Monday, April 30, 2007

Cleveland 97, Washington 90

Least dominant sweep ever? I thought the Cavs did pretty well, but you know they'll get flak for not blowing out the Wizards, right? The Cavs never looked particularly dominant but it was almost like they were toying with Washington. Sure, you can have Jamison get hot and Jarvis Hayes hit a few 3s, but once the fourth quarter starts, we're just going to calmly put you away.

Lots of contributors, but none went by 'Sasha'. I was hoping Pavlovic's big 3 at the end of game 3 would calm his nerves and set him straight, but it didn't happen. He picked up some cheap, dumb fouls (though this time Drew Gooden fouled Jamison on a 3) and never seemed comfortable on offense (0 points, 1 board, 3 assists).

This meant Daniel Gibson got some playing time (which I always love). 28 minutes in fact. During crunch time I was thinking to myself how great it was that Brown was trusting Gibson out there, but then I realized that it's mostly because Pavlovic was playing like crap. Oh, well. At least he had Gibson out there instead of Snow. Boobie hit two 3s and finished with 8 points (and he only got lost on defense once!).

LeBron struggled from the field but more than made up for it at the line. LBJ shot a Larry Hughes-esque 8-22 but he kept attacking (and attacking and attacking) the Wizards D, netting trips to the line. LeBron shot 17 free throws and made 14 of 'em (at one point he was 10-10). Did he attack all game? No, there was a lull in the third period where the Cavs decided to hoist jumpers (shocking, I know) but for the most part, LeBron kept the pressure on Washington's D. He finished with a quiet 31 points (14 points from the line will do that), 11 boards (not so quiet) and 7 assists.

I was also impressed with LeBron's non-scoring activities. He was flying in for rebounds, playing tough D and passing extremely well. His shot wasn't falling and he didn't try to force anything (well, too often) and he was more than happy to let Z and Larry do the heavy lifting in crunch time.

Z and Hughes had 18 of the Cavs last 20 points. Z had a monster game, scoring 20 points and grabbing 19(!) boards- I was actually bummed that Brown kept subbing him out offense-defense at the end, I would've loved to see the big man notch a 20-20. Hughes shot just 5-13 (anyone really surprised?) but 3 of those 5 came in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the game. He hit some clutch 'no-no-no-yes!' jumpers, drew some fouls and hit his freebies (8-8 for the game and 4-4 in the fourth). Despite the fact that the Cavs haven't looked that good so far, having Z and Larry step up is huge.

Antawn Jamison is awesome. I really have nothing else to add, but he needs to be more than a 3rd option on a team. The man can flat out score.

It was nice to see some bench production. Gibson hit two 3s, Marshall played 5 minutes and hit a trey (he also got a 3 seconds call on a 5 second camp out) and Snow had a decent 16 minutes (which the perfect amount of time for Eric Snow). The only problem is that Andy hasn't been particularly good this series. Maybe he was just a bad matchup for Washington's quick, perimeter big men (most jump shooting guys) but he never seemed to get going. He actually looked slow out there (he also made some dumb decisions on offense- bad jumpers and risky passes). They only scored 13 points as a unit, but it was nice that they came in and stretched the D just a little.

Hey Fox Sports, it's the playoffs, get it together. We missed at least two baskets by the Wizards because they were showing replays that didn't matter. Show the game! We also had a critical late possession entirely shot from the far baseline. I'm not sure which I hate more, ABC's camera on a string thing or FSNOhio's love for the baseline cam. We don't care about new angles, we just want to see the entire play. Is that really too much to ask?

and finally...

New Jersey or Toronto? I'd much rather face the Raptors, but that is looking less and less likely (they barely showed up in game 4). The Nets aren't a good matchup for the Cavaliers, what with Kidd, Carter and Jefferson (Kidd scares me, the Cavs don't really guard point guards well). The sweep is nice because not only did they not waste any games, but they've bought themselves some time to scout/prepare for both teams (especially if Toronto wins another game).

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. You may not have heard, but the Cavs are going for the sweep tonight (I refuse to start with the Browns. I love their draft and all, but enough. One Cleveland team is actually in the playoffs, can we focus on a team that doesn't suck ass? Continuing that thought... I wore my throw back LeBron jersey to the draft party on Saturday. Again, I love the Browns and the draft, but the biggest day of the Browns year shouldn't fall on a Saturday. The Cavs get the love, as much as they're playing down to Washington, at least they are in the playoffs).

2. Bill Livingston writes about the 3pt shot and I think he comes to some kind of conclusion (though I'm not sure what).

3. The Cavs are looking towards the conference finals. This really should be their goal. However, New Jersey scare the crap out of me. That's not a good matchup for the Cavaliers. They'll need Pavlovic to be 'on' in that series. They'll be able to get past the Wizards with Pavs playing so-so, but they'll need him to make Vince Carter work on both ends of the court.

4. Anderson Varejao wears 3-D sunglasses? Awesome.

5. About those DC parties: Branson Wright reports that there was nothing to them while Windhorst says that this kind of thing goes on all the time.

6. Should the Cavs take as stab at Sebastian Telfair this offseason?

7. I don't see why not. First of all, Telfair will be on his last chance, so he'll be on his best behavior. Also, it might help him to be on a good team, rather than a shitty one (plus, he'll be going in with no expectations). Who knows, maybe the Cavs could salvage his career. All I know is that I'd rather them throw a 1-year deal at a guy like Telfair rather than a David Wesley-esque guy.

8. For those of you who missed the Warriors-Mavs game last night: shame on you! It was awesome. As The Cavalier says:
...but this is, after all, THE STORY of the first round. (Especially when 3/4 of the Eastern bracket are sweeping, and the other 1/4 is Vince Carter bastardinzing all that is good and decent in basketball.*)
9. Dirk is going to get a lot of flack (Reggie Miller was on him all game, saying he should averaging 35 a game) but I thought he did all he could last night (the Daily Dime gave him a pass, which surprised me a bit). People are going to compare Dirk to the Kobes, T-Macs and LeBrons of the league, but that isn't exactly fair. Yes, he's probably going to win the MVP and the MVP shouldn't let his team lose to the 8 seed, but I thought Dirk played great (at least in game 4).

10. Dirk is a big man and he doesn't the opportunities to go 1 on 4 like the swing men do. He still needs someone to get him the ball on the block. And if the Mavs don't look his way, he isn't going to get shots (Miller was criticizing him for not shooting enough. I'm not sure what he wanted, Dirk to take bad shots over double teams as opposed to hitting his wing men?). Dirk finished with 23 points on 9-19 shooting with 15 boards. It's not like the guy didn't show up. If I'm Dallas, I want to see Dirk demand the ball more and I'd send guys to the rim off of the double team, not just spotting up for 3. Golden State defends well, but they aren't the best down low

11. That being said, how can you not be rooting for Warriors fans and Warrior nation? The crowd was electric last night; loud the entire game and always on their feet (and jumping). They love their basketball and you can tell that they are ecstatic that the Warriors are back in the playoffs.

12. It actually reminds me a lot of the 1995 Indians. First playoffs in forever and everyone goes from happy-to-be-here to how-far-can-they-take-us-? If you aren't watching game 5.... I don't even know what to say. You suck.

13. Speaking of the Tribe... Fausto Carmona? He beats Santana and then goes 8 scoreless? And for that he earns a trip to Buffalo? This is a good problem to have.

14. So how long before Paul Byrd is traded (especially if Cliff Lee does well)?

15. Hopefully, this season Lee will be able to make to the 7th inning without imploding.

16. The Indians are protesting Saturday's game against Baltimore.

17. Buster Olney says they should (but probably won't) win:
Now, if you believe in fallacy of the predetermined outcome, then this run wouldn't have made a difference. The Orioles wound up winning, 7-4, and not by one run. But baseball games are like road maps, each turn leading to the next. Anybody who has watched baseball knows that managers and players will make their decisions according to the game situation, and the score always frames the game situation.

So if Major League Baseball rejects the Cleveland protest and retroactive decisions become acceptable practice, what happens in the future?

Let's say that down the road the Orioles are playing the Angels, and Vladimir Guerrero pulls a ball down the left-field line, right near the foul pole -- and Montague, the umpire, rules it a foul ball. And then two innings later, Montague realizes that the ugly mark on the foul pole actually is due to Guerrero's line drive. Maybe he sees a replay while stopping by the men's room between innings. If his bottom line is only getting the call right, could he then, at that point, correct a mistake and give Guerrero a three-run homer? According to the precedent established on Saturday, it would seem he absolutely could do that.

What if an umpire inadvertently awards a walk to open an inning, on a 2-2 pitch, nobody says anything, and the team at bat goes on to score four runs -- and then the other umps realize, later, that the hitter shouldn't have been award first base. Can they go back and change the play?

