Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I haven't watched one minute of the second Miami game and from what I saw during dinner, I'm not sure I want to. From simply checking out the box score, here's what I'm deducing:
The Cavs were 11-30 from beyond the arc. 36% isn't a terrible 3pt shooting percentage, but 30 attempts leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
On the flip side, Mario Chalmers was 6-7 from beyond the arc. Call me the next time that happens.
As far as the Cavs trade front goes, I'm now leaning towards Gerald Wallace over Mike Miller. Wallace could play a Pippen defensive role here, guarding everyone from PG to center. The Cavs are going to need some help guarding opposing point guards; if they want to get to the Finals, they'll have to face the likes of Jameer Nelson, Jose Calderon, Andre Miller, Allen Iverson and Rajon Rondo. Williams is trying (and doing an OK job) but they're gonna need some more help. Wallace could step out on a PG for stretches of time.
It's a long season- if anyone thinks that either the Celtics, Cavs or Lakers are winning 70+ games (let alone Bill Simmons's 75 win prediction for the Celts) they are delusional. The Cavs will win 60+ games, but they're gonna lose every now and then. It's OK.
In other news, the Tribe just acquired Mark DeRosa and I approve. Now, if you sign Manny, you can start printing playoff tickets.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I don't have time for a full blown 'Music 2008' post, but here's some shit I enjoyed:
Dirty Pretty Things - Romance at Short Notice (listen to 'Come Closer,' 'Truth Begins' and 'Best Face')
The Fratellis - Here We Stand ('Look out Sunshine', 'Acid Jazz Singer' and 'Lupe Brown')
The Kooks - Konk ('Always Where I Need to Be', 'Love it All' and 'Shine On')
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive ('One for the Cutters', 'Yeah Sapphire' and 'Magazines')
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges ('Highly Suspicious', 'I'm Amazed' and 'Librarian')
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend ('One (Blake's got a new face)' 'M79' and 'Wolcott')
The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely ('Consoler Of The Lonely', 'Many Shades of Black' and 'Rich Kids Blues')
Also, I haven't listened to the new Okkervil River, Kings of Leon or O.A.R. albums to have real opinions on them.
There is now a Chipotle less than 2 minutes from my house. I haven't decided if this is the best or worst thing to ever happen to me.
You have no idea how much I absolutely hate iTunes. No idea. The store and everything is fine. I'd just like to be able to use my media player to, you know, play music. If it could freeze my computer even more, that'd be awesome. I enjoy spending 20 minutes to change the song.
On the flip side, I love my iPod.
Recently saw Alien for the first time (loved it) and I got to thinking: what was the last Great Sci-Fi Movie? It can't be the original Matrix, can it? If you're counting Children of Men as sci-fi, I'd go with that, but I'm open to suggestions.
We now own a Wii. Super Mario Galaxy is waaaay fun. If you beat the game, you can play as Luigi... and he runs faster and jumpers higher than Mario (just like in Super Mario Bros. 2!!). It's the little things people.
RE: the Browns. I'm not shocked at all by the firings of Savage and Romeo. I'd be shocked (and pissed!) if Crennel stayed with the franchise. I'm OK with going after New England's Scott Pioli, but part of me feels like it's Savage Redux.
Also, they just took Romeo off of the Patriots with disastrous results, they're gonna go back to the well a second time? I can see why, but at the same time, I dunno. The last fruit we picked off the Belichik tree was rotten, we're going back for seconds?
Randy Lerner is a pussy. I'm glad Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn got to face the media. Classy. You gotta do better than that Randy. The team will never do well unless the owner does well (*waves to Arizona fans*) and Lerner will have to step it up.
I'm really glad Cowher isn't coming here. I really don't think his heart would be in it and I'd believe we'd have a Ditka in New Orleans or Johnson in Miami type situation on our hands.
I felt bad for WKNR yesterday. They went all local and by about 10:30, they were just dragging.
Really enjoyed The Browns Fan's Tailgating Guide. I actually received a free copy from the publisher (because of this blog, weird, right?) and I honestly haven't been sure how to handle it. I'm really grateful for the book and I do really enjoy it, but I've never done any ads or promotions or anything, so I'm entering new ground here.
Hopefully, it'll come in handy next season. You can read a sample chapter here(pdf).
The Cavs should have multiple All-Stars. Both Z and Mo are highly deserving, though I think Z is more likely to make it. I'd LOVE for them to get all three and then have Boobie in the 3pt shootout again. And hell, if they stay the 1st or 2nd seed, Mike Brown will be coaching the team.
That being said, the Cavs have poor representation in the ballot box. Go vote people!
The Cavs-Heat game tonight should be ridiculous. Don't miss this game.
I've gotten some feed back on the podcasts thus far and the general consensus seems to be positive and centered around the theme "stupid, but really funny." Hey, as long as you're laughing, I'm OK.
Our latest effort can be found here. Hopefully we'll record a new one this week and, like our other podcasts, we'll post it once it's out of date and irrelevant. Enjoy.
Happy New Year everyone! 2008 was a big year for me personally (Master Degree, Europe trip) if not blog-wise. If all goes well, you'll be hearing more from me. If things don't go well, it'll probably stay about the same.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Which brings me to Manny Ramirez. Manny can't go back to the Red Sox, the Yankees may be done spending for now, the Angels have said no, the Mets don't want him and if was going to be a Dodger, it probably would've happened by now.
So my questions is this: why shouldn't the Tribe throw a lot of cash at him?
Even if they gave him $20 million a year for the next 3-4 years, would it really kill them that much?
First of all, imagine how much excitement the signing would generate and how that buzz could translate into ticket sales/merchandise etc. Bringing Manny back would be a PR bonanza (we're playing to win now).
