Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cleveland 84, Portland 83

The Cavs had no business winning this ball game. The Blazers led for the entire second half, they had energy (the Cavs missed Varejao) and every single break seemed to go their way (I swear to God every loose ball somehow ended up working out in their favor). For most of the second half, the Blazer lead would seemingly fluctuate between 6 and 10 points and whenever the Cavs made a mini run, it would balloon back up to double digits.

Until LeBron James simply went off. James scored 17 of the Cavs 22 fourth quarter points, hit three 3s during a 12-0 fourth quarter run (which lasted roughly 1:30) and hit the go ahead layup with .3 seconds left (and um... he may have taken 3 steps on that shot... but shhh). He was nothing short of spectacular. James was the only Cavalier in double digits (37 points) and he also gave them 14 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks (he led in all categories). James was aggressive from the outset; he had a couple monster dunks early on and he went coast-to-coast for a basket about 6 times throughout the game. He did sprain his right ankle near the end of the first half, but he came out fine, if a bit tentative, in the second half (and honestly, ESPN seemed more concerned about it than he did).

Down the stretch, the Blazers made one play that impressed the hell out of me and another that confused the hell out of me. The nice play: LeBron just tied the game at 81 on another absurd 3, the Blazers come down and Travis Outlaw hits a big shot over Drew Gooden to give Portland the lead. For them to take back the lead, after LeBron's gone off... I was quite impressed. Their next possession... notsomuch. After Gooden split a pair of free throws, the Blazers gave the ball to Brandon Roy (16 points, 8 assists and 7 boards), who decided to take a 24 foot, fade-away 3 pointer from the wing. Just a terrible shot. I don't want to say it cost the Blazers the game, but you have to get a better look in that situation.

This game was ugly... except for the last 5 minutes or so. Neither team shot over 40%, neither team cracked 90 and the Cavs shot under 70% from the foul line. Somehow the Cavs cracked the 20 point barrier in each quarter (they were consistently mediocre) but don't ask me how it happened. The Cavs threw the ball away (12 TOs) and gave up 11 Portland offensive rebounds. There were a few times where I thought they just might pack it in only to make a mini run and keep things respectable (like when Portland was up 14 with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd... somehow it's a 6 point lead heading into the 4th).

Joel Pryzbilla killed them. The big fella had 9 points (3-3 FG), 9 boards (4 offensive) and 3 blocks in 25 minutes. At least two of his blocks came against LeBron and it seemed like everytime that Cavs got a stop, Pryzbilla somehow ended up snagging a big offensive board. He killed the Cavs all game long.

Remember how Larry Hughes kicked ass in the couple games? Ya, that well dried up. Hughes was a glorious 2-11 from the field and 4-6 from the line. His two baskets came on dunks (which I guess is somewhat remarkable) and he pitched in 3 assists and 2 boards. In case you were wondering, none of Larry's 24 minutes of court time came in the final period (he can't be pleased about that development, especially after his performance in the Laker game).

The Blazers are one of the top 3 point shooting teams but the Cavs shut them down. Some of this is luck and some of it Cavalier defense, but Portland shot just 3-14 from behind the arc. The Cavs did force them into some tough shots (like Roy's final attempt) but they also dodged a couple of bullets here and there (Blake was just 2-6 and he missed some open looks).

The bench was decent... neither that good or that bad. With Varejao out, we got to see a little of Cedric Simmons and Dwayne Jones. Simmons looked really nervous sharing the floor with James and didn't contribute much. However, Jones had a big offensive rebound and he made all four of his free throw attempts. Gibson and Jones both pitched in a couple of 3s apiece, but only one of them came in the second half (and it wasn't in the 4th).

and finally...

If you want your team to win, don't taunt LeBron James. So LeBron gets into it with some fans in Toronto and he goes off and kills the Raptors. Then Wednesday night, LeBron gets into it with a Portland fan and singlehandedly brings the Cavs back from the brink finishes off the Blazers. If I'm Dan Gilbert, I try to work this in my favor. Gilbert should purchase court side seats for Cavalier road games and give them to people with the explicit instructions to heckle James. Hell, we don't even need Gilbert involved... we just need Cavs fans to dress up in the opposing teams colors and piss LeBron off. You'd think that opposing fans would learn to stop giving this guy a hard time.... but let's hope not.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Yeah... It's that easy"

That's a strong a statement as James has ever made... about anything.

I still don't see how this gets done.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cavs going after Kidd

Brian Windhorst says that the Cavs are putting together offers for Jason Kidd:

The Cavs, in need of a point guard, are expected to be putting in a bid. According to sources, the Cavs' front office has been in contact recently with the Nets to gauge their demands. As with the pursuit of Bibby and Garnett, the team is not in a favorable position because it has a limited number of tradable assets.

Plus the Cavs are 12-3 over their last 15 games and have played better as the season has gone along, which might prevent them from tearing up the roster to make such a deal before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

But Kidd and James became close last summer while helping Team USA qualify for the Olympics. The two established a chemistry on and off the court and began dreaming about playing together in the NBA. In November, Kidd told Sports Illustrated that he and James have had ''a little talk'' about playing together with the Cavs.

For that reason alone, Ferry will be compelled to make an effort to get Kidd.

I'm not sure what the Cavs could offer the Nets, but it's going to be interesting to see where he ends up.