And here's another horrifying thought: What if the exact same play that happened in Cleveland occurred next year, in a game that was ultimately decided by one run. Imagine if Montague realized his mistake during extra innings, or after the game was over? Should Montague then go back and add a run to the score, and make it a tie game? And if you were the team that lost by one run, wouldn't you absolutely expect to have your run added, since retroactive run-scoring would theoretically be the umpiring standard?

18. OK. The Draft. First of all, a hearty 'well done' to Vinny and the Hornless Rhino and Mistake by the Lake to their second day draft coverage. I refreshed those sites all day long.

19. The Browns picked 7 players and 3 of 'em are legitimate first round talents (and two were top 5). Not bad.

20. I know they gave away a lot of picks, but they still came away with 7 new guys. It's an end loaded draft class (not many middle round picks) but I think they did alright.

21. Draft Grades from around the net: Mel Kiper J.: B+, Jason Cole: A-, Dr. Z: A, John Czarnecki: A+

22. This week, Peter King wrote a giant love letter to Phil Savage in the MMQB and he included this quote (which may have been elsewhere, but I'm using it from King):
"Is Joe Thomas an impact player?'' Savage said. "Yes, because he'll let our skill players make plays. Without taking him, a quarterback would have the [same] problems our quarterbacks had last year, when we had protection problems. Same thing with our running game. Our staff was sold on Joe Thomas, but not as sold on Brady Quinn, at three.''

23. Terry Pluto liked what the Browns did:

Here's the problem facing any Browns quarterback: There hasn't been one embraced by the fans since Bernie Kosar. Since Kosar departed, only Tim Couch has lasted more than two full seasons. Fans wanted the quarterback to be the savior, and most games, he's just trying to get by without suffering a fracture.

Of all the Browns quarterbacks since 1999, Quinn comes into the best situation. The revised line has to be better with such veterans as Eric Steinbach, Ryan Tucker, Kevin Shaffer, Hank Fraley, Seth McKinney and the rookie Thomas as possible starters. He has an experienced 1,000-yard rusher in Jamal Lewis, a top pass-catching tight end with Kellen Winslow and a corps of receivers with talent: Joe Jurevicius, Braylon Edwards and Tim Carter, with youngsters Joshua Cribbs and Travis Wilson.

24. King doesn't care for the Randy Moss deal (I am shocked):
I think -- and I need some more time to look into this over the next few days -- I find it hard to support Moss to the Patriots, regardless of how little they paid for him. And it's looking like they got the guy for an absolute song, though the exact money details haven't filtered out yet, except to say that has Moss getting either $3 million or $3.5 million in base salary in a one-year deal, down from the $9.25 million the Raiders owed him this year.

As we know, assuming there's not a signing bonus involved -- and says there is none -- the Patriots can basically have Moss on a five-month trial now, for free, because nothing he'll make is guaranteed until the first game of the season. But I'm still not sure this is right.

I'm about to get preachy/sappy. Even when the Patriots took a chance on guys like Corey Dillon, they were using roster spots on guys who were never accused of not hustling. To me, and to Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, cheating the game is the worst crime a player can commit. Moss has done it regularly, going back to the infamous dogging it that Merril Hoge proved on ESPN years ago.

25. Personally, I think Moss gets way too bad pub (compared to what he warrants). Sure, did he give up on Oakland last season? Ya (to be fair, that was a horrible situation. Does it excuse him? No But it wasn't like Moss was the only one on that team to quit). I feel like most of his problems stem from not answering reporters' questions with bullshit. He says he takes plays off and that he doesn't always have confidence in his coach. Do we really think that other players run hard every single play? Are we that dumb? I'm willing to bet that other receivers don't sell their routs 100% on running plays either, Moss was just dumb/truthful enough to say it.

26. Moss makes every quarterback he plays with into a pro-bowler. He made Randal Cunningham and Jeff George MVP candidates. Daunte Culpepper hasn't had a decent season since he and Moss parted ways. Imagine what he's going to do with a hall of fame quarterback.

27. I still can't get over the fact that the Patriots got him for a 4th round pick. Ridonkulous.

28. I highly recommend this Bill Moyers interview with Jon Stewart (I also recommend the interview with Josh Marshall of TPM).

29. So we have the Cavs going for a sweep, game 4 of Spurs-Nuggets, game 5 of Rockets-Jazz and a new Heroes tonight? God damn the tivo will be busy.

30. Music: I've been playing Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion on and off for the past week. Pretty good album, if a little front loaded. Mika is like an Lebanese version of Freddie Mercury, only gayer (if that is possible). He is pretty big in Europe (and you won't be shocked after you watch the video) and Rolling Stone calls it "hate-yourself-in-the-morning pop".

Mika - Love Today (off of Life in Cartoon Motion) [Acoustic Version here]

Sunday, April 29, 2007

This is weird

So I now have to root for Brady Quinn and root against Troy Smith (who went to the Ravens).


Lemme get this straight

Last season, the Patriots trade wideout Deion Branch to Seattle for a 2007 1st round pick.

Today they trade for Randy Moss by giving up a 2007 4th rounder.

So Deion Branch is worth a 1st rounder and Randy Moss is worth a 4th rounder?

Makes sense to me.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What. The. Fuck.

This doesn't feel right. The first day of the NFL draft has ended and I'm not completely pissed off.

For the past couple days weeks months, we've been debating who the Browns should take with the 3rd pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Some wanted Brady Quinn, others wanted Adrian Peterson, there were rumors of trading up for LSU's JaMarcus Russell and there was scant little heard about Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

I wanted the Browns to draft Thomas. Badly. Mel Kiper Jr. ranked him as the second best prospect behind Calvin Johnson. The Browns needed to fix the line, Thomas was highly touted; I figured it was a no brainer. I've seen what a bad offensive line can do to a young QB (*cough* Tim Couch) and I didn't want the Browns to use their 1st pick on a QB and throw him to the wolves. I know how that works out. Not again.

But everything was pointing towards Quinn. The mock drafts were nearly unanimous; all but one expert had the Browns taking Quinn (and he had them grabbing Peterson).

Draft day was finally here and the fist two picks came and went without any real surprises (I love that the Lions took Calvin Johnson. Loves it) and the Browns were up. I was dreading this moment, silently preparing myself for a future that involved rooting for a Cleveland offense that relied on a Notre Dame QB, a Michigan WR, a Miami TE and a former Raven running the ball (plus, since the Browns never address the line, Quinn was going to get hurt. Because Browns quarterbacks always get hurt).

Then something weird happened: the Browns made a safe pick. They went conservative. They address the offensive line. On the first day of the draft. And he didn't play center. The Browns drafted Joe Thomas!

Now, I'll be honest with you, at this point I didn't care who else they picked- they grabbed the best lineman in the draft. Unless they decided to pick another receiver in the second round, I was going to end the draft very very pleased.

Then Brady Quinn drops a few spots. And falls some more. Miami takes Ted Ginn. Suddenly I'm throwing out trade scenarios and wondering how hard the Browns are trying to trade up.

Quinn falls all the way to 22 and the Cowboys are on the clock and they're taking their sweet time. Kansas City is next and Quinn wouldn't last past them.

ESPN announces a trade. Cleveland moved up! They're taking Quinn!

Now let's be clear, I wanted no part of Quinn at 3. I thought he'd get killed behind that offensive offensive line (ha!) and he would basically amount to a wasted draft pick. But at 22? With Joe Thomas already on board? You mean the Browns can draft a guy at 22 who they almost drafted at 3? Really? Sign me up. Somehow Brady Quinn made the trip from douchebag to godsend simply by dropping 19 slots.

I feel weird. It's like the Browns had picks 3 and 3a. This isn't how Cleveland sports are supposed to work. Where's the anger? Where's the confusion? What the fuck happened?

The Browns got a franchise left tackle AND quarterback. The sun was shining. Larry Hughes isn't injured and no one on the Browns has a staph infection. The Cavs took a 3-0 series lead over the Wizards. Saturday really was one of the best days in recent Cleveland sports history (though it wasn't completely perfect. The Tribe did play a game under protest. Of course they did).

I went into the draft dreading the Browns drafting Brady Quinn. Now? I'm actually glad he's in Cleveland.

Like I told you, this doesn't feel right.

Cleveland 98, Washington 92

The Cavs were awesome for 3 out of 4 quarters. They played their best half of the postseason during the first two quarters. They ran, they defended, they shared the ball, they played Daniel Gibson and they ended the half with a 17 point lead.