Secondly, the Tribe has needed a right handed power bat for years now and well, Manny fits that bill too. Plus, he's playoff tested, comes through in the clutch and takes up a corner outfield spot (which has also been needed for awhile).
Finally, he's familiar here. Ramirez actually liked Cleveland (what can I say, Manny is weird) and if no one else scoops him up, it's possible he could be pursueded to come back to his first franchise, no?
Wouldn't he be a good fit here? The fans know him, he'd be good PR, he'd be great baseball-wise and clubhouse-wise (winner, big game player, doesn't feel the pressure).
Am I dreaming?
Friday, December 26, 2008
(DeShawn Stevenson missing those two freebies was a gift from the basketball gods. Glorious).
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It's no secret that the Sacramento Kings are in love with Wally Szczerbiak's ending contract. The Kings are officially rebuilding, and Szczerbiak's ending deal is exactly the kind of thing the Kings would love to get a hold of. HOOPSWORLD has learned that the Kings would send Brad Miller and a player to the Kings if it would return Szczerbiak and JJ Hickson.
Hickson is a promising front court player who the Cavaliers were very high on after summer league, where he averaged 19.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Of course, the margin of error for a young player on a championship-caliber team is very small, and JJ isn't finding much of a place for himself in Mike Brown's rotation. Perhaps the Cavs would be willing to let him go in favor of bringing in a front court player who's ready to compete and put up nice numbers immediately.
There is no way in hell this is even remotely happening. I don't even want to go into how stupid this is (so with LeBron a FA in 2010, the Cavs current big men would be Z, Ben Wallace and Brad Miller? The future is bright indeed!).
Interestingly, the next little nugget was this:
There has also been some interest shown between the Kings and the Toronto Raptors, with the Kings offering up John Salmons. As a free agent, however, Salmons made it clear he didn't want to play in Canada and Bryan Colangelo has a policy that he won't acquire players who don't want to make Canada home.
Now, Salmons could be an interesting pickup for Danny Ferry and the Cavs, but not at the expense of Hickson. If they'd switch Hickson with Pavlovic and/or a draft pick AND threw in Salmons, maybe you'd get a deal done. Salmons 6-6, shoots 42% from beyond the arc, is pretty athletic and is averaging 19.9 ppg (up from 12.5 a year ago).
But if you think that the Cavs are trading Wally AND Hickson for just Brad Miller, please kindly pass whatever you're smoking, because that's some powerful stupid.
Close game throughout. The Rockets were playing their fourth game in five nights but they gave the Cavs a strong game. The teams were tied at halftime and though the Cavs built a double-digit lead in the second half (82-68), the Rockets fought back and the Cavs led 86-85 with a little over five minutes left in the game. However, like always, the Cavs executed down the stretch, buckled down on D and methodically put the Rockets away. Mo Williams scored 10 points in the final period and Boobie hit a couple of big 3s and the Cavs won without LeBron "taking over".
But it's not like James wasn't a factor or anything. LeBron had yet another MVP night, scoring 27 points to go along with 9 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and a block (also 7 TOs). He scored 18 of his points in the second half (14 in the third) and he had a HUGE block on Yao Ming late to squash any hopes of Houston's comeback. James was 11-23 from the field and finished 5-7 from the line (making his last 5), where he was greeted with chants of M-V-P (which, if we fans do our jobs right, should accompany his freebies for the next 6 months). Oh, and the Cavs were able to beat the Rockets with James playing under 40 minutes (38). Awesome.
Tracy McGrady- wha' happened? Don't get me wrong, James did a good job on defense, but McGrady made it kinda easy, playing passively at the offensive end and settling for a lot of jumpers. Maybe it the fact that's it's the last game of a 4-in-5, maybe he's afraid of contact or maybe he just didn't want to get hurt- I dunno. But T-Mac finished with 4 points (2-7 FG, 0 pts in the second half), 6 assists and 1 board. He was not a factor for much of the game and especially absent down the stretch, you know, winning time [insert first round playoff joke here].
Mo Williams is awesome. Here's how the Cavs started the final period: Varejao lay (Mo assist), Z jumper (Mo assist), Mo jumper, Mo 3pt, Mo layup. Williams was responsible for the Cavs first 11 points of the fourth quarter, pushing a 9 point lead to 14. He had a couple of nice drives and he set up LeBron with a tight baseline alley-oop. I think I have a fun drinking game: everytime Williams or West makes a play that Hughes wouldn't make in a million years, take a drink (note: I'm including backdoor passes, not forcing a shot, post entry passes and finishing inside). Williams finished with 23 points (8-13 FG, 2-5 3pt), 4 boards and 4 assists.
West got hurt. West left the game with back spasms and when he returned, he didn't look remotely comfortable. I'm both a little concerned and relatively at ease. The fact that West came back at all gives me some comfort, even if he didn't look great. West had 10 points (3-8 FG), 4 assists and 2 boards and was matched up with McGrady for the bulk of his minutes. I guess you could say that West passed the test (T-Mac did finish with just 4 points), but I would've liked to see how he held up against an aggressive big 2 guard.
But Boobie stepped up. Gibson played some big minutes (28, more than both Z and West and one less than Wallace) and he nailed some huge treys late in the game. Gibson also grabbed 6 boards and dished out an assist. If West is out for any extended period of time (I'd consider resting him for the Wizards game), the Cavs will need Gibson step it up.
The big men played well. Z had 11 points (5-9 FG) and 3 boards in 27 minutes, Big Ben had 6 and 6 (3-5 FG), Varejao had 6 and 7 and for some reason Lorenzen Wright played 4 minutes (almost netting a 4 trillion, but he missed a layup). They all battled Yao fairly well, limiting the big man to 3-10 shooting, but he drew a lot of fouls (Z fouled out) and made all 13 of his free throws. I liked what I saw from Wallace; he was more aggressive at the offensive end and he made the Rockets pay for ignoring him. I'm not saying the Cavs should feature the guy or anything, but Wallace can't be passing up layups, he's got to attack when he's open.
