Saturday, January 31, 2009
The Clippers didn't go away, at least for a half. It was kind of a bizzare second period, as both Baron Davis and LeBron were on the court to begin the quarter. Davis didn't play at all in the first period and James was coming in after sitting with two fouls. The Clippers stuck around by taking advantage of mismatches (the Cavs always switched on the picks and Varejao ended up guarding Diddy way to often) and the Cavs' sloppy turnovers. The Cavs kept themselves in the game by knocking down the longball; of the Cavs 10 field goals in the quarter, 5 were from downtown (they made a season high 14 on the night). The teams headed into halftime tied at 54.
The Cavs pulled away in the second half. Cleveland stepped up their defense after halftime; they were more active overall and they even decided to stop letting token white guy Steve Novak shoot from the same spot every time down the court. They also cleaned things up at the offensive end; they started the quarter on a 17-9 run and never looked back. I though Pavlovic had a really nice third period; he had 8 points and an assist in the period, before heading to the bench due to foul trouble.
LeBron: steady greatness. This guy is really good; he has a mostly nondescript game, but he finishes with 25 points, 7 boards, 6 assists, 3 steals and a block. He attacked the basket early on, netting him a couple of "and ones" though he only ended with just six free throw attempts (he made five). However, that's partly due to the fact that he was taking (and making) a lot of his jumpers. James was pretty comfortable shooting the ball, as the Clipper guarding James was often gave up a good 5 inches to the King (seriously, B-Diddy on LBJ? Really?).
Mo rebounded nicely from the Orlando loss. After going just 4-15 in the sunshine state, Williams poured in 23 points on 8 -16 shooting against the Clippers. His long ball was dropping yet again as Williams shot a nifty 5-6 from behind the arc (over the last six games he's a ridiculous 25/47 from downtown). Williams also chipped in 6 assists, a bound and steal.
I forgot about all the little things that Z brings to the table. In his first game back, Z had 20 points and 11 boards in 29 minutes. He'll get ya a couple put backs a game and he's the ultimate saftey valve. The Clippers left him alone to shoot his 15 footers and Z made 'em pay. He finished 10-16 from the floor and while you could tell there was a little rust (a couple sloppy passes and he airballed a corner trey), his presence made life much easier for both James and Williams.
This is a weird Clipper team. They're filled with a bunch of players who have talent, but they're all one-on-one. Baron Davis looked like he had no feel for his teammates, Ricky Davis chucked up everything in sight and the two young guys (Al Thorton and Eric Gordon) showed off some nice offensive moves. Thorton is really quick on the block (I love me some post players) and Gordon had a fantastic all-around game, going for 27 points, 7 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. They have a lot of guys who, if they were in better situations, would be really valuable. But it's the Clippers.
Wally Szczerbiak is starting to make me not want to trade Wally Szczerbiak. Sure, the guy is slow, old and gives 25 hi-5s a game, but if he can continue to shoot anywhere close to this (especially with Gibson sucking- if he's not making shots he's a liability), he might be more valuable to the Cavs than we realize. Wally had a nice game with 15 points, 2 assists and a board and his shooting was fantastic (6-10 overall, 2-5 from downtown). Szczerbiak has had his moments over the season, but since the new year he's played really good ball. After shooting 32% from the floor and 25% from downtown in December, Wally's January has been stupid: 36-74 FG, 21-36 3PT for 49% and 58%(!!!) respectively. Let's hope Wally is allowed to spend the month of March with his wife and kids.
Thanks for your patience. I know I've been on and off with these things and I apologize, I'm not happy about it either, believe me. Anyways, in case you forgot, this is a really good basketball team. Yea, it's pretty lame that the team with the best record only has one All-Star (but they got the coach!), but I think it's pretty obvious that Z would've been there had he not gotten hurt (plus, A.I. being voted in screws up everything). The Cavs still haven't lost consecutive games all year and they're the only undefeated team at home. Sure, some will point to the fact that they've lost to some good teams on the road (like it's a terrible thing) but you have to realize that that's the only time they ever lose. These guys are pretty good; the bench has stepped up after the injuries, the young guys have plugged in and while they've been a little chirpy as of late (and not without some reason), for the most part, they don't make any excuses.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
First, the Cavs won't be able to reunite the backcourt from a shitty Bucks team:
Just when that silky smooth jumper of his was starting to fall just the way Michael Redd likes it, the Olympian's injury-plagued season came to an abrupt and frustrating end.
The Milwaukee Bucks' leading scorer will miss the rest of the year with torn ligaments in his left knee.
Honestly, this has worked out to the Cavs (or at least mine). I'm not a proponent of re-teaming Williams with Redd and Redd's injury makes the point moot. In addition, now no one else will be able to trade for him.
Then there's Charlotte's Gerald Wallace... ouch:
Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace suffered a partially collapsed left lung and a fractured rib late in the team's double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, team officials said Wednesday.
The statement said Wallace had 30 to 40 percent of his left lung collapse as well as a non-displaced fracture of the fifth rib. The team said Wallace underwent a CT-scan at Centinela Hospital in Los Angeles, and had a chest tube inserted into the lung to help restore full function.
Wallace was to remain in the hospital over the next 48 hours for observation and did not accompany the team to Portland for Wednesday night's game against the Trail Blazers.
Team spokesman B.J. Evans said there was no immediate indication on when Wallace would rejoin the team, or even when he would return to Charlotte. Evans also said there had been no decision Wednesday afternoon as to who would replace Wallace in the starting lineup against Portland.