Then there was the third quarter. That 17 point lead didn't last very long. Washington stormed back and tied the game in the third period, but never got the lead. Now, you knew Washington was going to get hot at some point. Their only offense has been Jamison and we were just waiting for the other guys to step it up. It just sucked that when Washington got hot, the Cavs decided to hoist jumpers like morons. However, it seemed that Washington used all their energy (or good karma) in their push to get back in the game. Once they got back, the Cavs righted the ship and took control of the game.

Good Sasha/Bad Sasha. Pavlovic had some great moments (his 3 to push the lead to six with 25 seconds left and his block on the next play) and some bad moments (fouling Jamison on a 3 and numerous travels). It seems like Pavlovic has been pressing and I figured he'd calm down after having a good first half (the Cavs final six in the half); it didn't happen. While Sasha had some bad turnovers, you can say the same thing about other Cavaliers (Snow had that dumb inbounds pass last game and Hughes threw an entry pass right to Jamison) and I'm glad Coach Mike kept him out there.

James had his best game of the playoffs. Sure, his numbers were good (30pts, 9 assists and 6 boards) but it wasn't just that (and James is a guy who can sleep walk through a game and get 25-5-5). He took good shots (except for a few in the 3rd), he played pretty good defense, he crashed the boards (which starts breaks) and he didn't just get his teammates involved, he trusted them. He hit Sasha for that last shot, he found Gooden and Varejao for dunks/layups and he was more than willing to find Z.

Z has been awesome. The big fella is just abusing the Wizards inside all series and he had his best game on Saturday. He finished with 24 and 9 in 41 minutes (when is the last time that Z played 40+ minutes? Has Coach Mike been saving him for the playoffs? He's been around during crunch time. I'm a fan of this). The best part was that the Cavs actually looked for Zydrunas all game long (not just the start of the halves!) and he delivered early and late. Ilgauskas is averaging 18.6 and 8 for the series (this is very good).

This team goes as the starters go (mostly because they lack any type of bench). James and Z had good games and Pavlovic was a mixed bag (11 points, 5 assists, 4 boards but 5 turnovers). Larry Hughes had a pretty decent game (11 points, 8 boards and 2 assists); he made decent decisions overall (he's become much more palpable as the series has gone on) but he did have a few of his customary head scratchers (a cringeworthy jumper, a perplexing decision on a fast break or that weird pass to Jamison). Drew Gooden also played well, scoring 10 points (in fact, all five starters scored in double figures) and grabbing 12 boards.

Free throws? Wah? The Cavs only shot 18 freebies, but they made 16. In fact, the only guy to miss from the line was LeBron (he was 5-7 take that as you will). This is, obviously, a good thing.

and finally...

Finish it. For the first time ever, the Cavs lead a series three games to zero. The Cleveland Cavaliers. 3-0. I'm not exactly sure how to handle this besides: finish them off! Get those extra days rest, get that practice in and get ready for the Toronto-New Jersey winner.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Game 3

There's a reason I don't have high expectations for Saturday's game:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Final Mock Draft Roundup

Two days.

Two days until the Browns pass on Joe Thomas.

Two days until the Browns draft Brady Quinn.

Two days until the Browns draft another wide receiver on the first day.

Two days until the Browns draft another skill position player from Oklahoma.

Two days until I go insane because the Browns neglect the offensive line yet again,

Two days.

So what do the final mock drafts have the Browns doing?

ESPN has a few mock drafts. Their "interactive" mock draft has the Browns taking Adrian Peterson. I like this but I'm not sure how much stock to put into this, because of the whole "interactive" stuff.

ESPN and Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay has a 7 seven round mock draft (talk about useless... and yet, I'm discussing it) and the Browns picks end up looking like this:
1. Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
2. Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas
3. Antonio Pittman, RB, Ohio State
4. Laurent Robinson WR, Illinois State
5. Allen Barbre, OT, Missouri Southern State
6. Kevin Payne, S, LA. Monroe
7. James Jones, WR, San Jose State
This would be terrible. It also wouldn't surprise me at all. No linemen the first day, two wide receivers and only one lineman and he's taken in the 5th round. Also, it should be noted that he has the Browns passing on both Joe Thomas and Adrian Peterson in order to take Brady Quinn. Fantastic!

SI's Don Banks has a new mock draft that includes a trade within the Top 10 (don't get your hopes up, the Browns aren't involved). He has the Browns drafting Quinn as well and he gives us this little blurb:
I've been giving the Browns Quinn for weeks now, but this week a league source told me Cleveland decision-makers are "locked in" on the Notre Dame quarterback. After drafting the rookie quarterback that owner Randy Lerner favors, Browns GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel need time to develop him, right? Quinn might wind up buying them some job security.
Well, job security sure is a good reason to take a player...

John Murphy of Yahoo! Sports
has a two round mock draft and he also has Quinn going to Browns but says if Russell is still on the board, the Browns are taking him:
The Browns would now be sitting pretty if the draft plays out this way or if the Raiders and Bucs make a deal. They might have the choice of picking either a possible franchise quarterback or running back. If JaMarcus Russell is still on the board, I believe he is their top choice.
I'm not happy but Murphy does throw me a bone for the second round: USC OL Ryan Kalil. I know I'm a part of the Joe Thomas mafia but if they don't end up taking the big guy (and if they grab Quinn, Russell or even Peterson) they have to take a lineman somewhere during the first day. I know absolutely nothing about Kalil, but nonetheless I love the pick solely because of those letters OL next to his name.

Finally, we have Fox Sports' Peter Schrager's 7 round mock draft. The first pick should surprise no one:
1. Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame (Shrager also drops a Tim Couch reference in there. I'm gonna be sick)
2. Tony Ugoh, OT, Arkansas
3. Fred Bennett, CB, South Carolina
4. Chris Henry, RB, Arizona
5. Kareem Brown, DT, Miami
6. Dallas Sartz, OLB, Southern Cal
7. Brandon Myles, WR/RS, West Virginia

That really isn't too bad of a draft. Am I pleased with the Quinn selection? Of course not. But drafting a tackle in the second round helps ease my pain.

The Sporting News (which no one reads) has all of its multiple mock drafts broken down on one easy page. They have the Browns taking either Quinn (the experts), Thomas (members/public), Peterson (Vinnie Iyer, expert) and OLB Lawrence Tibbons (random, out-of-a-hat pick). I'm not sure what to make of any of this, besides the fact that the public is clamoring for Joe Thomas. Browns fans unite!

And finally, They have two experts doing mock drafts. First is Pat Kirwan and he has the Browns taking (surprise!) Brady Quinn:
The Browns could easily entertain calls for the spot to take Calvin Johnson if Detroit doesn't move out of the No. 2 slot. Could it be possible that Charlie Frye is good enough, especially if the Browns stay at this spot and take Calvin Johnson to team up with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow? Or take OT Joe Thomas and build up the protection? It might be time to take Quinn (95 touchdown passes at Notre Dame).
Kirwan also has the Browns passing on not only Peterson and Thomas, but Calvin Johnson as well. This doesn't please me at all. If Johnson is there they have to trade down, at least with Tampa Bay for a 5th rounder. They pass over Thomas, Peterson AND the prospect of holding Johnson hostage and trading down in order to take Quinn, can they? Would they do that to me? Yes, they would.

The other mock draft comes from Vic Carucci and he has the Browns taking..... Adrian Peterson! Well that's one expert who has the Browns not taking Brady Quinn. Still two short of Joel's three. But one isn't too bad... right?

Anyways, for those of you who'd like to see me melt down as the Browns make Brady Quinn the face of their franchise, come down to Swerb's Draft Party
at Panini's by the Jake in Cleveland this Saturday. I personally guarantee at least one angry outburst. However, if we stay for the Cavs game there's gonna be more than one outburst (I don't have a good feeling for game 3)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cleveland 109, Washington 102

Wasn't pretty, but it was a win. Kinda the same the story from game one; the Cavs let the Wizards hang around and never really put them away. The Cavs were actually trailing for most of the first half until Drew Gooden went insane in the 2nd quarter.

Good for Gooden. He was a man possessed Wednesday night; he hit jumpers, he hit turn arounds, he grabbed offensive boards and he even shot a free throw off a technical. Drew finished 24 points (10-13 shooting), 14 boards (4 offensive), 2 assists and one weird looking 10 finger wag thingy. Gooden scored 11 points in the second period and the Cavs basically ran the offense through/for him while they fought back and took the lead.

The front court was awesome. LeBron led everyone with 27, Gooden had 24 and Z had 16. The Wizards really had no answer for any of these guys and it wasn't just the scoring- LeBron had 8 boards and 7 dimes and Z had 9 rebounds and 3 blocks (and Varejao pitched in 6 points and 7 boards as well).

