Sunday, March 28, 2010
LeBron loves those dagger shots late in the game. This tends to bug me. Too often down the stretch, the Cavs and LeBron settle for the three. During the last two minutes (with the Cavs only up four), LeBron had the only three Cavalier field goal attempts, all of them treys. Now, he made his first one, putting the Cavs up seven and essentially sealing the game, but it's not exactly good. It's almost like the Cavs are playing prevent defense; they sit there, running down the shot clock and then chuck a bomb. If it goes in (as it did the first time), great. If it misses, well, at least you took 24 seconds off the clock. But I'm nitting picks here; LeBron finished with 34 points, 7 boards, 8 assists and 3 steals while I'm bitching he could've done it slightly better. Heh.
Don't know if you've heard or not, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas returned to the Cavs. The Cavs and Dan Gilbert went all out (take notice, LeBron); Z was introduced separately from the starting lineup, everyone got Z posters and the Q was christened Zwicken Loans arena. Big Z played well, getting 4 points and 6 boards, including the last basket of the first quarter on a (classic) offensive board. I kept hoping they'd get him a three point attempt, but it never materialized. I thought Z played well but you can tell he's still not quite up to speed with everyone else. There were little things like miscues with some defensive rotations and passes being a little bit off or behind.
Antawn Jamison is sneaky good. Jamison scored 7 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including a big three to put them up 8 (94-86) with about three and a half minutes to go. Jamison had 9 boards and 2 assists in his 41 minutes. The Cavs got him the ball in the post, especially in the first half and his scoop hook shot is an absolute delight. It's kinda funky and it's definitely something they utilize more often.
I'll be honest, I can't tell ya what happened in the third quarter. I changed the channel at halftime and I kept watching Tennesee-Michigan State (worst half court shot I've ever seen). The Cavs led 58-52 and by the time I tuned back in, the game is tied and Carl Landry is knocking down jump shots.
Cleveland's energy and focus came and went. For instance, they let Omri Casspi get behind the defense for breakaways a couple of times (Delonte West has gotten beat this way a couple times over the past week). You can tell these guys know there's only eight games left until the playoffs and they can't quite get up to face a 24-49 team that's missing their best player (having Varejao out doesn't help matters).
Predictably, the defensive intensity picked up in the fourth. The Kings scored just 14 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavs held them to just 6 points over the last seven minutes (just one field goal). However, it's not like the Cavs were much better, scoring just 19 points themselves in the final period. The offense wasn't pretty and there was some definite Le-Iso possessions. The Kings, missing Tyreke Evans, just didn't have the fire power to match baskets with the Cavs down the stretch.
I liked some of Coach Mike's lineups but I'm still missing Jamario Moon. The Cavs only played eight guys (West, Z and Powe off the bench). At one point, the Cavs had a five of Mo Williams, West, LeBron, Jamison and Z (which I like a lot) and then subbed in J.J. Hickson.... for Mo. Throwing J.J. there pushes Jamison to small forward and LeBron to shooting guard. That's a big, multi-talented offensive unit. I mean, having the 6-8 LeBron at the 2? Me gusta. However, I'm growing more and more impatient with both Mo Williams and Anthony Parker (they combined to go 1-7 from three and 5-13 overall). I'm already a proponent of having Delonte West on the floor during crunch time, but now I'm not sure who's spot he should take. It used to be Parker, but Mo let freaking Beno Udrich record a triple double on his watch (18 points, 10 boards and 15 assists. Beno Udrich!). I still don't see how Moon doesn't get time, with his size and speed, he can be extremely useful.
Only eight games left, but the next few could be a pain in the ass. The Cavs have the Bucks and Hawks at home this week (Wednesday and Friday, respectively) and then face the Celtics in Boston on Sunday. There's not too many patsies left on the schedule, as the Cavs finish with Toronto, Chicago, Indiana, Orlando and Atlanta (all teams who could be jockeying for playoff positions).
Friday, March 26, 2010
True, the Cavs had won 8 in a row, so it's not like the sky is falling. But the Spurs played some playoff-esque defense (doubling LeBron early) and the Cavs weren't quite prepared. Of course, the effort wasn't quite there either, so take that as you will. It didn't help that Anderson Varejao left the game with a strained hamstring, the Cavs really missed his energy and hustle. (I can't wait for the playoffs to start, no one else get hurt).
A couple quick things:
Z's jumper isn't there yet. It'll come around, but there's gonna be an adjustment period. This is why I like him coming off the bench, I want him to have as little adjustments as possible.
The starting front court was fantastic, the starting back court stunk. LeBron, Jamison and Hickson combined to score 71 points (27, 24, 20 respectively) while the starting backcourt combined for 11. Not good.
J.J. Hickson has to drive Mike Brown insane. Hickson finished with 20 points and 8 boards, 5 of which were offensive. His energy and athleticism is something no other Cavalier big man can bring. Unfortunately, J.J. still gets lost defensively and he bowled over Ginobili for a late game charge.
More playoff rotation thoughts....
Where was Jamario Moon? Everyone on the Cavalier bench got into the game except for Moon. Why? He's an athletic wing that is a really good defender, decent rebounder and he can spread the floor (a bit, at least). The Cavs have gone away from him in recent weeks (Brown has opted to play Jawad Williams ahead of him) and I don't care for it. He's an extremely useful asset.
Right now, I'd say the Cavs nine man playoff rotation is this: Mo, AP, LBJ, Jamison, Shaq, Delonte, Andy, J.J., and Z. I'm not sure what to do with the big men, cause they all deserve minutes. But I don't see how Jamario Moon won't be useful. He gives the Cavs another wing who can run, he's always a threat for the backdoor alleyoop and he can guard big wings (and guard them well, due too his athleticism).
