Sunday, November 29, 2009

This Team is a Joke

What an all around awful game. The defense was terrible, the offense was abysmal and the special teams were non-existent. I really hope I don't see people defending the defense (since they only gave up 16 points). The Bengals ran for 210 yards with Cedric Benson on the bench. Terrible.

Brady Quinn did not look good. He rarely threw downfield (for what it's worth, the playing was horrendous) and his quick throws were wildly inaccurate. Not that his inaccuracy mattered, since the Browns' receivers couldn't catch the simplest of passes.

Neither Quinn nor Derek Anderson have gotten any favors from the receiving corps. Patrick McManamon:
Quinn is throwing to a rookie, a guy who was acquired via trade four games into the season, and a special-teams returner being forced into a receiver's role.
Ya, that about sums it up.

Also, what does Offensive Coordinator Brian Dabol have to do to get fired? What a terrible game plan. To his credit, the Browns ran some nice plays on their one scoring drive (a Cribbs-to-Quinn pass and a QB draw for the TD) but he followed it up with a drive that consisted of 3 horizontal passes to Cribbs for no yards. Just awful.

This season can't end soon enough.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Your team may beat the Browns

but our team will injure your key players.

What a game. No sarcasm, I mean seriously mean it: What. A. Game. I'm not even mad that they lost. Well, not quite, I am pissed. But at least this game wasn't awful to watch. I enjoyed myself watching the Browns. And not the "wow this team sucks lets rip on 'em" fun I had on Monday night. This was a fun Sunday.

The fact that the Browns managed to blow this game doesn't even phase me. I'm in the Anchorman/wheel of cheese state right now. You managed to blow a 21 point lead, give up a 78 yard game winning drive under 2-minutes to go, to a team that's 1-8, has no timeouts and is playing a rookie quarterback? I'm not even mad, that's amazing.

It's not like I'm happy with the outcome but I'm not exactly pissed. It's the Browns! They're now 1-9 rather than 2-8. Oh noes! It's not like this game actually meant anything (besides who's landing the first overall pick- Cleveland baby!). Plus, ya gotta give the Browns credit, they keep finding new and interesting ways to lose every week.

The real shame is the fact that the Browns (especially the offense) played really well. The offense looked good (if not great): Brady Quinn threw for 304 yards and had 4 TDs. The defense wasn't great (Stafford had 5 TDs and threw for over 400 yards) but they had their moments; a couple picks and safety.

Though despite all the fun, when you lose to the Lions, you know there were mistakes. First mistake: No Jerome Harrison (who was inactive). Jamal Lewis ran the ball 24 times and got 75 yards. Awful.

With 3:40 to go, the Browns had a six point and the ball but only managed to run a minute and forty off the clock. The their last play was an incomplete pass on 3rd and 5 (and their previous first down was on a 3rd and 6 pass). If the Browns had any semblance of a running game, the Lions shouldn't have had enough time to muster a 78 yard touchdown drive. (If you want to argue that the Browns should've run on 3rd and 5 anyways, simply to run time off the clock, I'm open to that. But if it's 3rd and 2, you take the pass out of the equation).

And Coach Mangini... what can ya say. For as much as Jamal Lewis sucked, he was the guy who kept calling his number on first and second down. Yes, the Browns were whistled for a pass interference in the endzone with no time to go. That sucks. However, they managed to injure Matt Stafford's shoulder and the Lions were charged with an injury timeout (but they had no TO's left, shouldn't have there been a 10-second run off?), taking Stafford out of the game. What's Mangini do? Call a timeout, allowing the Lions to take out Dante Culpepper (who was not warmed up and ice cold) and allow the Lions to re-insert Stafford. Well done sir. Can't lose to the backup (in Mangini's defense, I was scared of the QB sneak with Culpepper).

and finally, the defense... what happened? The Lions first play from scrimmage was a 60 yard pass to their running back and it never got any better. The defense's stats haven't been great this year but they've played pretty good games (even if they got tired by the end). But 38 points to the Lions? Unacceptable.

Though, again, for what it's worth, I had fun. I watched the Browns and had fun. How often can we say that? They scored (a lot) points. They threw down field. They even converted 2-point conversions. It was enjoyable to watch.

That's better than most weeks, no?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Time Warner ate My Homework

Saw only bits and parts of last nights game but I figured with the DVR, I'd be ok. Guess not. Here's some quick bits from what I saw:

- J.J. Hickson first half: shitty defense, nice offense.

- J.J. Hickson second half: tough defense down the stretch, offense still good.

- I don't give a damn about the whole state of M*ch*g*n...

- As a team, the defense stunk in the first half. The Pacers had 61 at halftime; the Cavs couldn't stop the pick-and-roll, the Pacers got any shot they and they made a whole bunch of 'em (meanwhile, the Cavs were red hot too and poured in 66).

- LeBron is a beast. 40-9-8. I really liked his activity around the rim (he got a big offensive board late).

- ... the whole state of M*ch*g*n

- Late in the game Mike Brown subbed Varejao out for Hickson, after Andy committed a dumb foul while going for an offensive board. Now, I get that Varejao did something stupid... but Z finished the game 1-12. Why not play Hickson and Andy together (especially with Hickson playing so well defensively). Mo-AP-LeBron-J.J.-Varejao is not a bad five. They should be able to play both half court and run.

- Danny Granger (19-9-5) vs LeBron is always a nice matchup. The Pacers usually give the Cavs a good run for their money and they are definitely a team I don't want to see in the first round (not scared that the Cavs would lose but they'll have to work for it).

- ... the whole state of M*ch*g*n

- Mo was just 3-11 from the floor but 11-11 from the line. Williams isn't always going to make all of his jumpers so the Cavs have to figure out was for him to get foul shots. He'll make most of his freebies. However, Williams has not been good defensively. Teams definitely look to put him in pick-and-roll situations. T.J. Ford abused Williams (after Earl Boykins had his way against him in DC).

- Delonte was active but didn't play. They miss last years Delonte (though Anthony Parker has grown on me).