Larry Hughes probably played the best game I've seen him play. Sure, there's been games where he's scored more points (he had 19) but he shot 5-11, had 8 boards and 5 assists. The big thing was that he made good decisions with the ball; he found Varejao for easy baskets, he swung the ball off of pick and rolls and he didn't jack up terrible shots. He played under control and he was extremely effective. I could get used to this...

This finally feels like a playoff series. It may have taken 6 quarters, but by the third period we had some hard fouls, some jawing back and forth and the Cavs actually played with some intensity. And it was during the third period where the Cavaliers really turned it on, took control and they found themselves up 12 at the quarter break.

Unfortunately, they took their foot off the gas. The first 3 of 4 baskets the Wizards scored in the fourth were off of fouls (and they hit their free throws). They gave up four additional treys the rest of the quarter. Those extra points helped cut the Cavs' 12 point lead all the way down to 3 (with 18 seconds left). It didn't help that the Cavs missed some crucial free throws down the stretch. The Cavs actually weren't too bad for the game, shooting 78%, but Sasha, Snow, James and Hughes all split a pair during the last minute of the game (though Hughes was 7-8 over that last minute, so he gets a pass). This game was much closer than it needed to be.

Not a whole lot from the young guys. Pavlovic seems to be trying too hard; he scored 9 points but he made some mistakes driving to the hoop. Daniel Gibson got some PT early in the game and was not hesitant to shoot (which I like) and he did hit the only 3 he took. However, Gibson did give up some jumpers on the defensive end. It's great that the starters contributed so much, but it'd be nice to get more than 12 points from the Pavlovic/Gibson combination.

and finally....

And we all know what the big question is: does this give the Wizards confidence?!?! Who the hell cares? They got hot at the end, Jamison went off and they still lost (and the game was never in doubt. How about the fact that the Cavs haven't shot well from 3 and that they haven't needed to rely on James? Does that inspire confidence? James hasn't had to score over 30 yet, Hughes is playing well and they have no answer for Z.

Lo Siento

normally this would be the time where I'd point you over to Yaysports! to a post titled with indie song lyrics, but not today. I've been sick all night (if you must know, stomach and back(?). There's been pain in my back that just comes and goes. I've actually called off work any everything). I was halfway through an incoherent post when I decided to throw in the towel for today- it wasn't happening and if I somehow did get something written down, it would've been worthwhile to exactly no one.

Hopefully I'll be posting some thoughts on tonight's game, but I won't make any promises.

[Update] I lied, I have something up and it only took 4 hours or so.... I need some drugs

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This and That

Here's some stuff to read and ponder while awaiting the Cavs game tomorrow: has a great article on video guys of the NBA. Mike Brown and the Cavs are prominently featured.

Brian Windhorst talks about X's and O's. My head hurts.

Sebastian Telfair is going to be cut by the Celtics
. Do you pick him up? I wouldn't expect much, but I'd rather take a flyer on Telfair rather than another David Wesley type.

LeBron didn't practice but it looks like he's going to play Wednesday night (I, for one, am shocked)

Some non-Joe Thomas linemen the Browns are looking at (I wouldn't mind this draft).

Ryan Garko!

and finally, I'm not sure why this is just now getting noticed, but 'the diff' has been around for at least a year now, if not longer. Don't blame Cavs fans, we don't like it either.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. The Cavs had a nice, solid first win of the playoffs and, while there weren't a whole lot of highs that game, there weren't many lows either.

2. I had TNT on for the entire game and John Thompson got really annoying. Maybe it's because he lives in the DC area and actually does a sports talk show there. He might be a bit biased.

3. After the game I turned to FSN Ohio and saw that they had a 3 man booth of death. McLeod, Williams and Carr? My dear lord.

4. This is a lose-lose. The D-Team of TNT or the Cerberus of Cleveland announcing? Shoot me.

5. I like this line from Terry Pluto:
Even when he's at his best, Hughes plays on the edge of chaos. He forces some shots, makes a few bad passes and appears out of control. Often, one of the best ways to judge Hughes is by the box score and what others say. In this game, he had 27 points, shot 9-of-17 from the field, was perfect on eight free throws and nabbed seven rebounds.
6. Worst part of the win? No crazy Tom Knott column (I'm waiting for it. Man I hate that guy).

7. Nothing happened in this game that made me regret my 'Cavs in 6' prediction. The intensity just isn't there right now.

8. I'd have liked to see Gibson get some more PT, especially during a game (and series for that matter) that isn't in doubt. The Cavs need 3pt shooters; Donyell Marshall and 28 minutes of Pavlovic ain't gonna cut it.

9. We don't need 40 plus minutes of Larry Hughes. I'm not sure the rims can take it.

10. Caron Butler looks to be out for the entire series (good news for the Cavaliers. I was dreading a game 3 emergence).

10. Nene? WTF? The Nuggets look real good.

11. Baron Davis = Ridonkulous

12. I strangely echo these comments (and I've hated the Bulls for as long as I know):
My instincts are anti-Chicago, but the contrast between the loathesomeness of Pat Riley's Home for Aging Veterans and the vivacity of Chicago's squad of non-stars has brought me around. The decision not to include Luol Deng in a deal for Pau Gasol is looking perfectly reasonable to me. The rest of the Eastern Conference had better just hope nothing crazy happens in the draft lottery.
13. The Heat bug the hell out of me. The team taking the season off, Walker's shimmy, Zo's ridiculous celebration of every play and the whole ref factor (sometimes Shaq can do whatever he wants, sometimes he can't. Sometimes Wade gets touched and he's at the line, sometimes not. When it's reffed one way the Heat bitch, when it's reffed the other way, everyone else does. It's annoying).

14. These match-ups are great. Pistons-Magic is good, Bulls-Heat is great, Nuggets-Spurs and Mavs-Warriors just got real interesting, Rockets-Jazz is great for the basketball junkie and Suns-Lakers is great too. The only real stinker is the Cavs-Wizards....

15. Todd McShay has a new mock draft and he has the Browns taking Brady Quinn. Dammit.

16. He has this to say during the Lions pick: All bets are off if Oakland takes Johnson. Detroit could find a trading partner in Cleveland, but it wouldn't get much in return for moving down one spot (possibly the Browns' third and fourth-round picks).

17. I know it's just the 3rd and 4th round picks, but I still don't like. The Browns don't have the type of team that allows them to be giving away picks, they just don't.

18. This would be pretty awesome if it happened, but I'm wishing...

19. Vinny has a mock draft up and I just want to point out how easy it is to rationalize not picking offensive linemen. There's always going to be someone who falls that you can't believe is still there for the taking. All I know is, the Browns need to come out of the first day with at least one offensive lineman and I'd prefer it to be from the first or second round.

20. Speaking of the NFL Draft, if you want to me go insane and break stuff after the Browns make Brady Quinn the face of their franchise, come to Panini's on draft Saturday, sponsored by Swerbs Blurbs. Plus, if you want to watch the Cavs blow game 3 Washington, I'll be there for that as well...

21. Ouch, Peter King:
In many cities, the draft is bigger than the Super Bowl. Think about it: What engenders more hype, say, in Cleveland: a game your team's rarely in, or the prospect of taking a matinee-idol Notre Dame quarterback tutored by the same guy who made Tom Brady ... Tom Brady? Well, duhhhh.
22. Speaking of Swerbs... what the hell is he doing here?

23. As for not speaking of Swerbs, the Plain Dealer has an article about Cleveland sports sites and message boards (Real Cavs Fans gets a mention) and The Cleveland Fan is suspiciously absent. I can't imagine why they wouldn't care for it.

24. They also have a link for Don't Draft Brady Quinn. Keep up the good fight boys!

25. Dave Chappelle broke the record for longest stand-up routine, going over 6 hours. The previous record holder was Dane Cook at almost 4 hours... 4 hours of Dane Cook? No thanks.

26. More comedy: What if the Beatles were Irish:

27. Even more comedy: The Landlord:

28. Season Two of the Venture Bros. came out on DVD last week. Buy/rent/steal this DVD. The show is awesome. Here's an interview with its creator.

29. Heroes returns tonight. I'm too excited for this.

30. The new Arctic Monkeys album comes out tomorrow and so far, I like what I hear:


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cleveland 97, Washington 82

Solid win. It was nothing spectacular. It was nothing that exciting. But it was a win and it gave the Cavs a 1-0 series lead. The TNT game crew seemed surprised that the Cavs let the Wizards hang around and that they didn't step on Washington's throat. I'm pretty sure anyone who has followed this team weren't nearly as shocked.

