Monday, March 30, 2009
I don't have a recap for you (I slept in hardcore) but I do have a couple of things that have caught my eye.
I'm really digging Bill Simmons's podcasts. The three most recent ones have been really really interesting (Bill Hader from SNL, Michael Schur from Parks & Recreation and FireJoeMorgan.com and John A Walsh, his boss). I really dug the discussions he has with Hader and Schur on writing for comedy shows. Really good stuff. I highly recommend.
Then there is this bad boy:
I mean.... wow. I'm a bit wary about classic children's books getting made into feature length movies but damn, that looks fucking amazing.
And finally, I just finished Dennis Lehane's The Given Day. I really really enjoyed it. It's a bit large, but fairly fast paced. It's about the Boston Police strike after WWI. Me gusta.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I worked this afternoon (totally not still working) and I got a full plate tonight, so I won't be able to catch the game in full until tomorrow morning.
Also, went to my first real 'country' bar last night. Also got into my first real bar fight. I suspect these events aren't unrelated.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I mean, we're shocked that newspapers are declining? Livingston could've turned this exact column at any point over the last 20 years. Oh woe is me, BJ Mullens won't have any "all-night bull sessions," whatever the fuck that is.
It was also the beginning of the end for the coach as the big man on campus. It's a players game at the big programs now. The only name coach who resisted the trend was Bobby Knight, who was a marginal figure in the national title picture his last 15 seasons.
The 1979 title game came in Magic's sophomore year, his last at Michigan State. The rise of the NBA, which he and Bird fueled, made it irresistible to top collegians. High school coaches now will tell you most of their starters think they will play in the NBA. At least 80 percent of college scholarship players are convinced of it.
Many say college prepares one for a good job, and what's the big deal because Mullens will have a good one now. But it is about so much more -- all-night bull sessions, friendships, and the way the meaning of a great book spreads through your head and heart as a gifted professor loosens the knots of the language. Interests are created that last a lifetime.Players like Bill Walton and Jerry Lucas clearly paid attention in class at UCLA and OSU, respectively. We have lost that now, in the Rent-a-Player Era.
Look, personally, I have a hard time telling athletes not to cash that lottery ticket (and this is coming from a guy who wouldn't trade his college experience for anything). This goes for both college and pro players. As much as it pissed me off, I can't really blame Carlos Boozer for ditching the Cavs. The guy was a 2nd round pick (no guaranteed millions in his rookie deal) and he could get roughly double what the Cavs were offering. I'm sorry, if you can make an extra $30 million... (same with Thome, Sabathia and all the Tribe players). Yes, I know it's a lot of money (more than they could ever spend), but they didn't bolt for an extra $4-5 million. I can't blame a dude for taking extra tens of millions. I just can't.
Like, Larry Hughes the basketball player could've used another year or so at college to work on his game (I'll say!). But Larry Hughes the person had a brother with a heart condition and by Larry jumping to the NBA, the Hughes family could pay for treatment. But stay in school for those for the all night bull sessions.
(and speaking of grumpy old men, I recently saw Gran Torino. Quite excellent (and suprisingly funny). Clint Eastwood plays the best crochety old man ever. Livingston doesn't hold a candle to him).
Thursday, March 26, 2009
LeBron was LeBron (in depth commentary, I know). James was content to set up his teammates (most notably Anderson Varejao), netting 11 assists to go along with his 22 points and 8 boards. I really loved the fact that down the stretch, James would set up on the high post, about 17 feet out, and he really picked apart the defense. I like these little trends coming down the stretch, using the high post to run the offense and attacking off the block (in the Portland game). These are good signs. (I also love when James just feeds off the crowd. The Cavs were sleep walking through the third when Z blocked Yi (stirring the crowd from their slumber) leading to a Cavs break where LeBron hoisted a trey that sent the whole building on fire).
The starters all played well. Mo, Z and Varejao all finished with 16 points. I love when Z gets to face inexperienced big men (like Brook Lopez, Yi and Josh Boone) because Z can just out-think them and get whatever he wants offensively (Yi is especially terrible defensively). Mo had a nice all around game with 16 points, 6 boards and 6 assists (though at times, Mo and Boobie made Keyon Dooling look like a young Penny Hardaway). Anderson made a killing on back door dunks and layups from LeBron (Wild Thing had 11 boards to go with his 16 points). And while Delonte West didn't finish with 16 (just 13) he did grab 9 boards and shoot 3-4 from downtown (including some clutch bombs in the fourth).
So overall, a nice, well rounded offensive effort (kinda). The starters scored 83 of their 98 points (and 48 of their 54 in the second half). The bench bigs were pretty solid. Joe Smith had a nice little game with 6 points and 4 boards and I liked what I saw from Darnell Jackson (though I'm still not sold on him getting playing time ahead of Hickson); Jackson ran the floor well, knocked down open jumpers and grabbed 3 boards in 11 minutes. He's solid. Meanwhile, Sasha Pavlovic went scoreless in 17 minutes (but he did grab 2 boards, block 2 shots and notch an assist, so at least they weren't totally empty minutes) and Boobie had 3 points and 3 turnovers in 22 minutes. Hopefully these guys can find their rhythm over these next couple weeks (I'd hope we'd see the starters get some rest down the stretch).