I love the bigs, but I'm not sure you can rotate five guys in what's essentially two spots (well, maybe you play LeBron at the 2 and 'Tawn at the 3, but LBJ is getting the bulk of the SF minutes). If you're playing all five bigs, then that means you're only playing three guards in Mo, Delonte and Parker. Is that enough? I dunno. I just think Moon can do a lot of things that other players can't and he was major reason for their Christmas Day victory over the Lakers (of course, so was Mo Williams, but that's another story). It just doesn't make sense to me that Moon was the only one to not take off his warmups.
Hopefully, they can bounce back against the Kings on Sunday afternoon.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
LeBron had one of his 'average' spectacular nights. James led everyone with 38 points and finished with 6 boards and 9 assists, but if you watched the game, I don't think you'd come away saying he played some amzing game. LeBron wasn't dominating the ball or making crazy plays left and right, he just went about his business, scoring 38 points by shooting an efficient 15-22 from the floor and 7-8 from the stripe (Bron-Bron was just 1-5 from behind the arc, meaning he was a ridiculous 14-17 from two point range. Wow). LeBron consistently took the smaller New Orleans defenders down in the post (he really had no reason not to, as he was being guarded by Marcus Thorton and Chris Paul) and scored on a variety of moves, including a nifty lefty finger roll. I can only hope this will continue into June.
Speaking of efficiency, J.J. Hickson everybody. Hickson went 9-11 from the floor and finished with 20 points and 9 boards. The 9-11 shooting is great enough, but J.J. put up those numbers in just 26 minutes of court time. You can tell he's comfortable with LeBron in pick-and-roll situations and the Cavs exploited the New Orleans bigs with Hickson's quickness throughout the game. I know I've said this before, but Mike Brown is gonna have a tough time with his playoff rotations. Right now I'd say Hickson is their 5th big man come the playoffs (after Shaq, Jamison, Varejao, Z) and while he may not be as mentally or defensively sound as the others, J.J. has something that the other four don't: young legs. He can get a lot of easy points using his athleticism. Again, he had 20 and 9, on 9-11 shooting in just 26 minutes. Pretty nice.
Speaking of, Zydrunas Ilgauskas made his triumphant return. Not gonna lie, Big Z looked a bit rusty out there, scoring just 1 point and missing both field goals he attempted (though that's to be expected). He finished with 3 boards and 2 assists in his 17 minute return. I liked the fact that Brown brought Z off the bench; Z is going to be Shaq's backup when the going gets tough and I want him used to that role. Plus, the Cavs started the second quarter with a lineup of Mo, Delonte, Jamison, Varejao and Z. That group could be the starting five on a playoff team. Maybe not championship contenders but that's quite a good second unit.
Delonte was a monster in the second quarter (but that was about it). West scored 13 of his 15 points in the second period, often abusing the small Hornet guards on the block. As I'm sure you know by now, I love when the Cavs use the post and Delonte was an absolute beast on the block. He just takes his time, knows exactly where he wants to go and will score in a variety of ways (fade-aways, up-and-unders, step-backs, etc). West also made a few mental errors (letting Darren Collison get behind him for a layup to end the first quarter and he and Andy had a miscommunication leading to a bad pass and eventually an 8 second violation) and finished with just one assist and zero boards.
The Hornets went small and the Cavs (*gasp*) countered by going big. Me gusta. In the past, I've been critical of Brown always adapting to the other team's style (who cares if the Clippers want to run, you're better! Make them adapt to what you want to do!) but on Wednesday, he stuck to his guns. The Hornets like playing three guards (Chris Paul, Collison and Thorton) and pushing the ball but the Cavs punished them by going big (Brown went with a five of Delonte, LeBron, Jamison, Varejao and Z). By going big, the Hornets were forced to have the 6-0 Paul check the 6-8 James. Not fair. James took Paul into the office (as Austin Carr would say... constantly) and simply over powered the smaller CP3 (who doesn't look quite healthy).
Jamison had a so-so night but still manged to finish with a double-double. From watching the game, I wouldn't say Jamison played particularly well (he picked up two quick fouls to start the night) but then I check his box score and see he scored 11 points (5-10 shooting, 1-2 3PT) and grabbed 11 boards to go with 3 assists in 33 minutes. Ho hum, 11-11-3 on 50% shooting. It was definitely cool seeing Jamison share the court with Z (it's also cool that both their power forward and center can shoot the trey).
The Cavs are 57-15, already equaling the win total of the best Price-Nance-Daugherty teams. Enjoy this team. They're really really good. And deep. And big. Their magic number to clinch home court throughout the East is at four with ten games to go. Things look pretty good. With the return of Z (adding a rotation player), I wonder how much the Cavs will rest their players down the stretch, especially LeBron (scoring title or no). Late in the first half, James landed on James Posey's foot, rolling his ankle in the process. Obviously, he wasn't too hurt but still, the Cavs have to be a little concerned that he could hurt himself in, if not a meaningless game, one that doesn't matter all too much in the long run. The Cavs face the Spurs in San Antonio on Friday and then play the Kings in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers' beloved center, has finalized a one-year deal worth about $1 million to return to the team. He will be in uniform and available for Wednesday's game in New Orleans.
"I just felt like I had some unfinished business here for this season," Ilgauskas told the media this afternoon. "I felt like I left a lot of good friends, friends that felt like a part of my family. I left a lot of good people behind. It just didn't feel right to go somewhere else.''
To clear a roster spot for Ilgauskas, the Cavs released Darnell Jackson. The second-year forward averaged 0.8 points on .320 shooting and 0.7 rebounds in 4.3 minutes per game in 27 games this season. The Cavaliers roster now stands at 15 players.
Not exactly surprised that D-Block was the one let go. He's a nice player, but he's an undersized PF/C, who's not quick enough to guard 3s or big enough to guard 4s.
Going forward, my big question with Z is this: does he start?