- I don't give a damn about the whole state of M*ch*g*n

- Cause I'm from OHIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Note to ESPN: LeBron is a huge Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Does this factor into his plans next year? Or is it only pro teams that determine where LeBron will play in 2010)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Washington 108, Cleveland 91

Well, the first (and early second) quarter was fun. The Cavs had a 10 point lead after the first quarter (32-22) and built it up to 17 early (39-22 at the 8 minute mark) in the second quarter. James had 7 assists in the first quarter (the offense was moving), Bulter and Arenas (1-9 first half) were missing shots but after Mike Miller got hot (8 straight points), the Cavs were left with only a 4 point lead going into halftime (51-47).

Not LeBron's best game. Sure, his line of 34 points, 9 assists, 2 boards and 2 steals isn't bad... but only 2 boards? With Shaq and Anderson Varejao missing time? Not good. The Cavs got murdered on the boards (49-34) and they got a combined 4 boards from their starting forwards (J.J. Hickson has a rough 20 minutes of court time). The worst thing that happened was that LeBron made three straight 3s in the middle of the third quarter. LeBron also tried to show up DeShawn Steveson a few times and all it did was stall the offense and lead to terrible shots. James also hurt his wrist on a late game dunk. Great.

Riddle me this. Z had 10 points on 5-7 shooting in the first half. Z finished the game with 10 points on 5-8 shooting. Darnell Jackson had 10 points and 5 boards in the first half, finished with 10 points and 7 boards. And LeBron had 7 assists in the first quarter and finished with 9. Needless the say, the Cavs got away from their game in the second half. Lots of standing around and lots of jump shots.

The Cavs weren't happy with the refs but some that is their fault. Yes, the Cavs had 11 more fouls than the Wizards (26 vs 15) and Washington shot 20(!) more free throws than Cleveland (35 vs 15). But Washington attacked the basket consistently throughout the entire game. The Cavs went 1-on-5 and chucked up bad jumpers. The more aggressive team will get the calls. Again, the Cavs got out rebounded by 15(!), they obviously weren't active. You can't blame the refs for giving up 16 offensive boards. In the Cavs defense, the Wizards got to the line with the smallest of body contact while LeBron gets bearhugged and they call it a jumpball. Refs weren't great but the Cavs didn't help themselves by being a step slow on defense and standing around on offese.

Role reversal: the Wizards were healthy, the Cavaliers were not. Antawn Jamison made his season debut and just killed Cleveland. Jamison had 31 and 10 boards and made life for hell for Hickson and Ilgauskas (Jamison is too sophisticated offensively for J.J. and simply too quick for Z). Gilbert Arenas started slow but made some shots in the second half to finish with 18 points, 8 assists and 6 boards while Caron Butler had 19 and 6 rebounds. They got 17-8-6 from Mike Miller and 13 boards from Brenden Haywood. Meanwhile, the Cavs were without Shaq and Varejao (Jamario Moon played on his twisted ankle and scored 10 points with 5 boards).

Non-LeBron Cavaliers didn't have the best night. Mo Williams was 2-13 (and got killed by Arenas and Earl Boykins), Delonte was 3-7, Anthony Parker was 2-7 and Daniel Gibson was just 0-2. J.J. Hickson only got 4 shot attempts while both Moon and Jackson had 8. The Cavs can't afford to play flat against anybody but against the Wizards? They actually give a shit against the Cavs.

The game got out of reach at the start of the fourth quarter. With James on the bench, the Wizards took their 3 point lead (75-72) and went on a 12-6 run (87-78) before James came back in with 7:45 to go. However, a few bad jumpers later and Washington's lead ballooned to 95-78 before James scored his first bucket of the fourth with six minutes to go. So to recap, during the first half of the fourth quarter, the Cavs were outscored 20-8. Once Washington smelled blood this game was toast. They simply wanted the game more. Say it's the "rivarly", blame complacency or the injuries or the back-to-back... whatever. The Cavs got outworked and outcoached (the Wizards went small to start the fourth and Mike Brown had Z and Jackson on the court. Not good).

and finally...

No rest for the weary. The Cavs are in Indiana on Friday night and face the Sixers at home on Saturday to finish out their 4-in-5. They can't dwell on this crappy game because they got two more fairly tough games coming up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cleveland 114, Golden State 108

Both teams were short handed. The Warriors played just seven guys (though all seven were in double figures) and the Cavaliers were without both Shaq (37 years old/shoulder) and Anderson Varejao (hip) and Jamario Moon left midway thanks to a sprained ankle.

Hey look! Offense! It does exist. The Cavs had 35 after one quarter, 66 at the half and shot 58% from the floor to finish with 114 points. The first quarter was fantastic; J.J. Hickson had 12 points, the Cavs had 9 assists on 12 buckets and things were looking very, very nice. They moved the ball well and picked apart Golden State's defense with patience and good ball movement.

LeBron was a beast (go figure). I'll be honest, there were times during the game where James looked bored. In the first half he'd just draw the defense and get the other Cavaliers easy buckets. He'd zip these one-handed passes to wide open teammates almost effortlessly. Things bogged down a bit when LeBron got sucked into it with Corey Maggette and went one-on-one while settling for jumpers (some went in, some missed but everyone else stood around). James finished with 31 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal and a couple of monster dunks.

For the third game in a row, J.J. Hickson got his career high. First 18, then 20 and now 21 versus the Warriors. J.J. didn't have a perfect game but he gave LeBron and co. a big target down low and he made the most of his touches (Hickson was a perfect 9-9 from the floor). J.J. still gets lost on defense every now and then (he was immediately pulled after letting Vlad Radmanovic put back his own missed jumper) but he held his own and finished with 21 points, 9 boards (so close!), a steal and a block.

The Cavs were forced to go small. Darnell Jackson got some playing time and the Cavs had to go small without Shaq and Varejao. We saw some of LeBron at the 4 (me gusta) and a lot of three-guard line-ups (Mo/Boobie/Parker, Delonte/Boobie/Parker). The shooting was excellent; non-LeBron Cavaliers shot 53% from behind the arc (LeBron was 1-5) and the Cavs showed they could run with a team like Golden State.