I'd like to tip my cap to the Q's sound guy. There was a stoppage of play during the second quarter when a paper airplane floated onto the court. So there's a couple minutes where the refs are figuring out the clock situation and what have you and the Q starts playing the intro to M.I.A.'s Paper Planes. Well done sir. I'm all for The Q playing songs with lyrics like "I fly like paper, get high like planes." Where's Scot Pollard when you need him?
This LeBron character is pretty good. LeBron became the only player besides Oscar Robertson to score 2,000 points, grab 500 boards and dish out 500 assists in the same season four times. Jordan did it twice and Bird three times. The Cavs face the Timberwolves on Friday evening and then have a afternoon date with the Mavericks Sunday on ABC. They'll face Detroit next Tuesday at the Q before heading out on the road to begin April, with a back-to-back next Thursday and Friday in Washington and Orlando, respectively.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Jimmy FallonNow, I'm definitely pumped for some of these names. I missed Michael Showalter & Co. (Stella) when they performed in Cleveland a few months ago, so seeing him and Michael Ian Black should be sweet. Also, I saw Aziz Ansari at Bonnaroo a few years ago and he was freaking hilarious, so no complaints there. And I love the Daily Show, so I'm on board with Oliver and Riggle.
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Presents Bonnapoo 2009
An Evening (or Afternoon) with the Daily Show featuring John Oliver & Rob Riggle
Michael Ian Black & Michael Showalter
However, Jimmy Fallon and Comic the Insult Comic Dog are the headliners? What year is this, 1999? Seriously, WTF? I know Fallon has the late night gig, but from what I've heard, it is not that good. Maybe he'll surprise me, I dunno. But after seeing the likes of Mike Birbiglia, Patton Oswalt, Dave Attel, Lewis Black, David Cross and Zach Galifianakis headline recent years, Jimmy Fallon and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog leave something to be desired.
Lord, I can't wait to watch the NBA Finals with a tent full of dirty hippies. Nothing quite like it.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The open quarterback competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn officially has begun, Browns coach Eric Mangini said at the NFL owners meetings this morning.
While the prospect of trading one still exists, Mangini said he met with both quarterbacks prior to coming here and explained they will have an open competition for the starting job in 2009.
"I talked to both of them about that and was very clear," Mangini said. "I said if they have any questions they can come and see me. In terms of the competition and their opportunities. That's what I told them. They understand that."
Mangini said after reviewing tapes of both players, holding conversations with them and talking to others, he is "excited" about the prospect of having both compete for the job.
And whoever wins said competition will get to throw the ball to... well, no one:
The report debunks rumors that the Browns had talked about trading Edwards for Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. Instead, the Giants reportedly offered Cleveland the two draft picks they received from the Saints last year in exchange for tight end Jeremy Shockey: a second and fifth.
As much as I want draft picks (and I do) I'm not sure I'm cool with the Browns losing Edwards, Winslow and Joey J all in the same offseason.
And honestly, I really hope that this open competition talk is just a smoke screen. The Browns can't go into this season with both QBs on the roster, can they? Maybe things will shake out during/after the draft. But I can't imagine going through another 16 game season with both Brady and DA on the squad.
I mean, shouldn't the Browns be in discussion for Jay Cutler? Here's a guy who's proven that he's a bona fide NFL QB (throwing for over 3,000 yards the past two season) and the Browns are sitting here with two Question Marks. Isn't Jay Cutler what we hope Brady or DA turn into? Dear lord, if Brady Quinn threw for over 4,000 yards in a season, Browns fans would already have a statue in the works.
I both love and hate this franchise.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Watched Dayton win.
Ate Teresa's Pizza.
Watched Cleveland St. beat Wake Forest.
Watched Ohio State lose in 2OT
Wow, Vikings! Gary Waters, well done sir.
Poor Ohio State, Sienna kept making those clutch shots.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The first half... let's not dwell on this. The Cavs only shot 31%, scored a season low 12 points in the first period and finished with another season low, 34, for the half. But it wasn't a complete abomination, there were some bright spots; the Blazers shot just 34%, the Cavs had 0 turnovers and managed to only trail by 2 heading into halftime (and Mo missed a trey that would've gave 'em the lead).
The Cavs didn't shoot well, but there were some good moments. The Cavs shot 43% as a team, but non-Joe Smith Cavaliers were just 39% (Joe was 5-5). Neither Delonte West (4-14 FG, 0-3 3pt) or Mo Williams (4-15 FG, 2-9 3pt) shot particularly well, but Williams scored five straight to start the fourth period and West had some nice finishes inside to compensate for his shaky jumper.
The bigs played a key role. Z had a nice all around game with 21 points (8-13 FG) and 5 boards in 29 minutes. Z ran the floor pretty well and LeBron found him multiple times ahead of the defense for easy buckets. The aforementioned Joe Smith was 5-5 from the floor for 12 points and he also pitched in 3 boards and 2 blocks. And Anderson Varejao continued his strong play, scoring 8 points to go along with 9 boards in 32 minutes (Andy has done a fantastic job of rolling to the rim). The Cavs went small quite a bit (Travis Outlaw was a pain to deal with), so we had a lot of instances with James at the 4 with the one legit big playing center.
