Friday, March 30, 2007

Going for his points? Really?

I like Simmons, I really do. I harp on him a lot but I really do love his writing (the guy loves basketball. I'm gonna enjoy that).

He has a great column/blog post about OJ Mayo, outlet passes and the future of basketball. I recommend it (as does True Hoop). But I do a small problem with one part (surprise! the part about LeBron):
...the sport of basketball is headed for a crossroads of sorts, personified by the fact that Kobe Bryant's recent streak of 50-point games received far more national attention than the incredible Suns-Mavs game two weeks ago. Nobody wants to be the next Steve Nash; everyone wants to be the next LeBron James, the next Gilbert Arenas, the next Vince Carter. Those guys make the most money and get the most magazine covers and commercials. Just look at what happened to LeBron's all-around game when he reached the pros -- blessed with an innate passing gene that gave him a choice between becoming the next Magic or the next MJ, he said "Screw it, I'm going for my points" and went the MJ route. I will always be disappointed about that choice.

I'd like to know what he's basing this on, last years All-Star game? Needless to say, I disagree, for a number (five to be exact) of reasons.

1) Does he watch Cavs games? LeBron often spends the entire first quarter trying to set up his teammates, to the detriment of his own offense. It's not like he's not trying to pass.

2) The whole Magic or MJ stuff.... first of all, rarely does anything or anyone live up to the hype and the crazy expectations. The Star Wars prequels, the final two Matrix movies, latter seasons of Sopranos, books 6-11 of the Wheel of Time, etc. Anytime something gets big hype and you start saying 'this could be the best _______ ever', you're setting youself up to be disappointed. I think LeBron's done remarkably well, all things considered. I'm not sure what Simmons is expecting LeBron to be doing.

3) As a Cavs fan, I want LeBron to 'go for his points' more often. I've watched almost all of his games this year and I want him to be more aggressive.

4) Didn't Simmons (and a lot of media types) call out LeBron on passing to his (open) teammates when the game is on the line? Isn't that making the right basketball play and trying to win the game?

5) You wanna see LeBron rack up more assists and become more of a playmaker? You want to see him log double digit assists every night? Look at his teammates. Say you give LeBron some guards who can shoot (Hughes and Snow are almost negative offense), an athletic big man who has good hands AND is aggressive AND can finish (kind of like if you combined Gooden, Andy and Z) and a coach with an offensive gameplan- LeBron's game might look a bit different. His degree of difficulty is off the charts (just imagine if he and Wade switched teams and LeBron is coached by a legend and is surrouned by veterans who know what they're doing).

Look, he makes some good points and I love the piece. And maybe I'm just too sensitive to national criticism of LeBron and the Cavs (look, I'm not used to Cleveland teams getting discussed constantly. This is still new to me), but it's obvious he hasn't seen a whole lot of Cavs games.

[Update] Edited to clear up some parts and fix the massive amounts of typos

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fratellis on Conan

I'm loving this band a whole lot right now, and though this isn't the best performance, it's still pretty good.

"and they punched their ticket to Cleveland. Which, in this case, is a good thing"

The Women's Final Four. Seriously, does anyone care? I know we're all supposed to and everyone kinda pretends that they respect women's basketball, but we don't. And since it's in Cleveland this year, I'm really supposed to care.

It's taking up space on the local news and in the paper, see? Bill Livingston is writing about it, it's important!

I'm sure all the players aren't exactly thrilled. They have to come to Cleveland. The men are playing Atlanta (nice weather, strip clubs etc). Not really fair, is it.

But we don't care. And I'm actually a little embarrassed. The logo is awful. I hate how all national logos for Cleveland events like this (all-star games and the like) all incorporate a guitar due to the Rock Hall (Cleveland Rocks!).

Look, I love the Rock Hall. I love music. But if anyone thinks Cleveland is this great rock and roll town, they are mistaken. Hell, the Rock Hall doesn't even respect us; the induction ceremony? You know, where all the bands play and it's the one time all year that people think about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Well, it's held in New York, not Cleveland. Fantastic.

I guess that's my only solace; the teams can't particularly care to be here. And I don't particularly care that they are here.

The Women's Final Four 2007: where Cleveland pretends to care about women's basketball and women's basketball teams pretend to enjoy being in Cleveland.

Garko makes the team


Of course, he's the 25th man and he'll be sitting behind third baseman/outfielder/part owner/scout/player to be named later/first baseman Casey Blake, but he's on the roster.

Sheldon Ocker says that Wedge will have to creative (oh joy) to get Garko some ABs, maybe even using Pronk in the field:

Getting enough at-bats for Garko to stay sharp might be difficult. At times he will play first against left-handed pitchers, but he might have to share that role with Victor Martinez, who probably will be given a break from catching by playing a few games at first.

Travis Hafner also might play a few games at first (he is considered more proficient than Garko defensively) and leave the designated hitter duties to Garko.

I'm seeing this as a Daniel Gibson type situation, Garko is gonna sit at first but eventually he'll force his way into the lineup.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Palate Cleanser

Because I need something to distract me from the Cavs

Beck - Clap Hands

Lego Mario

New York 97, Cleveland 93

Mother f%$#*@!! The Knicks? Again? Seriously? Without Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson, Steve Francis (for 90% of the game) and David Lee? This should never happen.

I love the stand around offense. 38% for the game. They had a critical possession late in the game that would've allowed the to take the lead and LeBron dribbled at the top of the key for 20 seconds and the hoisted a jumper. No one moved, no one cut, LeBron made no move towards the hoop- nada.

Fourth quarter rotation. It can't be a good sign that you're starting shooting guard hasn't played in the fourth quarter for two consecutive games this late in the season. Hughes had 8 points and 1 board while shooting 3-10. Awesome.

Eric Snow played the entire fourth again. I'm torn here; I'm am completely fine with benching Hughes when he's playing like this but at the same time... the Cavs were losing and they were having trouble scoring. Eric Snow isn't exactly the solution to those problems. The Cavs need Gibson to find his stroke soon, I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.

Move with out the ball, please. Z used one of my tricks in the third quarter. LeBron fed Z the ball on the block and just stood there. Z was waiting for him to cut but nothing was happening, so he started 'slyly' nodding his head towards the hoop trying to get LeBron to move. Finally LeBron cut and (surprise!) Z got him the ball. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but Sasha Pavlovic is the only wing player that consistently cuts while a big man has the ball. LeBron and Larry just stand there and wait to get the ball back; they'd get at least a few easy buckets every now and then.

Z started off hot, then faded. He had 11 points in the first quarter (he had 11 of the Cavaliers first 17 and he assisted on the two 3s) but he finished with just 18 and he missed a free throw late in the game that could've tied it (he was 6-7 overall). I bugs me to no end that they'll dump the ball to Z and just stand there watching him. Somebody move! The guy can pass the ball (he finished with 5 assists) so give him the option.

Z wasn't the only one who missed a critical free throw. LeBron had a chance to put the Cavs up 1 with 7 minutes to go, but he bricked both (in his defense, he did get decked the play before).

The refs stunk. Now, I don't want to put the blame on the refs, as the Cavs had no business losing this game. However, there were some terrible no calls (Larry on a break away, LeBron 2 or 3 times, Z getting hacked in the key, Gooden's hook getting 'blocked' from behind by Balkman and Varejao's dunk- and that's just off the top of my head (in addition to all the call that Pavs could've gotten. The refs hate that guy)). The refs were letting the Knicks play on and they took their licks on the Cavaliers (and LeBron. He got rocked a few times).

Can we run more plays for Sasha? Now there's a sentence I couldn't imagine typing 5 months ago. Lets review: Hughes played 27 minutes, took 10 shots and missed 7 (including 0-3 from beyond the arc). Sasha got 34 minutes and took just 8 shots and made 6 (incidentally all six were 3s). He's more efficient than Hughes, he takes better shots than Hughes and yet, Hughes gets more shots. I am confused.

This was one of those games where Gooden just didn't show up. 4 points, 7 boards in just 20 minutes. The Cavs could've really used ya Drew.

Lackadaisical play. All night. From everyone. Truth be told, the entire team looked out of it. No one really seemed too jazzed to play this game and everyone looked tired. Knicks were left open for jumpers (and they made quite a few), the offense seemed half-assed (at best) and besides Sasha, the treys weren't falling (LeBron 2-5, Marshall 1-4, Gibson and Hughes 0-3).

and finally...

You clinched a playoff berth, so what? Don't assume you have the 2 seed. The Cavs are only a game up on the Bulls, who they face in Chicago on Saturday night.

Get Out of Here

I'm guest blogging over at Yaysports! today. I'll be out for most of the day at a convention/conference, so you'll have to get your Ira Newble bashing fix somewhere else.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cleveland 105, Indiana 94

Start the road trip off right. A solid win against the Pacers hopefully will wash out the nasty taste of the Nugget game.

The offense worked. Well, they had a little slump early in the game but besides that, they stayed away from the 'stand around and hoist jumpers' offense that they love to employ (though it did sneak in here and there).