Cleveland's biggest asset is cap relief... after next season (the same time Kidd's contract is up). Unless the Nets dump some long term salary, I can't see Kidd ending up here. Even then, if the Cavs have to take back a lot of salary, it would mean that they'd be giving up at least 3 players and that would be a huge overhaul of the roster in midseason.

The only long term contracts (which go past 08/09) on the Nets roster currently are Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. And if you think that the Nets will trade both Kidd and either Carter or Jefferson to an Eastern team simply for cap relief....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back from NYC

I see Larry Hughes has been non-awful, LeBron's missed some layups and the two holdouts have gotten themselves hurt. Interesting...

As for New York, well, it was awesome. I caught the Knicks-Sixers game on Friday (as did Robert Plant) which was as glorious as one could hope. Madison Square Garden was pretty sweet, good view from the upper levels. However, the beer was served in plastic cups (not weird) with plastic tops (weird) and people used straws to drink it (very weird). However, if you've ever wondered if drinking Coors Light through a straw would make it better... let me assure you that it does not.

One of highlights of the trip (that I can mention here) was The Farnsworth Invention. The Farnsworth Invention is a Broadway play about the invention of the television and is written by Aaron Sorkin and stars Hank Azaria and Jimmi Simpson. As with most things by Sorkin, I loved it. Azaria was awesome, as to be expected (during intermission, my buddy mentioned that he was using a voice similar to Moe, after which I couldn't stop thinking about) and Simpson was
surprisingly good. I only know Simpson from his work as one of the McPoyle brothers (fork stab!) on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and we came away quite impressed with his acting chops. Anyways, if you're in NYC anytime soon, I highly recommend catching The Farnsworth Invention.

Anyways, I'm back and hopefully will have some kind of Cleveland sports related post at sometime tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


One team stinks, the other team is 8-1 in January... but both are 'floundering':
John Hollinger,
There are some years when things go pretty much to form. This isn't one of them.

The two best teams so far have been in the East, the three presumed powers in the West are dealing with insurgents like the Lakers, Hornets and Blazers, alleged contenders like the Bulls and Cavs are floundering, and the champs of two seasons ago (Heat) are already dead and buried.

The only thing we can still count on is that two deserving teams won't make the playoffs in the West, and two undeserving teams will make it in the East.

I disagree.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cleveland 97, Miami 90

Was this really LeBron's first win in Miami? Wow, somehow I did not know that. He's played well here before, but they've had some brutal losses down there... blown some huge leads...

LeBron vs Wade, TNT was thrilled. Dwyane Wade had 42 points, 7 assists and 6 boards and he scored Miami's last 18 points. James had 'just' 28 points, 5 assists and 3 boards (to go along with 4 steals and 5 turnovers). You could tell that TNT really wanted a Wade-James battle and for a minute or two it looked almost likely... but James forced the issue and turned the ball over twice in a row (an errant pass and then a charge). However, a duel never really took place. LeBron calmed down and ran the offense while Wade just went 1-on-5 the rest of the way.

I was unaware we got Miami's home announcers for the game. I dunno, maybe it was just me, but the coverage was a little too Miami-centric for my tastes. Interviews with Shaq and Zo, lots of talk about Pat Riley and the future, lot's of talk about Wade, not sure the Cavs were even mentioned at halftime... meh, I dunno, maybe I'm just cranky. Oh, until Wade hit a 3 with under a minute to go, the Heat were in danger of going without a trey for the first time 125 games or something. I'm glad that kept being brought up (meanwhile, Daniel Gibson didn't hit a 3, which I'm pretty sure breaks a streak for him, but that was never mentioned).

The refs bugged me too. Wade got a continuation call against Pavlovic that blew my mind. Varejao was part of two plays that were quite ridiculous. Early in the game Jason Williams shoved Andy out of bounds (with two hands!), Varejao lost the ball and it was called Heat ball. Then somehow Varejao got into a jump ball situation despite nobody else having their hands on the ball. The Heat could've gotten some calls too, but some of the blatant blown calls went against the Cavs (not that TNT pointed it out- I mean seriously, no mention of Williams shoving Varejao? How is that not mentioned?).

The bigs played well. It may have taken 10 years, but Z is finally getting the best of Shaq. Z had a double-double (13 points, 11 boards) and had a big tip-in late in the fourth quarter. Shaq finished with 10 points (all in the first half) and 5 boards. Gooden had a decent game with 11 points and 5 boards (he even went straight up for a dunk once!) but he didn't sniff crunch time. Varejao had 6 points, 10 boards and a nifty assist to Z for a dunk on a 2-on-1 break.

Larry Hughes and Sasha Pavlovic both played really, really decent. Pavlovic went 4-7, scored 11 points, hit the only 3 he took and added 4 assists and 3 boards. Definitely one of his better games of late. And Hughes was decidedly 'not awful' in scoring 9 points on 4-8 shooting (though he did airball a 3 badly) and adding 2 boards (0 assists for the Cavs starting point guard). Would you be shocked to learn that they too didn't sniff the court during crunch time?

Speaking of, I really like the Cavs crunch time lineup. Damon Jones and Daniel Gibson spread the floor really well, Varejao and Z are great on the offensive glass and LeBron is LeBron. That's a lineup that should give you points. Both Z and Andy had big tip-ins late in the game and Jones hit a 3 in the fourth. Gibson didn't have a good game offensively, he shot just 2-10 and he seemed to be pressing.

and finally...