The Wizards did hang around, for awhile at least. It was a 7-10 point ball game for most of the afternoon. Every time the Cavs would push it to 10 or 12, Washington would hit a big shot or go on a mini-run (Antwan Jamison was usually prominently involved). And while the Cavs never exactly put Washington away, there was never a point where you thought the game might have been in doubt. The Cavs eventually pulled away at the end, mostly because Washington ran out of gas. While the Cavs controlled the entire game, you would've liked to see them dominate the entire game instead.

Antwan Jamison can score the basketball. For some reason the Cavs decided to single cover Jamison for much of the first half and he made them pay. Jamison scored on a number of moves throughout the game (jump hooks, drives, up and unders, 3s, face ups, etc) but was much quieter in the second half when the Cavs sent a double team at him.

The minute distribution was pretty good. LeBron and Larry logged 44 and 45 minutes respectively and while it isn't ideal, at this point of the year its to be expected. The big thing for me was that Zydrunas got some playing time down the stretch and he delivered (16 and 8 in 35 minutes). I would've liked to see more of Pavlovic (4 fouls- 28 minutes) and Gibson (rookie-1 minute) and less of Snow (22 minutes), but thats a small quibble.

Larry Hughes played well. He had 27 points and 7 boards and had two big plays that really got the crowd involved (his buzzer beating 3 at halftime and his 3pt play fast break bucket). Did he still frustrate me with the jumpers and head scratching fast break decisions (I know two points = two points, but when the choice is between Larry Hughes free throws and a LeBron James monster dunk, in terms of momentum and crowd noise, the monster dunk is 'worth' more)? Yes. But overall he had a really good game.

LeBron was 'average'. He didn't dominate, but then again, he didn't really have to. Four Cavalier starters scored in double figures and the fifth, Pavlovic, finished with 9. At different points in the game Hughes, Gooden and Z were all hot (and being fed the ball) and James didn't really have to take over or control the game. With that being said, James finished with 23 points, 9 boards and 7 assists- not a bad 'average' game.

Free throws make things easier. The Cavs starters were 27 of 31 from the foul line. James and Z both had double digit free throw attempts (LeBron was 9-11 and Ilguaskas was 8-10) and the back court was 10-10 (Hughes 8-8, Pavs 2-2). Varejao was the only Cavalier to have any sort of problems from the stripe, going just 3-8 on the afternoon. If the Cavs can shoot a halfway decent percentage from the line, they'll be helping themselves out a lot.

and finally...

1/4 (1/16?) The Cavs didn't play their best and they weren't spectacular but they won. It was a nice win, but not exactly a great one. I'd have liked to see the Cavs just destroy the Wizards (so would've every TNT pundit) but it wasn't a bad game by any means. It all depends on what kind of lessons the Cavs take from this. If they learned that they need to come out with more energy and put Washington away early (like the Atlanta game at the end of the year).... good. If they learned that they don't have to play that hard (or don't need a lot from LeBron) and that this series is going to be a breeze... not good.

Cavs-Wizards Prediction

The Cavaliers are going to win this series. This is pretty much a given. The Wizards are without Caron Butler and Gilbert Arena, so this isn't exactly the rematch of last season's first round.

So that leaves the predictions boiled down to how many games it will take the Cavs to end it.

If I hadn't watched the Cavs all season, I'd be tempted to call for the sweep and just be done with it. The Cavs are the better team, Washington is depleted and the Cavs have that LeBron character.

But I have watched them all season and like Erik said, they have a tendency to overlook bad teams. They've lost a number of games this year that they had no business of losing.

So my questions are: Will the Wizards steal a game? Will the Cavaliers give a game away? Or Both?

Any of these scenarios are likely. It's not hard to imagine the 'Zard (I hate that nickname) coming out and playing a strong game 3 back in their building (game they steal). And it also isn't hard to imagine the Cavs grabbing a 3-1 or 2-1 (or 3-0) series lead, lose a bit of focus and shoot jump shots for 40 minutes straight (game that the Cavs give away).

But this all comes down to how motivated the Cavaliers (and LeBron) play. If LBJ plays the way he did in his last game versus Chicago (or the 2nd half against New Jersey), the Wizards are done in four. But if they have a slip up or two, this series could last 5 or even 6 games.

So my prediction. Call me pessimistic, but I see the series going 6 games. I'd like to see it go 4 and just watch the Cavaliers (er... LeBron) dominate (like they can/should). And while it's certainly possible that the Cavs completely own the Wizards, I can't predict something that I haven't seen all season.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Fratellis

Just throwing it out there:
PattyO (Austin): Maximo Park or The Fratellis?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: (2:29 PM ET ) like the Fratellis - interesting album. some really good music out right now, 30-40 songs I love in the past 3-4 months.


The D.C. Sports Bog (yes, it's Bog and you have to ask Ralph Friedgen why) wants a fight. OK, Steinberg, we'll fight. Now, he's all over most things that go on in D.C., but I find no reporting today of the Great D.C. Nugathon of '07. According to my Washington Post sources, and Steinberg they are extensive, two Post sports staffers squared off at 2 a.m. at McDonald's this morning in central D.C. and started ordering 20 pieces. Bet this made Shannon Brown happy. Anyway, with the score tied 56-56, I am told, the eventual winner declared: "Watch me eat these nuggets, sucka" and roared ahead to a 79-68 nugget victory. That's 3,318 calories to 2,856 calories. The names have been spared, but I think it tells exactly what we're telling with in this Post-Beacon Journal blog war. The first salvo goes to me.
79 chicken nuggets. At 2 in the morning. On April 20th.

I see...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Does this count as a season review?

The Cleveland Cavaliers have 50 wins in back to back seasons.

(Just think about that for a second)

I mentioned the other night how much difference a year makes. Last year, the Cavs got their 50 wins by taking control down the stretch, finishing with a 14-3 spurt. They peaked at the right time and went into the playoffs riding high. They beat the Wizards and then lost the Greatest Second Round Series in Cleveland Sports History to the Pistons.

Naturally, expectations were raised for this year; the Cavs were 'a rebound away' from upsetting the Pistons, LeBron was unstoppable and Larry Hughes was coming back - they had to be better.

Well, the regular season ended last night and the Cavs again have 50 wins, though I'd be hard pressed to find anyone that is satisfied with that total this time around.

It's been said (by Erik and some commenters over at Windhorst's blog) that this is what we should've expected; Ferry didn't make any roster overhauls, he stood pat and brought the same group of guys back. Are we really surprised at 50 wins?

Well... yes and no.

If I were to tell you before the season that Larry Hughes would notched 70 games (second most of his career), the Cavs suffer no major injuries, Eric Snow, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones would all have their minutes cut and Sasha Pavlovic would average 12 points as a starter, you would tell me that 50 wins is expected?

The fact is, they underachieved. I think Ferry, Mike Brown and LeBron all share part of the blame (as does Larry Hughes and his terrible shot selection). Has it been a wasted year? No, I don't think so. They found out that Sasha Pavlovic can actually play and that Daniel Gibson can shoot (really really well). LeBron also faced the first real criticism of his career (90% of it justified IMO) and it was proved without a shadow of a doubt that they need to hire an offensive assistant (and soon!).

The Cavs lucked out last night in landing the 2-seed (and a matchup with the depleted Wizards). Everything bounced their way and their bracket is extremely kind (Detroit, Miami and Chicago are all on the other side. The Cavs will only have to face one of those three).

This gives the Cavs a very easy road to the Conference Finals and right now there should be no excuses not to get there. That would something tangible that Ferry can point at to show that the Cavs have improved over last years squad. And while an ECF appearance would be nice (and good for LeBron and the young guys), simply getting there isn't much of a step up for the franchise.

Would it be a good thing? Of course. But hopefully the Cavs management won't put too much stock in the first two rounds. The team obviously needs a overhaul and a trip to the Conference Finals hopefully won't mask that. The offense needs serious work, they needed a point guard yesterday and someone needs to tell Larry Hughes that he doesn't have to shoot contested 20 footers all the time (also, it's totally OK to pass the ball ahead on a fast break).

Just like the signing of Eric Steinbach shouldn't mean that the (Joe Thomas) offensive (Joe Thomas) line (Joe Thomas) is fixed (or thinking that signing Westbrook means the fans are cool with letting Sabathia and/or Pronk walk), making a trip to the ECF (against weak competition) doesn't mean that the roster doesn't need major work (or that they've taken The Next Step). This is a team that lost twice to New York and Charlotte, got killed by Phoenix twice, showed up 2 out of 8 quarters against the Mavericks, went 2-6 against Detroit and Miami and blew games against Boston, Atlanta, Portland and Philadelphia.

But maybe I'm too negative. Can I really be bitching about a Cavalier team that has won 50 games in back to back seasons and has one of the top players in the game?