However, there was some complacency, especially in the second half. Quite frankly, things were getting too easy and the Cavs got bored and started taking bad shots and tried to do too much. Too much dribbling, too much standing, to much jawing with Corey Maggette- they lost their focus and nearly let the Warriors back in the ball game.

Well, they kinda did let Golden State back into it (though you never felt the game was in doubt). Don Nelson's squad cut the lead to one (107-106) with 3 minutes to go. The Cavs righted the ship eventually with a basket by Mo and a steal that led to a LeBron-to-Hickson alley-oop. Which is all well and good but the Cavs can't keep letting teams hang around and most of them won't be as lackadaisical on D as Golden State. This is how they lost to the Bulls; they showed no sense of urgency and nearly blew it. Austin Carr made the point in the fourth that they only had a 10 point lead but it felt like 20. He's exactly right; yes, the Cavs were comfortably in the lead but it wasn't so comfortable that they could afford to waste possessions with bad offense.

Z had a nice game. A lot of his buckets were easy layups inside against the smaller Warrior squad, but his jumper is starting to fall. Now, will his jumper be there when Shaq returns from his early season rest.... I mean totally real shoulder injury? I dunno. But I do know that Ilgauskas finished with 14 points on 7-12 shooting in 28 minutes of court time.

Hey look, Derek Zoolander! We had a Wally Szczerbiak sighting at The Q. Wally is coming off knee surgery and he said he was in town to do some rehabbing. That could very well be true but I think he's around because he was going to be included in that Stephen Jackson deal and the Cavs were seeing how healthy he was. I could be wrong, maybe he just likes coming to Cleveland in November to workout. Makes sense.

and finally...

This was the first of a 4-in-5. The Cavs are in Washington tomorrow, Indiana on Friday and end with the Sixers at home on Saturday. The Cavs are on a 5 game win streak and pushed their record out to 8-3. Things are good right now but it's not like Mike Brown doesn't have stuff to work on. While the Cavs do a fairly good job of closing out quarters they have not put teams away in their two most recent games. They let Utah back in the game on Saturday night and there is reason why this win had to be by single digits. Maybe the new guys are still working themselves in, I dunno, but they aren't closing teams out.

"Pissed-off" sounds about right

I'd also accept frustrated, ornery or apocalyptic.

They even found a way to play "The Shot"


Bravo to everyone involved. That was a night of awful. Just pure awful.

Everybody had their moments; the Browns looked like they didn't practice any offense over the bye week, the announcers kept piling on (they managed to find a way to show 'Jordan over Ehlo') and to the Ravens managed to injure Josh Cribbs on the final play of the game. Kill me now.

If you're looking for a silver lining, the defense only gave up 10 points, so that's something (never mind the fact that Baltimore missed a FG and twice passed (and failed) on 3rd and 2).

The play calling was bad (this was a game plan with two weeks preparation?!), the execution was bad (dumb penalties, dropped passes, missed blocks) and they simply looked like a team without a clue.

Somehow this game was both better and worse than I imagined. The first half wasn't completely terrible. The Browns were actually tied at halftime (0-0 but still, tied) and the defense looked more than solid. Sure, the offense was painful to watch but the Browns were still in the game.

And then things went to hell. A four play touchdown drive followed by a pick-6 and that was all she wrote. The offense never got better (Quinn threw deep... out of bounds) and the play calling never made sense (down two scores and running Jamal Lewis and 1st and 2nd, are you trying to set up 3rd-and-long?). Quinn couldn't throw more than 7 yards, the line couldn't block, Lewis missed blocks and took 12 steps to go maybe two yards. All in all, just awful. Eric Mangini should've been fired midway through the fourth quarter.

It's hard to imagine at this point that Mangini will be around next season. This is an absolute mess. The rumor mill has the Browns targeting Mike Holmgren and I tell ya what, I'm all for it. Bring in Holmgren and let him hire one of his old Green Bay or San Francisco coaches. Have him bring in Jon Gruden to coach (ya, he just signed a deal with ESPN, but there were certain points during the game where he sounded like he wanted this job) and let them do their thing. Whatever it they'd do, it has got to be better than this garbage.

Please, save us Mike Holmgren, we'll give you all the seals you can eat.

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Captain Jack

While the Cavs were considering trading for Stephen Jackson (even looking into Wally Szczerbiak scenarios) the Bobcats swooped in and made the deal:
Disgruntled Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Jackson is about to make fresh start with a new team.

The Warriors completed a deal Monday that sends Jackson and guard Acie Law to the Bobcats in exchange for veteran swingmen Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.
The Cavs were only willing to go as far as to offer a package of Wally and Delonte West then it shouldn't be too big of a surprise that Warriors took Charlotte's deal. Raja Bell has an expiring contract and Radmanovic is a mobile big who can spread the floor (which, in theory, should work well with Don Nelson's offense). The Cavs were basically only offering two expirings (they'd waive Delonte before next season).

I'm torn on this. If the Cavs were going to have to give up either Z or Hickson (without Z getting bought out) then I'm glad they didn't pull the trigger. But getting Jackson for only Delonte (despite how much I like West) and Wally (someone not even on the team) would've been awesome.

Part of me wonders if Jackson won't get traded again before the deadline. His main beef in Golden State was the lack of winning. Charlotte is a nice young team but they aren't exactly a team you expect in the playoff hunt. Now maybe Jackson changes that, I dunno, but I wouldn't be shocked if he makes another stink after a few months.

As for the Cavs, the emergence of J.J. Hickson will only make Danny Ferry's job easier. If Hickson continues to play well, Ferry may not be forced to have to make any trades (especially with Leon Powe coming back). However, if the opportunity to trade for an all-star comes along, having a young big (21 years old) playing well should definitely help grease the wheels.