On one hand, the Cavs are starting J.J. Hickson out of position at the center spot. Z's a true center and should slide back into his customary role.
But come the playoffs (and especially the later rounds), Z's role will change once Shaq returns. Do the Cavs really want Ilguaskas to be changing roles/duties that late in the season? I dunno.
Personally, after watching Z struggle with his rhythm and timing to start the year, I'd rather them keep him coming off the bench. Facing Orlando and the Lakers will be tough enough without guys switching roles that late in the season.
With the injury to Shaq, Coach Mike kept bringing Anderson Varejao off the bench so his role wouldn't change (love that energy), so maybe he'll keep the current lineup as is.
Things are going to get dicey come playoffs. The Cavs have six legitimate big men who could get minutes in the playoffs: Shaq, Jamison, Z, Varejao, Hickson and Powe. If Brown is going to shorten his rotation (as I assume he will), he's going to have some tough decisions to make.
In the playoffs, teams usually shorten their rotation to seven or eight guys. So who are the Cavs eight? Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, LeBron, Antawn Jamison and Shaq are your starting five and I think we'd all agree that Delonte West and Anderson Varejao are definites off the bench. That's seven.
That leaves one slot (maybe two) to divide between Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams, J.J. Hickson, Leon Powe and Z. Yowza. If the Cavs decide to with a nine man rotation, I'd like to see Moon get the other wing slow and then Z get the backup center spot (he and Andy play so well together). J.J. has had a good season and I love his athleticism (he gives the Cavs an extra gear) but I'm not sure Mike Brown trusts him. In fact, I'd be we'd see Powe before J.J., as Hickson still makes too many mental errors to deserve heavy playoff minutes (forgetting to box out, being unsure he wants to shoot, etc).
Rotations aren't exactly Coach Mike's specialty, but he's gonna have to figure this out.... unless you think the Cavs are going ten deep through June.
Monday, March 22, 2010
LeBron is really good.
That is all.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Due to my job (and the fact that I forgot to set the VCR) I will not be able to catch the glory that is Cavs vs Pacers. Eh, what can ya do?
Also, if you haven't filled out a March Madness bracket yet, head over to LeBrownsTown and fill out theirs (and if you've already filled them out, do another one, it's free!). There's over $1000 in prizes being award (courtesy of Hey Butler) and it's free, so there's no reason not to sign up. (If you do, put my initials after your bracket title so they know that I brought in those four brackets).
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
LeBron had a triple-double. Bron-Bron finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a block (that shoud've been called a goaltend). I've said this before, but I'm amazed that I continue to be amazed by what he does on a nightly basis. While watching this game alone in my apartment, twice I audibly said to myself, "nice pass" because of LBJ (once for an over the top pass to Jamison in the first half and then for his late game drop off to Varejao. Just gorgeous). That kills me, he has me talking to myself. I will say I'm a bit concerned that they needed James to play a whopping 43 minutes to beat this crappy version of the Pistons, but you'll have that from time to time.
Nice game from Mo, kinda. The good: Mo had 20 points, 4 boards, 5 assists and 2 steals. He was a factor in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points in the final period, including three big triples. The bad: Mo had a couple of awful turnovers down the stretch (a double dribble and a terrible, sloppy pass to LeBron) and he fouled Charlie Villanueva on a trey midway through the fourth. I want Williams to be more aggressive (especially at the start of the second period); I hate when he dribbles the ball and wastes the shot clock and I like the trouble he causes when he attacks (LeBron gets wide open when he drives). He needs attack the defense more, make them work.
Antawn Jamison had a quiet double-double. Jamison finished with 15 points (7-14 shooting), 12 boards and 3 assists. Not too shabby (though taking 14 shots for 15 points ain't great). However, he had 13 and 9 at halftime... In the second half, I felt the Cavs turned Jamison into a spot up shooter, the stretch 4. Making him a stretch 4 is fine here and there, Jamison can knock down those corner threes... but he can do more than that. I have the same issue with Delonte (who sat with a sore knee); while these guys can knock down shots, they're more than just catch-and-shoot players. Having them stand around and watch LeBron (or, at times, Mo) dribble the ball for 17 seconds isn't using them to the best of their abilities.
No one was happy with the refs. The Cavs were chirping at the refs for the bulk of the game and maybe it paid off. Cleveland benefited from a few key calls down the stretch. In the fourth quarter, LeBron got away with both a charge and a goaltend (even if Fred McLeod didn't want to admit it) and the refs gave him one of the biggest continuations I've ever seen (practically the whole lane). Overall, the refs weren't good and I'd even say they tilted Detroit's way (the Cavs had a point, even if they needed to shut up), but the Cleveland got the big calls late in the game.
The bench continued to play solid ball. Jawad Williams had a nice game, scoring 10 points (7 in the second period). Varejao was really effective, going 4-5 from the floor to finish with 9 points, 6 boards, 3 assists (including a nifty over-the-shoulder to Jamison) and 4 steals. With Delonte out, Boobie got some PT and made the most of it, going 2-3 from the floor and hitting the only three he took. Something to keep an eye on, after getting 20 minutes against the Celtics, Jamario Moon only received 9 against Detroit (though it's probably due to Jawad's hot shooting more so than Moon's play).
I go back and forth on the Cavaliers' celebrations. The goose neck stuff, the jumping up and down, the handshakes... it's a bit much. On one hand, it's not like they're taunting people. They aren't getting in guys faces or trash talking. For the most part, all of the crap is directed at each other. However, the Cavs and LeBron celebrated his dagger three like he just clinched a playoff series. I know Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are still there, but this is not the same Pistons team; they're older and just not as good. It shouldn't have taken a late flurry of threes to beat these guys. I can definitely see why they'd piss people off.