On a related note, Z had a good game. Funny how that works out. The big fella finished with 23 points, 4 boards (which is surprisingly low, I mean, he can get four boards off of one 'volley ball' sequence) and 2 assists. He got the ball early, he got the ball late, he passed out of double teams, etc- he was utilized. Also, he hit all nine of his free throws (the fact that he got nine attempts is a good sign). Of course, this was against the Pacers. Z can destroy sub-par teams, it's against the good teams that he's really needed (and he hasn't stepped up/been used). He's in a good groove right now, scoring in double figures for the 5th game in a row and the 8th time in 10 games.

Eric Snow got a lot of minutes and I'm not even mad. Snow had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. He even hit an open jumper or two. When he shoots 5-7 AND makes his free throws AND rebounds AND plays his good defense AND doesn't commit moronic turnovers, Snow is very palpable. That's not really true, I don't mind Snow in small doses and 26 minutes is fine when he's playing this well. It's when he gets 26 minutes and he's not producing at all (I'm expecting this kind of night) where I get frustrated with him.

Plus, Daniel Gibson got a decent chunk of minutes. He hit two 3s but didn't do a whole lot besides. But right now the Cavs need his jumper most of all, if he can get back on track from beyond the arc, he's going to keep getting the PT. It would serve the Cavs well to have both Gibson and Z shooting with confidence come playoff time.

Besides Gibson, no one hit a 3. Boobie was 2-3, everyone else was 0-10. It actually wasn't too bad, the misses were spread across the team. LeBron was 0-3. Hughes, Sasha and Marshall missed two apiece and Zydrunas missed an 'end of shot clock' heave. Even though they were missing, I see this as a good sign- the shots weren't falling and they didn't just 'shoot themselves out of it'. They went inside, they went to the line and they didn't rely on the bombs.

The minutes were distributed a bit better. Kinda. LeBron still got 40, which isn't good. Sasha had 29 minutes, just 4 less than Hughes's 33, which I like. However, Larry didn't play the entire fourth quarter. So Sasha still had less minutes, even though Hughes sat the last period. I'm not really seeing a reason why Brown can't give Sasha another five or so minutes a game and relieve some of the burden off of James (and Hughes). Brown gave a solid chunk of minutes to each of his bench performers; in addition to Snow's 26 minutes, Gibson and Varejao (who had a little foul trouble) had 17 and Marshall had 15.

and finally....

New York tomorrow. I always hate it when they play the Knicks, cause the Knicks usually A) give them a game or B) out right beat them. I feel like the Cavs should be destroying them, but the Knicks usually break out the quick guards (a large Cavalier weakness) and hang with 'em. Fortunately Jamal Crawford (a notorious Cav-killer) and Quentin Richardson (a strong LeBron defender) are both out, so hopefully this game will be as easy as last week's.

Cavs rotation

One of my biggest problems with Coach Brown this season has been his haphazard rotation. Sometimes we see Eric Snow for 10 minutes, sometimes for 30. Sometimes Shannon Brown gets a look, most other times he doesn't dress. Currently we're in the middle of an Ira Newble revival.

Bud Shaw (in a column that references both Funkmaster Flex AND Blades of Glory) has more:

The coach mentions San Antonio's use of Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili as evidence that even the championship-level teams do their share of experimenting. But there's a difference between tweaking and the need to send out a search party to locate missing bench players.

Damon Jones, for instance, is no factor on a team that doesn't shoot the ball well even though he was a consistent contributor earlier in the season. He knocked down three 3-pointers on March 13. What has happened since suggests he needs to change his seat on the bench. He must be sitting in the coach's blind spot.

Donyell Marshall and Jones were in the mix this time last year. Daniel Gibson has filled the shooter's role, but he looks lost since returning from injury. In consecutive games, Eric Snow played nine minutes against Utah, 31 against Charlotte and five against Dallas.

Shaw quotes Snow's minutes, let's look at some of the other players (starting from Newble's Bucks game heroics followed by Ind, Sac, @Mem, Uth, @Cha, Dal, NYK, Den):

Newble: 8, 2, 22, 19, 8, 1, 0, 11 and 11.

Snow: 26, 23, 23, 16, 9, 31, 5, 19 and 17.

Marshall: 21, 11, 9, 26, 15, 11, 15, 18 and 6.

Gibson (starting with Charlotte): 12, 18, 6 and 14

: 9, 13, 10, 15 (@Mem) and hasn't played since.
This doesn't make sense. Brown played 4 minutes in the month of February and then averaged 6 points in 10 minutes a game to begin March and hasn't played since. It'd be nice if these guys could get a nice rotation going (lets not forget that Pavlovic finally came into his own once he got steady minutes every night). Also, I'm sure exactly no one is surprised with this, but I'd prefer that Gibson and Brown get the bulk of the 'off the bench wingman' minutes (though I understand the need to play Snow in certain situations).

And then there's the starters. LeBron averages 40+ minutes a night and Hughes has been getting just under 40 while Sasha gets receives just 31 a game. I've accepted the fact that LeBron is never going to average less than 40 minutes a game (though I still don't like it) but there is no good reason why Hughes should be near the 40 minute level.

Hughes often has to guard the quickest guy on the opposition and he really (really, really, really) needs his legs under him for his jumpers (those things are flat)- it makes no sense to play him 40 minutes a night, especially since you have Pavlovic, Brown and Gibson all deserving of minutes (this same argument could also be used to cut LeBron's minutes. But that will never happen. Ever).

Shaw ends his column with a quip about how a winning road trip would be nice, but a set rotation would be better. I agree (and I want both).

Brown is going to have to figure out a set rotation of guys that he can trust come playoff time and it better not include Ira Newble.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. So I missed last week's RTftW. Oops.

2. As you may or may not know, I'll be guest blogging over at Yaysports! NBA on Wednesday, this means I'll probably be writing ahead of time and actually thinking about what I write (instead of just shooting from the hip as I'm apt to do here).

3. Ya, I don't plan things out too much. Oh, I have a rough guide of what I want to write in my head, but it's not like I go through a couple drafts or anything.

4. It shows, doesn't it?

5. RE: Buckeyes: This feels like a Team of Destiny. They almost had to make the Final Foul after their 2nd and 3rd round games. I have them winning it all in my bracket (3 of the 4 didn't have OSU in the Final Foul)

6. I love how Matta will throw a lineup out there of 4 guards with Oden patrolling the middle. It almost reminds me of the Pistons with Ben Wallace; the guards can harass their guy close up because they have that security blanket behind 'em.

7. If Oden somehow stays, Ohio State will be practically unstoppable next season. As it is they only lost 3 games. It's wouldn't be blasphemous to discuss the possibility of an undefeated season.

8. Assuming Matta stays.

9. To be fair, it seems everybody is rumored for the Kentucky job and somehow I don't see Matta leaving this soon. He's got all the resources in the world in Columbus, there's really no reason to leave (especially if Oden stays. You don't walk away from Oden and Conley)

10. The Cavs are in one of their slumps again, it's been that kind of season.

11. I didn't participate in this but I'll give my opinion anyway. I don't think the Cavs will win the East. Is it possible? Yes. But that involves them A) coming out of their recent funk and B) keeping the goodness flowing 'til the end of the season. I don't see that happening.

12. I'm prepared for anything come playoff time, nothing would surprise me. I wouldn't be shocked if the offense shut down and they lost in the first round. At the same time, I could see them catching fire and going on a deep playoff run. And honestly, I think it's an 'either/or' scenario.

13. Danny Ferry was on Jim Rome today, here's an audio link.

14. Someone else is on the Joe Thomas bandwagon too.

15. Surprisingly, Limbaugh doesn't really know what he's talking about. I've been reading stories about Hollywoods' 'Magic Negro' character for awhile now (Will Smith in Legend of Bagger Vance and Don Cheadle in The Family Man are just some of the quick ones off the top of my head).

16. Josh Marshall explains the whole Attorney Purge Scandal and why this is important.

17. Glenn Greenwald discusses executive privilege and how the press is handling the scandal.

18. This doesn't look good.

19. This does.

20. I don't mind Sheldon Ocker that much, but DiaTribe is dead on about Wright, Pluto and Windhorst.

21. Who'd you rather have, Kobe or Nash? Basketbawful makes a lot of interesting points.

22. Somehow it feels wrong to be making fun of Mo Vaughn.

23. Jackson Publick discusses the making of the 3rd Venture Bros season. I absolutely love hearing/reading about the creative process and seeing why artists chose to do what they did and how they went about doing it. I find it fascinating.

24. Brian Windhorst had a real nice article on Sunday about OJ Mayo that is definitely worth a read. Also, go watch theTim Floyd interview from PTI on

25. So I've been talking up the Fratellis quite a bit (and rightly so IMO) but I'd be amiss if I didn't point out that they're riding the coattails of the Arctic Monkeys (and the Arctic Monkeys road the coattails of the Libertines). The Fratellis are a more radio friendly version of the Arctic Monkeys, who are a more radio friendly version of the Libertines. And the Libertines, well, they kick(ed) ass.