I'm really torn on G-Force. On the one hand, I see better, younger, more athletic Larry Hughes clone. Wallace simply cannot shoot (26% 3pt this year). So if he's added, you'll see some bricks. But defensively... dear lord. Defensively he'd be perfect. He can guard bigger guys, you can stick him on Rondo for stretches... I mean, with Wallace and Bron-Bron... wow. Also, he's fairly adept at posting up, so it's not like he'd be a complete loss offensively.
Here's where things gets interesting:
Elton Brand, Sixers
The Sixers are experiencing quite a bit of buyer's remorse after giving Brand an $80 million contract this past summer. Brand has been awful in the early going. To make matters worse, he struggles to play the style the rest of the team wants to play. More and more, it's looking like a bad fit for both parties. I've heard rumblings over the past few weeks that the Sixers would let Brand go for expiring contracts and a future pick -- a pretty small price for the most coveted free agent of last summer.
But will anyone want to take on his contract at this point? The Heat's Pat Riley has always been a fan. The Pistons are looking for a dominant big, too. A Chicago homecoming isn't out of the question either. And the Cavs might be willing to roll the dice, although that's a lot of money to gamble with. Will any GM or owner in the league have the guts to pull the trigger?
Chance of trade: 20 percent
Elton Brand?! Are you kidding me? The Cavs would be stupid not to add Elton Brand. Sure, he's old. Sure, he's had some injuries. But if you think the guy sucks just because of Philly, you're kidding yourself. The Sixers are good when they run and gun, which is the exact opposite of Brand's game.
He's a career 20-10 guy, he can post up, he can board and he can hit the open J. You plug him in at PF and just let the 'em go. Yes, he's costly, but he's not all that old (he'll be 34 when his contract is up).
Worst case scenario, he's an expensive Joe Smith who will be an $18 million expiring contract in 2013. Best case scenario? Championships. Plural. Multiple. And if you can get him for the combination of Wally & junk? Yes, please.
I never wanted Redd (after the Williams trade) and while Wallace is intriguing, I think he'd take the longest to mesh (does he have a position? Where will his points come from? etc) let alone the short and long term injury concerns. Brand is my pie-in-the-sky scenario (I don't think either team has the guts to make that trade, would Philly really hit reset that fast?) and I think he'd put the Cavs way over the top.
Even with the injuries and the crappy loss to Orlando, I still think the Cavs are in a pretty good spot. They don't HAVE to make a trade. Wally has done well and if they can't pawn him off for a legitimately useful piece, I say keep his expiring ass.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
As for the Jazz game, I was oot and aboot and for that I don't apologize (I had a really shitty week last week, with that car wreck and all).
On a brighter note, I feel really good about our latest podcast (in which we discuss the Cavs' West coast trip, basketball broadcasters, the Browns and other various foolery). Podcast no. 5 had some technical difficulties, but it can be found in all it's glory right here. Enjoy.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
The game went back and forth for most of the second half and the; everytime the it looked like Cavs had the Golden State down, the Warriors had an answer. Stephen Jackson hit some clutch, clutch jumpers (I like this guy, a lot. He's a little old, but he's a gamer), Corey Maggette bulldozed his way to 23 points and Monta Ellis dropped 20 points in his season debute.
And then there's LeBron. He hit the game winner as time expired, but he did so much more. The MVP was just 10-16 from the line, but he hit his final two, giving the Cavaliers a one-point lead. His stat sheet is simply ridiculous: 32 points, 9 boards, 8 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He's insane.
I'm having a hard time remembing a game this fun. The high score, the highlight plays, the whole team stepping up, back and forth during crunch time and a Cavalier game winner.
(and I almost forgot, Fred McCleod was hack-tastic tonight. Wow, man, this is getting a bit much. The thing is, Fred is a pretty good play-by-play guy; he can call the game, he knows his stuff and he's quick. He's talented. But man, get your head out of Dan Gilbert's ass. Everytime a Warrior player made a move, McCleod always mentioned how he "got away with an off arm" or that it "looked like he traveled, but the refs didn't call it". No dude, sometimes they just make a move, they aren't always getting away with taking an extra step. And on the other end... just damn. The Cavs can miss shots without there being some uncalled injustice. They aren't actually getting screwed by the refs every time down. Just call the game and let Austin yell crazy shit. That's all we need).
(On the flip side, Joe Tait was awesome. I'm kinda pissed I watched the second half on tivo, especially given the ending. I listened to Joe during the first half and he's a god-damn delight. I need an MP3 of Joe's fourth quarter. There's no way that isn't fantastic).
(Now excuse me, I have to go to bed. I have work in the morning.)
Thursday, January 22, 2009
You aren't going to lose many games where LeBron is hitting his midrange J. Portland tried to keep James out of the paint (he had a couple of his shots blocked) and James took what the defense gave him. Twice in the game LeBron made three consecutive mid-range jumpers and there's not a whole lot you can do if that's going to happen. LeBron led everyone with 34 points to go along with a game high 14 assists, 7 boards and a steal. LeBron's passing was fantastic; he found guys in the open court (Pavlovic ran the floor especially well), he found guys for open jumpers and he worked the ball to Mo Williams, who responded by shooting 6-9 from downtown.
Mo was great. Williams had a season high 33 points in 41 minutes. He shot the ball extremely well (12-19 FG, 6-9 3pt) and he was really aggressive. Sometimes this led to turnovers, but I think you have to make that trade off, in order to get Williams more involved with the offense. With both Z and Delonte West out, the Cavs are going to need Williams to score more and take the pressure off of LeBron.