8-1 in January? Well done. At what point do we start hearing about those red hot Cavs? Anytime soon? They've won 4 in a row and 10 of their last 12. Though they have a rough-ish stretch coming up. They play Washington (Wednesday) and Phoenix (Friday) at home before they head out West of a quick three game swing (Lakers, Blazers and Sonics). On a personal note, there's a 99.999999% chance that I won't be recapping Wednesday's game against the Wizards, Friday's game against the Suns and Sunday's game against the Lakers due to a little trip I'll be taking to New York City.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cavs Rumors

With the trade deadline coming up, let's run through some recent Cavs rumors, shall we?

Jamal Crawford

Sources told that the New York Knicks have been one of the more active teams in trade discussions around the NBA. But team president and head coach Isiah Thomas has quashed numerous proposals put together by his top assistant, Glen Grunwald, mainly because of Thomas' reluctance to part with the two players other teams ask for the most, Jamal Crawford and David Lee.

One proposed deal would have sent Crawford and a cap filler (Malik Rose and/or Jerome James) to the New Jersey Nets for Vince Carter. Another would have sent Crawford and others to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a package built around Larry Hughes. A third deal, which was squashed by the Bucks, would have sent Zach Randolph to Milwaukee.

Crawford would be a nice addition to this club. He can handle the ball, he's big (6-5) and he can score (but he's a very streaky shooter). The big issue for me is Crawford's contract. Assuming he picks up his player option after next season, he'd be signed through the 2010-11 season (in which he'd make $10 million). No other Cavalier has an offer that long (LeBron is definitely here through '09-10 and has player option for '10-11) and that's a long time to commit to a player with a career FG% of .403 and 3PT% .343. But if it gets Hughes off the roster...

Sam Cassell:

Keep an eye on Sam Cassell. He isn't asking to be traded out of Clipperland. But if the team continues to struggle, that could change.

Cassell would be a very intriguing addition to any playoff-bound team -- especially Dallas or Cleveland.

"We'll see," he told the Los Angeles Times. "It ain't to that point right now, but we'll see. I started this thing (with the Clippers) and we'll see how it pans out."

Cassell intrigues me... I know he's old, but he's won in the playoffs and he definitely knows how to set players up. Playing with a PG like Cassell could help out LeBron in a numbers of ways. First, on the court, LeBron should get a couple of easy baskets a game due to actual competent passing. Secondly, Cassell has taken (and hit) big shots all throughout his career, so LeBron wouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting come playoff time. Off the court, a winner like Cassell could really help the Cavalier locker room and the advice he'd give LeBron could really be invaluable.

Mike Bibby:

If the Cavs want him, they're going to have to take back Kenny Thomas' contract as well -- something Cleveland insiders have said is a deal-breaker. But the Cavs and Kings have had at least three sets of trade discussions centered around Bibby in the past year, including three days of intense discussions immediately prior to last season's deadline.
If you've read this blog at all, you know I'm not that high on Mike Bibby. Don't me wrong, he's a fine player and everything, but I don't have the Bibby-boner like a lot of Cavalier fans. He's a better shooter than both Hughes and Crawford and he's definitely the pure point guard that the Cavs would like, but... I dunno. His defense is awful (so he won't solve the Cavs problems with quick guards) and he's never made an All-Star team.

I know, not the best measure of talent, but if the Cavs are going to trade for LeBron's second banana (or LeBron's Pippen) shouldn't he have at least been an All-Star?

As for Kenny Thomas:

Really Cleveland? You won't make the deal to get point guard Mike Bibby if you have to take back Kenny Thomas' two-year, $17.3 million contract? You must be joking. First, you have to give up Drew Gooden to even start the discussion for Bibby.

So, you lose a power forward and you gain one back -- albeit a lesser one -- with Thomas. What's the big deal? It can't be the $17.3 million. You have six players coming off the books at the end of the season. You would rather waste another season of prime LeBron James to avoid a one-time luxury tax hit? You can't seriously think you are going back to the NBA Finals with the current roster.

Ya, Thomas is only going to be around for two more seasons, but depending on the deal, the Cavs could need to keep their salary flexibility next year (more on that in a bit). Oh, and the "six players coming off the books at the end of the season"? Ira Newble, Devin Brown, Shannon Brown, Daniel Gibson, Dwayne Jones and Demetris Nichols. Total salary: $8.64 million.

Thomas, who's been working on his game, could be worth the risk in trading for Bibby. He does give the Cavs another PF in return (so they wouldn't be pressing Dwayne Jones into the rotation) and they could even start him to keep Varejao in the bench energy/end of the game role he excels at.

If the Cavs don't do squat this season and go into the offseason with the same roster, they'll have somewhere between $24 and $30 million dollars in expiring deals (depending on if Varejao picks up his player option). That's a lot of cap relief to dangle in front of underachieving teams with high priced players (I'd be eying Milwaukee and Michael Redd). Thomas makes roughly $8 million each of the next two seasons, so the Cavs should still be able to have somewhere $10 -$20 million range (in expiring deals) to play with (depending on who gets shipped off). Plus, Thomas comes off the books the same summer as Hughes and Ilgauskas, so the Cavs should have ample capspace then as well.

Tyronn Lue, Marcus Banks or Earl Watson:

As of now, odds are the Cavs end up with a different point guard by the time the deadline passes, anyone from Tyronn Lue to Marcus Banks to Earl Watson.