Don't Look Back into the Sun

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Denver 105, Cleveland 93

That really escalated. This was a close game throughout (with 6:35 to go it was 88-87) but Cleveland didn't score over the last 3:42 and Denver simply pulled away.

Tale of two offenses. Did anyone notice how the Nuggets get Carmelo the ball? He gets it on the block, isolated completely or around the rim. Contrast that with where LeBron receives the ball, outside the 3 point line and with the entire defense watching him. Carmelo gets the ball right in his comfort zone and he doesn't have to outwork five guys to score. LeBron earns all of his points the hard way by taking contested jumpers and driving on the entire defense. Also, the Nuggets actually get 'Melo easy baskets by penetrating and having 'Melo set up near the rim. How many times do the Cavs do that? LeBron is always 20 feet from the hoop. Let's change this.

Hey, it's Zyrdrunas. Z played pretty well throughout, even though he missed some shots he normally makes (namely the hooks and open jumpers). As it is, he finishd with 18 points, 9 boards 3 assists (and I swear to God, only Sasha cuts to the hoop when Z and Andy have the ball. Imagine if other players *cough* LeBron did that).

The 3 point shooting was atrocious. 3-20. LeBron was 1-6, Pavlovic was 1-4 and Hughes was 0-5 and not many of those were what I'd call 'good attempts'. Hughes in particular passed up better, closer looks in order to hoist the bombs. Daniel Gibson made his 3 since his return and finished 1-4 from the land of trey (though I find it hard to believe that he wasn't fouled on at least one of his last two attempts).

I'm not a fan of the minute distribution. LeBron and Larry each played 41 minutes while Sasha played just 29. Meanwhile, both Snow and Newble were the main wing men off the bench. Snow played the entire fourth until Newble subbed in for him with 4 minutes to go (while the Cavs were down six- thats right, down six and Newble comes in). It wasn't like the rest of the bench did anything either, when Snow is your leading bench with 6 points, something has gone awry.

This offense can be efficient but apparently not with LeBron. LeBron got into foul trouble late in the third quarter the Cavs started the fourth down six. So what do they do? Run the offense through Z, pass and cut and tie the game up with 9:00 to go. LeBron comes back in at the 6:50 mark with the Cavs trailing by one. The Nuggets outscore the Cavaliers 17-6 the rest of the way. Now, obviously I'm not saying the Cavs are better without LeBron but I will say the offense looks better because the ball swings from side to side and guys actually move *hard* without the rock (LeBron isn't the only culprit, for some reason Snow holds the ball quite awhile as well). The Cavs and LeBron need to learn how to get him points without him dominating the ball so much.

National television? That means horrible offense. I swear America, they don't always looks this bad (not that this game was awful, but the last half of the fourth quarter was). Somehow the Cavs always manage to show case their worst habits on the national stage (the biggest of which is their offensive ineptness). It couldn't be because they're playing against good teams in these games...

I trash the offense, but the defense deserves some blame too. The Nuggets shot 60% for the game (well, 59.7%, but I'll round up). It wasn't like the Nuggets were just hitting everything either (only 5-14 from beyond the arc), the Cavs gave up a lot of dunks and mid-range shots. A big part of this was due to Allen Iverson, who finished with 12 assists and set up Nene and 'Melo with numerous easy baskets around the rim.

and finally...

Taking a road trip. 7 of the next 8 are away from the Q and the travel schedule makes perfect sense. They have a back-to-back with Indiana and New York starting on Tuesday, then another in Chicago and Boston next weekend. Couldn't play Chicago and Indiana back to back? And New York and Boston? No? Back and forth across the midwest and East coast? That sounds about right (I swear I'm not preemptively bitching in case they blow these games, though if they do, I'm sure FSN Ohio will mention the travel followed by "but it's not an excuse" at least a few times)

Terry Pluto does not like Brady Quinn

And who can blame him, really?

Pluto isn't a fan of drafting Quinn at number 3 (or anywhere):
I'd rather have Peterson than Quinn. I'd rather have Thomas than Quinn. I'd rather have Russell than Quinn. I'd rather have Johnson than Quinn. I'd rather trade down than take Quinn. Are we clear on this?
But it's not just his dislike for Quinn, it's this pestering tendency for Browns quarterbacks to get hurt:

I wonder how many fans who have been writing me demanding that the Browns take Quinn really like Quinn. I bet it's that they don't believe in Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson. They believe one good quarterback will fix what ails the Browns. It's thinking, ``Hey, he's gotta be better than Charlie Frye.''

Here's what should be obvious by now: Unless the Browns fix the line, no quarterback will stay healthy enough for long enough to become effective. Put a rookie such as Quinn into this mess right now, and you'll see Frye or Anderson -- a kid struggling not to get killed out there.

Jeff Garcia played here and broke a leg. He played for Detroit in 2005, took another beating. He went to a good Philadelphia team in 2006 and played well behind a solid line. Is this lesson that hard to figure out?

OK, here's another: Trent Dilfer played 11 games in 2005 for the Browns. When the season was over, he needed surgery on both knees. Kelly Holcomb broke an ankle, a leg, assorted ribs and other bones that I can't remember, and couldn't stay healthy for more than a few games in a row. Frye suffered a concussion and a broken thumb (or a sprain, or something) last year. Anderson played a few games, then broke a collarbone!

Only once in the eight-year history of the new Browns has a quarterback played all 16 games. That was Tim Couch in 2001, but he was hurt by opening day of 2002 and has been out of football since 2004 because of injuries.

If the Browns trade up (I can't believe that rumor is true), I'll scream. JaMarcus Russell is intriguing, because he's huge (6 feet 6, 256 pounds), quick and athletic. The LSU quarterback might be able to withstand some of the physical pounding a Browns QB receives. But I would not trade up for him, period.

Honestly, I can't believe we're even having this conversation. Again.

The Browns offensive line has been absolutely horrid over the last 8 years. It's been awful. No matter what quarterback was behind center, something would go wrong. There'd be no time to throw the ball (or hand it off), there'd be holding miscues at exactly the wrong time and, like Pluto subtly mentions, the QB inevitably gets hurt.

The Browns sign one guard (ONE!) in free agency and what do fans want the Browns to draft? A quarterback. And if they trade up for Russell, I'm pretty sure I'll go insane (Patrick McManamon

Look, I like the Steinbach signing as much as the next guy, but if anyone believes that he solves the Browns line problems, they are very mistaken. Is he going to help? Sure. But its not like everything is hunky dory. They still need a tackle (Joe Thomas!!!!!!!!) but I have a sneaking suspicion we'll be seeing Steinbach at tackle before the year is out.

I've come to expect that the fans will get distracted by the latest shiny object of a skill position player, but I just hope the Browns brass won't.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cleveland 90, New York 68

Good bounce back win. After the frustrating losses to Charlotte and Dallas, it was nice having a simple, no frills win against a lesser opponent.

How come the Knicks have given them problems in the past? Is it simply Jamal Crawford (a notorious Cav-killer) being out? The Cavs were in control for the entire game and the outcome was never close to being in doubt. Honestly, it's about time that they beat the Knicks this badly, I've been getting sick of the losses to Isiah's club.

James was close to a triple double (at least according to Austin Carr). 21 points, 10 assists and 3 boards. James was a steady presence all night long, distributing the ball and choosing his spots to attack. I don't want to say he was toying with the Knicks, but whenever they made any sort of run, he just took control and put and end to it. James logged 38 minutes, which is good.... for a close game. In a blow it should be much less.

Z played well. Z got the ball early (as always) and throughout the game (not as much) and responded well. He had 16 points on 7-13 shooting but only had 2 free throws and just 4 boards. Z had to guard Eddie Curry most of the night and well, didn't exactly do a bang up job. To be fair, no one else did either (but he was probably the best).

Pavlovic looked good. Only 7 shots in 27 minutes (I'd like to see him get more of both). He made his two free throws and he was all over the place on defense. James is got 38 minutes and Hughes is got 39, Pavlovic should've gotten more than 30.

Larry played better. Still not 'good' but 6-14 isn't terrible. Of his 16 points, 12 came from beyond the arc and 0 came from the foul line (missed 'em both). He still misses too many passes (either he doesn't see them right away or he's looking for his own shot too much). He also had 5 points and 2 assists- not awful, but not the numbers he was putting up during the streak either.
What a team. The Knicks had 27 field goals and 20 turnovers. Nice.

3 pointers good. Free throws not. The Cavs shot 52% from beyond the arc and 61% from the line. The first number won't happen every night and unfortunately the second number seems to. At one point, the Cavs missed 6 freebies in a row (Hughes missed 2, James 1 and Varejao 3). Not good.

Where's the rookies? Gibson got garbage time minutes and Brown didn't play (did he dress? David Wesley did). Gibson missed the two shots he took (at this point he needs to make anything in a game situation just to get back into things). Look, I know we're into the crunch time of the season, but that is no excuse to seeing a backcourt of Ira Newble and Eric Snow. I had enough of this in the 04-05 season, I don't need to see it now, especially when there are viable options on the bench.

and finally...