I miss the Farmer's Only commercials. These Isley's Chip Chopped Ham commercials just aren't doing it for me (it makes it hammier!). City folks just don't get it. Anyways, the Cavs face the Pacers on Wednesday night at The Q, which is always fun. Though the Cavs tend to have their way with Indiana, Danny Granger usually plays LeBron pretty well and they've had some nice, nice battles over the years. The Cavs have played two games in their four-in-six days stretch; after the Pacers, they're in Chicago on Friday and face these same Pistons on Sunday at The Q.
Cross posted at LeBrownsTown.com
Monday, March 15, 2010
The Celtics have no one who can guard LeBron James. Not that anyone really does. But he's too big for Marquis Daniels and too quick for Paul Pierce.
I really like the Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison pick & rolls the Cavs ran in the fourth. I especially like it when LeBron is on the court. Mo and Antawn are a load to handle on their own (either guy can shot and both can score around the rim) but, with LeBron out there, teams can't load up to stop them.
Jamison's free throws are worrying me. He was 2-8 yesterday and I worry that he's pressing. Jamison finished with a quiet 15 point, 12 board afternoon, so it's not like he played poorly. He didn't shoot well but I liked his defense on KG and Sheed and he rebounds better than I thought.
Maybe I'm weird, but I'd rather see Delonte West AND Jamario Moon ahead of Anthony Parker when it comes to crunch time. Both guys just give you more. Delonte can post up and play point and Jamario's defense is more than solid (he had a great weakside block that jump started a fast break). Parker seems to have one or two dumb plays a game (like having his heel out of bounds on a sideline trey) that just drive me nuts.
Someone tell me that the Cavs poor free throw shooting won't bite them in the ass come playoff time. They missed 17 freebies. 17! Sure, Boston can say they played poorly and still had a chance down the stretch... but the Cavs could've blown this thing wide open had they knocked 'em down from the charity stripe.
Is Boston apathetic or just old? Before the game, LeBron had said that the Celtics look bored with the regular season and I'd have to concur. The effort and energy of the Cavaliers just killed Celtics (Varejao particular gave them fits). Now, some of that effort will be there come playoffs, but I wonder how much is really left in the tank at this point.
When Mo Williams has his shot dropping, the Cavs are really hard to beat. That is all. (No pressure Mo!).
I really really really really want to see these guys match up in the second round (and if the playoffs started today, that's what we'd get). Nothing is more fun than playing and rooting against a team you despise.
And man, I fucking hate the Celtics. The constant bitching (Garnett shoved his forearm into Anderson Varejao's neck then complained), the cheap shots (Big Baby nearly body slammed Jamison) and the media love (Best Team in the NBA when healthy) but makes them so, so hateable. The addition of an old, fat, Rasheed Wallace is really just the cherry on top (they signed him for three years?!?!).
I know regular season doesn't matter, but you gotta feel pretty good about where the Cavs are. LeBron looks spectacular, the offense isn't bogging down and the defense and effort are top notch. And unlike last year, they're beating the good teams along with the bad. Can't ask for much more at this point.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Jake Delhomme is "very, very excited" about coming in to be the starting quarterback of the Browns and will be here Monday for the start of the off-season program, a league source said Saturday.
Delhomme, 35, agreed to terms on a two-year deal, agent Rick Smith confirmed for The Plain Dealer. Terms were not disclosed, but the source said Delhomme will make $7 million — a starter's salary — in 2010.
Seven million dollars? $7 million dollars? They're paying 35 year old Jake '8 TD, 18 INT last season' Delhomme seven million dollars? Great.
Here's the spin:
Delhomme explained that he was playing tight last season after the playoff meltdown.
"When I play I try to sling it around. I wasn't doing that last year," he said. "I was trying not to make the mistake. I don't play that way."
Those close to Delhomme are convinced he can regain the form that led helped him lead the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2003 and earn a Pro Bowl berth in 2005. He also has more than 20 fourth-quarter comebacks and a 58-40 record over the past seven seasons, including the playoffs.
Sweet. Here he can just play loose and sling it around to all those skill position players the Browns have. The Browns are just chock full of weapons that Delhomme can use at his convenience.
This is a guy who's 35 years old and coming off the worst season of his career. This isn't a "Kurt Warner in Arizona" situation either (and at least Warner has the big arm). The Browns don't have anyone with even half the talent of Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin.
And say goodbye to Brady Quinn. Jesus, what a clusterfuck that turned out to be. Trading for Seneca Wallace and signing Delhomme is pretty clear that Quinn is no longer wanted in Berea. I really do think the Browns screwed this kid up for good. I can never get past the fact that if Brady hadn't held out, he would've been the unquestioned starter his rookie year (he looked considerably better than both Charlie Frye and D.A. during that preseason). Now it's year four and teams still really don't know what Quinn can do.
But maybe this will work out and Delhomme can regain his skills (and the Browns will win football games, maybe?). It could happen... right?. I'll give Holmgren this, he's bold. I don't like the move (at all) but it seems, at the very least, like Holmgren knows what he wants.
So there's that.
Man, I can't wait for the Seneca Wallace/Jake Delhomme QB battle. That'll be, um, fun...
Saturday, March 13, 2010
All that being said, I never once thought this game was in doubt. Maybe I've seen this movie too many times, but I always felt the Cavs were in control of the game. The Cavs trailed 85-80 (they had just missed three consecutive threes) with roughly nine minutes to play but they went on an 8-0 run (shooting three treys in the process) and never looked back. I'm not gonna lie, the dependence on threes is a little concerning but, to be fair, the Cavs were without Shaq, Antawn Jamison and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Except for a few notable plays (Delonte West and LeBron both had some nice dunks) the Cavs rarely went inside and were happy to settle for jumpers.