The Cavs capitalized on every fortunate play. Wally grabs a LeBron air ball? Leads to a Varjao dunk. James picks up a ball fumbled by Varejao? Leads a LeBron trey in the corner. Every time the Cavs got any break from the refs or weird play, they always scored the next possession.
I love Portland's crowd (you can tell why they're 15-5 at home). They were into it from the get-go and they stayed into the game throughout (until the very end, where you could've heard a pin drop). The crowd was extremely supportive of their squad (booing nearly every call) but they save the biggest cheers for Rudy Fernandez and Greg Oden. Any time either of those two do anything remotely positive, the crowd erupts like proud parents at a 6-year old's soccer game (and if Greg Oden gets called for a foul, look out). It's great that the Cavs won in a building like this (some would argue this is their first 'tough' road win of the season).
I also really like this Portland team. Seriously, is there a young guy on this roster that you don't like? I love the games of both Aldridge and Roy (both are a little old school), both Fernandez and Rodriguez are fun to watch, Travis Outlaw is really, really long and Jerryd Bayless shows a lot of promise. Oh ya, they also got that Gred Oden fellow. It's not going get any easier to play in the Rosen Garden over the next couple years. It's good for the NBA when Porland is competetive.
Sasha Pavlovic continued his strong play. I really like the way Pavlovic is playing; he's not forcing his shot (either inside or out), he's playing under control, his defense is still solid and he's actually knocking down jumpers. Best of all, he's not playing many empty minutes; Sasha finished 3-6 from the floor for 6 points to go along with 4 boards, 4 assists and a steal. I will say that Sasha still doesn't get much love from the refs, as he picked up a couple of questionable calls.
The Cavalier defense is quite good, just in case you weren't aware. Brandon Roy finished just 8-23 and LaMarcus Aldridge was only 8-20 (and just 4-12 after the first period). As a team, the Blazers shot just 40%. For the life of me, I don't know why the Blazers didn't feed Oden a little more. He finished just 3-4 from the field and as far as I can remember, only one shot came off of an actual play (the rest we rebound put backs). Oden made a nifty jump hook over Varejao and I'm kinda surprised they didn't try that a little more (especially considering the Laker game).
I'm still a bit worried about the Cavalier offense. While I really like the fact that Williams was more aggressive and the Cavs had a (somewhat) balanced attack (a couple of guys made big shots), they still were played mostly outside-in. Granted, Portland is a big squad, but the Cavs are going to need some inside scoring at somepoint. Hickson played well in his 13 minutes of court time (5 points and 2 boards) but he needs to keep his fouls in check (he had 4).
Finish out the trip right. I think you have to be OK if the Cavs finish this trip 2-2, but 3-1 is looking a little more likely after this win in Portland. The Cavs end their mini West coast swing with a back-to-back against Golden State and Utah. While I don't expect either of these games to be easy, they can't afford a loss in Golden State. A 3-1 trip is pretty good regardless of circumstances, but while missing two key starters.... that'd be quite nice.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Marc Stein: There's substance only from the perspective that this would be the only kind of deal that the Clips would accept for Camby. Taking back a contract shorter than Camby's incentives-laden deal, in other words.
He's got the most cap-friendly contract of any of the big names in Clipperland, and Donald Sterling is not in the mood to add any more money to the payroll after his (relatively) open checkbook of the past few years failed to prevent the Clips from winding up in a race to avoid this season's worst record.
If a deal like this ever did go down, though, it would be a total steal for the Cavs. A dream. Which is probably why we shouldn't even be addressing it.
How valuable is a future first from the Cavs going to be? That pick and Wally's expiring contract isn't nearly enough for Camby.
Andy (Las Vegas): Tell Nick that Camby fits even MORE perfectly in Detroit ... and can be traded for Rip Hamilton, who would fit in nicely with Baron in L.A.
Stein: We repeat: Donald Sterling is not going to take back a deal longer than Camby's. Rip just signed an extension.
Jason (Cleveland): Steiny Mo: Have any of your sources brought up this Camby deal? You MUST elaborate before you send the entire city into an uproar.
Stein: Sorry. I was purely responding to a chat-room hypothetical. (Later learned that this scenario was tossed out in one of the Cleveland papers recently).
So I don't want to suggest that this Camby-to-Cleveland idea is in any way live. One source who would know described it to me as a "fan fantasy."
I should also say that while such a scenario is indicative of the KIND of move that the Cavs have the capability of making with Wally's expiring contract -- IF they decide to mess with their good chemistry -- most observers still expect them to make a trade before the deadline only if they can get a big-timer from the Vince Carter/Michael Redd class. They wanted another big man even before losing Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but there's also a feeling in Cavsland that they're deep enough to survive injuries to Big Z and Delonte West as long as they stay in the one-month to six-week range.
I'd love (LOVE) Marcus Camby, but I'm not seeing how the Cavs can pry him from LA.
I do think this type of team is the best fit for Carter at this point.
As for Redd, do the Cavs really want to reunite the backcourt of a terrible Bucks team?
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Today, I’ll give you four players I believe will be on the move. They will make a difference for a playoff contender — Denver or elsewhere.
Antawn Jamison, Washington Wizards. Averaging 19 points and eight rebounds over 10 NBA seasons — 20 points and nine rebounds this season. Do you hear much about him? No, because the Wizards stink this season. Jamison is 32 years old and carries a $10 million tag. Pulling him would be akin to the Lakers getting Pau Gasol last season.