Denver on Sunday. This recap is probably shorter than usual, but truthfully, there wasn't much to this game (plus, I've written enough on this game already). The Cavs basically just handled their business (like I've wanted them to do against bad teams all season) and beat the Knicks soundly. They get to face AI and Melo this Sunday on ESPN, which probably means that they'll put forth a terrible game in front of the national audience. I'm already excited.

Cleveland-New York Announcing Live Blog

First Quarter

12:00 - We miss the opening tap. Of course we do.

11:18 - Austin calls Eddie Curry over weight, which somehow means Z will be able to go over the top of him. Makes sense to me.

10:25 - McLeod says Curry is 'still learning to be a defender in this league' How many years has Eddie been around? Still learning? At one point are you a bad defender?

8:44 - Austin is glad that "everyone is aware of their defensive assignments early in the game" That's good.

6:26 - "That'll get a lot of weak hearted guys stopping to attack Z when he goes to the basket, once they know he's going to throw it down" Yes. I agree. Z dunking will strike fear into weark hearted men.

4:30 - We missed an entire New York possession because of Austin breaking down a play that happened two minutes ago (to be fair, they did turn it over pretty quickly. But still, show the game!)

4:00 - With 4 minutes left in the first, McLeod says that New York has 6 turnovers in the first 6 minutes and says they're on pace for 48 and he doesn't "even need a calculator for that".

3:20 - Ira Newble checks in as the first wing player off the bench and neither announcer finds this weird.

2:18 - The Knicks have 7 field goals and 7 turnovers.

2:06 - 8 turnovers.

1:50 - 9 turnovers.

1:36 - Newble hits a 3, Carr sounds (rightly) surprised while McLeod calls him a 'triple marksman'.

0:31.9 - Carr is completely shocked that the Knicks are looking to Curry every time down the floor. I can't blame him, lord knows the last team he's seen a basketball team actually use their offensive talented center (for a whole quarter no less). Austin also informs us (in a very creepy voice) that it's pizza time.

End of the first - Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed so far, there hasn't been much crazy shit going on. Well, besides Austin's "it's pizza time" exclamation.

2nd Quarter

12:00 - Eric Snow and Ira Newble are starting the quarter. Again, neither announcer feels this is that significant. What is this, 2005? There should never be a time, with a roster that contains Hughes, Pavlovic, Gibson, Jones and Brown, that both Ira Newble and Eric Snow are sharing the backcourt.

11:25 - Austin on zone defense: "You know, when I was in high school, the zone... when you go to a zone that used to just... that that that... our coach used to say 'they afraid of us, attack them' and when that usually happens in this league when you to a zone most teams realize it's time to go on the offensive" That's a whole lotta words for 'attack the zone' (Also, is anyone shocked that New York is going zone against a backcourt of Snow and Newble? Anyone?)

10:05 - "Inside, inside. The money is at the basket today"

9:41 - Hughes subs in for LeBron. Bringing Hughes in will surely stop the Knicks zone. Wait... my bad, Sasha is coming in for Newble. Lord help us all if I have to see a trio of Snow, Hughes and Newble.

8:29 - McLeod makes a Bonanza reference which is totally over my head and FSN is using a weird window pane graphic that takes up 2/5ths of the screen, with the rest being solid colored bars. Makes sense.

5:43 - Aflac trivia question: "who was the first team ever to face the Knicks in the playoffs?" Um, Boston? Philly? It's gotta be something weird right? It can't be those two...

5:04 - We're having the Drew Gooden conversation again. Yes, we all know that Drew can score and he now knows his role. It's been 3 years, he knows he has to rebound the ball. I have a feeling we're going to have the 'Drew's learning his role' conversation as long as he's here.

2:18 - Aflac answer: The Cleveland Rebels played the Knicks in the Basketball Association of America playoffs in 1947. Sounds about right.

Halftime - McLeod just called Channing Frye 'Charlie Frye'. It actually took me awhile to figure out what the hell he was talking about ("Charlie Frye was in my jersey" was the line)

Third Quarter

11:24 - "Dick Bavetta was open, but he didn't want the shot"
"Ha ha ha ha"

9:12 - Carr, after a bad Starbury pass "Nobody was at the door waiting for that one." I think he knows what he means, but at the same time... no

8:19 - Austin - LeBron James. To me, right now, at this point, if his rebounding can pick up, he's in a good position for a triple double. But he only has one rebound."

8:19 - Z hook shot highlights. YES!

6:11 - Advice for LeBron, from Isiah Thomas, via Fred McLeod: "you have to either be loved by your teammates or win a championship. You can't have both" Makes sense, everyone hates Shaq.

4:04 - Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas is on Cleveland Rants tonight and McLeod references Austin Carr's excellent draft analysis from a few nights ago.

3:08 - I'm not a fan of the Snow, Hughes, James, Gooden and Varejao lineup. By the way, Hughes just missed 2 free throws.

2:44 - While discussing the Eastern Conference standings, Austin mentions that he doesn't want Chicago to overtake the Cavaliers for the second spot. Um, I don't want anyone overtaking the Cavaliers for the second spot.

2:14 - Malik Rose has 6 fouls in 11 minutes. "He's a hacker. That's called hacking," Austin cackles.

1:50 - Triple Double Watch: LeBron just grabbed his second board and Austin thinks he still has a shot. "He only needs 7 more. Wait 8? Oh, that's gonna be tough".

1:30 - "Brick city"

1:13 - Carr didn't like a Jerome James foul on Varejao and has resorted to fat jokes. "That's why you're Mr. Cavalier," McLeod says.

Fourth Quarter

10:13 - The camera keeps showing Malik Rose on the bench. He is surly.

9:36 - Carr just said that Curry is 280 lbs. Does anyone believe that?

9:10 - This has nothing to do with announcing, but David Wesley is dressed and Damon Jones isn't. That doesn't make sense to me.

5:47 - James makes nice court length pass and McLeod calls it a good spiral.

5:47 - Cavs new lineup: Snow, Gibson, Newble, Marshall and Gooden. Oiy.

4:59 - Austin Carr on Nate Robinson: "Well see, you have to, you have to get the, you can take the guy out of the bun, but you can't take the hotdog out of the guy. He's a hotdog, that's the way it is"

4:45 - LeBron Jr. is on the Cavs bench, that probably isn't be legal. We've also learned that Varejao is little LeBron's favorite player. So ya, I'm betting Varejao will be re-upped this offseason.

0:53 - we just had 5-6 seconds of dead air during a Knicks possession. Well done.

A few more notes

Couple things:

1. I'm going to attempt to Live Blog the Cavs-Knicks game tonight, focusing solely (well, mostly) on the announcers. We'll see how this goes.

2. The Fratellis will be on Conan tonight. It will be taped and loaded onto the site at some point. I can't recommend their CD enough, I have yet to hear someone listen to them and not have a positive response.

This probably won't end well

Yaysports! NBA is one of the best sports/NBA/Cavs blogs out there and if you haven't been checking the site out, you now have a good reason.

Me (though honestly, if you like reading, laughing and NBA ball, you really should have been over there way before this).

The Cavalier will be out and about/unable to post/on vacation/busy/tired/sick until the end of April. So instead of just having the site go dead for while (as I'm apt to do), he decided to get some guest bloggers.

5 guest bloggers, one for each day of the week and I am one of the chosen. My day is Wednesday and quite frankly, I'm not sure whats going to happen on the weekends (though I imagine something amazing).

Anyways, I'm excited and probably more nervous than I should be. It will be 'all new content!' so you won't be seeing just a game recap over there (though I've thought about the idea of having my game recaps cross posted at Swerbs, here, Real Cavs Fans AND Yaysports! all at once. Four sites, one effort to write. I'm lazy). Also, whatever I write won't be cross posted here, so on Wednesdays, if you want your Ben Cox fix (and who doesn't?), you'll have visit two sites.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dallas 98, Cleveland 90

Is this happening to anyone else? After the Cavs win a game, I feel like they could beat anyone; they'll take good shots, play defense and move the ball around- in short, they play well and win. But when they lose... man, I feel like they have no chance to do anything... ever... at all... in a world... Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the Cavs wins and losses are real simple: they play well and they win or they lose when they play poorly. They rarely have games where they play well and lose or play poorly but pull it out. There's never a loss where I feel like they simply got beat. Their losses are brutal; the offense stagnates, they make terrible decisions or they get embarrassed on defense.

And the thing is, as poorly as they played (and they played extremely poorly), the Cavs were still close enough to make a game of it. Credit the defense, credit LeBron, credit Coach Mike, all I know is that the Cavs offense looked like crap for 90% of the game and yet they were within 6 points in the fourth quarter. And this has happened a couple times this year; the offense goes into a deep funk and yet the Cavs are just a run away from winning the game. They were in that same spot against Dallas but A) got down by too much much and B) didn't execute on two late possessions that could've cut the lead to 5 (or 4).