No no non no no no! Marcus Banks is a career 34% 3PT shooter, makes $4.5 million a year and is signed through '10-11. Trading for Banks would be like trading for another Damon Jones who has longer contract and without the ability to make shots. They need a point guard... but not a terrible one.

Earl Watson? Meh. He's a career 41% shooter and 34% from beyond the arc. He has two years and roughly $12 million left on his current deal (after this season). He's decent, but I can't see him being the guy to run a championship team.

Of all these 2nd tier (or 3rd tier) point guards, Tyron Lue makes the most sense. He's in the last year of his deal and makes only $3.5 million this year and while he's not he flashiest player, he's quick, tough and has a career 3PT% of .383. He'd definitely be a low risk/Flip Murray type acquisition, but he wouldn't mess with future cap consideration.

Look, I know the Cavs need to make a deal and I want them to make a deal. They need to shake things up and certain players could really use the change of scenery. I know this. You know this. And I'm sure that Danny Ferry knows this. But if they're going to make a move, I want them to make either a big one (Mike Bibby) or a little one (Tyron Lue). I don't want something in between.

Here's my thing: if it's going to effect their future capspace/trade options, it better enable them to get above the 3-seed in the East. I figure that the Cavs (barring injuries) can get the 3-seed as currently constructed and if the potential deal won't propel them ahead of the Pistons and it messes with their future expiring contracts, why even do it? What's the point?

I'm all for making a move, but make a smart one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cleveland 90, San Antonio 88

First quarter... thought it could get ugly. The Spurs had leads of 8-2, 18-10 and 21-12. The Cavs kept making mini runs to make things close and eventually finished the quarter down 26-19, but things didn't look especially promising.

The second quarter didn't start out any better... With LeBron out the Cavs started out the second period by quickly getting themselves down 10, at 29-19. At this point, things looked grim. But then something weird happened...

They made a run. A big one. 20-4. At the 11:00 minute mark, the Cavs trailed 29-19. With 3:30 to go in the half, they led 45-35. What'd they do? Well, they shared the ball (7 assists on 9 baskets), fed Z (9 points) and played scrappy defense (2 steals, 2 blocks and a few forced turnovers). LeBron was on the court for only the last minute or so of the run (if that) and the Cavs kept him on the bench for almost 8 minutes of game time. The lineup that did the bulk of the damage was pretty solid: Damon Jones, Daniel Gibson, Devin Brown, Anderson Varejao and Z. That's a nice group of guys; Z can score (he's your main scorer in the group), both Gibson and Jones can knock down open jumpers and Brown and Varejao are your scrappers. I hope to see more of this group in the future.

But let's not minimize LeBron's night. James ended up with 27 points, 9 boards, 7 assists and 2 blocks. Vowing to work on his midrange game after the Finals, James came out and hit 5 jumpers between 10 and 20 feet. Sure, he wasn't exactly lighting it up (9-24 from the field), but scoring 10 points midrange made them respect the shot and he also got to the line 12 times (making 8). It wasn't the prettiest shooting display, though he could've gotten a few more calls, but he played smart (which is all you can ask for). Also, he could've very easily had 18-20 free throws if a few calls had went his way (especially in the second half).

The rebounding was huge. The Cavs won the rebounding battle 45-40 and they grabbed 15 offensive boards. Varejao was really big, grabbing 14 boards to go along with his 12 points. Varejao was the only Cavalier player in double digits, but everyone who played got a 'bound and every starter had at least 3.

Cavs win or Spurs loss? Don't get me wrong, the Cavs deserved to win this game, but something just didn't feel exactly right. Maybe it the 20 point swing with James on the bench, maybe it was the missed free throws (the Spurs were just 16-23), maybe it was the face that the Cavs finished the Spurs off by shooting a blistering 5-14 during the final 9 minutes... I dunno. Last year I enjoyed the win in San Antonio much more (the fact that the Cavs swept the season series last year and then got stomped in the Final could have something to do with it).

Larry Hughes played crunch time... and didn't piss me off. I was kinda surprised that Hughes replaced Damon Jones for the final part of the fourth quarter (especially after Damon hit a jumper to give the Cavs a lead with just over 6 minutes to go) but he did pretty well. He didn't take any bad shots (or any shots at all), he played relatively solid defense, deferred to James and Z and even made the extra pass to Gibson for a key 3. Sure, he finished the game shooting 2-7 but he also had 3 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block. Look people, I'm not looking for gold, at this point I'll take salvageable aluminum.

Weird subbing in the fourth. Not only did Hughes play crunch time, but Mike Brown took out LeBron with 8:45 to go in the game, which kinda surprised me. I'm all for LeBron getting more rest, but mid-fourth quarter (in San Antonio) isn't exactly the time I'd be prefer. Hell, I'm worried when he sits to start the fourth, let alone 3 minutes into it. He ended up missing one a minute and a half and they did win the game... but I felt Brown was playing with fire.

TNT made it sound like the Spurs were getting screwed by the refs, the crappiness went both ways my friends. Yes, Larry Hughes whacked Tony Parker in the head on a fast break. But the Cavs possession that led to that break? James was decked on a drive to the hoop with no call. That could've been brought up at some point (it was one of multiple times James took some hits without a whistle being blown). As for the no call on the Cavs go ahead basket (where LeBron ran into Fabrico Oberto)... Here's the thing, Oberto and James collided on the left side of the key, while James went forward towards the rim, Oberto landed to the right of the key near the 3 point line. If James ran him over, they'd have ended up going the same direction, no? That was a flop, plain and simple.

and finally...