Brandon Roy ain't bad. Roy didn't have his best shooting night, only going 6-16, but he still willed his way to 24 points, 7 boards and 7 assists. He probed the Cavs defense and got himself to the line (in key moments) and finished 11-11 from the stripe (including 4 free throws in the last 30 seconds to send the game into overtime). Roy's is wearing this wispy, scraggily beard right now and I have to say, I approve. Makes him look like some kind of scrappy assassin.
The bench was serviceable, if not great. Smith had a really solid game and the Cavs got good contributions from both Sasha Pavlovic and Daniel Gibson. Gibson found himself back in the rotation due to Wally Szczerbiak's knee and used the opportunity to knock down some shots (3-6 FG, 2-4 3pt). I thought Pavlovic played well, despite only finishing with 1 points before fouling out in OT (he somehow picked up 4 fouls in 3 1/2 minutes of OT).
Greg Oden, still raw. The former Buckeye (I'm wearing his OSU jersey as I type this) finished with 7 points, 9 boards and 5 fouls in 12 minutes. He and LeBron had a few moments where James took offensive to Oden's physicality. Oden is still a just a bit slow (it was just his second game back), he looks like J.J. Hickson did in December- out of position and reaching on defense and rushing everything at the offensive end.
The Cavs had some trouble with Portland's bigs. Channing Frye had a big first half (10 points) and finished with 14 and 4. Travis Outlaw gave Varejao fits while scoring 11 of his 17 points in th fourth quarter (including a very nice dunk in traffic with about 4 and a half minutes to play). The Cavs eventually moved James out on Outlaw (where he blocked 2 shots and forced a turnover). The Blazers also got a good game from Joel Przybilla. I really like this guy's game; Pryzbilla finished with 13 points (4-4 FG) and 11 boards in 34 minutes (Barkley said after the game that this guy would be a great sidekick for someone like Wade or James and I couldn't agree more. He gives you everything you'd want out of a big man).
Go Bucks! Go Vikings! We'll get to watch some Ohio colleges battle it out in March Madness tonight (both games at 9:40, thanks for that) before the Cavs take the court again. The Cavaliers face the Hawks at 1pm on Saturday and then travel to New Jersey to face the Nets early Sunday evening. The Cavs actually have a home-and-home with the Nets, but they won't play in Cleveland until Wednesday.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The third period... ugh. Orlando came out shooting the ball extremely well, hitting three straight long balls and shooting 5-7 overall to start the half. Five minutes into the third period, the Magic had turned a 3 point deficit into a 6 point lead. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers seemed wary of challenging Howard inside and settled for a lot of jumpers. Orlando's defensive pressure jumped up a notch and the Cavalier offense got out of sorts (we got to see Anderson Varejao attempting baseline fade-a-ways. Not good).
The fourth period... that's winning time. LeBron started the period by nailing a 25 foot bomb to tie the game at 75. Orlando responded by hitting a trey of their own. It was on. The fourth period had 7 lead changes and lord knows how many ties. LeBron was the dominant force of the period, scoring 15 points and hitting the go ahead 3-pointer with 47 seconds left. Mo was the only other Cavalier to have multiple baskets in the fourth, scoring 8 points (including a couple of clutch bombs). Joe Smith had the only non-Mo/LeBron basket of the period, hitting a put back early in the fourth.
LeBron James is ridiculous. LeBron finished with 43 points, 12 boards, 8 assists, 4 steals and a block in 43 minutes. He shot 15-27 FG, 4-7 from downtown and 9-10 from the line. His jumper was falling early and often; I don't like when he settles for his J (because it's not nearly as consistent as he thinks it is) but it was falling on St. Paddy's Day. He was hitting his long 2s (about a step inside the arc) and his treys were falling as well. Defensively, I thought he was OK; ya, he had another chase down block, but they could've/should've put him on Turkoglu early on (as Hedo was killing the Cavs- more on this in a bit).
Mo Williams reprised his role as Robin. Mo had another stellar offensive output, scoring 21 points on 9-20 shooting (3-8 3pt) to go along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Mo hit some clutch treys down the stretch (both times giving the Cavs a lead) and he took over the game for part of the second quarter, at one point scoring 9 straight Cavalier points.
The defense had a few issues. I guess the Cavs weren't going to let Howard beat 'em, because while the limited the big fella's output, the rest of the Magic had their way. Cleveland would double team Howard on the block, but then neglect to cover the cutter, allowing Dwight to collect some easy assists. Orlando's backcourt absolutely murdered the Cavaliers; Rafer Alston led the Magic with 23 points (8-16 shooting) and Courtney Lee poured in 19 (9-13 FG). Meanwhile, Hedo Turkoglu seemingly got to the rim whenever he wanted. The Cavs could never seem to get a body on Turkoglu when he turned the corner off of the pick and roll and he made them pay with both his scoring and his passing (16 points and 7 assists).
Other concerns: where is the help? LeBron was great, Mo was awesome- this is all well and good. Delonte West? He seemed passive, going just 4-10 from the floor for 8 points, while only getting a single assist and rebound (I know he giving up 5 inches in most matchups, but still). I thought Z did a pretty good job (especially on the glass) but he shot just 3-10 (also 8 points) to go with his 11 boards. The bench? Well, they combined for 5 points, 8 boards and 6 assists (weirdest part? 5 of those assists belong to the nortiously selfish Wally Szczerbiak- who left the game with a knee sprain. Awesome).