The first half was awful. James was 2-10 from the floor, Sasha Pavlovic had all the Cavs field goals for the first 10 minutes of the second quarter, the Cavs missed 14 straight shots and they didn't score their first point of the second period until Larry Hughes made a free throw at the 7:22 mark. There were blown layups, missed dunks, forced jumpers, shot clock violations, traveling calls and missed free throws; basically, the Cavs did their best to try to turn people away from NBA basketball. It was brutal.

And yet they were only down 4 at halftime. It boggles the mind.

I don't understand the offense. The Cavs had Diop and Dampier in foul trouble for basically the entire game. Now, if I'm the coach, I do two things: feed Zydrunas (10 points, 4-8 shooting) and implore my players to drive to the hoop as much as humanly possible. Well, Z scored his last point with 5:43 to go in the third (on a tip in, no less) and the Cavs didn't attack the hoop until the the deficit was quite large. Makes sense to me.

I'm not sure what to think of Dallas. They didn't play well and yet the owned the Cavs in every which way. At the same time, since they the Cavaliers (and since the Cavs played so poorly), I'd think they'd have destroyed LeBron and co. But no, the Cavs kept hanging around (despite their own best efforts). So color me both impressed and underwhelmed (is this even possible? I say yes).

The bench sure showed up.... The Cavs scored 90 points. 87 by the starters. Ouch. The Cavs bench put 3 points and 11 boards combined. Well done.

Something is amiss here. Larry Hughes made 3 shots and Pavlovic made 5. Yet Hughes took 12 shots and Pavlovic just 8. I'd like to see those numbers even out a bit. Pavs was the only guy who could put the ball in the basket, yet the Cavs weren't exactly calling his number. Could they at least make an attempt to ride the hot hand?

Gibson is still rusty, Shannon Brown didn't dress. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that Brown has showed confidence in Boobie, I like that he hasn't just given away his minutes. But Gibson is still finding his way back and he doesn't look ready for a heavy dose of PT. And Brown hasn't deserved this string of DNP-CDs. I understand that he's the odd man out right now, but I wouldn't mind having him available (especially when the offense sputters).

Best part of the game? Eric Snow only got 5 minutes. There's been times this season where Brown has kept Snow in a rotation even with the Cavs struggling on offense. Thankfully, tonight wasn't one of those nights. I probably would've broken my TV if I'd seen Snow sub in during an offensive drought.

and finally...

How come they always save these awful performances for the national audience? Honestly, the Cavs don't always look this bad. But they've had some of their worst losses of the season during the nationally televised games (the Phoenix games, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Dallas...); the only games that they've looked good were against the Lakers. But I do find it amusing when Walton and Barry wonder why the Cavs only get the ball to Z early in the game or that LeBron and co. drove the ball late. Welcome to my world boys, I've been wondering this all season.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Charlotte 108, Cleveland 100 (OT)

How the hell did this happen? The Cavs were up the entire night and just blew the game. The defensive pressure wasn't there, the offensive execution wasn't there and Gerald Wallace seemed to be everywhere.

I was all set to write about Eric Snow saving this game. Wallace was just destroying the Cavaliers in the 3rd and Brown put Snow in to shut him down. And for a while, it worked; Wallace seemed to get frustrated by Snow and got out of his rhythm. Snow helped out at the offensive end as well (initially) stopping a Bobcat run by driving, getting to the line and making his freebies. He also set Larry and LeBron up for some easy buckets and got the Cavs rolling again (he stopped Wallace and got the Cavs going offensively, not too shabby. Too bad it didn't last).

I actually liked how the Cavaliers played the game before the final two minutes (and OT). Every time the Bobcats made a run and got within 2, the Cavs immediately attacked the basket (on multiple possessions no less) and pushed the lead back up to 8 or 10.

Dumb moves at the end. I'm not sure which decision boggles my mind more: the fact that Mike Brown didn't call a time out (to advance the ball) with a 2 point lead and 34 seconds to play or the fact that Sasha decision to dribble the ball behind his back (and subsequently losing the ball off his ass). There's a lot of this that bug me here. First, you have two time outs and the lead with only 34 seconds to go, why not burn a TO? Second, Sasha isn't exactly the guy you want bringing the ball up in pressure situations. Third, what the hell was Pavs thinking? I haven't seen him make a dumb turnover like that in months, that was a hell of a time to bring it back.

This felt like an early season loss. Eric Snow played big minutes, Sasha made a dumb TO, Mike Brown made questionable coaching decisions and the Cavs lost to a lesser opponent. Dammit.

RE: coaching decisions. I know that the Bobcats went small and all, but why the hell wasn't Z utilized more? The big fella finished with 15 and 9 in a scant 29 minutes. He shot 7-14, he had the post moves going, blocked 2 shots and he had 3 assists- in short, he was productive. Also, it's the freaking Bobcats, who cares if they go small? Punish them! The Cavs are the better, more talented team, why let Charlotte dictate the way the game is played? Make them guard Z and LeBron in the post.

Gerald Wallace impressed me, then didn't impress me and reimpressed me by the end. He started off scoring at will on the Cavaliers and then Snow came in and shut him down. Wallace seemed to force the issue and really tried to go one-on-one with Snow and it didn't work well (it didn't help matters that he kept jawing at everyone). Then he started blocking shots, causing turnovers and skying for boards- he was all over the place. He finished with 27 points (on 11-17 shooting) 11 boards and 5 blocks. Also, was he wearing shoulder pads? What the hell is that?

Maybe LeBron should wear shoulder pads. The guy takes a ton of contact that doesn't get called. Sure, he shot 12 free throws (made 11) but he could've gotten at least another 2 or 3 trips to the line. LeBron finished with 37, 6 and 6 but was just 2-9 from behind the arc (and his defense came and went throughout the game). Also, he seemed to bend his knees a lot more on his foul shots than I've ever seen; he really bent down and got under himself (needless to say, I love this compared to his 'wrist kiss, no knee bend' form).

Larry Hughes... ugh. 17 points: good. 6-16 shooting: not good. 3 assists and 3 boards: meh. 0-4 from 3, 5-9 from the line: not good. Maybe it was an off game, maybe he reverted back to his old ways (cause Snow got a lot of PT), I dunno.

But he was better than Drew Gooden. Gooden had been playing great since the Detroit game (where he came out of a slump), scoring in double figures in 6 straight games while averaging a 14 points and 10 boards over the stretch (and 12 and 9 over the win streak). Well, he put up a 2 point, 7 board effort against the Bobcats and was invisible for the entire night.

Boobie's back and boy, was he rusty. I will say I was pleased to see that he was the first sub in the game, so Mike Brown hadn't forgotten about him. But you could tell that Gibson was a bit off; he missed two 3s and two freebies and, for the first time all season, seemed reluctant to shoot the ball.

No Shannon Brown. You'd think that maybe Gibson took Brown's minutes, but Brown didn't play against the Jazz either. Ira Newble played for a minute (not that it mattered, but I'd like to see Brown ahead of Ira in the rotation).

Who's the hippie? Walter Herrmann killed the Cavaliers all night long and hit a back breaking 3 in overtime to push the lead to 6. He finished with 19 points, 10 boards and hit three 3s. He's like an in-shape (or non-giant ass), white guy stoner version of Donyell Marshall.

About overtime... The Cavs had 6 points in the extra period and 2 of them came on a Pavlovic dunk with 6 seconds to go. And their first basket in OT? Well, that came with just 46 seconds left on the clock. Thats not good. They scored their first 2 points on two (of four) free throws but were tied until Adam Morristasche gave the Bobcats and 99-96 lead with a bomb. Their next possession contained two hasty Donyell Marshall trey attempts and they were done after that.

and finally...

Looking ahead to Dallas? I'm not sure that the Cavs weren't focussed, they were taking care of their business but seemed stunned when Charlotte made their final run and made the game close. It felt like a NCAA Tourney game where a high seed gets a game out of a lower team and are just shocked by the whole turn of events. I was pleased that the Cavs felt like they were going to win, but it seemed like they thought they deserved to.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm not sure which frightens me more

The rumors that the Browns may trade up to take a QB or the fact that Mike Brown keeps giving Ira Newble minutes.

Neither development pleases me.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cleveland 82, Utah 73

What a first half. Down 32-31. 13 turnovers. Z and Hughes didn't score. If it wasn't for Pavlovic's 14 points, lord knows how ugly it would've been. Not that the second half was that great, I mean, both teams finished with FG% in the 30s, both teams shot below 20% from 3 and, of course, the Cavs shot 50% from the line.

Speaking of ugly. Carlos Boozer.

More ugly. Mike Brown put out a line that had Eric Snow, Ira Newble, Anderson Varejao and Donyell Marshall running around with LeBron James. That's two defensive players, a hustle guy and a one dimensional player. That's just rewarding the fans.

Can I drag this ugly theme out more? Yes. Austin Carr's singing 'Anticipation' and then feeling the need to explain how Varejao is good at anticipation. This came just seconds after Fred McLeod's offensive foul call in Portuguese. I love these announcers.