The Cavs have won four straight against the Spurs! Not counting playoffs.... I know this year has been deemed a disappointment so far but the Cavaliers do have wins San Antonio, Dallas, Golden State, Utah, Boston and the Lakers (of course, they also have losses against the Sixers, Knicks and Hawks in there as well). Plus, I thought they started the year really well, considering the hold outs and schedule (tough road trip right off the bat). Ya, they struggled for a bit (with James missing time) but they're 9-2 since Christmas and they seem to have found a nice groove. They have a rough stretch coming up (after they face the Heat on Monday) with the Wizards and Suns at home and a three game West Coast swing to face the Lakers, Blazers and Sonics. But you gotta admit, things seem to be looking up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cleveland 132, Memphis 124 OT

Now that was a fun game. This contest had basically everything you'd want in a NBA basketball game. Lots of scoring? Check. Some badass dunks? Check (LeBron, Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick all threw down). A guy with a crazy black beard? Check. 3 point bombs? Check (the Cavs were 12-26, Grizzlies 15-30). Super-duper-star taking over? Check (James had 25 in the 4th and OT). Slow, European Goliaths kicking ass in the post? Check (Z had 14 and 8) and check (Pau Gasol had 19 and 12). Lead changes and long runs? Check (The Cavs blew multiple 10 point leads throughout the game). Last second shots? Check (Juan Carlos Navarro hit a 3 with 10 seconds left to send the game into OT). All in all, this was a joy to watch.

This was one of those games where LeBron had energy (and a jumper). James finished with 51 points, 9 assists, 8 boards, 3 steals and a block in 47 minutes. What's pretty amazing is the fact that James got his 51 points on just 28 shots (making 18). His numbers could've been even more ridiculous as he was just 9-16 from the foul line and his teammates could've notched him another assist or two in the first half if they knocked down the open looks that he set up. LeBron was just 9-16 from the line... but 6-12 from beyond the arc. Weird.

I really like this Memphis team. The Grizzlies are full of players that I like (and they all had pretty solid games). Pau Gasol's line was 19-12-5. Mike Conley had 20 points and 7 dimes. Navarro had 26 points and was 6-10 behind the arc. Rudy Gay had a more than solid evening with 30 points and 9 boards. And Hakim Warrick pitched in 9 points. This team is full of solid, if young, players and they should improve in time.

Fox Sports stunk. They found a neat stat (Memphis is 1-9 in games decided by 3 points or less) and just kept hammering the point home. We got it the first 12 times. The video wasn't much better as we missed a Memphis basket cause apparently we had to see a Drew Gooden block from another angle. Then, during one turnover plagued period, Austin lamented the fact that the Cavs were getting passes intercepted when they were simply passing to their teammates. I get what he was trying to say (the Cavs were turning it over while they were simply moving the ball along the perimeter, not making any tough passes inside) but I just sat there thinking to myself "who are they supposed to be passing the ball to, if not their teammates?" Also, late in the game Carr was chastising Z for not going up for a dunk... when Z got fouled/blocked while going up for a dunk. It boggles the mind... Finally, the less games involving Rudy Gay that Fred McCleod announces, the better... I'll just leave it at that.

Also, I'm not sure Mark Price wants them to keep mentioning that he tutored Larry Hughes over the offseason. I can't imagine that helps his reputation as a shooting coach. Hughes was 2-8 for 4 points in 28 minutes. However, he did pitch in 7 boards (though just 1 assist), which was nice (as a team, the Cavs killed the Griz on the boards 47-33).

I thought Mike Brown did a pretty good job. First of all, it seems like the Cavs have settled on a regular rotation and I like it (he's going with the shooters down the stretch, leaving Hughes and Pavlovic regulated on the bench). Also, Memphis went small to start the second half (they sat Darko and started Navarro) and Coach Mike actually didn't match. Not only did he keep Ilgauksas in the game, but he actually utilized him as Z had 9 points and 2 assists in the third.

Damon Jones has been playing really really well. He made a comment that he was whining about playing time, so he needed to back it up, but he's been more than solid coming off the bench and pairing with Daniel Gibson. Jones hit a clutch 3 in OT to put the Cavs on top for good. However, if DJ would've made both freebies (to put the Cavs up 4) with 14 seconds left in regulation, he wouldn't have had to make that 3...

The entire bench was great. Daniel Gibson had 18 points (4-7 from downtown) with 10 of them coming in the second quarter. Anderson Varejao gave the Cavs a nice effort with 11 points and 7 boards (as well as a key flop in OT). Overall, the bench bunch gave the Cavs 45 points on 15-28 shooting.

and finally...

Oh goody... the Finals 'rematch'. Who knows, maybe the Cavs will extend their regular season winning streak against the Spurs to 4 games (take that!). I really hope that they don't suck on national television (as their apt to do) this Thursday in San Antonio. At least the Cavs are coming in playing some of their best ball of the season, as they've won 6 of their last 7 (and 8 of their last 10).

Monday, January 14, 2008

He now has the time to figure out a rotation

So we have some Mike Brown news today. Care to guess what it is?