Speaking of the bench: Daniel Gibson didn't play. Considering Boobie's recent play (mediocre) as well as the matchup (Orlando has a lot of big wing players), it shouldn't be a huge shocker. Boobie didn't look all too thrilled with sitting. Another suprise, at least to me, was the fact that Darnell Jackson continues to get some minutes here and there over JJ Hickson. Jackson played a bit to start the second quarter and hit a free throw and grabbed a board.
I thought Dwight Howard had a so-so game. I don't get how this guy only finished with 8 shot attempts. That is stupid. Rashard Lewis shot 8 treys (missing all 8, natch) and Dwight only got 8 attempts total? I love Z and Andy, but there's no way Dwight Howard (who's built like a freaking cartoon character) shouldn't score in the 4th period. (But then again, I always think that NBA teams aren't using their big men enough; it would kill me when Shaq would score twice in a row, but then the Lakers wouldn't look his way for 3-5 possessions. I never think Yao gets enough touches and I've always thought Z should have his number called a couple more times a night). Howard was also the recipient of a killer 3-second call with 30 seconds to go. Now, I'm all about calling the bigs when their camping out in the lane, but a 3-second call with 30 seconds to go in 2 point game between two Eastern Conference powers... kinda weak, no?
Home court looks more and more likely. With 15 games to go, the Cavs are now 5 games ahead of both Boston and Orlando in the loss column. I don't want to count the chickens before they hatch or anything (I mean, this is a Cleveland team, let's not forget), but with 10 more games at home, home court throughout the East looks extremely likely. The Cavs face the Blazers Thursday night and then Atlanta on Saturday afternoon.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Anyways, here's our latest podcast (7? 7.5?) here.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
James led the Cavs in just about everything. The King finished with 34 points, 13 assists, 10 boards, 3 steals and 3 blocks in 43 minutes. The highlight of night was LeBron's block on Jason Richardson's open floor dunk attempt. With the Suns trailing 97-95, Richardson stupidly went for a 360 dunk that allowed LeBron enough time to soar in for the block (got some wrist too). Cavs proceeded to nit a 3 on the next possession, making it a 5 point swing that eventually turned to 6 as Richardson got a T'd up for arguing the non-call. James shot a little too many jumpers for my taste (8 trey attempts. Ugh!) but did a really good job of finding his teammates when he needed to.
Mo Williams was fantastic. Mo scored 30 points (6-10 from beyond the arc) to go along with 5 boards and 3 assists. The Suns seemed to leave him open or lose him in transition constantly, allowing Williams to get wide open looks from all over the court (it's almost as if they're a bad defensive team). Williams started the game on fire, going 4-6 for 11 points in the first period. Mo also hit some dagger treys down the stretch; after Steve Nash scored 7 straight points for the Suns to bring them within 4, Williams hit his sixth and final 3 to put the Cavs up 7 and the game out of reach.
Delonte got hurt again. West went over Steve Nash on a fast break and landed on his left wrist (the non-injured one) and fell on his back (he was called for the offensive foul, but replays show that Nash's foot was on the line- West also made the basket). This is really too bad, as Delonte was just getting back into the swing of things AND he had just broken out a giant red afro for the national audience. That thing made my night, it was fantastic. West didn't return after his fall and finished with 6 points, 2 assists and a whopping 7 turnovers.
Sasha Pavlovic answered the bell when West went down. I'll be honest, I keep getting surprised by Pavlovic. He hasn't gotten a ton of minutes this season (and the ones he's gotten have been due to injuries) but every time he comes in he plays pretty well. Pavlovic played 28 minutes, shot 6-9 from the floor, 3-5 from behind the arc (including a few daggers of his own) and pitched in 2 boards and 2 assists. If West is down for any length of time, I'd bet that Pavlovic steps in and ends up pushing Daniel Gibson (0 points, 0-2 FG) out of the playoff rotation (Sasha is shooting 46% from downtown, Gibson is at 36%).
The centers got into foul trouble. Neither Z or Shaq had any love for the officials. Shaq played just 26 minutes before fouling out with 3:45 to go. Z played only 25 minutes and ended up with 5 fouls of his own. The refs twice whistled Shaq for 3-seconds, which seemed surprising (I wasn't aware they still did that) and Z picked up a phantom foul or two (he eventually got pulled simply because the Cavs got caught up in the run-and-gun flow). Ilgauskas finished with 15 points and 4 boards (shooting 6-9 from the floor) while Shaq ended up with 12 points and 7 boards (5-6 from the floor).
A win is a win, but... The Cavs shot 33 threes. Thirty. Three. I know this is a filled with shooters and they did end up making 17 of those 33 from beyond the arc. But 33 attempts is just ridiculous. The Cavs allowed the Suns to score 93 points through three quarters (though they held 'em under 20 for the final 12 minutes) and Phoenix shot 54% for the game. I'm not sure what all you can really take away from this game (besides: "LeBron James is really good") because the Cavs won't be facing a team like this come playoff time, but it's not a good sign that the Cavs adopted the Suns style so quickly.