Last ugly, I swear. Larry Hughes: 2-17. My God that is bad. Two. For. Seventeen. However, he did have 8 boards and 5 assists. This starting job has really brought out the other parts of his game. Don't get me wrong, 2-17 is unbelievably bad (also 0-3 from the free throw line), but it's much more palpable when he does the little things. Also, it's hard to complain about anything when they're on a 8 game win streak.

I love drunken fans. I can't get enough Boozer sucks chants. Although the signs needed some work; there was a Top 10 list of most hated figures in Cleveland sports which Model and Boozer at 1 and 2 but had Elway and Jordan at the bottom of the list (below Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez). LeBron wants the fans drunk... er... into it more often:
"They were great tonight," James said. "I wish they could be like that every night. They do a good job. It was awesome tonight to see the electricity in here."
LeBron went nuts. It started (real) late in the third period; LeBron got a couple of run out dunks and woke up the crowd. Then he started the fourth with a couple of big driving layups and the Jazz, after leading all game, suddenly had mount a comeback. LeBron finished with 'just' 24 points, but he had 9 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 17 (17!!) rebounds. His defensive intensity skyrocketed and he looked like a superstar in every aspect of the game. Also, if the Cavs could've held onto a pass in the first half, LeBron would've had a triple double.

Speaking of passes, how 'bout Zydrunas? The offense if finally starting to click and Cavs players (especially Sasha) are realizing that they could get a layup if they cut to the hoop while Z has the ball on the block. Pass and cut... Crazy... Z only finished with 8 points, but he had 6 big ones in the last 4 minutes.

No Shannon Brown. Not that I was looking for a lot of minutes, but the Cavs were having trouble scoring, especially in the first half. You'd figure Brown would get off the bench before we'd see the glorious Ira/Snow backcourt. Oh well.

Rebounds: Great. Free Throws: not so much. Led by LeBron and Gooden with 17 and 12 respectively, the Cavs controlled the boards by a 61-41 tally (Gooden really came alive at the offensive end, grabbing 7 boards). As for the foul line, LeBron was 8-13, Gooden just 4-8, Sasha 1-2 (Sasha gets no love from the refs. He should've had more than just 2 FTAs) and Hughes missed all three he took (Z and the bench didn't attempt a freebie).

and finally...

Eight is not enough. The Cavs play in Charlotte on Tuesday and you'd like to see them push their streak to 9 going into the Dallas game the following night. I'm really interested to see how this new lineup is going to fare versus an elite team like the Mavs.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

For those who prefer YouTube

Scot Pollard supports Terrorism

"Hey kids, do drugs"

Pollard 'regrets' comment :

Nobody has ever confused Cavaliers center Scot Pollard with Nancy Reagan.

And the former first lady, famous for her anti-drug message, would not have been amused had she seen Pollard look into the camera during Sunday's telecast of the Cavs' game against the Indiana Pacers and say, "Hey kids, do drugs."

Rich Harsar of Lorain certainly doesn't find it funny. He was at home watching the game with his 11-year-old son, Mason, when the camera panned to Pollard, who was sitting on the bench in street clothes, during a 20-second timeout.


"We have spoken with Scot and certainly do not condone his actions," the statement said. "He regrets his mistake, using inappropriate humor, particularly when he has always been very involved in the community, projecting positive messages to our youth. We will handle the issue internally."

A spokesman for FSN Ohio, which aired the game, said the company had received no complaints about Pollard's comments.

"We're not on a delay and occasionally things like this make the air," the spokesman said. "We regret when this happens and apologize to our viewers."

Harsar said he understands people say and do "dumb things," but thinks it's especially reckless for someone like Pollard, who is in the spotlight and serves as a role model for youth.

"If it's LeBron James, what happens?" Harsar asked. "He would lose endorsements, and it would be a front-page story across the nation."

Reached for comment after the Cavs' game Wednesday night, Pollard said: "It was a bad joke. That's all it boils down to. There are a number of things people could say about it, but it just turned out it was a bad joke. Obviously, I don't believe that."

Obviously, it was a joke. He's just messin' around and it looks like he knows that he did something stupid immediately after he said it. I mean, know one believes that this guy

would condone drug use, right?

And I'm sure Pollard is well aware that drugs lead to terrorism.

See? The guy spelled out the word fact. That makes it true.

Oh, by the way, did everyone buy their ticket for Bonnaroo? With the Cavs playing as well as they are (Windhorst is actually sick of praising them), I really hope that I won't be forced to watch their first ever NBA Finals appearance through a cloud of smoke in the Movie Tent with a bunch of dirty hippies (which is what I did last year. And maybe I was a bit messed up, but I could've sworn that D.Wade shot 50 free throws one game).

And if the Cavs are knocked out before then, well, maybe I'll watch the Finals with Scot Pollard.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cleveland 118, Memphis 96

This is getting fun. I'm enjoying this whole 'beat the teams you should beat' run that the Cavs have been on. Instead of starting out slow and working themselves into the game, the Cavs came out and destroyed the Grizzlies. Take their confidence away early, so you can rest late.

Third quarter domination. Everyone is going to talk about LeBron's outburst in the third (and rightfully so), but before James buried the Grizzlies, Z took the Cavs from 'big lead' to 'blowout'. The Grizzlies have no one who can guard the big fella and the Cavs made a conscious effort to get the ball to Ilgauskas.

Then LeBron blew up. My lord, that was impressive. James hit 5 shots in a row, personally out scored Memphis 15-12 and generally just put on a show. And the crazy part? He didn't take his first shot of the half until the 5:30 mark. 15 points. 5 minutes. He missed a shot at the quarter break that would've pushed the Cavs to triple digits.

Lucky number seven. Seven Cavaliers scored in double figures. James led everyone with 29, Z had 18 (on 8-11 shooting), Hughes finished with 13, Marshall had 12, Sasha had 11 and Gooden and Andy finished with 10.

Garbage time again. Isn't it weird how good this team looks when Snow, Jones and Wesley are the 9th, 10th and 11th men? Plus, now I'm not extremely pissed off when this trio is in the game. Garbage time is allowing Shannon Brown more court time and its letting Mike Brown rest James (only 30 minutes!), I'm a fan of both of these developments. Actually, none of the Cavs starters played in the fourth period (which is fantastic this late in the season, especially on the 4th game of a 4 in 5 nights stretch).

I no longer hate Larry Hughes with a passion. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. Hughes finished the game with 13 points (5-12 from the field), 6 assists and 5 boards. I've said this before, but I don't mind his off shooting nights as much (and this wasn't even bad) when he fills up the box score in other ways. The move to point guard has jump started the other aspects of his game and has allowed him to really showcase his overall talent.

Pau Gasol can't play defense. Z abused him in every aspect.

+50% from the field. Again. I know that the Cavs have done this against some bad teams, but it does show the themselves that yes, they do have an offense. The new starting lineup (with Hughes and Pavlovic) gives the Cavs so many options with the first unit; Z and Gooden have pretty polished low post games (and can hit the face up) and Hughes, James and Sasha can all shoot AND slash. Plus, it's a tall unit that can run and play a half court game if need be. I know we're in the middle of another 'high' on this roller coaster season, but I really hope that we've gotten past 'stand and chuck' offense.

and finally...

On St. Patrick's Day, a snake returns. So you're telling me that Clevelanders can drink green beer all day and THEN go boo Carlos Boozer? Really? We expect this to end well?

Cleveland 124, Sacramento 100

No LeBron, no problem. Again. LeBron was out with a minor back spasm but it didn't matter as the Cavs buried the Kings. I guess this means we can look forward to more 'trade LeBron' letters to Branson Wright.

The starting backcourt was fantastic. Hughes and Pavlovic each had 25 points and had 7 and 6 assists, respectively. They were both kind of sloppy with the ball (3 and 5 TOs) but more than made up for it with their attacking style.

Ira Newble. I don't even know what to say. Ira scored 12 points (he started the game with 8 for the season). He made all three 3s he took but he missed two layups and he was 1-3 from the foul line. Sounds about right.

Z had a near triple double. Ya, you read that right. 19 points, 10 boards and 7 assists. I love when the Cavs get him the ball on a regular basis, you know why? He give it back. It also helps that the Kings had to double Z, leading to a lot of open 3s, which the Cavs made (it's just that simple sometimes).

It helps that they ran the offense. Guys were moving without the ball, the ball was moving and the Cavs were looking towards the post- they looked like a team with an offensive game plan. Except when the Kings went zone. Then they shot jumpers just because. But once they figured out the zone (I believe Austin Carr mentioned that going inside might work) it was smooth sailing for the rest of the game.

More announcing. Fox Sports Ohio was just in rare form. We graphic comparing Shannon Brown to Dr J. We had a bizarre stat that somehow showed James as the best defensive small forward in the NBA. Austin Carr sang us a song about offense. Fred McLeod called Newble a "3pt marksman". Carr had the following lines: "The Cavaliers look winded. They really ar-are gasping for air out there. All three of- all four of 'em- just five of them, really." and my personal favorite: "It looked like, the way the shot was going, if he hadn't of fouled him, he might of made that shot. It looked good until he hit him on the arm." That second one is quite amazing.