Was he fired? Nope. Was he given the dreaded 'vote of confidence'? Nope. Has he hired an offensive assistant? Nah. Did he announce that someone else will be coaching the 3rd quarters of games? Nope.

It's not any of those, it's something better: he was given a two-year extension and he's now signed through the 2010-11 season. Of course he was.

I've had my issues with Brown in the past (and by past I mean last week) and quite frankly, this news really surprised me.

The Coach Mike defenders will point to the fact that Brown got the Cavs to their first NBA Finals, that he beat a superior Pistons team to get there and that he's won 100 games in his first two seasons. He has the most playoff wins in Cavs history (though when Wilkens coached, the first round was 5 games and the East didn't suck ass) and his Cavalier teams are more than solid defensively.

This is all true.


This is Brown's third year and the Cavs still haven't settled on an offense. They frequently come out of halftime looking like they've never seen a basketball before. The Cavs have had basically the same roster for Brown's entire tenure and he still can't settle on a decent rotation. The Cavaliers routinely have quarters where they score less than 20 points and they often blow games to bad teams (like the Knicks, Bobcats, etc). I don't like that he doesn't work the refs like the great coaches do (he rarely voices complaints like Jackson, Riley, Brown et al) and he doesn't get thrown out in order to prove a point.

Has he improved? Sure. He's stopped falling back on Eric Snow. He's at least willing to experiment with lineup changes (he even started Daniel Gibson last season). He knows what his weaknesses are (at least he's self aware) and he does try to improve (though I still want him to sign a Tex Winter/Del Harris type assistant). And hell, we are starting to see actual plays coming out of time outs (a back door pass? Huzzah!).

But an extension? Was this really necessary? Brown was signed through next year anyways. There's a lot of games to be played between now and then and I wasn't entirely sure that Brown shouldn't have been on the hot seat.

However, the extension does accomplish some things. The extension sends a message to certain players (Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, Ira Newble) that Coach is going to be here awhile. Make all the fuss you want, but you aren't going to get this guy fired. Danny Ferry or Dan Gilbert simply making a statement in Brown's favor doesn't accomplish that (in fact, it just fuels speculation). Plus, it's not like Gilbert can't turn around and fire Brown tomorrow if he so desired (it's not like the extension counts against the cap and it's not my money they'd be throwing down the drain).

What this extension does is give Brown credibility and peace of mind. He's the coach today, he'll be the coach tomorrow and he has full backing of management (and, more than likely, LeBron). He can coach without looking over his shoulder or reading the papers. And in that respect, I like the signing.

He is a young coach who should improve. He did beat a Piston team that was more talented than the Cavaliers (ya, LeBron went off, but you don't beat a team you shouldn't without a good coach). I still have issues with some of his tactics and style, but Brown manages to win more than he loses.

But hell, if he gets an extension through '10-11 for this season, imagine how long he'd be signed if the Cavs didn't collapse in the 3rd quarter...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Guess Andy's Knee Feels OK

Nice win, but there's no way I can write something... just waaaay too tired...

Anyone else remember when LeBron wasn't considered 'clutch'? Funny.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Site Maintenance

Been meaning to revamp the links section for awhile now, but didn't have the time... time which I currently have...

Anyways, I took out the dead links and added (in alphabetical order) Cleveland Curse, Cleveland Sports Authority, Cleveland Sports Perspective, Hardaway Hates Pittsburgh, Hey Larry Hughes, The Nosebleeds and Vegas Watch. I also fixed the link to Cavalier Attitude.

In other news, I've been working on a 'Best of 2007' music post, but it keeps getting pushed back. At this point I may just scrap it for a list. I dunno. Also, I had hoped to get back to doing my 'Weekend Thoughts' posts on a regular basis over break, but that didn't happen.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Cavs-Hawks and stuff

Still sick... no big recap.

Maybe I'm hallucinating due to my three digit temperature, but by going on the game I just witnessed, I would fire Mike Brown immediately. I'd at least give him a lukewarm vote of confidence. He should've had at least one technical foul tonight, if not two. He took too long to bench his starters in the third quarter, which is basically what lost the game.

At this point, Larry Hughes should have a 6 shot plan. He has to make 3 of his first 6 shots in order to shoot more. This means if he starts 0-4 or 1-5 he's not allowed to hoist another shot. He was completely useless on both ends of the floor tonight.


Be honest, which extension relieved you more: Romeo Crennel's or Chud's?


Why aren't we on D.Wade watch? If the Cavaliers had problems anywhere near those of the Heat, we'd be on LeBron watch constantly (and "we'd" be on it, because ESPN would be shoving it down our throats). Not that this is anything you don't already know, but it's quite absurd that we never hear any speculation that Wade might leave. I mean, shouldn't the Heat worry about keeping him happy? Hello? Anyone?


I've been sick with a cold of some sort, so no Cavs write up. I watched the game and I liked the fact that they actually put away a bad team. That was nice.

Monday, January 07, 2008

God Dammit (Again)

See... here's the thing...

I've said all along that I didn't think OSU was that good this year, that Boeckman scared the hell out of me and that they had one loss more because of their schedule than because of their skill.

Ohio State is gonna get killed for this performance and (somewhat) rightly so. They were out of position, they made too many stupid penalties (though the first unnecessary roughness was complete bullshit) and they couldn't make a stop on third down to save their life. In short, they got beat.

Is anyone that surprised by this outcome? I wish I could say I was... but I'm not. LSU is the better team, hands down.