Last game out West. Friday's game in Sac-Town marks the Cavs last game in another time-zone. The Cavs have a pretty nice schedule during the stretch run; they play only 5 of their remaining 17 games (after the Kings) on the road and only one against a team with a winning record (@Orlando, April 3rd). Meanwhile, Boston plays 8 of their final 17 away from home and that includes contests in Cleveland, San Antonio and Orlando. The Cavs are set up nicely and it's key that they don't blow these games against lesser teams (they dodged a couple bullets on these last two games).
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Fourth quarter: teh awesome. The defense finally picked up, the Clipper imploded and the Cavs finally hit some shots. Cleveland started the game 0-17 from behind the arc. Delonte West didn't have a good game, the bench wasn't particularly productive and Mo was flat out bad. But Coach Mike found a lineup that worked (Mo-Boobie-LeBron-Andy-Z) and rode that five for the bulk of the final period.
LeBron had a fantastic game. I loved the fact that LeBron stayed aggressive throughout the first three periods, driving to the rim and getting himself to the line. James missed a few 'and one' baskets, he missed another dunk and some easier shots didn't fall (and he could've/should've gotten more fouls), but he settle for jumpers or stay outside. James finished 10-23 from the floor and led everyone with 32 points. He finished with his second straight triple double, netting 13 points, 11 assists to go with 2 steals and 2 blocks. LeBron consistently found Varejao and Joe Smith inside (Zach Randolph should really learn to keep his head up) and LeBron notched 10 points and 5 assists in the final 12 minutes.
Mo Williams didn't have a good game, but he hit some big shots at the end. Williams finished 4-17 from the floor and 2-8 from behind the arc. He had some miscues in the first three period (ball bouncing weird, getting knocked down in transition) and he struggled against Eric Gordon (14 points, 5 boards, 3 assists and a crossover that killed multiple Cavaliers). But down the stretch, Mo was money. Williams had 12 points in the fourth period and hit two dagger treys. The first one came with 5 minutes left and cut the Clipper lead (which was at 19 with just under 11 minutes left) from 10 to 7 (76-69). After the Clippers retook the lead at 83-82 on a Al Thorton trey with 29 second left, Williams nailed a bomb from the corner with 6 seconds left to put the Cavs up 85-83.
I'd like to thank the Clippers for making all of this possible. There is no other team in the league that would allow the Cavs to win this game. They completely imploded down the stretch. Zach Randolph... wtf? That guy shot four 3s, making 1 and the other three attempts weren't even close (prompting Fred McCleod to make a 'just a bit outside' Major League reference, which went completely Austin's head). Randolph hoisted the Clippers final attempt, a 28 foot bomb which he air balled. Mike Dunleavy, who looks like a cross between a used car salesman and Tony Soprano, didn't look like he cared for Zach's attempt.
Hey look! Daniel Gibson! Boobie played for the entire fourth quarter and he definitely gave the Cavs a boost. He had a nice offensive rebound and put-back in the early moments of the final period and he hit the game tying trey with under 2 minutes to go (80-80) to complete the Cavalier comeback. It was nice to Boobie play well for an extended period and it was more than nice to see him knock down a big shot. Gibson finished with 5 points, 2 assists, 2 boards and a steal in 24 minutes.
Whew [wipes forehead], they didn't blow that game. This win was their 22nd on the road this year, the best in franchise history, and they really needed it. The Cavs are still two games ahead of Boston in the loss column and are now tied with the Lakers for the best record in the NBA. The Cavs face almost-Cavalier Shaquille O'Neal and the Suns on Thursday and then travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Friday night. They dodged a bullet against the Clippers, let's hope they're a little more focused for the rest this small trip.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Windhorst gives us a list of the Good/Bad moves and there's not much to disagree with. Though, I think the Hughes/Jones/Marshall summer is a bit overrated as bad moves go (at least among casual fans). I mean, it's not like those guys didn't help the Cavs. All three were rotation players on a squad that got the Cavs to the playoffs and eventually made the Finals.
Sure, a few years down the road it was time to part ways but those guys filled the role in helping the Cavs grow from a crappy team to a mediocre-but-decent playoff team. Unless you get a Hall of Famer gift wrapped to you by a former teammate, odds are you aren't going from worst to first really quickly. The Cavs and James had some growing pains to go through and Ferry's free agent trio helped them through it.
Jones and Marshall hit some big 3s for the Cavaliers (Jones had a series winner against the Wizards) and I'm not sure they can beat the Pistons without Larry Hughes guarding Chauncey Billups. Ya, it was time to part ways last season, but as far as first moves go (and that was Ferry's first summer on the job), it could've been worse. Plus, he's learned from those mistakes and hasn't overpaid a role player since (much to the chagrin of Dan Fegan and Anderson Varejao).
My problem, as far as Danny Ferry goes, is that I wonder if I now have to relook at the Ron Harper trade. I mean, if the Cavs don't trade Harper for Ferry, does he still become Cleveland's GM? If he spends most of his career in LA with the Clippers (or goes somewhere else), I'm not sure he's playing with Dan Gilbert's money. Sure, he could've caught on with the Spurs eventually and become a GM prospect, but Ferry met his wife here and he has ties to the area. Without those ties, is he eager to come here? I dunno.