[Update] Brian Windhorst:

According to some league sources the Cavs indeed had an offer into the Warriors for Jackson. The two sides, I am told, talked about Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Delonte West and even a sign-and-trade for Wally Szczerbiak among other things.

With a 7-3 record and on a four-game winning streak with things still developing this early in the season, the Cavs were unwilling to improve their offer over the weekend. How close the Warriors were to accepting it is known only to their top decision makers.

But the Cavs were not willing to give up any of their size for Jackson and that was a road block. The only way they were willing to give up Ilgauskas is if there was an agreement to buy him out and have him return in 30 days, which is permitted under current rules. In addition, right now J.J. Hickson is virtually untouchable unless it is for a home run deal.


It is not a great deal for Golden State but they are going to save a lot of money and they get two players that they can play in their rotation and they get a starter-quality big man. Frankly, that is more than the Cavs apparently were willing to offer. It makes sense Golden State made this deal.

I like the Cavs thinking here. They won't trade Z unless getting some kind of big in return (or a buyout) and J.J. Hickson will only be traded in a "home run deal". Good. J.J. is young and has a ton of upside, they rightfully shouldn't be parting with him for the likes of S-Jax.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cleveland 111, Miami 104

Great game, great win. This game had anything a basketball fan would want: a close, contested game between two good teams, both two superstars played great and had more than a few highlight plays (D. Wade had an all-time great dunk over poor Anderson Varejao), there were some great shooting displays (Wade and Mo Williams shot extremely well), the role players for both squads stepped up (J.J. Hickson and Jamario Moon gave the Cavs major minutes) and free throws, lots and lots and lots and lots of free throws (Wade shot 21 freebies and Bron-Bron had 18). The first quarter was spectacular; Wade had that dunk over Andy and LeBron ended the quarter (following a Wade bucket) with a runner to beat the buzzer.

The two stars were awesome. Wade finished with 36 points (9-21, 3-6 3pt), 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks while LeBron James put up 34 (8-20, 2-4 3pt), 7 assists, 4 boards, 2 blocks and a steal. Wade's dunk over Andy kinda woke LeBron up and he responded with a couple tomahawks of his own. During the fourth, LeBron scored 10 of his 34 (7 of those came at the stripe) while Wade threw in 9. At times it seemed like they were trying to one-up each other but it would never last long and it never got out of hand or sloppy. James went to the post a few times (though not consitently) and his jumper still looks really really really good. Even though LeBron shot just three less free throws than Wade, I still feel like Wade gets every call. With his size, he can jump into players (something LeBron can't do) and still get the benefit of the doubt. LeBron would just bowl 'em over.

But they both had help. Mo Williams had his second consecutive strong performance, notching 25 points (10-15 FG, 5-7 3pt) to go along with 4 boards, 3 assists and a steal. For Miami, Michael Beasley scored 24 points on 9-17 shooting. Four of the Cavs' starters finished in double digits (Shaq had 14 and Hickson had a career-high 18) and Jermaine O'Neal was the only other Heat in double figures, with 15 (to go along with 9 boards and 2 blocks).

You've got to like what you saw from the Cavalier role players. Shaq (who you should consider a role player) scored 14 points in just 21 minutes, Hickson made himself available and scored 18 on 7-9 shooting (though only 4 boards) and Moon had 8 points and 6 boards off the bench. You can tell that the Cavs used the most out of their four days off, Hickson looks very comfortable in the offense and Moon has been a rebounding machine these last two days. However, some of the old guard didn't playy too well; Z continued his poor shooting by going 0-3, Varejao was never the same after getting posterized (2 points, 5 boards in 15 minutes) and Boobie Gibson came back down to earth, shooting just 1-4 from beyond the arc (and 1-7 overall). I'm really pleased with Hickon's play. He knocked down a faceup, he showed some nifty post moves, he passed well and he used his athleticism to get easy buckets. He's going to have his ups and downs this year but you can tell he's getting more and more comfortable on the court.

and finally...

I'm extremely pleased with the Florida trip. Two wins?! I was terrified going into the back-to-back in Orlando and Miami, I would've been happy with a split. But a sweep?! Two good teams, on the road, on back-to-back nights? Awesome. The Cavs came to play and they delivered. Yes, Orlando was without it's two stretch forwards, but it's still two good victories and it serves notice that the Cavs won't be taken lightly. Mo Williams has been really aggressive since the break and Cavs fans have got to be pleased at that. Until further notice, Williams is the second option on this team (it's certainly not Shaq) if the Cavs are going to make any noise this postseason, he has to be a major part. Seeing him play two great games against two good teams is a big positive. The Cavs can't rest just yet, they face the Jazz in Cleveland on Saturday night.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So they don't need the work?

Jamal Lewis, on coach Mangini:

Lewis, who intends to retire after this season, said Thursday that he doesn't want to be a "babysitter" to Cleveland's younger players. He wants to win and expressed disappointment that two- and three-hour practices aren't translating into wins for the team, which has a 1-7 record.

"There's talent all over this locker room, young and old," he said before practice. "There's talent everywhere, but that talent has got to be ready for Sunday, it's got to be fresh for Sunday. You can work all day, but if you're going to work like that, you're probably not going to get what you want out of your players."

While Lewis doesn't mind working hard, he said Mangini is wearing out his players. The team captain said he hasn't approached his coach about making changes.

"This is his show, not mine," Lewis said. "You got to take care of your crop. If you don't, when it comes time to harvest, you're not going to make no money because the crop is no good. That's that."

Lewis said the length and intensity of Mangini's practices are not the issue, it's that the first-year coach's approach isn't producing wins.

Few things here. First of all, if Lewis has an issue with the way the team practices, he might want to take that up with the coach before he talks to the media.

Secondly, I disagree with the Lewis's take on the talent level of the Browns. They are neither a deep nor talented team. Who are their playmakers? Talented players make plays. Who is the talent on the offensive end? The defensive end? The special teams is talented, I'll give ya that.