And let's not forget their Browns coverage. Austin also broke down the first round of the NFL draft. The scary thing is, even though he didn't know anyones name (a lot of 'that guy') he basically feels the same way about things as I do. Draft Thomas and if he's not there, draft Peterson. And if you get Thomas first, go for a RB in the second. He even wanted Brady Quinn (that guy from Notre Dame) but still recommended Thomas. Awesome.

Back to basketball... first half: sloppy. second half: spectacular. The Cavs had some weird, ugly turnovers in the first half (passes directly to Kings, bad passes in general, Drew Gooden's Smush Parker impression and too much jumping in the air without thinking first. Also, jumpshots. Crappy ones). The Cavs cut down the turnovers in the second half, attacked the hoop and just blew the Kings away. Pavs had 18 points in the 3rd quarter alone (which was almost half of the Cavs 35 for the period). They had 38 points in the 4th. Ridiculous.

Garbage time was fun. Damon Jones and David Wesley jacked up 3s at will, Shannon Brown and Donyell Marshall threw down some emphatic dunks (yes, Donyell Marshall dunked the ball. And hard. Who knew?) and Dwayne Jones fouled a lot (2 in 3 min, but he wanted more).

Hughes played 41 minutes. And he sat out the last 5. Not sure what's up with that, no other Cavalier played more than 33...

So... back spasm, huh? Doesn't sound good. But the Cavs said it was a minor injury and that LeBron didn't even know he was going to sit out; he wasn't on the bench because he didn't bring a sports coat (NBA rules say you can't be on the bench unless you're wearing some kind of sports coat). Now, maybe I'm thinking too hard here, but have you ever see Steve Nash when he rests while his back is acting up? He lays on the ground and doesn't actually 'sit' on the bench. So, I guess what I'm saying is: could LeBron have no been on the bench because of his back injury and not because he 'forgot a sports coat'? If it's better for him to lay down, why have him on the bench? Could the injury be worse than we're being told? Am I overreacting?

Ugly, but good. With Kevin Martin's regular shot and Ira Newble's 3pt shot put, there were some shots that looked like crap but managed to go in (Newble's had a sweet line drive trajectory).

No chalupa controversy this time. Cavs fans didn't need an Anderson Varejao desperation 3 to win them that free Taco Bell goodness; the Cavs hit the 100 mark with 6:30 to go in the 4th. The offense looked pretty good, they shot 54% from the floor, 56% from 3 and 90% from the stripe. 50-50-90. Not too shabby.

and finally...

4th game in 5 nights? So we've come a long way since the start of the season. A few months ago, the Cavaliers playing 4 games in a 5 nights (and winning) would cause a bit a of a stir. Not now. These 4 in 5 just get thrown in with the rest in the "Larry Hughes point guard / LeBron is trying / crunch time playoff push" win streak. I'm OK with this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. Akron got screwed and there's nothing they can really do.

2. Except be pissed the hell off.

3. I find it ludicrous that there's only one MAC team in the NCAA tourney and I'm just flabbergasted that only Toledo made the NIT. The MAC has consistently produced good teams, good players and has been competitive in the post season. BTW- my Big Ten does not deserve six teams. Not even a little.

4. Pluto has an amazing stat: Akron is ranked 7 in the top 25-mid major poll. The first 6 went to the NCAA and numbers 8-11 went to the NIT. This makes no sense.

5. Also, I figured that one of the tournaments would've scheduled Akron just on the off chance that LeBron would show up.

6. I was at the MAC Quarterfinals and I watched the Semi's and the Championship game, you cannot tell me that only two of those teams deserve to go on.

7. By the way, just letting you know now, but Akron's Jeremiah Wood is going to tear up the MAC next season. He has a polished low post game, he's 6-9 or 6-10 and he's coming off two ACL injuries. And I have to say, his court vision is what impressed me the most; he consistently saw his teammates from the low block throughout the tournament and made the right pass to get it to 'em. Honestly, he he was the best player on Akron, including Romeo Travis.

8. But I have to say, the most impressive player I saw in the MAC Tourney? Tournament MVP, Miami's Tim Politz. Talk about playing basketball the right way; he can finish with either hand, he had a variety of low post moves, he can shoot, he's a great rebounder and every time Miami made a play (on offense or defense) number 50 was in the middle of it. He had 25 and 10 against Ohio in the quarterfinals. In the semifinal game against Toledo, he shot a Walton-esque 11-12 from the floor. He shot 75% for the tournament. Not bad for a 6-6, chubby white kid.

9. Is it any surprise that the two players I come away gushing about both have polished low post games? Nope.

10. You want to know why I love the post game so much? No, well, I'm gonna tell you anyway. First of all, it's not just because of how I play (though that is certainly part of it). If you ever get the chance, watch some of the Houston Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon during their title runs. Hakeem was unstoppable. The Rockets ran a pretty simple offense: dump it down to The Dream and let him kick some ass. If they double him, be ready to cut to the hoop or hit the open 3. Repeat. Am I simplifying it a tad? Sure. But you get the point; having an effective low post game makes everyone better. And the Rockets are the only team that I can remember that tried to feed the big man every time. Even now with Yao (or back in the day when Shaq was on the Lakers), the Rockets go through long stretches of time where they don't even look his way- this I do not understand. The Rockets of Hakeem ran the offense through the low block- he was their bread and butter and they knew it.

11. Anyways, when you grow up always being the tallest kid on the court, seeing a center dominate the way Hakeem did might affect the way you practice just a bit. Of course, I stopped growing in 8th grade...

12. Also, anyone remember how much Jordan dominated in the post during his late title runs? Just sayin'.

13. Back to college hoops- I've been entered in multiple pools and I have yet to fill out my bracket(s). I think this year I'm just going to do one bracket and enter it all the pools. I've done multiple ones before, but I always confuse myself watching the games. "Wait, which team do I want to win? Who helps me in what pool?" Gonna keep it simple this year.

14. Also, rule for the Tournament: you always root for the upset. I don't care what your bracket says, you alway root for the lower seed to advance.

15. Unless your alma mater is a playing. You can't go against your own school (let's go Bucks!).

16. Stupid liberal media.

17. Stupid Sean Hannity.

18. Stupid fiscally irresponsible liberals.

19. I try to keep this blog about sports (specifically Cleveland sports) and I only go into politics once a week in this column (cause this is a personal blog). I assume if you don't agree you just ignore these weekly links and get to the sports/music goodness. That's great. But go read this.

21. Now, I know it's all about Hollywood liberals and all, but how come whenever conservative actors run it's totally cool?

22. There's a reason why we take polls.

23. The "Definitive 200" my ass. I know I'm a Beatles fanatic and all, but you can't tell me that there's 109 albums that are better than Rubber Soul. Sorry. Nope.

24. Speaking of the Beatles, the Fab Faux (the best Beatles tribute band ever) will be playing shows in NYC of the 'Beatles album that never was'. Meaning, they are going to play songs from John, Paul, George and Ringo's first solo releases. Now, I've burned that mix CD a number of times myself but it never felt right because of how different each song was produced. Paul's first album was basically made up of demo tapes while George had Phil Spector's Wall of Sound behind him; there's just no cohesive feel to it. Well, the Fab Faux will be playing the songs not in their original styles but with a Beatles flavor; they're going to try to recreate what the other three would've brought to each other's work. I hope someone will be recording this.

25. FYI- The Fratellis' Costello Music is released today. Go buy it (I'm currently in love with the last track 'Ole Black and Blue Eyes').

26. So apparently while we were getting our butts whooped in the church league (sup guys) Hudson experienced an earthquake. 3.6 on the Richter scale.

27. I'm telling you, I love the Dane Cook backlash. A lot.

28. 30 Rock took a shot at Dane Cook in their episode 'The Source Awards'. That episode was brilliant and also has a Wayne Brady presence:

29. What am I? A farmer?

30. I'm not a real big fan of the Jamal Lewis signing, but at least one NFL exec says he's not done. Does Lewis know something about the Browns' line that we don't?

31. I brought up Branson Wright's 'Hey, Branson!' column and I think that we can all agree that it sucks. Here's my favorite Q&A:
Q: Hey, Branson: Why is it that you answer " Hey Branson!" questions with such curtness all the time? I feel like a lot of people have valid questions and concerns about the Cavs, and you seem more annoyed than helpful. Do you even enjoy having this column? - Greg Boose, Chicago

A: Hey, Greg: I enjoyed it until you asked that question.