It's not a huge thing... but... The only Rockets players that had good days offensively were the point guards Rafer Alston and Aaron Brooks. Alston shot 8-11 from the floor, scoring 20 points to go along with 4 assists, 2 boards and 2 steals. Meanwhile, Brooks had 10 points off the bench pitched in 4 boards and 3 assists.
The little things amaze me. I know it's cliche, but Ben Wallace does a lot of stuff that doesn't make it into the box score. Because he's so active in chasing down loose balls, he forces players out of their comfort zone and they'll make some mistakes/fouls that lead to extra Cavs possessions. These aren't quite steals or rebounds, but they give the Cavs some extra breathing room. And that backdoor alley-oop Williams tossed to LBJ? Sasha Pavlovic had grabbed not one, but two offensive boards during that same possession. As I said before, it's those kind of plays that makes this team really easy to like.
Happy Christmas! The Cavs face their perennial first round foes in the Washington Wizards on Christmas night. I can't imagine that this would be a tough game. I'll definitely have some kind of recap, as I'll be attending my first game of the year, nose-bleed style. After the X-mas game, they have a home-and-home (with a day off between) with the Heat starting Sunday and then they face the Bulls for their first game in 2009. But the game I'm most looking forward to comes on January 9th. I need to get tickets ASAP.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Thunder forward Joe Smith has been traded eight times in his career, including by the Cavs last summer, and No. 9 could be on the way. Monday the Thunder are expected to signed restricted free agent forward Nenad Krstic to a offer sheet. The New Jersey Nets will have a week to match, though many suspect they will not.
If Kristic joins the Thunder, league executives believe Oklahoma City will look to trade one or two of their excess big men. On the final year of his contract and an established veteran, Smith is a candidate.
The Cavs cannot trade for Smith under league rules. However, there is also a chance he could request a buyout and become a free agent. In that case, the Cavs may give him a look and the feeling could be mutual. Smith will be a free agent next summer as well.
"I would have interest in the Cavs, I'm not sure they would be interested in me," Smith said. "They would be an option."
He's more than a basketball player, too. Last week, Smith debuted his first recording album, called "The Beginning."
He could fill Z's spot in the offense, while coming off the bench. Like that fit wouldn't be perfect. I would like this to happen.
Also, Wally- pay attention.
This is completely unrelated... but I was looking for something else and I stumbled across this old column ripping on reality TV that I wrote for The Lantern. I enjoyed it more than I should have.
Good: I have a new podcast here. I can't say anything about it's quality, as I haven't listened to it yet myself. But if it's got what I think it's got, it's pretty awesome.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
LeBron received a 'standing O' and quite deservedly. James had some sweet stats, but they don't tell the whole story. LBJ finished with 32 points (14-20 FG, 2-6 3pt), 6 boards, 3 assits, 2 steals and 2 blocks. But he absolutely played the part of superstar. James had seven or eight highlight, gasp inducing plays, including a couple trick shot layups, a thunderous dunk, some tight blocks and a sick no looker to J.J. Hickson for a wide open dunk. He was efficient, he was dominating and he was ruthless. It was awesome.
Delonte West bounced back with a nice game. After missing a lot of jumpers against Atlanta, tt looked like West made a concious effort to get inside. West attacked the basket throughout the game and it netted him some nice, tough lay-ups. West scored his Cavaliers high 21 points on 9-16 shooting and pitched in 5 assists, 2 boards and 2 steals. He wasn't perfect though, he threw an alley-oop to LeBron off of the backboard and well, it didn't quite work out (but it was still cool to see, not gonna lie).
Mike Miller had a pretty good audition, no? The former Florida Gator finished with 14 (7-12 FG) and 7 boards in 35 minutes. What was suprising to me was how aggressive Miller was off the dribble. All seven of Mike's baskets came inside. In fact, all five of his misses came from beyond the arc. I liked his aggressiveness and it was nice to see that he could take his man off the dribble and finish close to the basket.
The bigs played great. Ben Wallace did a good job out there contesting shots and grabbing boards, Varejao gave them a double-double (13 points, 11 boards) and both rookies played some valuable minutes. Darnell Jackson got the extra minutes in the first half (0 points and 0 boards, though I thought he looked fine out there) and J.J. got to play in the second. I thought Hickson looked really well; he scored 7 points, was 3-3 from the floor (with a sweet face-up jumper) and he grabbed 5 boards and he met Al Jefferson at the rim, blocking his shot. Though it sucks having Z out, it's not terrible that Hickson and Jackson are getting minutes at meaningful points in the game (those blowouts really helped them along).
Mo was ok, but he was in foul trouble. Williams played just 22 minutes, getting 6 points, 5 boards, 3 assists and a steal to go along with his 5 fouls. For some reason, Kevin Olie played well and was getting benefit of the doubt calls from the refs. I really don't get it.
The bench gave them solid, if not great, minutes. Pavlovic shot just 2-6 but did enough little things (5 boards, 2 assists and good D) that I didn't mind. He actually drove to set up Varejao, which was nice (and would've resulted in a charge last season). Wally Szczerbiak played fairly well in his return to the Target Center. Wally had 10 points on 4-8 shooting (2-3 3pt) but I was most impressed with his rebounding. Szczerbiak was stuck guarding Kevin Love and various other Minnesota bigs but he battled 'em down low and finished with 5 tough boards.
Denver on Friday. In by far their toughest game of this four game trip, the Cavs face the Nuggets at home on Friday night. Denver is 9-3 at home and 18-7 overall; this is going to be a good test to see how the Cavs hold up on the road. As of right now, I hear Z wants to play in the Denver game, but I haven't seen anything that says it's gonna happen. After they face the Nuggets on Friday, the Cavs will play in Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Ohio State is making tickets for the Fiesta Bowl available to the public Wednesday, just one signal that the Buckeyes' latest trip to Arizona isn't the most popular party of the season.