Thirdly, while I understand that practicing too long during the week can make for tired players on Sunday, complaining about practicing too hard/long doesn't come off very well (when your on a team that's fucking 1-7). Convential wisdom would seem to say that a team with a 1-7 could probably use some more practice. You know, since they keep screwing up during games, it would stand to reason that they could use some more reps.

I have no great love for Mangini but complaining about practice when you're 1-7 doesn't seem like the right way to go.

Cleveland 102, Orlando 93

Could ya tell they had four days off? The Cavs came out focused and energized and they looked prepared for this ball game. The double teams came hard and fast, the offense was fluid and their passes were crisp. From the coaching staff to guys like J.J. Hickson and Jamario Moon, the Cavaliers looked ready for this game.

I admit, I was terrified for this game coming in. Cleveland has been slow out of the gate and their struggles with Orlando have been well documented, if they didn't look good versus the Magic (i.e. if Shaq couldn't slow Dwight Howard) then the ceiling could've caved in. But the Cavs looked great; Shaq got Howard into early foul trouble and the Cavs took full advantage, going straight at the rim and getting easy buckets while Howard sat. You could tell the Cavs worked on their offense during their break; the spacing was great, the movement was good and it allowed James to get a bunch of easy baskets around the rim (both off of cuts and followup boards). If the offense can stay close to this (Mo Williams controlling the ball, James setting up near the hoop, and lots of off the ball movement) then the Cavs should be in a good spot.

Mo Williams had a superb game. Williams started off 9-9 and finished with 28 points (12-20 FG, 4-5 3pt) and 6 assists. The Cavs played at a faster tempo (especially once Howard went out and Varejao subbed in for Shaq) and Williams really responded. He hit a lot of pull-up jumpers and he also attacked the rim early in the possession. If the Cavs are going to do anything this season, Williams can't simply be a spot up shooter (he's not Boobie). Mo set up a lot of easy buckets for LeBron and the bigs with his penatration. Williams was freed up a couple times coming off screens set by James. This is a fantastic development, I love involving LeBron in the pick-and-roll. Let the defense decide if they want to let LeBron roll to the rim or allow Williams an open jumper.

LeBron was awesome (for the first 9/10ths of the game). LeBron finished with 36 points (13-23 FG, 2-3 3pt), 8 boards and 4 assists. While his jumpers continue to fall (his form looks really good) James would set up in the mid-to-low post. James took Mickael Pietrus to the block (finally!) and the Cavalier's excellent spacing allowed LeBron to make quick decisions with the ball and the offense didn't bog down. As for that last 1/10th of the game, it was during the middle of the fourth during the not-quite-garbage-time part of the game. LeBron's shot was falling and he ended up taking some ugly, ugly, ugly 1-on-5 'heat checks' and it allowed Orlando to make the score somewhat respectable (this is where the offense bogged down).

Nice game from the bigs. Shaq got Howard into foul trouble and his one-on-one defense allowed the rest of the squad to stay home on Orlando's shooters (the Magic were just 4-18 from behind the line). J.J. Hickson had a nice game, scoring 9 points and grabbing 6 boards (he also had the highest +/- of any Cavalier at +13). Z went 0-6 but grabbed 6 boards and played pretty good defense (Z had the second highest +/- at +11). While Varejao didn't score a lot, he ran the floor well and played good defense.

The refs stunk. Howard picked up two fouls in the first 3 minutes (the first was technically a foul, putting two hands on O'Neal and while ESPN didn't like his second foul, I was OK with it because Howard took a giant swipe at Shaq before he went straight up). LeBron, Mo and Hickson all took major contact when they went to the rim and didn't get any calls. They'd miss an offensive foul on LeBron only to slap Z with a loose ball foul as a makeup (this was during a stretch when the Cavs' lead was cut from 15 to 8 at the end of the half and Cavs were whistled for Z's BS foul and a 3 seconds and Shaq was called for both palming and a moving screen).

When I say the Cavs were prepared, this is what I mean: Jamario Moon played 15 minutes and grabbed 7 rebounds. J.J. Hickson got a steal by coming over and intercepting a lazy entry pass to Howard. The Cavs ended the half on an 9-2 run by out hustling the Magic for loose balls (Hickon got to the line twice off of hustle boards). LeBron let Williams set up the offense and got easy dunks and layups from simply cutting to the rim. Yes, the Magic were without their stretch 4s (Rashard Lewis due to suspension and Ryan Anderson due an ankle injury) but the Cavs came out prepared and with something to prove (I'm gonna guess that Mo has had this game circled for some time now).

How's it feel? The Cavs shot a ridiculous 10-14 from behind the arc. Williams was 4-5, James was 2-3 (just 3 attempts, nice) and Anthony Parker hit all three of his attempts (all in the third quarter). Meanwhile, Mickael Pietrus looked like the average player he is and Vince Carter fired up 7 treys while making just 2 (Carter did finish with 29 points but the Cavs were without Delonte West due to an infraction).

and finally...

No further questions! Before the game, LeBron stated that he's not going to answer any more free agency questions until after the season (the same night he wore Yankee 27 title sneakers). While it's a nice gesture, I'm pretty sure it won't change things a whole bunch (except make Adrian Wojnarowski cry) and it's not like ESPN and co. need fresh quote (or any quotes) to speculate and make shit up. The Cavs face the Heat on Thursday night (another former home of O'Neal) and I'm sure TNT will stuff us full of LeBron/Wade speculation regardless.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've been waiting for years for someone at ESPN to make this exact argument:

If you're looking for a long shot -- and we concede it's an extreme long shot -- we've got a more genuine nominee than the Clippers (LeBron isn't playing in Kobe Bryant's building or putting any faith in the stewardship of Donald Sterling no matter how good lining up next to Blake Griffin sounds) or the Bulls (since it's equally tough to imagine him driving past His Airness' statue on his way to every home game.)

We repeat: The host city for the 2010 All-Star Game is Long Shot City. That said, Dallas has more in its favor than you think.

Dirk Nowitzki would appear to be the best big man LeBron could conceivably hook up with next summer, which would also mean playing with the Mavs' lead recruiter and James' close friend Jason Kidd.