Stephen Jackson, Golden State. Sure, he’ll beat you down if you mess with him. So don’t mess with him. Jackson is 30. He’s got the goods to play guard or forward, averaging 19points and six assists for the woeful Warriors. And his price tag is relatively affordable at $7 million.
Marcus Camby, Los Angeles Clippers. Living in L.A. might be nice, but not if your 6-foot-11 frame is crammed into the basement of the Pacific Division. At 34, Camby is averaging a double-double — 12 points and 14 rebounds per game. He costs around $10 million, but could you imagine him blocking shots and pulling down boards for the LeBron James-led Cavaliers? Or the Chauncey Billups-Carmelo Anthony-led Nuggets?
Raja Bell, Charlotte Bobcats. One minute, you’re in Phoenix with Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Nash. The next, you’re traded to Charlotte — with Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown. Somebody should free Bell from the abyss. He’s a solid, physical defender — T.R. Dunn with a three-point shot.
Think any one of these four players could make an impact for the Nuggets? If not those four, Denver ought to be looking somewhere for help.
There’s always room for improvement.
I like all of these guys, but I'm extremely intrigued by both Camby and Jackson.
From a basketball standpoint, I'm not sure you can get a better fit for the Cavs than Stephen Jackson. The man can hit threes (career 34%), he's playoff tested (in both San Antonio and Golden State), he's 6-8 (meaning he can guard bigger 2-guards) and while his shooting stats are down this year (39% FG, 29% 3pt) his assists are way up (6.0 per game).
The only questions (to me anyways) are his temperment and his contract. As far as the craziness goes, since he's been in California, he seems to have calmed down a bit. And as for the contract, yes, he's signed through 2013, but he's under $10 mil for every year but the last.
If you have the chance to plug Jackson in next to LeBron and Mo, you could have yourself a scary good team. Imagine having Jax and Bron-Bron ballhawking on the wing? Those are two very long and very tall perimeter defenders.
The guy has played for Mike Brown, he's thrived next to superstars (Tim Duncan and B-Diddy) and basketball-wise... well, it seems like a no brainer.
Then there's Marcus Camby. I mean, are you kidding me? This guy would be huge off the bench. He's currently leading the league with almost 14 boards per night (13.9 to be exact) and he's second in blocked shots with 2.7 per. He's owed $10 million this year and $9 million next season. He may not have the range of one Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but he has a good faceup jumper and pairing him with Wallace and LeBron for late game possession would be insane.
As for Raja Bell, I think he could be a nice saftey net for the Cavs. He'd be a nice defender, 3-point shooter to have come off the bench. He wouldn't set the world on fire, but he could help this team.
This trade season should be quite interesting...
Friday, January 16, 2009
James had a near triple double. The King finished with 29 points (12-24 FG, 0-2 3pt, 5-6 FT), 14 boards, 7 assists, 3 steals and a block. After scoring 15 points through the first three quarters, LBJ poured in 14 over the final twelve minutes. He really seemed focused on the boards, grabbing some tough bounds in traffic, and he didn't seem afraid to go inside (he was actually posting up on a semi-regular basis). However late in the game, he took (some could say settled for) more than a few jumpers, but he was hot (and at that point, no one could make jack), so it worked out.
Sasha Pavlovic?! Alright then. I've been pleasantly surprised this season by Sasha's ability to hit the long ball cold off the bench (it seems he's always hitting the first jumper he takes) and he was on fire on Friday. Sasha finished 7-10 from the floor (4-4 3pt, 1-1 FT) and it was remarkable how under control he was. He wasn't rushing his jumpers, he wasn't forcing the issue and he seemed to take what the defense gave him. When they pressed, he drove (again, under control) and when they sagged off, he nailed jumpers. Sasha probably prepared for this season as if he'd be the starter and now he's getting the chance to prove himself (I mean, he got 43(!) minutes). I'm gonna be real interested to see how he responds in Delonte's absence.
The Hornets are a mess. They put forth minimal effort, especially considering the Cavs had a draining overtime loss against the Bulls the night before. Chris Paul looked perpetually pissed off, Tyson Chandler finished 1-3 from the floor and David West... well, he just looked bored (and somewhat insulted that the Cavs had Wally D-ing him up). They came out hot, building a quick 7-2 lead and making their first four shots, but the Cavs tightened up the defense and the Hornets never really overcame it. I was really (really really really) worried about this game and the Cavs more or less slept walked through it. I really thought Paul would kill them but instead, he got himself thrown out late (James Posey also got tossed late- it really wasn't their best hour).
Besides Wally and Sasha (and that LeBron guy), the Cavs didn't shoot well. James was 12-24, Sasha was 7-10 (19 points) and Wally was 4-6 (14 points) Varejao missed his first five shots (finishin 2-7), Mo was 4-13 overall and 0-6 from downtown, Hickson was 0-4 (in just 10 minutes) and Boobie... well, Boobie was 2-5 from 3... and 2-10 overall (ugh). The Cavs seemed to match New Orleans' energy at times throughout the second half, but whenever the Hornets made a mini run, LeBron would just make a couple of huge buckets and the game would be out of reach yet again.
Didn't see this coming, but I'll take it. In no way did I expect the Cavs to push their home record to 20-0. I figured the combination of traveling, injuries (mental fatigue from said injuries) adn the opponent would lead to a lackluster effort. Obviously, I was gladly mistaken. Now the Cavs get to travel to Los Angeles to face Kobe and the Lakers to start their four game West Coast trek. This is a nice victory, especially given the circumstances, but they'll have to have a better offensive plan than "drive and kick" against the likes of the Lakers and Blazers.