Though it wasn't his fault, I (along with many other Cavalier fans- and Lenny Wilkens) hated Ferry for the Harper trade. If he builds the Cavs roster that wins a championship, I'll probably have to forgive and forget. I'm not pleased about it (I've been hating on that trade for the bulk of my life), but I like to think that I'll be in a forgiving mood throughout a championship celebration. I'd love to test that theory...
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Mo Williams can shoot the ball. Mo was a blistering 10-15 from the floor, 6-7 from behind the arc and 3-3 from the stripe. He hit his open looks all night (three treys in the first period, one per quarter afterwards) and he scored 12 points in the final period to squash the final Miami run. It wasn't just jumpers, as Mo's floater (the, ugh, "Mo Flow") was falling and he kept the pressure on the Miami defense by attacking the hoop when it was there. Mo finished with a game high 29 points with 5 boards and 3 assists.
LeBron got to hang back and collect a triple double. James didn't shoot the ball particularly well (he rebounded from his 5-15 game... with a 5-15 game) but finished with 14 points, 12 assists, 10 boards, a steal and a block (a Jason Kidd special). LeBron was able to pick apart the Miami D, consistently finding the bigs down low for easy baskets (especially Joe Smith). After a nice week or two shooting the ball, James was o-3 from downtown and just 4-7 from the foul stripe. Early in the game, the Cavs went to James posting up and he got a couple of easy hoops/foul shots (hooray!). But as the game wore on, they went to the post less and less (as they tend to do).
The bench was pretty consistent. Boobie Gibson hit 2-3 treys, Wally was 2-5 with 6 points and 4 boards and Joe Smith was 4-7 for 9 points and 5 boards. Smith definitely looked better against the Heat, although he's still shaking off the rust on his jumper (he wasn't getting minutes during his last month with OKC, so this isn't much of a surprise). Wally had a bit of a rough time on the defensive end, often being matched up with rookie Michael Beasley (9-14 FG, 19 points) but for the most part, I thought the bench provided solid minutes.
Dwyane Wade was pretty good and pretty pissed. Wade notched 25 points, 12 assists, 8 boards and his first ejection. He was catching fire in the fourth period, starting off 4-5 before getting tossed with a minute to go. With about a minute to go, Wade got T'd up when he reacted poorly to a non-call on one of his patented "drive to the rim, jump into a guy and draw a foul" moves. I was OK with it; Anderson Varejao went straight up and Wade initiated the contact and simply threw up some junk looking for a bailout.
The starting bigs were OK. I must say, I do like the two-man game that's developing between Delonte West and Andy (4-6 FG, 12 points, 7 boards). West found Varejao on some rolls to the rim and Varejao repaid West with a nifty give-and-go off of the high post. Meanwhile, Z had an off night. His jumper wasn't falling and he seemed frustrated with some calls/non-calls and he finished just 2-8 from the floor for 4 points. You gotta wonder how tired the big fella was, as Brown limited Z to just 23 minutes.
Go West. The Cavs are on the West coast this entire week, facing the Clippers on Tuesday and a back-to-back with the Suns and Kings on Thursday and Friday. These are all very winnable games, so I'm not all that worried, but I just hope they stay focused and don't let their guard down (it's a little different than their last trip, where they faced all playoff teams). I'm interested to see how the rotations will work with regards to Smith and Hickson. Obviously, Joe is gonna take most of J.J.'s minutes, but I'm kinda hoping Hickson can still get some regular minutes, at least until Big Ben's return.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Not saying this is all on LeBron, but... James was 5-15 from the floor and finished with 21 points, 6 boards and 5 assists. He seemed to settle for outside jumpers, he started off poorly (missing an early breakaway dunk) and he just never seemed to find his groove. There'd be moments where he'd hit a big 3 and you'd think he's turning it around, but then he'd settle for 4 more jumpers and the Cavs wouldn't make a run. Meanwhile, Paul Pierce shot 11-22 and lead everyone with 29 points. There's a lot of blame to go around in this loss, but the fact of the matter is, the Cavs aren't going to win in Boston if LeBron has a poor game. They just aren't. Hell, they don't win in Boston when he has a good game, they can't overcome a 5-15 night against the good teams on the road.
Mo was pretty solid. Williams shot the ball extremely well, going 8-15 from the floor, 4-5 from downtown and making all 6 of his free throw attempts. Mo ended the night with 26 points, 4 boards and 2 assists. The scoring was good, but I'd have liked to see him get a few more assists, especially since guys were having trouble getting going. Mo's offensive game was pretty good, but he got burned more than once defensively (though he's hard alone in the regard).
Some of these stats surprise me. While watching the game, I would've sworn that the Celtics were killing the Cavs on the boards; it seemed like everytime the Cavs needed a rebound off of a stop, the Celts grabbed a long offensive board. But I look at the stats? Boston 36 boards, Cleveland 35. Hm. Also, the entire game I'm bitching about all the jump shots, but again, I see the box score and Cleveland has 38 free throws- they made just 26- (Boston had just 12, the same number as LeBron). Some other disconcerting stats: the Celtics shot 54% from the floor, they had 31 assists on 45 baskets (hence their lack of free throws, they just got easy baskets). Now, there were stretches where Boston was just making tough shots/the bounces went their way, but for the most part, the Cavs let them have whatever they wanted.