"For fans who want to travel and don't want to spend a lot of money, this is the year to go because prices are being slashed," said Anbritt Stengele of SportsTraveler.net, a Web site specializing in sports travel packages. "Fiesta Bowl interest is low, extremely low, and what Ohio State fans have been telling me is that after the national championship games, why should we bother? There's nothing at stake."
The reason why I've never gotten into college football as I have other sports is plain and simple: the bowl season. College football is a great game and I can't put into works how much I enjoy OSU football and how I cherished my time at the Horseshoe. But that's as far as I can get.
I've never gotten the hype about the bowls. Ever. This year no. 10 Ohio State is playing no. 3 Texas and only one team has anything 'real' at stake (and even that is pushing it). OSU is playing for what, sixth place? If Texas wins handily (gulp) they could give themselves a shot at a share of the National Championship, so Texas has every reason to run up the score and whoop the Buckeyes. Ohio State just wants to put up a good show that they can point to when they're out recruiting (winning would help this). It's really a glorified exibition game.
The fact that OSU fans aren't coming out in droves isn't exactly surprising. The economy sucks balls, they've been to Phoenix multiple times over the past 5 years and the Buckeyes have suffered some bad losses to top teams from other conferences (including the last two bowl games). The odds are that the Bucks are gonna get killed, in a meaningly football game. Awesome.
I imagine if this was an early round playoff matchup, I'd wager you'd see more interest from OSU fans.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
As the Cleveland Cavaliers relentlessly try to accumulate talent to surround MVP favorite LeBron James, the unending question is this: Do they dare mess with a franchise on a collision course with the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals?
The Cavaliers have had ongoing discussions with the Miami Heat about an Anderson Varejao and Wally Szczerbiak for Shawn Marion trade, a league executive familiar with the discussions said.
So, here is what the Cavs are asking themselves now: Do we dare?
Miami has had discussions with several teams lately on Marion, including the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings, sources say, but Cleveland could deliver the most intriguing proposition. Marion has struggled with the Heat – averaging well below his career averages in scoring and rebounding – but several league executives believe he’ll be more motivated and valuable with a championship contender. That’s the reason Cleveland is entertaining the possibility. GM Danny Ferry and coach Mike Brown are wondering whether Marion could be the difference in a conference final against the Celtics.
Nothing is imminent, but it’s an intriguing possibility. Since Marion’s trade to Miami for Shaquille O’Neal last season, his value has steadily declined. Before the season, his agent, Dan Fegan, turned down a three-year, $30 million extension. Marion will be lucky to get more on the market this summer. Marion, 30, makes $17.8 million this season.
For the Heat, Szczerbiak has a $13 million expiring contract, and Varejao has a player’s option on $6.2 million. He’ll likely opt out. This leaves Miami with a chance to negotiate a new contract with Varejao, or let him lapse and allow the Heat even more cap space for the summer.. Still, Cleveland is 20-4 and hesitant to mess with the chemistry. Nevertheless, the Cavs are trying desperately to win a championship with James prior to 2010 free agency.
Brown loves to play big lineups with Varejao on the floor, but Marion could give the Cavs the versatility on defense that he did the Suns. In the same series, Marion could cover Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Against the Celtics, Marion could spend time on Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. For the Cavs, it’s something to consider as the days and weeks churn toward the Feb. 17 trade deadline.
Shawn Marion... I'm intrigued. The guy can score and he has a reputation of a good defender- this is good. But if he had trouble living next to Steve Nash, I'm not sure he'll fit next to LeBron James.
However, I'd like to see how Marion plays over the next couple before really getting on board with this deal. In 16 games with the Heat last season, Marion hit just 26% of his shots from downtown and so far this season he's at 21% (he's a 33% career 3pt shooter).
But all the good that Marion could do on the defensive end would be negated by the loss of Varejao. The Cavs cannot trade Anderson Varejao without getting another big man in return. No ifs, ands or buts- they cannot rely on two aging big men and two rookies. No deal. Now, if they would trade Sasha Pavlovic, Darnell Jackson or (gulp) J.J. Hickson, I'd be more receptive.
There's no way they'd get through an Eastern Conference against Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal, Elton Brand and Kevin Garnett without a legit power forward to help out Z and Big Ben (Marion could help some, but they'll need him to be chasing around 2-guards as well).
While writing this, my brother IM'd me that Windhorst had already shot it down and well whattaya know:
You never say never in the NBA, perhaps circumstances will change. But as of right now the Cavs and Heat are not in trade talks concerning Marion and Varejao. This is from multiple team sources. That is just so you know I'm not making it up or whatever, but it makes sense if you just think about it.
Right now the Cavs are not sure what they want to do but they don't want to mess with this team's chemistry. They are considering their options, but history tells us that teams don't really get serious about trading for expiring contracts (which is what the Cavs have to use) until near the trading deadline. That is a long way away and options will be discussed for those months.
What the Cavs need is another big man and Marion isn't a big man and Varejao is. So if they made such a deal they'd be in worse shape. Which is why I said before, it doesn't make much sense.
Also, if the Cavs are going to use Wally Szczerbiak's contract they are going to go for a home run. This next trade very well may be the most important in Cavs history. So it has to be just right. I will write about this a lot more in the coming weeks, just know that right now this rumor isn't true.
Monday, December 15, 2008
If I'm doing this right, you should be able to download it here (it's a m4a file, so you'll most likely have to use iTunes to listen to it).
Because of their superstar, their record and some incredible team statistics early in the season, the Cavaliers have had the "elite" tag slapped on them in the NBA's pecking order.
