11 million a year is rich. One of the worst kept secrets in the NBA is that Fegan asked for six years and more than $60 million a few days before training camp. Executives all over the league have been taking to each other and to media members about that figure. It’s not even inside information anymore, everybody knows it. Maybe that is not what they are asking for now, but they asked for it then.
22. More BW. This entire situation blows my mind:
The real crazy thing about this is they all this agony is over a non-starter. A key bench player and a key player in the playoffs, but at the end of the day he is a complementary big man who is good at taking charges. He’s valuable to the Cavs, they want him back, and all that stuff. They have offered him a pile of money. They have said they will put incentives in there that will pay him millions more if he becomes an All-Star or First Team All-NBA or whatever. They just don’t think he’s worth more than the $6.4 million they are paying Drew Gooden, a player averaging a double-double, this year.
Exactly. There's no reason for the Cavs to pay Varejao more than Gooden. End of story. I like Varejai and I think the Cavs could use him but they don't need him.
23. BTW, fuck ESPN. Was Bill Simmons a part of this reporting?:
On each side, the frustration level has been rising the past few weeks, as Varejao is left in limbo in Brazil, and as the Cavs have struggled coming out of the gate in training camp and the regular season.
If anyone has had a problem with the Cavaliers start, they're an idiot. So far the only game that I would say they should've won was the Milwaukee game. The Orlando game... maybe (and if you include the refs...). But I don't think the Cavs have struggled at all this season. This team wasn't perfect last season either (despite their trip to the Finals).
25. It's great that LeBron supports Andy, but who cares? Is anyone really surprised by this:
What is LeBron supposed to say? "I agree with Ferry and there's no way that we should pay Andy $10 million a season, it'd kill our cap"? The Cavs' management has to do what's best for the team long term and short term. The threat of LeBron leaving hangs over them, but the last thing they should do is panic and overpay bad players just to show James that they're trying (see Hughes, Larry and Marshall, Donyell).
Varejao says that the Cavs' players support him, and that his conversations with James have been positive.
"He just says, 'We love you and we're waiting,'" Varejao said. "He keeps telling me he wants me back but to get the best deal I can and to take care of my family. He's a great teammate. He always supports us on and off the court."
That sentiment was confirmed by a source close to James, who said, "LeBron wants Andy back. He wants him to get a fair deal. I think his frustration isn't with Andy, it's with the fact that for the past two years, he's been waiting for more help and he hasn't gotten it. This is just a step in the wrong direction."
26. More LeBron. From Free Darko:
LeBron's silhouette started looming over the league a couple years ago, when NBA-pundits were begging and prodding Michael Redd to ditch his faithful Bucks to sign with the Cavs and be LeBron's hypeman. Since losing Carlos Boozer and failing to sign Redd, Cleveland has made a series of questionable front office moves that didn't seem to faze LeBron much last year ... but give him time. People are so concerned with LeBron's daily mood that certain Cleveland contract hold-ups have already generated a barrage of "OH MY GOD HOW COULD THE CAVS NOT THROW MILLIONS AWAY TO SASHA PAVLOVIC AND ANDERSON VAREJAO" stories. As good as LeBron has been playing, it's almost as though he is preemptively sticking it to the Cavs to say, "Man, you guys sure would love to see 30 and 12 and 12 for the next ten years wouldn't you ... Wouldn't you?"I'm all for the Cavs trying to improve. But there's making moves and making smart moves. The key is to not panic. If they can to a sign-and-trade with Varejao for Andre Miller? I do it. If the only deal is trading for Marko Jaric (and his terrible contract)... no thanks. If the Cavs have to sit on this roster for an entire season, I'm OK with that. It won't be great, but it will be better than making panic moves that will haunt them in two years.
27. BTW, LeBron is going to win the MVP. No loafing this year. Also, LeBron got player of the week.
28. Question my fanhood all you want. But when it comes to watching NBC's Monday lineup versus Monday Night Football... I'm choosing NBC 9 times out of 10. Chuck is quirky and fun, Heroes is finally improving and Journeyman is turning out to be really good.
29. Joke Line and FISA. Wow, this just keeps going and going...
30. Music thoughts. I saw Sondre Lerche at the House of Blues this past Wednesday and he was quite good. I'm really digging his music from the soundtrack to Dan in Real Life (which I have yet to see) and the songs worked really well live. Here's 'To Be Surprised' from Sondre's appearance on Letterman (though I like album version a little better).