Somehow Leon Powe had 20 points. Seriously guys, what the hell? How the fuck does Leon freakin Powe go 9-11 from the field (wait, I can answer that, he's shooting the ball 3 feet from the rim every time down the court). Powe and recently aquired Mikki Moore gave Boston some great energy off the bench and the Cavs had no answer.
The Cleveland bench struggled. Joe Smith was mediocre in his first game (admittingly a tough first game), going just 3-8 from the field (kinda felt he had an ichy trigger finger) for 7 points while pulling down 5 boards. Wally was OK offensively (4 points, 3 boards, 2-3 FG) but got crushed defensively (Boston just went right at him, at one point he was guarding Paul Pierce- not good). J.J. Hickson looked like a rookie; he looked really nervous and seemed to be rushing things. And Boobie Gibson, well, he had a fairly empty 17 minutes of court time (3 points, 1 board, 1 assist), he's basically playing for his playoff minutes right now (he got burned on the defensive end as well).
The rest of the Cleveland starters did alright. Actually, LeBron was the starter that struggled the most. Z was 4-8 from the floor for 12 points (but just 4 boards from the big fella). Both Z and LeBron stepped in when Big Baby took Anderson Varejao down by his head on a layup (flagrant II), which I liked to see. Z seemed to be frustrated by the call and various Celtics for most of the game (he got whistled for some ticky-tack bullshit). The recipient of Big Baby's wrath, Varejao, had an alright game. He was really active on the pick and roll and finished 5-8 from the floor (and 5-9 from the line) for 15 points and 5 boards. And Delonte didn't score enough (just 5 points) but I thought he at least attacked the Boston D and didn't settle for jumpers. Brother Red was just 2-5 from the floor but had 8 assists and 6 boards.
Forget about it, you get to face D.Wade tonight. Great. The truth of the matter is, Boston needed that game more than the Cavs did. If Cleveland wins, then they're leading the season series 2-1 with a game left in Cleveland (where Boston gets blown out). Neither the Cavs or Celtics have won in the opponent's building in something like the last 14 games. The Cavs are still in a good spot, but I'm growing more and more uncomfortable with these crappy games against good teams. But there's no rest for the weary, the Cavs get to travel back to Cleveland for a game rematch with the Heat. After Saturday's game, the Cavs go out West for a quick jaunt against the Clippers (Tuesday), the Suns (Thursday) and the Kings (Friday).
God I hate the Celtics. I was all pumped after the game but my laptop wouldn't work. I was all prepared and everything. Now I'm all tired (and sobered up) so I hope I'll have shit tomorrow.
The defensive effort wasn't there, the Celtics had way too many easy baskets and they seemed to score effortlessly. The Celtics had 31 fucking assists. 31 on 45 FGs. That is not good.
And I'll be honest, if the Cavs are going to beat the Celtics in Boston, they need more from LeBron. Yes, the bench wasn't good. But the Cavs will be in trouble (sans KG or no) if Bron-Bron is just 5-15 from the floor. They won't win in Boston with James having a subpar game (not saying it's his fault they lost exactly).
Mo was nice. I hate Paul Pierce and his bullshit headfake foul-call. Just because that douchebag jerks his head back, doesn't mean he should get to shoot free throws. Also, someone should box out on the offensive end. That'll be nice.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I will, however, promise to have the Celtics game all written up on Friday night (now, the prose could be a bit sloppy, as I plan to consume alcohol during said game, but I'll have something).
Also, be on the look out for a new podcast sometime late tonight or tomorrow, lots of Browns, Cavs, Tribe and various bullshit to discuss.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Joe Smith is about to bounce back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The veteran forward, traded last summer by the Cavs in the deal that brought them All-Star guard Mo Williams, agreed to terms Tuesday night on a one-year contract with Cleveland, his agent told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"After careful consideration of his options, Joe has decided that the Cavs are the best fit," agent Dan Fegan told the paper.
Smith can not officially sign with the Cavaliers until he clears waivers on Wednesday. But that's the final procedural hurdle in a signing that has been expected since the 33-year-old Smith bought out his contract on Sunday with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Smith will definitely help the Cavs in both the short term and long term. With Ben Wallace out, Smith should be able to give the Cavs some key minutes over the next month or so. Once Benny makes his triumphant return, Smith will be able to take a key role on the bench as the 4th big (sorry J.J.) for the playoff run.
There's really not a anything about this that Cavs fans shouldn't like. They get a veteran big, who's played with the team, who's used to both the system and the players. Plus, he's filling a small need that got a bit larger with the injury to Ben's leg.
Is he the last piece to the championship puzzle? We'll see, won't we?
(Oh, and Boston, thanks for pursuing Mikki Moore so hard. Much appreciated).
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The Cavs had an early lead, but Miami is tough. With 2:42 left in the first, the Cavs had built a 10 point lead (24-14) but the Heat came back (they made it 27-24) before the Cavs went into the first break up 30-26. LeBron had a nice first period, scoring 12 points on a couple of 3s and some longish jumpers. The Cavs had a slight lead at halftime, but Miami turned the D up a notch in the third and the Cavs entered the fourth trailing 76-82.