Thus far they have earned it, but to keep it up they are going to have to address the only blemish on their 20-4 record. After Saturday night's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, which snapped an 11-game win streak, the Cavs are now just 1-4 this season on the road against teams with winning records.
On one hand it can be said the team doesn't have a bad loss yet. During the winning streak, when the Cavs only played one team with the winning record (the Hawks), they vanquished the sub-.500 opponents nightly.
On the other, watching the road performance of East rivals Boston and Orlando - the Magic won in Portland and Utah last week and lost by a single point in Phoenix - the Cavs still have some work to do.
The Cavs are 7-4 on the road so far, and a disproportionate six of those 11 games have been on the second night of a back-to-back. Nonetheless, the Cavs are now to be judged by the highest standard, and losses in Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Atlanta don't brighten their resume much.
November's victory in Dallas, which kicked off the just halted run of 19 wins in 20 games, is so far the Cavs' only quality win away from The Q. And the Mavericks, who are now 13-9 after winning nine of their past 11, are just a pedestrian 6-5 at home this season.
Like I said in the recap, I'm not overly concerned about their losses, but it's something we need to keep our eye on.
When the Cavs were winning, no one wanted to discuss the possiblity of trading Wally for a starter (most likely a 2-guard); things were going so well, so why mess with things? But it's something that the Cavs and Danny Ferry are going to have to seriously explore (especially when you consider that Wally would probably be bought out and simply return to the Cavs).
I'm OK with the idea of getting someone like Vince Carter (as long as the Cavs are just giving draft picks along with Wally) and I think he'd be a good addition, even when you consider his baggage.
However, there's another name that gets thrown about which really intrigues me: Gerald Wallace. Unlike Carter, Wallace is known for his defense and he'd be a great fit for the Cavs at the defensive end. However, I'd be a little wary of his offense: Wallace is in a shooting slump this season, shooting 43% on FG (career 48%) and a dismil 22% from beyond the arc (carrer 30%). With LeBron James on the floor, it will be imperative that the guards make their open looks. Can Wallace do that? I'm not sure (if he's traded here, he'll suddenly find himself with a lot more open looks).
Another concern, if Wallace gets another concussion, he's probably retiring for health reasons. Plus, his contract will run through 2012-13 season and he's making $9.5 million each of those seasons. That's a lot of money to take on for an injury prone guy who can't shoot (but could you imagine the defense he and James could play on the wing?).
Now, if the Cavs can start beating some good teams on the road (they'll have more chances coming up), then they may not need to make The Big Deal. But if they can't find a way to beat quality opponents on the road, then Danny Ferry might have to roll the dice on someone like Carter or Wallace.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
There's a bit of truth in all of it. This is a pretty good Hawks team and I have a hard time faulting the Cavs for losing this game (4th game in five nights, on the road, shorthanded). Personally, I'm kinda glad just to see an interesting ball game for once, all these blowout were getting kind of boring. The sting of the loss is softened by how well the Cavs executed down the stretch; the Cavs had two really good looks to tie the game with under 10 seconds left, they just didn't drop. The Cavs struggled for the game's first 35 minutes and, given their circumstances, they could've packed it in, but they fought back and gave themselves the chance.
LeBron showed why he's taking home the MVP this year (alternate heading: so this is why those blowouts were so important). In 46 grueling minutes, James poured in 33 points (10-19 FG, 2-7 3pt, 11-12 FT) to go along with 9 assists, 6 boards, 4 steals and a block (he also picked up tech). James put the team on his back, willing home baskets just to keep it within striking distance and then giving them life by throwing down a thunderous dunk late in the third. With 4:11 left in the period, LeBron's dunk in traffic made the score just 66-55 but it completely energized the Cavaliers (and it kind of stunned both the Hawks and their fans). Cleveland finished the quarter on a 13-2 run, culminating with a Sasha Pavlovic 3-ball, to make the deficit 68-66.
I'm still getting used to Mo Williams. The Cavs haven't had many close games, so I haven't been able to see how Mo plays with LeBron during crunch time in pressure situations. I'd say he played pretty well, no? 26 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 40 minutes. Williams created a lot of shots for himself throughout the game and I'm not used to non-LeBron players doing that during crunch time (Pavlovic's charges, Varejao's finals debacle, Hughes every game). Mo had four big points over the final five minutes and every time he took it I was like "no no no no, give to LeBro- oh yeah, Mo Williams is good."
Jumpers weren't falling (They missed Boobie). The misses of both West and Williams in the final seconds was indicative of how the previous 47 minutes and 50 seconds went. They both had good looks, but the shot simply didn't drop. Delonte finished just 5-19 from the floor (1-4 from beyond the arc) and while Mo was 11-21 overall, he was just 1-7 from down town (they had a rough night defensively as well, Mike Bibby finished with 24 and Joe Johnson had 17, with both hitting big shots down the stretch). As a team, the Cavs shot just 5-22 from three point country (Wally was 0-3 and James was 2-7).
Great game to watch (even better for Hawks fans). This was a spectacular basketball game after LeBron's dunk. The Cavs executed down the stretch and multiple guys made big plays. Delonte West fed James on a sweet backdoor pass that led to a man sized and-one. Mo Williams pump faked a trey, took a few steps in made beautiful bankshot from the wing. And LeBron... what can you say? He put them on his back when they were struggling, he made big plays down the stretch and he looked every bit the leader of this team; the reason the Cavs were even close was because LeBron willed them there. And when Atlanta took the Cavs punch and kept the lead, LeBron answered the bell every time (well, there was one shitty 3 attempt) and put the pressure back on the Hawks.