LeBron was great, if a bit rusty. James started off smokin' hot, scoring 12 (4-6 FG), of his team high 23, in the first period. James finished 7-18 from the floor (not great, but not awful), 3-10 from behind the arc (not great, kinda awful) and 6-12 from the line (flat out awful). So LeBron, in a 'shake off the rust' game, finished with 23 points, 6 boards, 10 assists, a steal and 3 blocks. It's really insane how good this guy is. The week long rest did LeBron some good (even though you couldn't tell at the offensive end. Really, 10 of his 18 shots were threes?); James was extremely active defensively, especially off the ball. LeBron was all over the place, playing passing lanes, challenging shots and then fighting for the rebound off that same shot. It really was impressive to watch. The dude seemed like he was everywhere.
The Sixers got good performance from their vets, that's about it. Andre Iguodala finished with 30-7-5 and Elton Brand put up 24 and 9 in 44 minutes apiece. Not gonna lie, Iguodala made a couple plays that had me lamenting that Danny Ferry couldn't pry him lose from Philly (however, Iggy finished 1-7 from downtown, so maybe it's for the best). The only other Sixer to score in double figures was Thadeous Young and, while he had a couple of nice moves, he ended up needing 14 shots to get 15 points. The Sixers can run (57 points in the first half) but even with Brand (who didn't shoot a single free throw), they have trouble scoring when the game slows down (just 16 points in the fourth).
It's amazing how good the Cavs look when Mo Williams plays well. Williams scored 21 points on 8-13 shooting (4-8 from three). After a nice all around game on Monday (where he notched 8 boards and 8 assists), Williams put up just 1 board and 2 assists (but the Cavs had him playing off the ball for stretches). When fully healthy, the Cavs don't need Mo to score 20 a night to win games, but with Jamsion out, the Cavs needed a big night from Mo and he delivered. True, he wasn't as active as the other night (where he was coming off, in his own words, a shitty performance) but his shooting gave the Cavs that second option they needed.
Delonte West continues to impress. Brotha Red scored 17 points (on 7-12 shooting) to go with a board and 4 assists. West attacked the rim with his usual flair, skying for slam over Samuel Dalembert (who was wearing just one tube sock. This seriously bugged me the whole night). In the fourth quarter, it seemed like Coach Mike played Delonte at the point and let Mo play the 2 and get himself open for threes. I like this a lot; West isn't nearly as good off the ball (he's not a good spot up shooter, I don't like him standing around) and I like Mo with a scoring mindset (and again, I that Delonte will wave LeBron away from time-to-time, making LBJ play off the ball rather than holding it... and holding it... and holding it...).
The Cavs face the Celtics on Sunday. Finally, the Cavs get to test themselves against the Best Team in the NBA* (*when healthy). I expect the Cavs will get a good game from Boston, seeing as the Celtics have been going through a rough patch of late (losing to New Jersey, nearly losing to Washington and getting blown out by Memphis... all at home). A nationally televised game against LeBron the Cavs should get their juices flowing. As much as I don't fear them come playoffs, Boston is a good road team (they're tied with the Cavs for best road record, at 22-11) and the Cavs will have their work cut out for them. Antawn Jamison is expected to play and I'm very interested to see how his knee responds.
Cross-posted at LeBrownsTown. Follow me on Twitter @BenCox83
Friday, March 12, 2010
It's a really nice and well written article about yours truly. Ken Baka of the Sun News did a wonderful job and I greatly appreciate it. However, I do want to correct one thing (besides spelling Daugherty's name wrong):
Cox has been “in love” with the Cavs since the late 1980s and early 1990s. Those teams had Mark Price, Brad Dougherty, Larry Nance and Steve Kerr. He can thank his father, John, for initiating him to the Cavs. John took the young Ben, living in Hudson, to as many as 70 games a year at the former Coliseum nearby.Incorrect. My dad and I went to roughly 7-15 games a year in Richfield. If we were to go to 70 games a year, we'd have to throw in some Cleveland Force and Cleveland Thunder games as well (indoor soccer and football, respectively).
But that's just a small quibble. Like I said, the article is really well written and it's much nicer than I deserve.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Darnell Jackson and Danny Green are looking forward to the expected return of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but one might not be here when he gets back.
If the Cavs bring back Ilgauskas on or shortly after March 22, the first date they can negotiate with him, they are going to have to make a roster move. Jackson, a 6-foot-9, 253-pound power forward from Kansas, or Green, a 6-6 210-pound rookie point guard from North Carolina, are the likely candidates to go, because neither has guaranteed money for next season.
They both insist they're not worrying about that right now and are continuing to do whatever it is the team needs.
I like both these guys, but I see Danny Green as having the better shot at long NBA career. I like Jackson well enough (I was gonna say 'a lot' but that isn't really true) but he's a low post player in a small forward's body (there's no possible way he is 6-9). D-Block isn't big enough to guard NBA power forwards and he's not quick enough to play on the wing (though he fouls hard. I like guys who foul hard). Danny Green seems to be able to play a little point and he can knock down the three. I'd rather them not cut either of these two, but bringing back Z takes precedent and Green seems to be the better long term prospect.
Meanwhile, there is news regarding players who actually see the court:
Antawn Jamison and LeBron James headlined a group of Cavs who did not practice on Wednesday. Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and Anthony Parker also did not practice with a variety of injuries. Shaquille O'Neal continues to rehab his right thumb out of town.I'm not gonna lie, I'm quite wary of this Jamison situation. Neither he nor the Cavs sound too concerned about the knee but I can't help it. It's a knee injury! Basketball players (and humans in general) really need those things. I'm just not comfortable with the newly acquired power forward having knee issues, but maybe I'm weird. At this point, I wouldn't say I'm worried exactly (just wary), but if Jamison's return gets postponed, I'll be quite concerned.
While James is expected to play on Friday, Jamison is listed as day-to-day with stiffness in his left knee that forced him out of Monday's game against San Antonio. He said he has a cyst in the knee that fills with fluid periodically. While he's not sure about Friday's game at Philadelphia, he said he would play Sunday when Boston visits.