The thing is, back in August, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that Ohio State would end up in New Orleans. I figured they'd lose a few games and, if things fell their way, they may get into a BCS Bowl. That was it. Play well, make some strides, don't get injured and come back strong for next season.

Instead, we had one of the craziest years in college football history. Not only did they only lose one game all year, but everyone else kept losing too. So they backed in. They probably shouldn't have been there, but honestly, they had as good an argument as anybody else.

And there's the problem. If there was a playoff system in place, Ohio State would've already lost. They wouldn't have gotten killed in the Championship game, they would've lost beforehand. It's kinda like the Cavs versus the Spurs last year. Sure, if the East didn't stink, they would've lost way before the Finals, but it did stink and they beat the teams they faced.

Ohio State did what they should've done: they won the Big Ten. It's not their fault it sucked this year.

This is why we need a playoff. Games like this. The BCS was supposed to pit the two best teams against each other in the title game. Obviously, that wasn't the case this time around.

It sucks that OSU got killed again, but if it brings us one step closer to an actual playoff system, I'll gladly bite that bullet (but I won't be holding my breath).

Bibby Still a Possibility

The rumor that never dies... still hasn't died.

Brian Windhorst says the Cavs are still pursuing Mike Bibby:

At this moment, there is nothing serious going on between the Cavaliers and Kings, but make no mistake, there probably will be. Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry has made at least three serious attempts within the last year to acquire Bibby. And the signs are there that he soon might be trying again.
As you may or may not know, I'm not particularly fond of these Bibby rumors. Windhorst explains:

It's not clear just why the Cavs are so enamored with Bibby. They are in desperate need of a true point guard, and Bibby certainly is one. He is, however, not a good defender, a Cavs priority, and his offensive stats, especially his shooting percentages, have been falling off in recent years. He hasn't played a game this year while recovering from a thumb injury, though he should be back in the next week. As the Kings have started rebuilding, there have been whispers around the league that Bibby has become a problem in the locker room.

Again, not a trait the Cavs desire. The Cavs, though, think that they have some special ties and information on Bibby. Ferry and Bibby share an agent, David Falk, and no doubt there has been indirect information sharing. Cavs coach Mike Brown never has coached Bibby but has some close friends who are close with Bibby and his friends and family. They've done their homework.

Some members of the Cavs organization think the thumb injury has slowed him down for two years. Now that it's fixed, some think that he has a lot left in the tank. They also look at how strongly he played in the playoffs and coexisted on a roster that had other stars when the Kings were in their glory years with Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic. Also, Bibby is on a maximum contract, but he is only signed through next season, which would allow the Cavs to retain flexibility if a Bibby/LeBron James marriage didn't work.

A year ago, Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie was determined to get back a starter-quality point guard if he traded Bibby. That was the problem — the Cavs didn't have one to trade and couldn't find one in a three-way deal that Petrie wanted. That has changed somewhat with newcomer Beno Udrih showing promise with the Kings in Bibby's absence. Petrie has also made it known since then that his goal is to clear salary-cap space for the summer of 2009.

All of which brings the Cavs back into the game without the need of a third team. Nearly the Cavs' entire roster has contracts that will be up after next season, giving them all sorts of trading pieces if the Kings make that a priority. The Kings would be interested in moving a player signed past 2009 in addition to Bibby. Most likely it would be Kenny Thomas, who is signed for two more seasons and can't get off the bench.

If the Cavs want Bibby bad enough, they do have the ammunition to give the Kings what they want. It would take a package that would probably involved a talented big man such as Drew Gooden, a prospect such as Shannon Brown or a draft pick and contracts expiring in 2009. The Cavs have numerous ones, especially Eric Snow, Damon Jones or even both.

It might not seem like a lot for a player such as Bibby, but it would free the Kings of millions in salary commitments, get them a bonafide starting power forward and set them up for rebuilding.

Maybe the Cavs know what they're getting into. I just worry about his thumb injury hampering him. Bibby's strength is his offense and if he can't shoot well... As for Bibby's poor defense, I don't particularly care about that, mostly because Cavs point guards have been getting burned all year, so it's not like they'd be turning a strength into a weakness.

The Cavs do need to make a move, just to shake things up, if nothing else. Most of this team has been together for 2-3 years, they could use some new blood. I don't mind them trading Gooden, as I'm becoming less and less enamored with him as the season goes on (seriously, watch this guy at the defensive end sometime, ridiculous). Plus, he is only signed for another season after this, so the Cavs would retain some of their cap flexibility.

I dunno though, the Cavs would be paying four players eight figure salaries (James, Z, Bibby and Hughes) with only one of them (James) being an All-Star. That just doesn't seem right to me.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cleveland 93, Toronto 90

The Cavs did not deserve to win this game. They started off the afternoon trailing 20-6. At the end of the first, Toronto had doubled them up 28-14. They trailed by as many as 20 (35-15) in the second quarter before cutting the lead to 10 at halftime (43-33). The lead grew to 18 in the third, but at the quarter break it was 'just' 15. There were terrible shots, terrible turnovers and lackadaisical (to say the least) defensive effort. They didn't have a lead until 4:00 left in the game. There are two reasons, and two reasons only, why the Cavaliers won this game.