LeBron didn't have a good night. Apparently (so says the AP article) LeBron had no lift in his legs and he could have some of the flu bug that has been going around the Cavs locker room. Just in case you forgot how good he is, this was LeBron's line on a bad night: 28 points, 14 boards, 7 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. But once West went down, LeBron seemd to try to do everything himself. He was taking bad shots, forcing the issue and generally looked like he didn't trust anyone else on the court. LeBron ended the night shooting 8-28 from the floor (at one point missing 13 straight shots) and had 8 turnovers. James was also just 11-16 from the line (including a few killer misses) and kinda reminded everyone that even though he's improved his free throw percentage this year, he's not out of the woods til he makes his freebies in tough situations.
Though, I can't blame LeBron for not trusting some of his guys. Mike Brown had some weird lineups out there (Pavlovic, Wally, Gibson and Wright? Ugh) and it's no wonder that James tried to go it alone. Once West went down, these guys had no continuity and the offense was choppy at best. The Cavs had a semi-strong third period, when Williams, Pavlovic (who actually wasn't terrible) and Gibson all hit some treys, but the offense was all "LeBron drives, draws the D and kicks to a shooter". They got some points, but they couldn't sustain anything.
LeBron's final shot in regulation left something to be desired. I like the fact that the Cavs didn't use a timeout after the Bulls tied the game at 87 with 17 seconds to go. I didn't like the fact that they didn't do anything in those 17 seconds. Instead of using the lack of timeout to sow confusion in the Chicago defense, LeBron just held the ball and hoisted a 21 footer as time expired. Part of me doesn't blame him (especially if he's sick) but part of me would like him to challenge the defense in that situation. Standing around and shooting a long J is exactly what the Bulls want him to do.
Derek Rose is really good. On one hand, I do not like the fact that he's in the same divison as the Cavs. He's gonna be a pain in the ass to go against 4 times a year. But on the other hand, 10 years of LeBron vs Rose battles ain't a terrible thing to have to 'suffer' through either. Rose gave the Bulls a 2 point lead with an 'and one' layup with about 4 minutes to go (Varejao committed another dumb foul near the basket, making enough contact to warrant a whistle, but not fouling hard enough to alter the shot). Rose finished with 16 points and 6 assists and he was strong late. He hit the game tying free throws with 17 left in regulation and he started off OT with another 'and one' layup (which set the entire tone for OT. The fact that the Bulls hit three consecutive treys right after that didn't help either).
The shame is, West was playing really well when he got hurt. Brother Red had a nifty 11 points in his 11 minutes of court time. West hurt his right wrist (he's a lefty, whew!) after getting undercut by Derek Rose, whose shot West was attempting to block. Delonte's wrist landed first. His head landed second. He left with a gash above his eye (which eventually turned into a giant welt) and apparently his wrist isn't that badly screwed up.
Honestly, this wasn't their (or my) night. Mo Williams lost the ball off his knee on a break away layup. James won a jumpball late, only to fall down while going for a pass. The Bulls received four extra points in regulation, as Ty Thomas got away with both an offensive and defensive goaltending. Derek Rose drew a block on James when LeBron was definitively planted well in advance (but Rose bricked both attempts). And to top things off, the bar I was at (I won't say the name, but it rhymes with Blorchers) switched from the Cavs audio to karaoke with roughly seven minutes left in regulation. Now, I'm no fan of Austin Carr and Fred McLeod (they're hacktacular!), but they are at vastly preferable to Shaggy covers (and not even the shitty Shaggy songs I know! Obscure Shaggy songs!? Really?).
Hi Rod? It's me Danny, so about Vince... No, I don't think the Cavs are going to make any rash trades, but I think now they might have a tad more urgency when it comes to the trade market (especially depending on how this mini-West coast swing goes). The Cavs are still in a pretty good spot (Boston isn't exactly setting the world on fire), but that top seed is gonna mean a lot. If you're the 2 or 3 seed, that means you'll have to go through both Boston and Orlando, where if you're the top dog, you'll get to watch the Celts and Magic battle it out in round 2. The Cavs face the Hornets in Cleveland on Friday night (gulp) and they're in LA facing the Lakers late night on Monday (double gulp- though the Lakers are missing guys as well).
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Also, there's a quasi decent chance I'll be purchasing a domain name in the coming days (most likely benjamincox.com, though cox.org could be awesome as well) and I could be moving the blog at some point in the near future. It'll probably be on wordpress and it'll look all snazy and not half-ass (though rest assured, my writing will still be 100% half-ass).
and finally, if you remember Yaysports! (a site which I proudly helped kill), Brian has a new site and he's interviewed yours truely here.
LeBron James is very good at playing the game of basketball. The Chosen One finished with a triple double, including a game high 30 points to go along with 11 boards, 10 assists, 3 steals and another ridonkulous block. He also seems to be getting the hang of this defense thing, as he shut down Rudy Gay (season average: 19 ppg), holding the third year phenom to 10 points on 5 of 18 shooting. But it's not like the Memphis fans didn't get their moneys worth; for the first half of the third quarter, James completely dominated the ball game. He scored 11 of the first 15 Cavalier points in the quarter (he assisted on the other two baskets) and the Cavs finally built a 8-10 point lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
About that triple double... Now, god forbid I accuse the Cavs and LeBron of padding his stats, but LeBron sure played a lot of the fourth quarter. I was surprised that he started the quarter with the Cavs being up by 10. Then he grabbed his 10 board with a little under 9 minutes to go (Cavs lead was 14) and the countdown was on. A couple of guys missed some assist opportunities (Williams and Hickson) and then Boobie nailed a trey to give James 9 assists and the Cavs a 20 point lead with 5:52 to go. James didn't net that 10th assist until there was just 2:04 left in a 20 point game. With the Cavs being short handed (Lorenzen Wright got the start in place of a flu-plagued Benny Wallace) and about to start a little West Coast swing (not to mention facing New Orleans on the second night of a back-to-back this Friday) I don't think it's really necessary or prudent for LeBron to log 40 minutes against this Memphis team. (of course, if Wally could hit a layup, LeBron prolly sits down with 5 minutes to go).