"It's something that occurred earlier in the season," Jamison said of the cyst. "With proper treatment, it went away. So I don't see this lingering any longer than it has the last couple of days."
He said surgery would not be necessary.
"I know my body," he said. "My mechanics, the way I run, contributed to this. We addressed that. There are certain things I have to do before and after to maintain. I'm not a young buck any more."
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Derek Anderson's contract was terminated on Tuesday.Can't say I'm surprised. Of course he hates Browns fans. We ripped the dude. I know I have (though I'm too lazy to go through my own archives).
His parting message to Browns fans will ring long after his passing statistics from the past five years fade into obscurity.
"The fans are ruthless and don't deserve a winner," Anderson wrote Tuesday in a terse e-mail when asked for a reaction to being released. "I will never forget getting cheered when I was injured.
"I know at times I wasn't great. I hope and pray I'm playing when my team comes to town and (we) roll them."
As for that whole 'cheering an injury' thing... ya, can't say I blame him. This is the second time now that Browns fans have cheered an injured Browns QB (Tim Couch was the first). I know it wasn't everyone and it wasn't like the stadium erupted... but it's not good a trend. Even if I kinda/sorta understand the sentiment (hey, this bum is finally out of the game! Now the other bum gets to play!), you just can't do it. The fact that it's a Cleveland player makes it all the worse (at least Philly fans cheer their opponents getting hurt).
But I'm not sorry to see D.A. go. It's obvious that he wasn't going to work out here and maybe he'll catch on and 'get it' with another squad. Honestly, I feel like they wasted last season by playing Anderson. The fact that they still don't really know what they have in Brady Quinn boggles my mind to no end.
It would've been better for everyone involved if Anderson had gotten traded after the 2007 season. That alone was reason enough for Phil Savage to lose his job. But who knows, if Savage doesn't screw that up, Mike Holmgren probably isn't running the show today.
First Corey Williams, now Derek Anderson. The Browns are cleaning house.
Mo Williams had a nice bounce-back game, though he still sucks defensively. Mo finished with 17-8-8 but got torched by George Hill (23 points). For the most part, Williams set up the offense rather nicely, but he still takes to long for my tastes.
I absolutely love Delonte West. West scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and made a couple of 'wow' plays to help beat San Antonio. Delonte had a major tip-in to cut the deficit to three (85-82) with five minutes to go and his steal (and subsequent free throws sealed the victory. Delonte's game reminds me a lot of Manu Ginobili's. Both guys can get to (and finish at) the rim, they both like the step-back jumper and they both play at full throttle. The Cavs had no answer for Ginobili and Manu finished with 38 points.
In a nice change of pace, the Cavs made their free throws down the stretch. With 1:05 left and trailing 90-89, J.J. Hickson stepped to the line and calmly made both. Delonte then got the aforementioned steal and made both of his attempts (Cavs lead now 93-90). Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao made both of their attempts and the Cavs ended up going 8-8 from the stripe over that last minute-plus.
You gotta give credit some to J.J. Hickson. He played great defense on Tim Duncan, staying home and keeping his position. Duncan seemed frustrated by J.J's length and finished with 13 points and 5 boards. I liked what Hickson did offensively as well; he attacked Duncan, making him work (though Hickson missed some easy shots once he got past Duncan) and finished with 12 points and 7 boards. You'll absolutely take that (I fully expected Duncan to school young J.J.). Hickson played poised and that was without LeBron and Shaq to keep him in line.
For a short time in the 3rd period, the offense ran through Jawad Williams. It was glorious.
Antawn Jamison left with a stiff knee. 'Tawn and the Cavs don't seem to be too upset about it but, as a basketball fan (let alone a Cleveland fan), any type of knee injury scares the crap out of me. Jamison was playing well before he left, finishing with 17 points and 4 boards in 21 minutes.
It's not their biggest or most important win (though it is their 50th), but it was nice to see the Cavs beat a good team with LeBron in street clothes. Yes, the Spurs were without Tony Parker (broken hand) but it's still a quality shorthanded victory over a playoff team. The non-LeBron Cavaliers need to prove to themselves (and LBJ) that they can execute in crunch time and not have to rely on James to do everything. The proved it for one game, at least.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Mo Williams, via Twitter:
I apologize to all my fans and Cavs fans for a shitty performance to say the least. I will get past this a get better, stay with me plsI hope he doesn't get in trouble for the expletive. He's right. 'Shitty' is the perfect way to describe Mo's evening (and in all seriousness, I really do hope he doesn't get in trouble for saying "shitty").
The Cavs (already without Shaq and Z) gave LeBron the night off (giving his body, specifically his ankle, a rest) and they started off poorly, trailing 25-14 after the first quarter (Williams went 0-5). Interestingly, Jawad Williams got the start over Jamario Moon (not sure I agree, despite Moon's questionable shot selection. I mean, which guy do you foresee getting playoff minutes?).
Led by Antawn Jamison (30 points, 11 boards, 2 assists, 5 steals and a block) and Delonte West (27-4-6-0-1), Cleveland managed to pull within 42-41 going into halftime. The Cavs scored 27 points in the second period and all but two (from Mo incidently, his only basket of the first half, as well as the Cavs' last) came from either Jamison and West. While Milwaukee regained the lead in the second half, the Cavs were were down only eight (80-72 with five and a half minutes to go (that's well within striking distance).
While you can't put the entire loss on Mo (I mean, J.J. Hickson, Anthony Parker and Jawad Williams combined for 12 points and 14 boards) his overall performance stood out, at least to me (especially compared to Delonte West). Mo's box score is bad, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Williams finished 3-17 from the field overall and 1-7 from behind the arc (he had no free throw attempts).
But you can live with a bad shooting performance. These things happen. What drove me nuts was his poor defense and the way he ran the offense (and both of these things have been a problem for awhile now).