It doesn't hurt that LeBron is said to be fond of the area and undoubtedly loves the Cowboys as much as or more than he loves the Yankees. Or that Mark Cuban was the NBA's original spare-no-expense owner in the new millennium.

The glaring obstacle here, besides the inevitable suggestions that Big D is neither big enough nor sufficiently glamorous for James, is that the Mavs won't have any cap space to throw at him. Dallas would thus have to propose a sign-and-trade, presumably headlined by Josh Howard and perhaps Erick Dampier's cap-friendly contract for payroll relief, that the Cavs would naturally want no part of.

Thank you Marc Stein, thank you. While Friday's game was just as bad as we all had figured, it's nice to see ESPN making some new stupid arguments.

Obviously, this is dumb. LeBron isn't going to leave the Cavs (a team that won 66 games last season) because he likes some other city's football or baseball team. It's gonna come down to money and winning (in that order?). Personally, I'm thinking he's gonna sign a 3-4 year deal and keep the Cavs on their toes (while still letting him leave as a free agent before he turns 30 if he needs to).

For what it's worth, here's Mo Williams:

"I'm not really too concerned about it, because I know his heart and his love is here in Cleveland," Williams told me [David Aldridge] last week. "I know that. Just like anybody else, we love the New Yorks, we love the Miamis, we love the L.A.s, we love the Torontos. That's probably the most underrated city. We love those cities. But you can't underrate home."


Saturday, November 07, 2009

One good and one great

First, nice win by the Cavaliers. Thank the lord that the Cavs only visit New York once this year. Jesus Christ, that was nauseating. And great Chris Rock interview ESPN. Awesome idea Chris, trading LeBron for Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and 3 picks. Oh could we? Brook Lopez AND Devin Harris? Would the Nets do that?

(There's gonna be a ton of "The Cavs should trade LeBron" stories over the course of this season from both columnists playing devil's advocate and Clevelanders too used to our East Coast farm team. No, you do not trade LeBron-this isn't baseball and they are not the Indians. The Cavaliers differ from the Tribe in two major ways 1) they have a very real chance to win a championship and 2) they can pay LeBron the most money.

The goal is to win the title. If Sabathia leaves via free agency and you aren't going to win the title this season, then of course you trade him. By not letting him leave for nothing, you're helping your chances for future titles down the road. But if the Cavs are in the playoff hunt and if we all can agree that they won't get equal value in any realistic trade scenario, then by trading LeBron, you're hurting your chances to win a title. Trading LeBron hurts your chances to win now. The goal is to win the title.

Also, you can't be the guy who trades away LeBron James. If he leaves, it's has got be his decision. All the Cavs can do is field the best team they can and, oh yea, pay him the most money. Danny Ferry cannot trade LeBron James and certainly not for the likes of Devin Harris and Brook Lopez.

Perhaps it would be a fitting end to a Cavalier career that began as the Next Larry Bird).

Anyways, I liked that Mike Brown started J.J. Hickson. He has a better face up jumper than Varejao (which works nice with Shaq) and he should be on his best behavior (i.e. focused) by playing with LeBron and the starters. Plus, you can sub Z, Varejao and West in together for a more than solid second unit.

Also, great win by the Bucks over Penn State. The Vest looked like he had a solid game plan (and solid mid-game adjustments) and Terrelle Pryor didn't make any mistakes. Did he turn the corner?! Is his career a mirror of Vince Young's?! Obviously, who knows. But it was great to see him win a big game on the road.

And that Buckeye defense. Yikes. Iowa has had 10 or 11 (I'm lazy) turnovers over the last two games and they get to face THAT defense. Good luck with that.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Chicago 86, Cleveland 85

Tough loss. The Cavs looked good for stretches and made some nice plays, but they let Chicago slowly build up a six point lead throughout the fourth and by the time the Cavs decided to show some urgency, they ran out of time. Some Cavs played well (James and Shaq were both pretty good) but no one had a standout game. The Bulls got fine performances from a number of players (Derek Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Brad Miller and rookie Taj Gibson) and the Cavs only got 12 points from their bench (8 of which were Boobie's).

Some crazy plays at the very end. On the Cavs' last possession, LeBron drove left against Deng, jumped, made contact with Noah and the ball went out of bounds and the refs called it off James. While LeBron (not to mention the crowd) did not agree with the call, I think the refs got it right. Ya, maybe you could've called a foul on Noah's help out, but James lost the ball on the way up when his elbow (which he led with) hit into Noah's chest. Was there body contact? Sure. But if that's Dwyane Wade and Anderson Varejao, I'd be pissed if Wade got that call. Anyways, the Cavs shouldn't of even had the ball to begin with; they forced a turnover on a 24 second violation but it sure looked like Deng's running floater glanced the rim (Brad Miller got the board). It should've been Bulls ball with 3 seconds to go.

But it shouldn't have even come down to that last play. The Cavs didn't show any of the intensity that ended the Wizards game. The defense was a step slow (as were the coaching adjustments), the offense was haphazard and they got no production from their bench (Z was 0-9 and Delonte was 1-4). The Bulls hung around and hung around and eventually took the lead. The Cavs didn't help themselves at the line either, going 12-20 as a team (LeBron went 6-9).

The coaching was not good. Brown insisted on pairing Z with Shaq and it just didn't work. Hell, he had a five in the second half that was West-Gibson-Parker-Z-Shaq. Three guards and a two seven footers. Awesome. Then, for the last two minutes, he goes small and puts LeBron at the four. Which is fine by me but I wanna know why a) you play one way for the whole game and switch at the end and b) why don't they go small more often (especially if it's something you feel comfortable using at crunch time)? The TNT guys ripped the offense during halftime and I can't really blame 'em- the offense looks bad (though I will point out, again, that I'm pretty sure Mike Brown isn't calling for LeBron to go one-on-five and hoist a 20 footer). Their second to last play was a Mo Williams running floater (that did not look good) and their final play consisted of James driving into traffic.