I don't think four games is a large enough sample size to draw any trends. While I'm not entirely comfortable with the fact that the Cavs only losses are to good teams, on the road, I'm not worried about it. Yet. The Boston game was the first game of the year (and ring night), New Orleans was just the third and both the Detroit and Atlanta games were on the second night of a back-to-back. There's legit 'excuses' for all of these games (really? Rasheed Wallace is hitting 30 footers like layups? Really?) and there's no shame in losing to these teams in their home buildings. But I was really hoping the Cavs could steal this one. This would've been a great win. But I'm not gonna let myself get too upset over a loss that put the Cavs at 20-4. I will say, however, that this is the type of game that Danny Ferry will have in mind when he decides whether or not to pull the trigger on a mid-season deal. You won't be going through teams like the Knicks and Bobcats when you make a Finals run.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Mo Williams was ridiculous. Mo had 27 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and practically every big basket that the Cavs needed. Williams had an answer everytime the Sixers made a run and he was on fire, shooting 11-16 from the floor overall and 2-3 from downtown (he also hit all three attempted free throws).
LeBron was awesome as usual. 29 points, 5 assists, 4 boards and 2 blocks. He got lit up by Andre Iguodala (who finished with 27-9-5) for 21 points in the first half, but held him to just 6 in the second. Per usual, James had a couple of big plays; my favorite being perfect 25 foot trey to end the first period to cut the Sixer lead in half. James also had a couple of sick passes to Varejao (who had an excellent game with 15 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, a steal and a block), leading to easy baskets or free throws.
Ben Wallace played really well. Big Ben finished with 6 points, 10 boards and 2 blocks in 26 minutes. He was a bit more aggressive at the offensive end (6 shot attempts) and he a huge put-back dunk with a minute left to squash any of Philadelphia's comeback hopes. Wallace continued to play his stellar defense as well, holding Elton Brand (in his first game back from injury) to just 3-11 shooting.
Zydrunas got hurt and I totally blame Mike Brown. Z, who had a solid game (9 points, 6 boards and 3 assists), rolled his ankle when landed on former Cavalier Donyell Marshall's foot, when Marshall was chucking a 28 footer. I guarantee you that Z isn't challenging that shot if John Lucas was still coaching him.
Mike Brown has this team busting their asses. I joke about Z's injury but he challenged that 28 foot hoist while the Cavs had a 16 point lead. Minutes earlier, to end the third quarter, Wally Szczerbiak fought for an jump ball with six seconds left on the clock following a LeBron James miss. The ensuing jump ball led to a nice dunk by Delonte West. This all happened with an 18 point lead. I just thought that play was indicitive of this season, the 9th guy fighting for a loose offensive rebound with 6 seconds left in the period while elading by 18. That's hustle.
I like what I'm seeing from Sasha Pavlovic. Sasha was just 2-7 from the floor but he contributed in other ways, grabbing 3 boards and dishing out 2 assists in his 20 minutes of court time. Pavlovic will be getting some extra PT while Gibson is out and if he to keep some of those minutes, he's going to have to do more than just score and play defense. I've liked what I've seen recently, when Sasha is driving he passing the ball off with more regularity and he's getting some easy buckets for the bigs. Plus, he's not so tunnel visioned on getting to the rim and he's drawing way less offensive fouls. In short, he's playing more in control.
You guys again? The Cavs host the Sixers on Friday night and then face the Hawks in Atlanta on Saturday to finish out this 4-in-5 stretch. The Atlanta game marks the start of a little 4 game road trip that heads out West to Minnesota, Denver and Oklahoma City. The Cavs can tie the franchise record for consecutive victories at 11 with a win over Philly on Friday night. All the news stories say they'd be tying a streak that they set in the 88-89 season (Price-Harper-Williams-Nance-Daugherty), but I could've sworn that they had 11 during the 97-98 season (Knight-Anderson-Henderson-Kemp-Ilgauskas) as well. (Discussion question: if Danny Ferry makes the right moves and the Cavs win the championship, doese that mean I have to stop being pissed off about the Ron Harper trade? Is Ferry even the GM here without the Harper trade?)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Toronto made this game close in the second period. The bench bunch came in and pushed the Cavalier lead up to 19 and the Cavs looked well on their way to another laugher. But Toronto got back into it. The Raptors moved the ball well and their shots started to drop (Anthony Parker hit a couple treys), and the Cavs kinda unraveled, receiving not one, not two, but three technical fouls (LeBron, Wallace and assistant Mike Malone all picked one up). The Raptors were about to end the half on a 18-7 run, but LeBron nailed a 30 foot trey at the buzzer to push the from 5 to 8 (59-51 at half).
As weird as this sounds, I was actually happy that Toronto made that run. The Cavs have now won a NBA record 9 straight games by 12 or more points and while that's sweet and all, I'd like to see how they perform in close games (you know, like the ones you get in the playoffs). Would they suffer from a third quarter malise? Did Toronto gain enough confidence to stick around for the entire game? In a word, no. By the nine-minute mark of the third period, the Cavs had pushed the lead to 67-53. At seven minutes, Toronto had commited 5 turnovers and the Cavs had a comfy 77-55 lead. The Raptors only had 4 points over the quarter's first eight minutes and their 6th point of the period cut the Cavalier lead to 82-57.
I think the efficiency is what is amazes me the most (both individual and team). The Cavs shot 49% from the floor, had 29 assist and 11 steals to just 11 turnovers and they out rebounded the Raptors 45-33. And what more can you say about LeBron? In 31 minutes (in just three periods), James scored 31 points (11-18 FG, 2-5 3pt, 7-8 FT), grabbed 5 boards, had 5 assists and 3 steals. LeBron had six dunks, my favorite being the one he got from Z after James made a nice cut at the top of key (Z laid the ball off and James just turned the corner and threw down a thunderous dunk in traffic).