Mo has never been known as a good defender but he's gone from passable to just plain bad (teams have attacked him all season long). I don't know if it's simple lack of effort or he's worried about the shoulder (he did hurt it reaching in for the ball) but got burned quite a bit Saturday night (personally, I wonder if he's healthy).
Too often Brandon Jennings (25 points, not a coincidence) would drive by him and Mo would just end up taking a desperate poke at the ball as they went past. The Cavs don't need him to be Gary Payton circa 1997 but he's going to have to step it up at some point (odds are they'll meet either Rajon Rondo or Jameer Nelson in the playoffs).
At the other end, Williams takes too long setting up the offense (the Cavs, as a team, have trouble with this from time to time). Mo isn't aggressive enough in starting the play; when the Cavs finally get themselves into their offense, shot clock is already down to about 12-10 seconds. There's no reason to waste all that time (especially late in the game) and it puts too much pressure on them to execute whatever play Mike Brown didn't design (zing!) to perfection.
On one hand, this is still just one loss, on the road, to a playoff team, on the second night of a back-to-back, without LeBron, Shaq, Z, and Boobie (and Leon Powe didn't play either). Andrew Bogut (15 points, 9 boards, 3 blocks) would be a load to handle even with Shaq and Z and the Bucks do own home record of 20-9 (I like the atmosphere that Bogut helped create but I want to strangle whichever guy kept blowing freaking that horn).
On the other hand, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little concerned about Mo's recent play.
Mo hasn't looked comfortable in the ten games since returning from his shoulder injury (10.9 ppg on 34% FG% bear this out). Personally, I think he's pressing a bit, especially following his Eastern Conference Finals performance and the 13-game win streak that coincided with his absence.
The Cavs just have to hope that Williams can work through this (it's not like he's doesn't have time) because they don't have a ton of options if he can't (well, they do and they don't, both West and Gibson have flaws). As much as I love Delonte's game (he posts up, attacks the rim, plays defense, and isn't afraid of LeBron), the Cavs simply can't trust him as the starter (he just sat out a game "as part of the recovery process", whatever that means). And Gibson is still a shooting guard in a point guard's body; LeBron would be running the offense too much in the playoffs.
But I'm getting way way way way ahead of myself.
Mo Williams had a shitty game. It happens. Best for everyone (including and especially Mo) to move on. The Cavs face the Spurs on Monday at 7pm.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Early Thursday evening, the Packers agreed to trade defensive tackle Corey Williams to the Cleveland Browns for a second-round pick, according to an NFL source familiar with the deal. The trade comes less than two weeks after the Packers used the franchise tag to prevent Williams from leaving in free agency without compensation.Today:
The Browns dealt Williams and their seventh-round pick to the Lions for a fifth-round pick. That pick was originally owned by Denver and acquired by Detroit.Not that I'm blaming the Browns (the fault lies with Phil Savage) but still, trading a second rounder for Williams only to part with him for a fifth reeks of Jiri Welsch.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
In a move sure to delight Cavaliers fans, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has announced his intentions to rejoin the team and has asked agent Herb Rudoy to begin negotiations with the Cavs on March 22, the first date he can do so.
"It is Zydrunas' desire to return to the Cavaliers if a suitable contract can be agreed upon," Rudoy said in an e-mail to reporters. "He has been overwhelmed and deeply touched by the outpouring of support and affection by the fans and by his teammates. He hopes to return to bring a championship to the Cavaliers and to the city of Cleveland."
Not exactly a surprise, but a good development nonetheless.
My big worry with Z is how his shot is going to be affected. It took him a good month to get used to coming off the bench so who knows how he'll react to a month off (followed by starting... followed by coming off the bench...).
During halftime of the Lakes-Heat game, the TNT guys said the Cavs will need both Shaq and Z to win the title. I agree.
Welcome back, Zydrunas.
It's really no surprise that the Cavs whooped the Nets. The game's first play resulted in Devin Harris fouling LeBron on a breakaway and things never got better for the Nets. The Cavs defense stifled New Jersey's offense and it led to a ton of easy buckets for the Cavaliers.
I like the fact that the Cavs played hard the whole game. Maybe it's because guys have been hurt and missing time but the Cavs kept their focus against these two awful New York teams (that hasn't always been the case in the past). They did what they were supposed to do: beat up on bad teams.
So far, so good for the "J.J. at center" experiment though I wouldn't jump to any conclusions just yet. Hickson's big test is going to come on Saturday, when the Cavs travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks. Unlike the Knicks or the Nets, the Bucks are both in playoff contention (currently sixth) and employee a very good center in Andrew Bogut. I'm really interested to see how the Cavs and Hickson respond to that challenge (it's also the second night of a back-to-back).
I expect the Cavs will continue to play well without Shaq, even as the competition improves. First, let's please remember, the Cavs won 66 games last season, sans O'Neal. These guys are a good team, regardless of who is manning the middle. Plus, now that both Shaq and Z are missing, the Cavs are forced to go small and speed the game up, which only makes LeBron even more lethal. Will they have trouble against Dwight Howard and the Magic? Hell yes. But most teams don't have a player the caliber of Dwight Howard patrolling the paint, so the Cavs should be fine on most nights (again, they won 66 games last season).
Anyways, it's not the worst thing the world for the Cavs to have to play the young guys like Hickson. With all of his experience this season, J.J. should be able to contribute in the playoffs, even if the Cavs won't have to rely on him.
That's where their depth comes into play. Come the playoffs, if someone like Mo or Jamison gets into foul trouble, the Cavs will be able to plug in Daniel Gibson or Hickson without too much of a drop off (as opposed to having guys like Donyell Marshall or Eric Snow running around out there).