Yes. Yes I can.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cleveland 109, Milwaukee 96

Fantastic start. The Cavs were pumped to start the game and they just came out and blitzed the Bucks. Sasha was particularly deadly; scoring 13 points on a series of dunks and 3s. The Cavs built up a 16 point lead (31-15 at 1:24) before ending the quarter up 9 at 31-22.

This being the Cavaliers, they blew said lead. Now, the Cavs started pretty hot and Milwaukee started cold AND turnover prone, so you knew they weren't going to keep pushing the lead. But the Bucks actually grabbed the lead with 2 minutes to go in the half. This wasn't happening... not when they need the win for the 2-seed... not on fan appreciation night...

LeBron took over for a stretch. It wasn't much, but it sure was needed. James went on a personal 6-1 run and put the Cavs back in control. Overall James had one of those nights where he picked his spots ('only' 24 points) and was content to let the other Cavs do the heavy lifting (dished out 9 assists).

The big men played pretty well. Z had a decent game; he had 3 assists and 10 points but was
in foul trouble much of the night (plus the Milwaukee big men shot a lot of 3s) so he only got 17 minutes. Gooden wasn't spectacular but did have 6 points and 8 boards (plus one assist to James on a monster alley-oop). However, the big men off the bench played really well. Anderson Varejao put together the best game he's had in awhile (9 points, 12 boards) and Donyell Marshall put forth a surprising 14 and 7 effort.

Though the bigs aren't without faults. I'm pretty sure that none of Marshall's baskets came outside of three feet and most came from offensive tip ins. That isn't necessarily bad (I have no problem with him scrappin' down low), but it wasn't like his points were coming off of 3s or post ups. Also, I'm not sure if Z has turned to his right out of the post in about 3 weeks. His hook is serviceable, but it'd be more devastating (yes, I said devastating) if he would turn right every once in awhile. He used to have a decent baseline fadeaway, but I haven't seen him use it in awhile (part of me believes he passes better when he turns left; sees the court better).

Clevelanders killed the Cavs. The Cavs cannot stop Ruben Patterson. I kept waiting for Brown to play his Ira Newble card but it never happened. Patterson abused just about everyone in the low post (including Varejao and Gooden) and the Cleveland native finished with 19 points. The other Clevelander, Earl Boykins, finished with 28- surprisingly, the Cavs had no answer for the quick point guard (I'm shocked!). And actually some plays they didn't guard him at all. And to think, he received the same contract (money and years) that Kevin Ollie did during the same offseason. Awesome.

So the Cavs kept their part of the deal, beating the Bucks. We all thought that the Cavs had this game. It was the New Jersey-Chicago game that was a bit dicey. Well, the Nets pulled it off; they led for almost the entire game and always seemed to hit a big shot whenever Chicago got close.

I'd like to thank Mikki Moore, Josh Boone, Bostjan Nachbar and Ike Diogu for making this all possible. The Nets beat the Bulls with Jason Kidd only scoring 3 points and Richard Jefferson shooting a Larry Hughes-esque 5-18. How'd they do it? Moore scored 20 of their first 60, they ran a Josh Boone based offense in the second half and Nachbar hit 4 huge 3s. And Ike Diogu? What does he have to do with this? With 25 seconds to go and Indiana down one, Ike bricked two free throws that allowed Washington to escape with 98-95 victory. Washington's win means that they'll be the 7th seed and will have a first round rematch with the Cavaliers.

and finally...

Something bad is going to happen. How did this happen? Everything that the Cavaliers needed to go right, went right. They won (would it have shocked anyone if they blew that game?), Chicago lost (they've looked great lately) and somehow Washington held on and pulled it out. They started out the day slated to see Shaq, Wade and the Heat and now they'll be facing an Arenas and Butler-less Wizards team. That's pretty damn lucky. This isn't supposed to happen to Cleveland teams; first the Browns won the coin flip for the 3rd pick (biggest win of the year baby!) and now all the chips fell in the right place for the Cavaliers? This can't last, can it? (though one could argue that the weather issues more than balance things out)

Joey Crawford

I got a post about Crawford up at Yaysports so go check that out.

I actually finished the post before I read this from Terry Pluto:
When veteran official Joe Crawford was suspended by the NBA for the playoffs after ejecting Tim Duncan off the bench from Sunday's game, it brought back memories of a game in the early 1990s at the old Richfield Coliseum, when Crawford threw out Larry Nance for laughing. Then he tossed Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Craig Ehlo and coach Lenny Wilkens. He was fined for that incident.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cleveland 98, Philadelphia 92

Besides the beginning of the halves, everything was peachy. The Cavs spotted the Sixers a seven point lead before righting the ship and going into halftime leading 58-50. They then proceeded to come out of halftime and give the Sixers 10 quick points before calming things down and taking control of the game. These were really the only blips for the Cavaliers- everything else was crisp and well executed.

The start of the 3rd quarter wasn't all bad. FSN Ohio lost the audio feed, so we were announcerless for the first minute plus. There was no Williams breaking exercise balls stories or Scotty identifying Moses Malone by his forehead. Best sequence of the year.

Balanced attack. All five starters scored in double figures and Varejao gave them 11 off the bench. The Cavs shot just under 50% for the game, 5-12 from beyond the arc and finished with 29 assists. There's not much more you can ask for.

Wait, free throws. 15-23 for a blistering 65%. James was 4-7, Hughes was 1-2 (officially anyways, he was really 1-3- he missed the second of two but it got a redo due to a lane violation. He missed that too) and Varejao was 3-6. Varejao was the worst offender but I'd feel a lot better right now if Hughes and James were knocking them down consistently.

The minutes were pretty good. James had 18 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in only 36 minutes (and it could've been even less, he sat the entire fourth until the 5 minute mark and didn't take a shot the rest of the game) while Hughes got an astounding 43. Hughes played well, don't get me wrong, but 43 minutes? When Pavlovic only got 28 (and he was looking good- got to the rim, hit a 3) and Gibson logged just 12? I understand why Hughes got the PT (his shots were falling (22 points on 9-19) and LeBron was resting), but with the playoffs coming up, getting Gibson and Pavs some extended minutes wouldn't hurt.

Ah, the post. The Cavs utilized the post rather effectively Tuesday night. They weren't forcing it or anything, but there was a steady diet of somebody getting a look on the block. LeBron got some touches, Z got his obligatory 'start of the game' looks and both Sasha and Andy received a play or two. It wasn't a big change in the offense, but threw another wrinkle at the defense.

Z was used really well. I already mentioned his post touches, but he also got some open looks off of 'pick and fades' and ball rotation (even late in the game!). The big fella also dished out 5 assists (with a few going to LeBron off of the high post. More of this please) to go with his 14 points and 8 boards.

and finally....

It all comes down to this. By now we're all aware of what needs to happen tomorrow night if the Cavaliers want to avoid Shaq, Wade and the refs in the first round: Cleveland must beat the Bucks and the Nets must beat Chicago. It's simple. The Cavs also have a shot at back-to-back 50 win seasons, which isn't all that terrible (But what a difference a year makes huh? last year: 50 wins!? Awesome! This year: 50 wins? Meh).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

With the number 3 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. So the Cavs need to win their last two games in order to match their record from last season. That is in no way depressing.

2. They also need to win their last two and pray that Chicago loses to New Jersey. Fantastic.

3. I don't see Chicago losing, they've been killing teams lately. Windhorst has more:
I decided Friday night when I saw Ben Wallace make an 18-foot jumper that the Bulls will not lose again in the regular season. Today, they killed the Wizards. Cavs fans, prepare for the Heat.
4. The Cavs have been scouting Miami for awhile now.

5. Speaking of, scouting sure seems like a lot of fun....

6. Windhorst says that Pavlovic could be the key to the Cavs playoffs. I'm with him there; if Sasha can stay out of foul trouble and make the Heat work at both ends, it will do wonders for the Cavs.

7. James has been putting in extra work on his jumper and taking extra precautions for his knees and ankles:
The Cavs' training staff has put James on a new weight program designed to strengthen his knees. He's dealt with tendinitis in both knees this season. It is a common ailment for pro athletes, especially basketball players. James has proven to be very resilient during his short career, but has started several different precautionary measures to protect his ankles and knees, which are already starting to bark at him at age 22.
8. The highlighted section above is one of the reasons why I constantly bitch and moan about LeBron's nightly minutes (though I'll probably stop during the playoffs- he's gonna log close to 48 every night and why not, it's the playoffs). He takes a lot of punishment and he logs a ton of minutes- it's OK now, but it'll come back at some point.

9. Charlie Weiss wants Quinn to be a Brown and Quinn wants to be a Brown. Great. The headline is Quinn, Browns a Perfect Marriage. I'm gonna be sick.