LeBron was good, not great. Well, he finished with 25 points, 7 boards, 6 assists and 2 trips into the stands that resulted in an injury (once tweaking his ankle and another jumped and landing awkwardly on an empty seat). While 25-7-6 is pretty damn good for most guys, James could've done more; he continues to settle for jumpers (though this could stem from not being comfortable with Shaq) and initiate the offense from 23 feet out. This may sound nitpicky (again, 25-7-6) but they aren't going to beat good teams with James going 1-on-5.

The bench was not good. Gibson scored 5 points early but his only other basket came at the buzzer of the third quarter (Boobie only took four shots, making three. I would've liked to see them ride his current hot streak a bit). Meanwhile, Z went 0-9 and West missed all of his jumpers. J.J. Hickson didn't have a good 3 minutes of PT (0-4, 2 boards, 1 TO) but I really don't think he's gonna 'get it' in these little 3 minute spurts. Oddly, in a game where Chicago's length (Deng) and quickness (Rose, Hinrich, Ty Thomas) hurt the Cavs, Jamario Moon never made it off the bench. It's fairly obvious that Brown doesn't have a rotation down quite yet.

In the end, it was effort. The Bulls wanted this win more. They got the loose balls, they grabbed the offensive boards and made they made the plays down the stretch. The Cavs looked disjointed and slightly disinterested at times. I know it's early and we all assumed (at least I hope we did) that they would struggle out of the gate but already having two losses at The Q (where they were 39-2 last season) doesn't feel right. Coming off a 66 win season, they're gonna get other teams' best shot, they're going to have to find a way to match the oppositions intensity or they'll lose a few more games they should win.

and finally...

Lord knows what to expect tomorrow (from LeBron or the gasbags at ESPN). LeBron James in Madison Square Garden... following a loss. Triple double? 50 points? Both? All I know is, I expect the Cavs to come out and dominate and LeBron to make some stupid crazy plays.

Well done sir

This morning on Mike & Mike, ESPN's Buster Olney was the first pundit to link the Yankees winning the World Series with LeBron playing for the Knicks next season. It's no 'LeBron to the Lakers because the weather is nice' but it's still pretty stupid. Olney actually mused that C.C. Sabathia could use his "winning in New York" experience to lure LeBron to the Knicks. That's right, because C.C. Sabathia won a World Series, LeBron is going to play for the Knicks.

For the last time: no, LeBron is not going to leave his basketball team because another town has a good baseball team. That is dumb. He needs championships. In basketball.

Expect to see a ton of "LeBron to New York" stuff from the World Wide Leader over the next few days, as the Cavs face off against the Knicks on Friday. Thank the Flying Spagetti Monster that this is the only time the Cavaliers visit Madison Square Garden this season. Couple with the World Series victory (expect to see a lot of Yankees in the crowd on Friday) and we're in for a hell of a couple days.

Oh, and before heading to New York, the Cavs face off against the Bulls, a team covered by Sam "LeBron will go to the Lakers" Smith. I'll be shocked if TNT fails to mention that tonight.

It's gonna be a long, long season.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This is Dumb

Sam Smith:

Well, at least I’m fairly sure now where LeBron James is going to be playing next season.

Los Angeles, most likely with the Lakers.

Stay with me a bit here, and when the Bulls are in Cleveland Thursday for the TNT national TV game with the Cavs, I doubt LeBron will have much to say on the subject. And this is hardly an overreaction to the Cavs slogging out of the starting gate this season with two losses and looking ready for pasture.


Don't worry, his reasoning is solid:

And, really, everyone wants to play in L.A. The weather is fabulous. You can be a star and have privacy because there are so many other stars. And then when you want to be a star you can because it is a city of stars. And basketball is by far No. 1, the only big city in the U.S. where you can say that. Plus, owner Jerry Buss knows stars sell and has been the most successful at recruiting and paying for stars.


The Lakers certainly have no salary cap room. They are in no position to pay James, which remains the No. 1 priority for all free agents. James just has to explain to the Cavs he’s leaving. If they don’t accommodate him, he’s going to New York or Miami and they get nothing. But if they do in a sign and trade to save the franchise, they get a young, potential All-Star center in Andrew Bynum. Maybe Lamar Odom as well or Ron Artest. Draft picks, some pieces like Jordan Farmar. The Cavs can compete in the East with a star center and some pieces added to what they have. It’s better than nothing as cap room doesn’t mean anything in Cleveland. No one’s going there.

Sure, they have no money, a shot hogging superstar, but LeBron has GOT TO LEAVE THE CAVS!!! He hates it here. It's awful. They even lost their first two games.

This boggles the mind. At least when Bill Simmons proposes that James heads to the Clippers, he has better reasoning than 'the weather is nice' (nice young talent, take a franchise to new heights, etc). And honestly, I'd rather have LeBron leave than have the Cavs actually deal him for.... Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest, a few 31st overall draftpicks and Jordan Farmar.

And let's remember, 2010 isn't far off any more. For this trade to go down, it'll have to happen this February. Does anyone really that the Cavaliers will be so far out of contention come February that they'd even entertain the idea of trading him? Let alone actually doing it...

This is going to be one long, dumb season. Your move, Adrian Wojnarowski.

Cleveland 102, Washington 90

Asides from the first period, the Cavs dominated. The offense looked really good; LeBron didn't settle for jumpers (though his shot looks great in this early season), the Cavs dominated the post (both Shaq and LeBron showed off some jump hooks) and the shooters made their shots (Mo and Boobie combined to go 7-9 from behind the arc). The offense flowed, their defense was stifling (the Wizards shot 39% for the game) and they looked comfortable with each other.

About that first quarter. It was ugly. While Washington came out like they gave a damn, the Cavs sleptwalked through that first period. The offense was bad (the Cavs had just 3 points over the final half of the quarter) and the defense was worse (at one point the Wizards made seven straight shots). They were going under screens (leaving Arenas and Butlter free to fire away) and they lost track of Wizard big men, allowing them to get easy dunks and offensive rebounds. The lead was 14 after one period (31-17) and got as high as 18 in the early second (37-19).