I love Delonte West. Brother Red was perfect in the first half, making all 5 of is field goal attempts (including three treys) and both free throws. West finished the game 7-9 from the floor for 19 points to which he added 6 boards, 4 assists and a steal. West continued to play his stellar defense, holding wunderkid OJ Mayo to just 6 points on 3-9 shooting.
Mo Williams isn't an all-star because? Mo scored an efficient 16 points on 6-11 shooting (3-5 3pt) but he acutally missed a freebie (1-2 FT). Unlike West and James, Williams didn't have the best night on defense as Kyle Lowry finished with 25 points and 7 assists. Now, this wasn't all Mo's fault- somehow Lowry finished with 16(!!!) free throw attempts, but it just kinda underscores the fact that the Cavs could use some defensive help for the PG position (paging Gerald Wallace, Gerald Wallace to the courtesy phone please).
J.J. Hickson is starting to look like an actual NBA player. Hickson made the most of his 28 minutes of court time, finishing with 9 points, 7 boards, a steal and a block. He played mostly solid defense and he even knocked down a face up jumper (if he can hit that shot with any regularity...). The Cavs have been able to bring him along at about the perfect pace; he was able to get non-pressure minutes during the early season blowouts and now he gets to play because of injuries, and while these aren't meaningless games, this isn't the stretch run either. He keeps getting a little more responsibility as the season wears on and Brown doesn't have to play him in situations he's not ready for. I'm not sure you could plan it better.
Hey look, Darius Miles! Former Cavalier Darius Miles got some playing time and he sure doesn't look like he's ready to retire any time soon. Miles had 13 points in 14 minutes on a variety of jumpers, post moves and free throws. He doesn't have the lift he once had (he missed a break away dunk) but he hit a very nice turnaround in LeBron's face (they actually had to switch LeBron to Miles because he was causing so much havoc). Never fear though, even though he's bigger (huge shoulders) and can't jump, he still did that stupid fist head bump thing after he made a basket.
Bulls on Thursday and then... *gulp*. After the Cavs travel to Chicago to face Derek Rose and the Bulls, they get to start a fun little stretch. They'll face the Hornets in Cleveland on Friday and then travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers on Martin Luther King Day. After that, they have a game in Portland and a back-to-back with Golden State and Utah. They get to finish out the month with a home game against the Kings and finally a back-to-back in Orlando and home against the Clippers. This is not an easy stretch of games (remember how Boston did on their West Coast swing) and we'll know a lot more about this team by the team we'll reach February.
Monday, January 12, 2009
But hey, at least the future looks bright (and you bet your ass I'm gonna by one of those jerseys)
Saturday, January 10, 2009
LeBron is a fucking animal. He's a beast. He's a man-child. He's a man-beast-child. Anyway you put it, the dude is the best basketball player on the planet. James led everyone with 38 points (13-25 FG, 3-7 3pt and 9-9 FT) and stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 7 boards, 6 assists, 4 steals and 3 thunderous blocks. But he didn't just dominate the offensive end, he shut down the overrated Paul Pierce (11 pts, 4-15 FG, 1-5 3pt) and he was diving, scrapping and fighting from baseline to baseline. He fed his big men, he found his shooters and he took over when the Cavs needed him to take over (the Cavs scored 23 points in the third period, James scored or assisted on 18 of those 23 points).
But it wasn't like the other starters didn't do anything. Anderson Varejao finished with 14 points and 9 boards (and drew a tech on Kevin Garnett). Mo Williams threw in 13 points (off of a couple of sweet floaters), Delonte West had 8 and Benny Wallace had 9 points, 3 boards, 3 steals and 2 blocks. While James was the obvious focal point, the rest of the guys did their job to just about perfection.
Though there were some rough patches. The Cavs went the first four minutes of the second period without a field goal (and while they only scored 16 in the quarter, they held Boston to just 17). Boston crept close after halftime (cutting the Cavalier lead to four and five- 49-45 and 56-51, respectively), but the Cavs ended up finishing the period with a bigger lead (12, 72-60) than what they started with (49-40).
For how thoroughly the Cavaliers dominated, I was surprised by some of Boston's stats. For instance, the Celtics outrebounded the Cavaliers 42-30, had 15 offensive boards (though many came in garbage time) to the Cavs 4 and ended up with ten more assists (25-15). Individually, KG's stats stuck out the most. If you saw the box score, you'd say KG had a solid night: 18 points (8-15 FG), 15 boards and 3 assists. But I thought Garnett was way too passive (too many interior passes when he should've been going up strong) and that he settled for too many jumpers (he finished with two free throw attempts).
Speaking of surprises, I still hate Kendrick Perkins. Perkins (who owns the biggest disparity between the amount of talent he possess and the amount of trash he talks) may have finished with 13 points on 6-7 shooting, but that was because the Cavs left him alone all night and KG found him for some dunks. So besides the dunks that were all KG's doing, Perkins other stats consisted of 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 steal. Well played sir. It's a special kind of center that can play 11 more minutes than Wally Szczerbiak and still get outrebounded by two. Also, he looks like a giant turtle.