10. You know who else wants to be a Brown, Adrian Peterson (says Peter King):
Running back Adrian Peterson wants to be a Brown. So does Quinn. I met both of them the other day in New York, where they were promoting the Sprint draft phone. (How bizarre. You can get a cellular telephone and watch the draft on it.) Anyway, I asked Peterson: Got a gut feeling where you're going to get picked? Now, when you ask most guys this question, they've been well-schooled in not favoring one team over another. Said Peterson: "My gut feeling? Cleveland at three. Sitting down with them [coach Romeo Crennel, GM Phil Savage], I get the feeling they're very, very interested. I would love it there. The fans in Cleveland are the closest to college fans in the NFL. I love the Dawg Pound. I think I can be a franchise back and really help the Browns turn it around.''
11. I'm definitely OK with an offense that revolves around Peterson, Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards.

12. But I still would like Joe Thomas. Mel Kiper Jr. has Thomas rated as the number 2 overall prospect and Peter King wonders if Thomas looks so good because the rest of the OL prospects are weak or because he's simply awesome:
More people like Joe Thomas than don't, but there is some question about his ability to overpower defensive ends. No question, though, he's one of the quickest left tackle prospects to come out in years, and he and Calvin Johnson are by far the top prospects with the fewest questions. "He's got no holes,'' Tampa Bay GM Bruce Allen told Thomas' agent, Peter Schaffer, after Thomas visited the Bucs last week.
13. So let's review: the Browns line blows. They need a left tackle. Joe Thomas is the highest rated left tackle in the draft and there is a large drop off, not just from him to other OL prospects, but from him to all other prospects as well. And the Browns shouldn't draft him because?

14. I'm not a fan of JaMarcus Russell either.

15. So let's review, part II: Russell vaults into the top pick discussion after a great game versus Notre Dame, even though he had average/bad games against Auburn and Florida. Troy Smith falls out of the first round due to a horrible game against Florida, but he played well the entire season beforehand and killed Notre Dame in the previous Fiesta Bowl. Now, I'm not saying that Smith is better than Russell, but I'm not sure the difference isn't as huge as everyone thinks.

16. Plus, I wonder how much conventional wisdom is based upon the last game of the season.

17. Tony Grossi has the Browns taking Quinn in his mock draft. He also says Calvin Johnson may be too good to be true.

18. One of my biggest worries about the draft is that the Browns will neglect the line and point to the Eric Steinbach signing as proof that they're 'fixing the line'.

19. I feel the same way about the Jake Westbrook signing. I'm worried that the Tribe will let CC and Pronk walk in two years and point to Westbrook saying, "see, we re-sign our players".

20. Both Steinbach and Westbrook are (great) steps in the right direction, but if you want to fix the line or prove to fans that you're serious about keeping your stars, these signings are only the start. At least one first day pick needs to be a lineman and either Sabathia or Pronk has to be re-upped.

21. The Tribe is winning with going 5-51 with runners in scoring position. And they won yesterday with only one hit. I don't care how ugly it is, I'll take it.

22. The Tribe is currently in first place, they are 4-2 against the Chi Sox and Pronk and Victor haven't taken off yet. Yes.

23. Ryan Garko is 8-21 right now with a home run and he's playing decent defense at first. Please keep him in the lineup.

24. WTF, Marlon Wayans?

25. Greg Oden made his decision to go pro. Wait, no he didn't.

26. Confused? Here's what we do know: Oden, Mike Conley Jr and Daequan Cook are meeting with Thad Matta today.

27. This is good.

28. From the 'Better Late than Never" file: Paul McCartney is going to have a song about the Lennon breakup on his new album (which is also about his Heather Mills split AND his first wife Linda)

29. Which is better, the first Presidents of the United States album or their follow up? (Their eponymous debut was the first CD I ever bought).

30. I agree with this:
[T]here’s one aspect of this story that seems to have attracted no editorial mention or public interest. Implicit in all the coverage is the assumption—by Democrats and Republicans alike—that the Attorney General is going up to Capitol Hill to lie. As far as I can tell, this is a universal assumption. The Republicans are rooting for Mr. Gonzales to be successful in his perjury, to tell a coherent story that his enemies cannot break down. The Democrats are rooting the other way, off course. They’re hoping that their ace interrogators will be able to shoot enough holes in Mr. Gonzales’ story that they can destroy his credibility. But nobody seems to find it shocking or tragic that the Attorney General of the United States is going to lie to congress
31. Why would people assume he's lying? He's been practicing and he still can't keep his story straight.

32. Anchorman and 300 mash up. Awesome.

33. Finished up HBO's Rome last night. Fantastic series. It's really too bad that it only went two years (it cost a ton of money and didn't start getting good ratings until after they decided to only do two years).

34. After seeing how HBO has handled Rome and Deadwood, I'm both excited and aprehensive about their handling of The Song of Ice and Fire. I'm sure the series will be good (and well made and produced and all that), but I wonder how long they'll be able to afford it (if it doesn't get stellar ratings).

35. Music: Kings of Leon have a new CD and it is delightful:

Kings of Leon - On Call

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This Sounds Familiar

Terry Pluto:

When it comes to Larry Hughes, some Cavaliers fans need a history lesson. They need to go back to the summer of 2005 when Hughes was a free agent. They need to put themselves in the place of owner Dan Gilbert and General Manager Danny Ferry and ask, ``What would I do?''

As the summer of 2005 began, the Cavs had just missed the playoffs by a game. LeBron James was one year away from being able to sign an extension. Many fans were worried that James already would begin plotting his exit because the team had missed the playoffs twice and was headed to its third coach in three years.

Here were the guards on the roster at the end of the 2004-2005 season: Eric Snow, Jeri Welsch, Ira Newble, Sasha Pavlovic, Luke Jackson and Jeff McInnis.

The team was six years removed from the playoffs.

As Ferry said, ``We had to change the culture and start winning, and we had to be aggressive in free agency. We needed to get some players to help us win now.''

Here were the free-agent guards, and their status:

Joe Johnson was restricted. The Phoenix Suns were interested in trading him but wanted at least two first-round picks. The Cavs loved Johnson, but they had no first-rounders to trade until 2009! That's because the top picks in 2005 and 2007 had already been traded, and the NBA won't allow you to trade first-rounders in consecutive seasons.

Michael Redd was restricted and represented by the bottom-dollar Poston Brothers (Kellen Winslow's agents). The league knew that he would re-sign with Milwaukee because the Bucks could offer the most money and the most years under NBA rules.

Ray Allen was unrestricted, but the Seattle SuperSonics could offer him the most money and the most years under NBA rules.

Raja Bell was an unrestricted free agent, but he was the first free agent to sign because he had his heart set on Phoenix and is very close to Suns point guard Steve Nash. He had no interest in a rebuilding situation with the Cavs. He signed in the first hour of free agency.

Hughes was unrestricted. The Washington Wizards were interested, but not about to offer him a maximum contract because they had just opened the bank for Gilbert Arenas.

If you were Ferry, you realized the same rules that would allow you to offer James more years and money than anyone else would prevent you from signing Allen and Redd. It didn't matter how much Gilbert was willing to pay; the NBA is set up to give the current team a true hometown advantage in free agency.

Meetings with Allen and Redd indicated that they wanted the best deal possible, and only their current teams could supply that. The Johnson situation was frustrating because there were no picks to trade. The 2005 pick was shipped off to pay for Wesley Person from 1997, and he was long gone. The 2007 pick was used for Welsch.

The Suns traded Johnson to the Hawks for two first-rounders and Boris Diaw. The Suns didn't want a lot of players, for salary-cap purposes; they wanted picks, especially from a losing team that could end up being in the lottery.

That left Hughes.

Just sayin' (actually, the rest of the article has Pluto discussing Joe Thomas and why it should happen. So we agree there as well).

However, I'd be willing to bet lots of money (Bruce Drennan style) that Hughes won't be on the roster come next season.

Also, Branson Wright says that Mike Brown's job is safe even if they lose in the first round. I don't believe that at all. I think he needs at least a strong second round showing (plus very few offensive meltdowns) to keep his job. I think the only way he is completely safe is if they make the conference finals.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cleveland 110, Atlanta 76

Score early, score often. The Cavs started the game 9-0 and they never let up. It was obvious that they knew they needed this game to keep pace with the Bulls and they completely destroyed Atlanta in every facet of the game.

One wonders where this kind of effort was against Boston. And New York. And Charlotte. Or the entire season. Let's move on....