This defense is sick. The Cavs held Toronto starters to just 40% shooting (16-40) and only one starter (Jose Calderon, 14 points) hit double figures. Future-Cavalier Chris Bosh finished 4-11 for 9 points (though he grabbed 11 boards). Jermaine O'Neal (who I still don't like) was 2-6 and finished with 8 points (and just 4 boards). Anthony Parker was 3-5 on treys but 0-3 from everywhere else. The Cavs forced 19 turnovers and the led to 27 points.
Good game for Mo. In 30 minutes of play, Williams finished with 13 points, 9 assists, 4 boards and a steal. He was 6-10 from the field and 1-3 from downtown. He can get into the lane seemingly whenever he feels like it and his floaters and junk shots inside are extremely effective. Plus, when he gets inside he draws the defense, allowing him to find good looks for other players (like the overhead hook pass he got to Varejao for a wide open lay-up).
I'm kinda bummed that Z didn't break the rebounding record during one of his offensive tip sequences (you know, the ones where he'll gets3 boards in 4 seconds). Instead, he broek it when he and LeBron went up for a defensive board and James dropped the ball like it was on fire (which was kinda cool to see, actually). Z had another solid game, scoring 13 points on 5-9 shooting to go with 6 boards and an assist in 23 minutes. He battled Jermaine O'Neal for most of the game and was extremely effective (they have a little history from O'Neal's healthy Indiana days IIRC).
The bench played well. Wally Szczerbiak shot the ball well, scoring 16 points on 5-10 shooting (2-5 3pt). Sasha Pavlovic played well in his 22 minutes of court time (with a good chunk of it non-garbage) going for 9 points (4-9 FG, 1-2 3pt), 5 boards and 2 assists (I really like that he showed up other parts of the stat sheet. If Sasha can do some more little things besides scoring, he could be extremely valuable). The two main big men off the bench were Anderson Varejao and Darnell Jackson (J.J. Hickson only got 4 minutes of PT). Varejao was solid, if unspectacular, getting 9 points and 4 boards in 24 minutes and Jackson looked good, if a bit rushed offensively, scoring a point to go with 4 boards in 17 minutes. Personally, I'd have liked to see Hickson out there (cause I love watching that kid play and grow) but it's not a bad idea to throw Jackson out there to get him acclimated.
Daniel Gibson looked good before he got hurt. Boobie hit both 3s he attempted, scoring 6 points in six minutes (he also had a sweet inside pass to LeBron for a dunk). Gibson hurt his left big toe midway through the second period and never returned (and he didn't travel with the team to Philly). It's a shame too, because Boobie looked really confident and comfortable when he was out there and it looks like his jumper was getting back on track.
Things are going so well that they're allowing Ben Wallace to shoot jumpers. And ya know what? I'm ok with it. I'd actually rather have Big Ben hoist a 10 foot spot-up J than try to back a guy down for 15 seconds before throwing up an over-head prayer. Wallace was 2-5 from the floor (he missed both jumpers and a dunk attempt) but had a couple of dunks to go with his 5 boards and usual stellar defense (Toronto big men were 9-24).
Another underachieving East contender coming up. The Cavs face the "new look" 9-12 Sixers in Philly on Wednesday and I'm not expecting another blow out. But, I wasn't expecting a 20-point victory over the Rapters either, so who knows. Elton Brand had been banged up and looks like he'd be a game time decision. This blowout allowed the Cavs to again start off a 4-in-5 stretch by resting their starters for the final period, so they should be pretty rested when they get to the city of brotherly love.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The Cleveland Indians are close to getting their closer.
The club has offered free agent Kerry Wood, the former Chicago Cubs starter-turned-reliever, a two-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the sides are still working through details at the winter meetings in Las Vegas.
Wood, who has had numerous injury problems in the past, needs to pass a physical before the deal can be completed.
I like this a lot, at least they'll have a closer with, you know, "closer stuff". That's my analysis, go see DiaTribe for actual knowledge.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Now, most of the injured are returning, though the uncertainty remains McGrady, and you can't run a team like that. The question is whether anyone would take a shot at McGrady, though just 29 and certainly capable of a few more big seasons. He is a star like attraction, but he prefers half court play as he's slowed down and slows the team. Houston wants to play faster than he does, as well. And the Rockets believe they can make a run now and have to while Yao remains healthy. And perhaps McGrady can be that final piece, a role player who can help a team on the edge or just provide veteran experience or a player with some cachet who has just two years remaining on his deal.
Perhaps that's Cleveland's final move for the expiring deals of Wally Szczerbiak and Eric Snow.
The one thing that makes McGrady viable (even with all his baggage) is that his contract expires after the 2009-10 season. I'm not totally sold on it, but having T-Mac and LeBorn patrol the wing ain't a bad option.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
The Cleveland Browns are formulating a plan that ultimately could lead to the return of Marty Schottenheimer as their coach for the 2009 season, according to sources.
The Browns would also be open to considering Bill Cowher if he sends stronger signals that he's ready to return, the sources said.
The Browns plan to fire coach Romeo Crennel after a disappointing year, regardless of injuries the team has suffered, the sources said. Pubicly, owner Randy Lerner has only said he will evaluate Crennel after the season.
The future of general manager Phil Savage also has been the source of speculation by various media outlets. Sources said Lerner prefers to retain Savage to run his personnel department but could scale back his overall duties, which include the final say on all roster moves.
Before the 2008 season, Savage signed a four-year contract extension for an average of$2.7 million per year, the sources said.
However, Lerner is contemplating a different authority -- or "voice" of the franchise -- that can filled by an experienced coach like Cowher or Schottenheimer, the sources said.
Schottenheimer recently said he had no plans to return to the sidelines, but sources said he would consider coming back "for the job ... with a team that has a good core of talent."
I'm torn on the next Browns hire. On one hand, I'm not all too thrilled about a coaching retread. But on the other hand, I'm also sick of first time guys learning on the job and fighting through their growing pains while the Browns (and their fans) suffer.