The Cavalier second unit was mediocre (but better than Boston's). Daniel Gibson was the best of the bench bunch, scoring 10 points on 3-4 shooting (2-3 3pt) to go along with 3 assists, 2 boards a steal and a block. I still say the Cavs win that series last year if he stays healthy. Meanwhile, both JJ Hickson and Szczerbiak did OK. Wally hit his first shot (3-ball from the corner), which he assumed meant he should keep shooting whenever he felt like it. Nope; he finished the game 1-4 from the floor (1-2 from downtown) but tallied an assist and the aforementioned 3 boards.
The Celtics actually resorted to hack-a-Wallace. That's the sign of a great team right there, huh? They can't actually stop their opponent, they'll just hack the shitty free throw shooter. Well, Big Ben made them pay, making 5-10 from the stripe (which is better than his season average of 45%). It was pretty pathetic; the Cavs led by 18 points with under 4 minutes to play and Boston was still hacking Wallace.
Don't get me wrong, this is a great win and all.... The Cavs dominated the Celtics, no question about it. LeBron cemented himself as the frontrunner for the MVP award. And while it was nice to take it too a Boston team, this game doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot. Yes, it was a statement game (message received methinks) but it's only one game in the middle of January. The Cavs have to continue to play with the kind of focus they displayed on Friday night. They may have the best record in the East but they also have six of the next seven games on the road (including a four game trip out West with games against the Lakers, Blazers, Warriors and Jazz- oh, and they're only home game? Against Chris Paul and the Hornets). This statement game may not mean a whole lot if they follow the Celtics lead and stink it up out West.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Then yesterday we record a podcast (where we discuss the possibility of the Browns hiring Mangini) and had it all ready to go (I didn't want to post it before the Cavs recap, because I figured it'd get lost) and the Browns make it out of date by actually hiring Mangenious. Thanks guys.
Anyways, here's Podcast numero quatro. Enjoy.
This is the best UCLA Bruins team I've seen in awhile. Wait, that's the Cavs? Oh good, they're wearing "throwbacks" from alternate history. Makes sense. Maybe Harry Turtledove will appreciate it, but I sure don't (anyone get that?). I've been waiting in vain for some orange and blue throwbacks, but noooo. Heaven forbid I can buy some jerseys from the last great/good/above average Cavs era. While it's great that I can grab a blue and yellow Wally Szczerbiak jersey, but I can't find a blue Mark Price jersey (or Ehlo, Daugherty, Nance, Brandon or even Bobby Phills) anywhere in The Q. Maybe I'm biased (that was the team that I grew up with and made me fall in love with basketball), but while the wine and gold is sweet, some love for the early 90s would be greatly appreciated (seriously, I'd probably end up giving them hundreds of dollars).
The game was over before they threw the jump ball. It really didn't matter who Charlotte played on Wednesday night, they weren't winning. After going toe to toe with the Celtics in an draining overtime win, coming into Cleveland was the last thing the Bobcats needed- they were dead on arrival. The Cavs dominated Charlotte early (leading 29-12 after the first period) and never looked back. The bench provided a nice spark, scoring 25 points in the first half with Gibson (3-4) and Wally (2-2) nailing some treys. The Cavs led by 18 at halftime (60-42, though two of those points came on some weird technical fouls on Juwan Howard) and 84-56 after three. That's right, the Cavs could've not scored a basket in the final period and they still would've won. Ouch.
LeBron was pretty good. 21 points (9-16), 4 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 31 minutes ain't shabby. He drove to the rim with authority and his aggressiveness opened things up for Cleveland's outside shooters. My favorite part of the night was when LBJ jumped off the bench stomping and yelling after a Gibson-to-Hickson alley-oop. Every time Hickson (who finished with 13 points and 6 boards) does something remotely positive, LeBron is always right there in his ear.
You know, maybe Wally shouldn't be the one inbounding the ball. I mean, this guy was a nortorious ball hog while in Minny, maybe they should have someone used to actually passing the ball throwing it in. Wally's two turnovers off inbound plays weren't a big deal in this game, but something like that could murder you in a close one. Besides that, I thought Szczerbiak played well; scoring 15 points to go along with 5 boards and 2 assists.
Varejao continued his strong play. It's gonna take a little time to get used to life without Z, but Varejao's great play has really eased the transition. Of course, Varejao gives the Cavs a little different look (way better at pick and rolls, way worse on pick and pops) but his 14 points and 6 boards are always helpful. Andy showed off a couple of nice little post moves, which I think will be the key to how well the offense runs in Z's absence. You're not going to replace Z's shooting from the 5 hole, you just aren't, but if you can throw the ball down to Andy on the block four or five times a game, it'll give the defense enough different looks to keep them on their toes. Offensive life is much harder without any type of post presence (hint hint LeBron).
Williams and West were solid as always. Mo pushed the Cavs in the first half and they responded; they ran out on breaks and kept a tired Charlotte team on their heels. Williams finished with 15 points (5-11 FG, 1-4 3pt), 6 assits and boards. Meanwhile, Delonte West didn't score in the first half. But no worries, Brother Red ended up stuffing the stat sheet regardless. Delonte had a nice all-around night with 7 points, 7 assists, 5 boards, 3 steals and a block (and his opposite, the vastly over-paid Matt Carroll, finished the evening 1-8).