This team is really deep and really good. Not gonna lie, it's nice.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Several of the center's former Cleveland teammates visited him in New York on Tuesday, hoping to persuade him to re-sign with the Cavs and help them make a run at an NBA title. Ilgauskas, who has a place in SoHo, was traded last month to Washington in the deal for forward Antawn Jamison.
The Cavs play at New Jersey on Wednesday, and they reached out to the big man affectionately known as "Z."
"They told him they want him to come back," agent Herb Rudoy said. "[Cavaliers general manager] Danny Ferry flew in the other day and met with him, too."
I doubt that Z will be a hard sell but do what you gotta do. Apologize again for not playing him against Phoenix. Kiss his ass. Buy his wife flowers (again).
Ilgauskas has been courted aggressively by several teams, especially the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks. But those teams reportedly have backed off over the past few days as many believe the announcement to re-sign with the Cavs is a near certainty.
As a fan, I miss seeing Z but he's missed on the court as well. Teams had to respect his jumper and the pick-and-pops created open spaces for LeBron to manuver. The opposition will gladly let J.J. or Varejao hoist those all night.
(I want to know which teammates visited him. Was LeBron? If it was LBJ, I can't imagine it wouldn't be reported but there's no names at all).
Monday, March 01, 2010
You didn't think winning Cleveland's first championship since 1964 was going to be easy, did you?
O'Neal had surgery on his injured right thumb Monday and will miss about 8 weeks, the team said. He was examined Sunday by specialist Dr. Thomas Graham at the National Hand Center in Baltimore. Graham performed the surgery Monday morning.[snip]Don't get me wrong, this isn't good news, but we can't be shocked that the Cavs' 38 year old center isn't going to make it through the entire season injury-free. The dude is 38 years old and 300+ lbs, there was no way he was making it through the year without missing time. And all things considered, as far as injuries go, this one isn't too bad.
The recovery timeline means O'Neal, who turns 38 on Saturday, may not be ready for the start of the playoffs April 17.
Yes, having Shaq miss eight weeks, sucks. And having those eight weeks correspond with Z's month long vacation, doubly sucks. However, it's a hand injury. He didn't hurt his knee or (oh, I dunno) break a leg. He'll be rusty when he comes back, but he should still (at least, in theory) be in decent shape. At this point in the season, motivation (a problem for Shaq in the past) shouldn't be an issue (it is the stretch run, after all) and a hand injury shouldn't prevent him from staying active (bike, water exercises) and in shape. Plus, the Cavs need him for his defense more than anything else (can he still keep Dwight Howard out of the paint with a busted thumb? I think so).
Is it ideal? No, you don't want be working guys in during the playoffs, but the Cavs don't need Shaq until the final two rounds anyways. But, to be honest, there are worst things in life than having your two old, veteran centers get an extended break during the middle of the season (keep those legs fresh!). (By the way, classy move by Big Baby Davis, intentionally messing with Shaq's thumb. Class acts, those Celtics).
This situation isn't without some benefits. First, without both Shaq and Z, there will be minutes available for both J.J. Hickson and Leon Powe. This is good, I didn't want both of them collecting on the bench.
Having built-in minutes for Hickson is nice, because it'll keep him both mentally and physically involved and he should remain properly motivated (a legitimate concern, following the trade talk and losing his starting job to Jamison). And by letting Leon Powe sink or swim on the court, the Cavs will definitively learn whether or not they have another big they can trust in June.
Another possible benefit is that the Cavs will be forced to change up their offensive attack, hopefully by pushing the tempo. Without a lumbering big man, the Cavs become much faster and it makes sense for them to speed things up and push the ball.
Who knows what Mike Brown will eventually come up with, but the Cavs should be able to run pretty effectively. Cleveland has bigs that can run the floor and finish around the rim and also the shooters that can space the floor and knock down open jumpers. Oh, and they have that LeBron guy who is absolutely unstoppable in the open court. If nothing else, it beats them walking it up and wasting 12 seconds trying to throw an entry pass.
I'm really interested to see how LeBron reacts to these changes. When Mo and Delonte missed time, James became more of a facilitator and distributor, routinely finishing with double-digit assist totals. Will he adapt in the same way in the absence of their geriatric centers? Will his rebounds totals improve? Will he focus more on scoring? Is Coach Mike going to play him more at the four?
What I really want to see (and this will come to no surprise to any of you who've been reading me for any extended amount of time), is for LeBron to head down to the block. Without Shaq, the Cavs are going to need some kind of low post presence in order to get easy baskets (and they certainly won't be getting it from Varejao). James has shown glimpses of a post game at times this season (he'll break it out after particularly jumper-happy night), but he never seems to stick with it for very long. It's obvious he's not completely comfortable down there but he's extremely effective and the Cavs can't just run LeIsos and drive-and-kicks the entire game (well, they can. It would just be awful).
At the end of the day, if nothing else, at least these Cavaliers have gone through some adversity, unlike last season. By in large, last year was a cakewalk (Mo fit seamlessly, they went 39-2 at home, got the top seed and won their first 8 playoff games by 10+ points) right up until Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, the Cavs still have the best record in the East but they've had to work through a lot more issues to earn it (injuries, trades, adjusting to Shaq ,a rough early schedule, etc).
Again, this sucks but it's not a complete shock that both Shaq and Z are missing time (the Ilgauskas trade/buyout has been rumored all year). They're old, these thing happen (heh, ask the Celtics). T here's gonna be an adjustment period with Shaq out for eight weeks and there will certainly be one when he returns to the lineup (the Cavs may even *gasp* lose a game in the first round or two of the playoffs).
But the Cavs are a deep, mentally tough team that can play any style. We've seen this all season. Despite everything (remember that three game losing streak?!), the Cavs still have a six (six!!) game lead over Orlando for the top seed in the East. This isn't a Jim Chones situation. The Cavs have some time.
Again. Good luck, Mike Brown.