So Marty? Cowher? Brian Billick? I dunno, I guess I'd be OK with those guys. Marty's problem is losing in big playoff games (what I wouldn't give for that to be our problem) and both Cowher and Billick have actually won those games (albeit for a hated division rival). I have some worry that Cowher might want (or get offered) both GM and coaching duties and I'm 100% against anyone getting both responsibilities. I'm also kinda concerned about a Jimmy Johnson-in-Miami (or Ditka in New Orleans) situation with Cowher. For some reason, I don't feel that way about Billick, but it is a concern I have with The Chin.
As for Savage, again I'm torn. On one hand, his personnel decisions haven't been good enough that it makes up for his other short falls as a GM (the Winslow incident, the fan email, sitting picks by keeping DA). But I'm not sure that it's healthy for the organization to replace both GM and coach yet again in such a short period of time and Savage hasn't been terrible (hey look, good linemen!). Having some kind of stability in management should be desirable, no?
Who else is pumped for the offseason, huh? Coaching changes, a decently high draft pick (I mean, I guess they have a shot at the Cinci game) and free agency! The time of the year where Browns fans clamor to draft the latest Buckeyes (Beanie Wells! James Laurinaitis! Malcom Jenkins!).
Thank the lord the Cavs are good.
Either way, I guess I'm OK with it.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- LeBron James sat in front of his locker an hour before tipoff and joked that if Zydrunas Ilgauskas was closing in on Cleveland's career rebounding record against Charlotte he'd "take one from him."James added that if he was a steal away from breaking the Cavaliers' career franchise record he'd "let one go."James wanted both marks set at home Tuesday night -- and another record-tying rout made it possible.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Strong second half and finish. The Cavs outscored the Pacers 31-18 in the second quarter and never looked back. They went into halftime up 52-38 and it was never that close for the rest of the game (cresting with a 27 point lead). The Cavs bench put up 35 points and kept the momentum going (and honestly, gave the Cavs momentum after a somewhat listless first quarter). Their third quarter wasn't great (only scoring 18 points) but they held Indiana to just 16, making the score 70-54 heading into the fourth.
The Cavs crushed them and LeBron only had 11 points. Not to say that James wasn't active in other aspects of the game. LeBron didn't have a triple double, but he did stuff the stat sheet; James finished with 11 points, 11 assists, 8 boards, 3 blocks and a steal. Oh, and he also shut down Danny Granger (4 points, 2-7 FGs). The Pacers made a conscious effort not to let James beat them and well, it kinda worked; James was just 4-12 from the field, but the Cavs are too good of shooters to just be left alone all game long.
I'm really enjoying this three man guard rotation. Mo Williams scored 17 points (7-9 FG) and had 4 assists in 27 minutes. Daniel Gibson had 14 points (2-5 3pt) in 28 minutes. And Delonte West? He had 14 points (4-12 FG, 4-6 3pt) and 7 assists in 32 minutes (the only Cavs starter besides James to cross the 30 minute mark). I didn't expect that these three guys would mesh together so well. Anyone can handle the PG duties for a stretch of time, freeing the other one up to work off the ball.
The rest of the bench was pretty good too. Varejao had a superb first half and Gibson shot the ball really well but both Szczerbiak and Pavlovic made some nice plays. Sasha forced a steal that led to Szczerbiak feeding LeBron for an alley-oop on the ensuing fast break. Neither Wally (1-4 FG) nor Sasha (o-2 FG) shot the ball particularly well, but both guys were working hard out there in their limited minutes, which was really nice to see.
The starting bigs had yet another solid game. With his spot up shot working to perfection (at least in the second half), Z was tied for the team lead with 17 points (8-15 FG, 1-2 3pt) and he also grabbed 8 boards. The big fella has scored in double figures in each of the games this season. Meanwhile, Ben Wallace finished with 2 blocks and 7 boards (including a couple of fantastic offensive boards). As a team, the Cavs finished with 10 blocks and out-rebounded the Pacers 43-35.
I like this Pacer team. This team is full of guys who I think could really contribute on good, playoff basketball teams. I'm not sure they should all be on one team together. I like their guards (TJ Ford, Jarrett Jack, Marquis Daniels and Brandon Rush) and I'm fan of their bigs too (Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster and Roy Hibbert). And hell, Danny Granger is a baller. Like I said, I think all of these guys could play for contenders (unlike the Drew Goodens and Ricky Davises of the world), but I'm not sure if they fit together. I was kinda worried about this game coming in (I mean, they've beaten both Boston and L.A.) but the Cavs just clamped down and methodically put them away.
Fox Sports Ohio is still annoying. I know I've talked less about the announcers this season and I think I know why. No, it's not because they've gotten good (though they aren't gawd awful). I just think that I have a higher tolerance for Austin Carr and Fred McLeod when I'm not being subjugated 20 foot bricks from Larry Hughes and co. But Austin has to get over this "throws the hammer down" stuff. It's totally fine to use but Carr keeps bringing it back in casual conversations and replays (and tonight he strung it out and let it tail off, as in "throw the hammer doooooooooooooown...). It has to stop. Also, here's an exact quote from tonight's game, enjoy:
McLeod: "That hurts. That's like a pitcher throwing away... an intentional pass. Oh my. "and finally...
Carr: "Somebody get a stick and kill it!!"
Yet another big win. There's a real possibility that we'll catch another blowout tomorrow night when the Cavs face the Bobcats in Charlotte. They then start another 4-in-5 on Tuesday when they face the Raptors at home (they have a home-and-home with Philly over the two middle games and finish it off in Atlanta on the 13th). Those are all very winnable games, and while I'm not saying I expect them to be 21-3 late next week, but it's not out of the question (and even if they do lose, I'd be shocked if they didn't bounce right back win the next one).