Shaq and Boobie got the crowd going. For as much as Gibson frustrates me sometimes, when he plays well, the Cavs and their fans seem to respond really well. Gibson scored 8 second quarter points (two treys and an offensive putback) and he fed Shaq on a break leading to an one-handed dunk (which REALLY got the crowd going). Meanwhile, Shaq, who also had 8 points in the quarter, got Washington's big men in foul trouble (he drew 5 fouls in the period) and made four straight free throws.

Far and away Shaq's best game as a Cavalier thus far. The big fella finished with 21 points, 8 boards, 3 assists and 2 or 3 Shawn Rogers-esque fouls near the rim (including a crowd pleasing throw down of DeShawn Stevenson). O'neal was definitely the most active I've seen him as a Cavalier (especially offensively); he showed off a rolling hook shot and a turnaround jumphook, he spun baseline and pinned a guy on his back, he ran the floor (he really had to stretch to dunk that ball from Boobie) and he drew the double team that allowed Boobie and Williams to get good looks at the basket. Basically, Shaq looked like Shaq.

LeBron had a good game as well. LeBron debuted his jumphook (it went in) and set up in the post throughout the game (though he still found a way to hoist seven 3s). James played powerfoward (both next to Shaq and next to Varejao) for the bulk of his second quater minutes and the Cavs cut Washington's lead to four (54-50) by halftime. LeBron finished with 27 points, 8 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals. I like the fact that LeBron ended up taking 13 free throws (making 11) as it shows that the Cavs took advantage of the Wizards foul trouble (and Washington wrapped him up anything he was near the rim). When LeBron and Shaq combine to make 18 of 23 freebies, the Cavs are in a good spot.

It was a rough night for a few Cavaliers. Z finished 1-6 (with 3 weak fouls), Delonte went 2-7 and Anthony Parker was a rim bending 2-12 (but it was a great moment when he broke through and hit a trey to put the Cavs up 67-62 in the third- all made possible by an Anderson Varejao offensive board). Jamario Moon finished 1-4, but he was chuckin during the late stages of the game.

More J.J. Hickson please. Hickson grabbed two boards in his four minutes of court time. I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't too pleased when Brown brought out the twin towers to start the second quarter; the Cavs had given up easy dunks and offensive boards to the Wizards athletic bigs, I wasn't sure two old, lumbering centers would do the trick (but when Shaq gets them all in foul trouble....). Offensively, Hickson bricked the only jumper he took but he also got the Cavs an extra possession by skying for a board. I'd like to see more of this.

Is there a more fun player to hate than DeShawn Stevenson? First of all, there's no downside. I have no fear that he's gonna torch the Cavs and have a big game in Cleveland. None. Boo away Cleveland fans, we won't be seeing any Reggie Miller-like performances out of this guy. Stevenson finished 0-4 for 3 points, got decked by Shaq and bowled over Boobie for a charge. Missed shots, a dumb ducktail haircut, running into a fan favorite for a charge and getting clobbered by Shaq? Well done DeShawn, we really couldn't ask for anything more.

and finally...

Bulls on Thursday. I'm interested to see how Thursday's game in Cleveland plays out. The Bulls had a really nice win against the Spurts at home but followed it up by laying an egg in Boston. The Cavs have now won three games in a row by double digits and I'm interested to see how Shaq follows up this performance.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Wait, what? (Part II)

New York Post A-Rod passage of the week: The paper on Saturday wrote that US Weekly found an ex-flame who said Rodriguez had two paintings of himself as a centaur -- man from the waist up, horse from the waist down -- in his bedroom at home.
Wow, two? I mean, having one self portrait as a shirtless centaur in your bedroom is fine. Who hasn't commissioned a shirtless centaur painting? But two? Two is just going overboard.

Wait, what?

Just reading an article about how the Browns are all pissed off at their 1-7 start and I come across this:
Running back Jamal Lewis questioned the direction of the team, saying, "Where are we trying to go and what are we trying to accomplish?" The future Hall of Famer said he is so distraught with the way this season has gone south after "everybody bought in" in training camp that this would be his last season of playing.
Um, I know he had some great great years with Baltimore (lord knows he always destroyed the Browns) but he's been extremely mediocre in his time in Cleveland.

As for this being his last season, I'm ok with that. I was surprised that he was brought back as the unquestioned starter to begin with (with only Jerome Harrison as a legit replacement). Even if he doesn't hang it up for good, this should be his last season in a Browns uniform.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Delonte is back and I'm having CPU troubles

It was great to see Delonte West back in uniform (I was at the game, the crowd cheered every he did anything or was showed on the jumbotron) and it was even better to see him and the Cavaliers play so well.

Unfortunately, my computer monitor is on the fritz. If you turn it off and back on, I'll be able to see the screen for somewhere between 1-5 seconds and then it turns to black. So whenever I try to do anything (play a CD, visit a site, do some writing, etc), even if it's quick, I'm turning the monitor on and off like 50 times. It's a bit infuriating, as you can imagine. I'm not entirely sure what I'm gonna do with this, other than try to make due (same thing happened about two weeks ago and one random time I turned it on and it stayed lit. So I dunno).

Anyways. It was great to see the Cavs beat some teams they should beat. The offense looked better (though LeBron is settling for WAY too many jumpers for my tastes. To his credit, the shots are dropping, but I'd rather him move around or post up rather than hoist jumpers. For all the crap we give Mike Brown's offense, I'm fairly certain he isn't telling LeBron hold the ball for 10 seconds and hoist a 22 footer).

I will say it's striking how everything looks with Z on the floor. The offense just flows that much better. I like what Shaq has been giving the Cavs thus far (though they have to figure out what to do with him in pick-and-roll situations on both ends) but the offense simply dies when he's out there.

All in all, it was great to see them get a win while getting Delonte back into things. It's no accident that Mo had 24 points the same night Delonte returned.