32. Speaking of crappy Cavs columnists, what the hell is this guy doing on Swerbs?

33. As for the good Cavs reporters, Windhorst has a blog post up from the weekend and it's full of good nuggets. Like this one:
In the final minute again on Saturday, LeBron went to the basket twice to tie the game. This is remarkable because he'd already hit two 3's to get the Cavs back into the game. One month ago, I would've put cold cash on press row he would've taken a 3 in Detroit down two as I watched the play develop. After he made the 3s in Milwaukee, I might've gone double or nothing because he was making them. Excellent display of intelligent poise.
He's exactly right. Early in the LeBron and the Cavs would get Kenny Lofton syndrome after they'd make a couple 3s (for those that don't know, whenever Lofton would hit a home run early on, especially in the first inning, it was a sure bet he'd be swinging for the fences the rest of the game- to his, and the team's, detriment). I was worried that their comeback versus the Bucks would fizzle out because it started off by them drilling a bunch of 3s. To their credit, they didn't fall in love with it

34. I didn't think twice about Varejao's last second 3 in the Pacers game. But people got upset and the Cavs actually issued an apology. Can the Pacers really be bitching about another team's conduct? How is that allowed?

35. It bugs the hell out of me that the Suns get more love than the Mavs. They just won 17 games in a row (they lost the other night), where's Bill Simmons's column slurping the Mavs? Instead, we get Eric Neel's column about how he can't love them. Boo.

36. Carlos Boozer returns to Cleveland on Saturday night, but don't be expecting a recap of the game until sometime on Sunday. I'll be seeing these guys that night in Columbus but I plan on watching the game (extremely hungover) sometime Sunday morning (hooray for DVR!).

37. It's too bad we won't be seeing Greg Ostertag Saturday night (is he retired? Hurt and on another roster?)

38. This happened on my birthday. Pretty cool looking.

39. Something clever (I like to end this on somewhat even/round/factor of 5 numbers so this could be considered a wasted spot. Oh well. Also, I'm not sure when I last got one of these finished on Sunday night/Monday but I'm working on it)

40. Music: I've been listening a lot to The Mountain Goats this past week. I guess the style could be called highly literate folk/indie rock. I'm really digging The Sunset Tree, so check that out.

This Year from The Sunset Tree (I'm not sure how I feel about the video. The sound is a bit off and I'm not sure what's going on. But the song itself is really good)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Akron Got Hosed

That is all.

(I'll elaborate in RTftW later tonight)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cleveland 99, Indiana 88

Old fashion beat down. This is how I've been wanting the Cavs to handle lesser opponents all season long. The Cavs started the game with the intensity that they had at the end of the Milwaukee game; they never trailed, had an 18 point lead at halftime and generally kicked the Pacers' ass.

Play all four quarters. The Cavs held a double digit lead from late in the first quarter until around the 2 minute mark in the fourth and the lead had gotten up to 26 (hell, the Cavs led by 21 after three periods). I know the Pacers made a run, but the game shouldn't have been that close at the end, especially considering that Indiana didn't hit a 3 all game. Late comebacks usually involve a 3 every now and then (like the Bucks game)

Garbage time came early. Brown had the bench out there early on in the fourth quarter and let's just say that offense struggled a bit. No movement, lot's of jumpers, dumb offensive fouls and too much Eric Snow (even when Brown brought the starters back in to shut down the Pacers' late run, he kept Snow out there. And crappy offense ensued).

The refs love Sasha Pavlovic. Honestly. He picks up cheap calls, he'll get hammered on the offensive end and I'm not sure he's drawn a charge... well... ever. Does Pavs commit dumb fouls every now and then? Sure. But he always seems to be on losing end of the close calls (or no calls, Dunleavy got him pretty good on a dunk with nary a sound from the zebras).

All the starters scored in double figures. Well, except Pavlovic who finished with 9, but he was 0-4 from the line, so I'm counting it. James led everyone with 26, Hughes had 23, Gooden had 19 and Z had 10. The starters set the tone early and attacked the Pacers all game. The best part? They ran the ball and the offense, got some easy points and shared the ball with each other. It was real nice to see.

LeBron did all the little things. 26 points, 7 boards, 6 assists in 39 (still too many) minutes. But he also had a block, 3 steals and a couple offensive put backs (one of which you'll see all over Sportscenter). When he gives the rest of the game the attention and effort that his scoring
gets, he's unstoppable. As for his scoring, he got to the rim seemingly at will and he made even 4-5 free throws (only 5 FTAs? really? Mike Dunleavy took 11).

Hughes bounced back with a strong game. Larry didn't exactly have a great game against the Bucks (1-9 shooting, 6 turnovers) but he rebounded with a 23 point, 7 assist, 4 board effort and even shot 8-15 from the floor. When he gives the Cavs a game like that, they're pretty much unbeatable. I don't always care for the way he plays, but the Cavs are 5-0 since he's been starting at point guard (and he should stay there when Boobie comes back).

Shannon Brown had a nice game. While the game was competitive (well, maybe not competitive, but the times that the Cavs were trying, meaning the first 3 quarters), Brown looked really good. He played good D, he ran the floor and had sweet Statue of Liberty layup. However, when garbage time came around Brown (and to be fair the rest of the Cavs) took some bad shots and didn't look particularly interested in running the offense.

and finally...

Going streaking. How far can the win streak go? The Cavs have Sacramento at home on Tuesday and are at Memphis on Wednesday. Then they have Utah at home on St. Patrick's Day and begin a back-to-back against Charlotte and Dallas the following Tuesday. You'd like to put the Kings and Grizzlies games in the win column, the Jazz game could be tricky and the Bobcats game is more than winnable. Ideally, I'd like to see the Cavs go into the Dallas game riding a 9 game win streak (and who knows if Dallas will lose before then).

Oh the Sunday Paper

I've mentioned Paul Hoynes 'Best I've Ever Seen' series before and how I was a bit confused on his choosing Eddie Murray for 1st base (obviously, I had no qualms with him choosing Robbie for 2nd).

So I pick up today's PD and who do I see representing 3rd base? Travis Fryman? Jim Thome? Matt Williams? Nope. George Brett. Now, maybe I missed something, but George Brett never played for the Tribe.

Fine, this is his 'Best I Ever Seen' series, not a 'Best Tribe Player I've Ever Seen'. Maybe I'm a homer, but this makes the series pretty lame. I don't care about George Brett, I want to reminisce about former Tribe players.

Also, this makes the selection of Murray even more questionable. Sure, Eddie had great career numbers, but he wasn't a flashy player. I know it's hip to bash McGwire but how can he not say that Big Mac was the best he ever saw? People got to the ball park early just to see McGwire hit batting practice.

Then there's Branson Wright's 'Hey, Branson!' questions. My lord, do these people even watch basketball? Let's go through a few questions, shall we?

Q: Hey, Branson: The Cavs seem to have a certain intensity when LeBron doesn't play because the team knows they have to pick up their play. It seems outrageous, but should the Cavs trade LeBron for a caliber player like Steve Nash or Dwyane Wade? - Aaron Jarvis, Madison

My answer- Hey, Aaron: you're an idiot

BW's answer- Hey, Aaron: Since you believe the Cavs play so well without LeBron, why would they play any better with Nash or Wade? How about the Cavs trade LeBron to the Continental Basketball Association for a few of those players? Now we know those guys are hungry and have something to prove.

Q: Hey, Branson: What do you think about starting Anderson Varejao at center and bringing Zydrunas Ilgauskas off the bench? With Andy out there, the team could push the ball and break. When Z comes in, you could slow it down, feed him the ball inside, and even give James a break. Does Z make too much money for this type of setup? - Josh Fitzgerald, Winchester, Va.

BC- Hey, Josh: Both Z and Gooden are inconsistent game to game, bringing Varejao off the bench allows Mike Brown to sub him in for whichever big man is having off game. And Brown can't this with either Z or Gooden because they can only play one position.

BW - Hey, Josh: No one makes enough money not to sit the bench, but I'd continue to start Ilgauskas and bring Varejao off the bench for the same reasons you want to start Varejao. I want energy off the bench. Plus Varejao can play multiple positions, and that means I can utilize him wherever he's needed.

Q: Hey, Branson: Maybe you answered this questions and I missed it. Why is Ira Newble riding the bench? He went from a starter last season to invisible. Is he ill, hurt or what? - Les Shure, Lorain

BC - Hey, Les: The reasons are, in order: 1. LeBron James. 2. Larry Hughes. 3. Sasha Pavlovic. 4. Daniel Gibson. 5. Shannon Brown. 6. Damon Jones. 7. David Wesley. 8. Ira Newble. Also, Newble is an Eric Snow type player; good at defense (albeit overrated) and a poor shooter- the Cavs don't need any more of those. And are you clamoring for more Ira Newble?

BW- Hey, Les: Newble is well, but for whom would he come in? Newble 's a guard/small foward and he won't take away any time from Pavlovic, Larry Hughes, James or Donyell Marshall. Coach Brown has found a few minutes every now and then.

(Usually I'd rip on Newble quite a bit more, but he played very well versus the Bucks on Saturday night. Well done Ira)

And finally, as for the Akron Beacon Journal, Terry Pluto says that Akron deserves to be in the NCAA tournament. I agree, the MAC should get two teams.