Possible future-Cavalier Gerald Wallace had a so-so performance. On one hand, Wallace finished the night 6-10 from the floor for 14 points. But he missed a couple of jumpers (badly) and he had zero (zip, nada) rebounds in 31 minutes on the court. Not a one. However, he did take the ball to the hole quite nicely and he also had 3 assists. All in all, I still think I'd rather have him than Mike Miller.
You hear there's a game on Friday? The Bobcats gave the Cavs a nice little tuneup/confidence boost before Friday's show down with the Celtics. Boston has been on a slide lately, going just 4-6 in their last 10 games and have fallen behind the Cavs by a half game in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs haven't been in 1st place this late in the season since the 88-89 season (you know, the Mark Price years! Gimme those jerseys!). So while the Cavs haven't been tearing it up lately (Bobcat game excluded), Boston has been playing worse. Either way, I'm just glad Varejao is starting, he'll get more minutes to annoy the hell out of Kevin Garnett.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
I honestly thought that Ohio State was going to get their asses kicked so, on one hand, I feel like I can't be too pissed off that they only lost by a field goal. But at the same time... you had it. It was right there.
Even though the defense blew that final touchdown catch (or the coaches blew it for them- Really? Texas needs a TD and you have nobody back deep?), I think if there's any 'blame' for this loss, I put it directly on the Ohio State offense.
They needed to have better possessions in the third quarter. Period. The defense was tired, Texas was throwing all over them (though they still had their moments) and the Buckeye offense couldn't get them off the field. Too many 3-and-outs and not enough sustained drives (the third quarter killed them).
As for Colt McCoy and the Texas Longhorns... meh. Don't get me wrong, they are a great college football team and they had a great game last night. However, as dumb as this sounds, I'm not all that impressed with McCoy. Texas had a great game plan of throwing underneath and they executed it well. But it was mostly dink-and-dunk, no?
Terrell Pryor. Ya, he made some mistakes; he held onto the ball too long, he didn't prepare enough for some throws and he got lucky with a couple of Longhorn drops. But overall, I think he's done all you can ask of his as a freshman. He's obviously improving with every game and if you don't think he has a really bright future, you're nuts.
More than anything, I really feel bad for the Buckeye seniors. They've now lost to huge games to Florida, LSU, USC and Texas. 1-3 in Bowl Games (all BCS I believe). They kept this game closer than I expected (Todd Boeckman? Wha?) and it sucks that they couldn't pull this out. (But hey, they haven't lost to Michigan, huh?)
And then there's Jim Tressel. Some Ohio State fans have been getting greedy (or stupid) and are fed up with these bowl game losses (and USC). But as far as I'm concerned, The Vest should coach the Buckeyes as long as he wants to. Ohio State isn't guaranteed spots in BCS games. Tressel has his flaws, like any coach, but I think he does an excellent job and I don't think these losses should be held against him too much. He's won a title and he's giving them good chances to compete for one every year. Not much more you can ask.
Finally, there's Beanie Wells. As a fitting end to his career at The Ohio State University, Wells played a great game but couldn't finish it due to injury. I know he's undecided on whether or not he declares for the NFL draft and I'll be honest: if he returns to Ohio State, he's a dumbass.
Don't get me wrong, as a Buckeye fan, I'd love seeing Pryor: Year II paired up with Wells: Year IV. But a running back doesn't have a long lifespan in the NFL and Beanie has proven just about all you can at the college level. He shouldn't go another season getting hit unless he gets paid for the pleasure. Running backs can contribute in the rookie season, there's no reason to waste another year of hits at the college level. Go pro Beanie (and if Rey Maualuga is off the board when the Browns pick, I wouldn't mind watching you run down by the lake on Sundays).
All and all, I can't really be pissed at the game. It sucks, don't get me wrong. It sucks real bad. But they played a great game. Sure, they made mistakes, but after the first half, I was just pleased that the game was close (let alone Ohio State having a lead). In the end, even though they wound up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (where were the safeties?!?!?), I think we can applaud the effort (and be glad they weren't run off the field) and enthusiastically look ahead towards 2009.
Monday, January 05, 2009
And what a new direction it is! Randy Lerner and the Browns are about to hire a brand new head coach (Eric Mangini, who used to be Bill Belichik's defensive coordinator) and they'll soon be interviewing their guy for the GM position (George Kokinis, who worked under Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome). Awesome.
In all seriousness, I have no idea if this will work. Mangini and Kokinis could very well turn the Browns around. They are their own men, Romeo and Phil have no direct bearing on readiness for the job(s). But if they fail, this go down as one of the dumbest decisions in a franchise who's history is riddled with stupid decisions.
(also, LeBron traveled. It's OK. He really did. If he would've made that move during the second or third quarter, they may not have had to come back from 14 points. Instead, they were content to just hoist jumpers and not challenge the Wizards inside. It's not a good loss by any means, but it's a long, long season. However, their recent level of play has not inspired confidence, especially with the showdown with Boston looming).
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Reporter: What was it like to start your coaching career 2-19?Wha happen'd?
George Karl: I had legendary columnists in Cleveland, Ohio saying they were idiots not to fire me. It was tough. Bill Livingston, one of the best writers in the world, had me fired one night. I'm very good friends with Bill now...at Richfield Coliseum we were 2-19 and we played in front of 3,000 people in a 21,000 seat building. It was cold and quiet.
I've always figured that Livingston, like Abe Vigoda (who is still alive), has always been old and cranky. I was completely unaware that he was (is?) considered one of the best writers in the world by anyone other than Mrs. Livingston.