The Cavaliers shot 57%. Part of the reason might be their 28 fast break points. They had seven guys in double figures (James, Z, Hughes, Pavlovic, Gibson, Marshall and Varejao (Gooden finished with 9), shot 42% from 3pt range and they were 61% from the foul line (wait, that last one isn't good...). But that 61% was better than the Hawks' 57%, so.... um... good job there.

What's better than a Cavaliers blow out win? A Cavaliers blow out win where Ira Newble logs a DNP-CD *rim shot*. I keed... This actually surprised me a bit, Brown emptied his bench (Damon was the low man with 9 minutes- he was also the only Cav not to score) and he's had a recent love affair with Ira, so it's kinda weird that he never got the warmups off.

And they ran... I mentioned the 28 fast break points and there were a lot of highlight plays. These came from a combination of Cavaliers defense and the Atlanta's lack of. The Cavs swarmed, contested shots and rebounded well, but that is still no excuse for Z to have a 10 foot cushion on a break away (seriously, that should never happen, ever (but I loved it)).

It's game #80 and FSN Ohio still sucks. Honestly, at this point in the season we shouldn't be missing free throws (AND the ensuing play). On the other hand, Scott Williams met Josh Barfield and Ryan Garko (who, BTW is forcing Wedge to play him, Daniel Gibson style) so that was nice...

The Hawks were dead by the 2nd quarter. Obviously, this wasn't much of a game. Atlanta only had 28 points at the half and they officially stopped trying midway through the 3rd period. (Case in point: Sasha had a break away dunk and decided to show off did a reverse jam. The next possession he went inside for a layup and no one hammered him. I don't know about the Hawks, but I would've put him on his ass).

and finally...

Taking care of business. While it's good that the Cavs are taking care of their end of things by beating these bad teams, they still need Chicago to lose to grab that 2-seed. And don't get me wrong, I like the effort and the focus these past two games (hey, a two game win streak!) but it still irks me, knowing they could've controlled their own destiny by beating these types of teams earlier on. The Cavaliers end the season with a back-to-back (oh joy) in Philly and against the Bucks at home.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Great article in SI this week about the evolution of Yao and his ridonkulous work ethic.

One imagines what some other players' games would be like if they put forth this kind of effort.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cleveland 94, New Jersey 76

Good win, but it started off slowly. And ugly. Both teams committed a ton of turnovers and nobody cracked the 40 point barrier by halftime. At the start of the third, New Jersey had 12 field goals and 12 turnovers. It seemed like yet another game that the Cavs barely cared about.

And then something strange and wonderful happened: they went inside. LeBron James simply took over during the third period, scoring 15 of his 35 points and destroyed the Nets. And the best part was that it wasn't on an array of jumpers or crazy "I'm LeBron James" shots- he initiated the Cavs big third quarter by setting up inside and abusing his man. Now, if you've followed my recaps or blog for any length of time, you know how much I enjoyed the sight of James racing down court to establish post position. James was unstoppable down low (he even had a Greg Oden-esque power dunk) and hitting the post, the rest of the offense opened up (amazing how that works).

The Cavs shot 82% in the third period. Obviously, this wasn't simply because of LeBron's new found love for the post; Hughes got hot late in the period and drilled a few jumpers in a row and Gooden finished the period with a jumper as well. Sure, things were going the Cavs way, but it's not a coincidence that they scored as many points in the third (36) as they did in the entire first half once James made up his mind to go inside.

Took 'em long enough. Have they been playing possum? Have they been saving these "LeBron in the post" plays for the playoffs? Was this really that hard to figure out? Whatever it is, don't stop doing it. It was glorious.

The starters outscored the entire Nets team. Which is at once both nice and troubling. On the one hand, it's great that the starters played so well but on the other hand, the lack of consistent bench production scares me a little. And the starters were making their jumpers (well, Hughes was making them late. They weren't falling early on, I can tell ya that). Donyell Marshall led the bench bunch with 6 points, but only one basket came in non-garbage time minutes.

Richard Jefferson couldn't buy a bucket. Or a foul. RJ finished 2-13 and a few of those misses were dunks (it really wasn't his night). At the same time, the dude could've gone to the line multiple times (instead of just once) but the refs were letting the Cavs play.

Nice music. During a LeBron highlight reel, TNT was playing the song 'Party Pit' by The Hold Steady in the background. Delightful. I very much approve (I love that song).

Good rest. This game was nice for a couple of reasons; the blowout is, if nothing else, confidence inspiring and hopefully this will carry over through their last 3 games and into the playoffs. Secondly, Brown actually kept LeBron under 40 minutes (36 to be exact)- this is always good. And finally (and wishfully), if the Cavs somehow overtake Chicago for the 2-seed, they'll be facing this same Nets squad. This win will hopefully set the tone for the series (should that scenario play out).

and finally...

1 down, 3 to go. If the Cavs want any shot at the aforementioned 2 seed, they're going to have to win out (they certainly got off to a nice start) and hope Chicago falters. The Cavs won't play again until Saturday, when they take on Atlanta (with the blow out, coupled with the past few days off, the Cavs should be ready to go). Winning out doesn't guarantee the 2-seed, but they want any sorta of chance, beating sub-.500 teams this last week is a must.

Me Likey

Browns Don't Doubt Thomas:

While most fans and draft experts are poised for the Browns to select a flashy skill player with the No. 3 pick overall, Browns General Manager Phil Savage talked up the possibility of taking Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas.

Speaking at a Browns Backers event on Wednesday night, Savage recalled the Baltimore Ravens drafting Jonathan Ogden with the fourth overall pick in 1996 draft.

"I was part of an organization that took a left tackle early in the draft," said Savage said of Ogden. "Our coach at the time was Ted Marchibroda. Ted wanted a running back and he just hung his head and he wasn't very excited about it at all.

"I can remember us looking at Ted and saying it's not really a very sexy pick or very exciting, but this guy might play for 10 or 12 years. Ultimately, Jonathan became a Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame type of player. Picking Joe Thomas may not be the most exciting pick, but it could be the wisest thing for us to do at this point. We'll see how it all plays out."

Browns assistant director of player personnel T.J. McCreight also said that the offensive line "will be up to where it should be" after the draft.

The Browns haven't said too much about Thomas up to this point, because they felt he wouldn't be available at No. 3. But now it's anyone's guess what Oakland will do at No. 1 and Detroit at No. 2.

This is good.

This is better:

Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas will visit the Browns on Monday, according to a league source. The Browns previously met with LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.

Fantasy Baseball

I try to play most fantasy sports. I follow sports, I have friends- why not, right?

Football is by far the easiest to follow through on- you only have to update once a week and you're good to go if you pay attention on Sundays and Mondays. That's it.

But with fantasy baseball and basketball, well, I have a hard time. Both are big commitments (follow through every day, don't forget, keep up with other teams, etc) but obviously, baseball is much longer.

In the past I've tried both and have had more success with baseball (surprised? With other sports, I understand (and approve) of the scoring systems, but in basketball I just can't get into it. Blocks and FT% count just as much as Points? Really? No thanks). But that's all relative- I usually start out slow (because when baseball is starting up, I'm completely focussed on the 7 months of NBA playoffs) and then, once I'm behind enough, just stop caring.

Well, this year is different! Kinda. I got two teams, one in Yahoo! and one in Sandbox. I'm not sure if I've even updated my Yahoo! team at all (mostly because I missed the draft- which was held at 6pm on a Friday) but my Sandbox team... well... that cost me money.

So now that I have a stake in the game, maybe we'll see if I actually keep up with it all season. I'd like to think I will, but who really knows.

Because you don't care at all, here are my rosters:

Yahoo! (Auto-draft):
Position Players: C - Kenji Johjima, 1B - Lance Berkman, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, 2B - Brian Roberts, 3B - Alex Rodriguez, SS - Miguel Tehjada, OF - Bobby Abreu, Alfonso Soriano, Jermaine Dye
Pitchers: SP - John Lackey, Brett Myers, Jeremy Bonderman, Erik Bedard, Aaron Harang, RP - Joe Nathan, Chris Ray

Sandbox (self draft):
Position Players: C - Ivan Rodriguez, A.J. Pierzynski, 1B - Travis Hafner, Nick Swisher, Prince Fielder, 2B - Josh Barfield, Brandon Phillips, 3B - Aramis Ramirez, Adrian Beltre, Kevin Kouzmanoff, SS - Michael Young, OF - J.D. Drew, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson, Hideki Matsui
Pitchers: SP - Felix Hernandez, Dontrelle Willis, Jered Weaver, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Sowers, Brandon Webb, Zack Greinke, Matt Morris, RP - Bobby Jenks, Tom Gordon

In case you couldn't tell, I like my chances with the Sandbox squad (also, it's filled with Indians and former Indians. Awesome).