LeBron's J was falling, especially from downtown. James finished with 42 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, a steal and a block. LeBron made all 10 of his free throw attempts and he knocked down 6-7 from beyond the arc (and 6 of those 10 came from being fouled while hoisting a trey). He was squaring up on his jumper and his form looked really good. James also got to the rim a few times on cuts and his emphatic dunk with 42 seconds left sealed the game. What's most amazing (if you could really choose just one thing) is the fact that James netted 42 points on just 21 shots (D.Wade scored 41, but he shot the ball 30 times).
Dwyane Wade is pretty good. Wade nearly matched LeBron's 42 with 41 of his own and he pitched in 9 assists, 7 boards, 7 steals and a block. That's right 41-9-7-7. Wade penetrated seemingly at will and his ability to get to the rim opened things up for a lot of other Miami players. The Cavs basically kept Delonte on Wade for the bulk of the game and didn't really double team until the fourth quarter. Wade also had 8 turnovers, which puts him pretty close to the quintuple double.
Mo Williams is fucking clutch. Williams sure looked like an all-star on Monday night. Mo finished with 30 points, 7 boards, 7 assists and 2 steals. The Cavs scored 31 points in the final period- Mo had 17, LeBron had 12 and Z made a jumper. Mo had a HUGE floater with 4 minutes left to give the Cavs their first lead of the fourth quarter (Mimai ended the third on a 8-0 run) and he and James combined for an 45 second, 8-0 run to cut the Miami lead from 91-80 to 91-88 (two treys by Mo and a dunk by LeBron). This guy is cold blooded and I love it. (Insert LeBron's Pippen comment here: ____).
The rest of the starters had nice games as well. Delonte had a little scare with the rest (he used it to gather himself while falling) but ended up with 8 points (3-6 FG, 2-3 3PT), 6 assists, 5 steals and a board. Z shot only 5-13 from the floor (12 points) and his jumper wasn't falling early (he hit a clutch one late) but he had a couple of ridiculous tips and he also finished with 15 boards and 2 assists. And Varejao? Well, Wild Thing drew a few offensive fouls, knocked down a few jumpers (3-5 from the floor) and ended up with a nifty line of 6 points, 4 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. I know this is obvious, but Andy plays much much better next to Z than he does almost anyone else.
The bench.... meh. I thought J.J. played decently, but I look at the box score and he finished with 5 points and 0 rebounds in 17 minutes. Wally had 1 points and 2 boards in 13 minutes. Gibson? 1-5, 3 points and a foul in 9 minutes. But hey, we did get a Sasha Pavlovic sighting. He very nearly had a 7 trillion (a box score with 7 minutes followed by 12 zeros) but don't worry, he commited a foul and a turnover (whew!). Needless to say, it wasn't surprising that Mo and LeBron passed the 40 minute mark (the starter with the least minutes was Z with 33).
No rest for the weary. 4 in 5? Let's make it 5 in 7. The Cavs get Tuesday off before facing the Bucks in Cleveland on Wednesday night. After that? Only a Friday night game in Boston followed by Saturday night against these same Heat at the Q. Should be a fun week.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Drew Gooden: bought out.
Who ya want?
Apparently the Cavs are pursuing Smith:
I'm OK with this (more than OK actually). Joe Smith would really help this ballclub and the fact that he was here for the end of last season is a big help.
With just hours to spare before Sunday's midnight deadline, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Joe Smith reached terms on a buyout agreement. He will be put on waivers Monday morning and is expected to clear them 48 hours later. Several league sources said Smith is then expected to sign with the Cavs for the rest of the season.
It is possible Smith could be in uniform for Wednesday's home game with the Milwaukee Bucks and certainly should be available Friday when the Cavs visit the Boston Celtics.
Another former Cavs player, Drew Gooden, also beat the deadline by getting a buyout Sunday night. He was traded to the Sacramento Kings two weeks ago. It's possible the Cavs could also consider him, but all indications are they will look to sign Smith. After coveting Gooden for two years, it was a surprise the Kings agreed to release him.
However, I won't lie, the idea of Drew Gooden intrigues the hell out of me.
Now, let me be clear about this. Drew Gooden: starting power forward on a playoff team? No thanks. The guy can't be counted on game to game and he gets lost on defense. You can't have Drew starting.
But Drew Gooden: big man off the bench who can score? This wouldn't work? For all of his faults, Gooden is a very polished offensive big man. He rebounds extremely well, he has a nice faceup jumper and he can score on the block. Having Drew go against other teams second unit bigs could work out very nice. Plus, you could plug him in at center for the small ball lineup (rather than Varejao), giving LeBron a more consistent scoring option.
(and all the stuff about Smith being here last year? Well, most of that applies to Gooden as well).
Now, I don't expect Gooden to be here and I've been wanting Smith all season, so I shouldn't be disappointed if the Cavs simply sign Smith. And for the most part, I'm not. If it Ben Wallace wasn't hurt, Joe Smith would be perfect. He's smart, he can hit the open J and he defends reasonably well (at least he doesn't get lost). But with Wallace missing a month, the Cavs might end up needing more than just 18-22 minutes off the bench.
I'm also wondering, is it possible they sign both? How realistic is that? They needed a big before Wallace went down, so wouldn't they now need two bigs? Both guys have a history here. Both guys can do things that would help this squad... We shall see.