Reason 1: LeBron James. James completely went off in the fourth quarter; LBJ scored 24 of his 39 points in the fourth period (including four of the Cavs' seven 3s) to go along with 11 boards and 8 assists. One could say he saved their sorry asses. Like the Atlanta game, LeBron just took over and started making shots. While most of the big damage was done off of the four 3s LeBron nailed (and they weren't exactly in the offensive flow) he did drive to the rim for points (and free throws, 7-12)... but that was simply 1-on-5 as well. It wasn't like the offense started to click or anything, it was 90% LeBron, 10% Damon Jones/Daniel Gibson 3 balls.

Reason 2: rebounds (specifically, the offensive variety). Even though the Cavs trailed most of the game, they held a steady rebounding advantage throughout. They ended up winning the rebounding battle 52-33 with a whopping 20-5 edge in offensive boards. Now, some of this could stem from the fact that the Raptors outshot the Cavs 49%-41% (and it was more pronounced, like 60%-35%, early on), so Cleveland had more opportunities for offensive boards, but they took advantage. The Cavs put up 14 more shots (85-71) than the Raptors. James, Varejao and Gooden all had double digit boards (11, 13 and 12 respectively).

Chris Bosh was pretty good, but not dominant. Bosh had 24 points (9-11) but just grabbed four boards. He got a lot of dunks off of his teammates penetration, but didn't really assert himself (and lord know he could've, Z and Gooden aren't exactly stellar one-on-one defenders).

You want to know how bad things got during the first 3 periods? Damon Jones got to play. Jones answered the bell, making both 3's he attempted while also dishing out 3 assists. Say what you will about Jones, but give him credit, he sat for 7 games, came off the bench and hit shots. He didn't need more PT, he took what was given to him and made the most out of it.

Speaking of guys who need a lot of court time to find a groove, Larry Hughes wasn't terrible. Nothing Hughes did really stood out, but when I looked at the box score, I saw he shot 6-12 from the field. 50%? Huh, who knew? The Cavs starting point guard finished with 3 boards, 3 steals and 0 assists in just 25 minutes.

Though Sasha Pavlovic was terrible. Sasha was 1-7 and somehow ended up with 0 turnovers (I coulda swore he dribbled himself into a TO). It got so bad that Mike Brown actually benched Sasha for performance reasons 3 minutes into the third quarter (you know, as opposed to the normal '6 minute sub no matter what' routine). Sasha only had 16 minutes of court time.

The bench played a huge role. LeBron played 46 minutes and he was the only starter to play more than 30. No one off the bench hit double figures in points (Gooden and Hughes had 10 and 14 respectively) but both Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao gave the Cavs good minutes (over 30 apiece). Gibson and Jones both hit huge 3s in the fourth period and Varejao

This was the first time I got to see Jamario Moon. I now understand the buzz. Moon had a couple of thundering dunks, huge blocks on consecutive plays and even hit a 3. The guy can jump just a tad...

This was not a good afternoon for FSNOhio. First of all, there wasn't a score board (score line? score graphic thingy?) for a good chunk of the second quarter. The best part was, neither Fred McCleod or Austin Carr knew it was missing (meaning, I just had to guestimate how poorly the Cavs were doing). We also missed the first play of the second half because they were showing Chris Bosh's All-Star vote video. But it wasn't just technical difficulties that plagued Fox Sports, the announcers had some amazing moments as well. McCleod had some Isaac Newton riff that went on too long and he actually uttered the phrase "a one hand job by Drew Gooden" (and you through rubber rim jobs were gross). Later on, McCleod informed us that "Chris Bosh is shooting 7 for 7, but has only taken 7 shots". Thanks, guy. However, Austin Carr takes the cake for most inane comment of the night for this line: "the Cavs have to take a lead in order to win the ball game". So true.

Zydrunas also had a rough afternoon. Big Z had 8 points (3-9), 6 boards, a block and an assist in just 22 minutes. Z never seemed comfortable during his stay on the court. He had a few nice post moves, but his jumper (which was so reliable early on this season) wasn't falling and he also turned the ball over a few times.

and finally...

Whoo hoo! .500! The Cavs evened up their record at 17-17 and can climb into positive territory with a win against Seattle on Tuesday. Their next real tough game is in San Antonio on the 17th, in the meantime they have games against Seattle and Charlotte at home, with games in Atlanta and Memphis in between. I'd love to see them above .500 by the time they have to face the Spurs.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cleveland 97, Sacramento 93

This game is all about the bench. The Cavaliers bench outscored their Sacramento counterparts 31-17. The Cavs had only three bench players score, but they all put up double figures. Boobie and Devin Brown each had 13 points and Anderson Varejao pitched in 11. All three guys played with a ton of energy (which really woke up the crowd) and they also came in with that apparent rare ability to make shots (and Gibson a big one to put the Cavs up 4 with 11 seconds left).

LeBron saved the Cavs from a horrendous start (instead it was just 'barely watchable'). LeBron scored 13 of the Cavs 21 first quarter points (and I was shocked they even broke 20, they had 13 with 1:15 left). James attacked the hoop and gave the Cavs a much (much much much) needed energy boost early on. James finished with 24 points, 10 assists, 8 boards and 5 steals. This was one of his better games (stats and energywise) since he returned from injury. This was one of those games where James was aggressive; he actively looked to post up and he ended up taking 12 free throws (making 9).

Neither Pavlovic or Hughes shot the ball well. Hughes was 2-11 while Sasha was 4-11. Pavlovic at least grabbed some rebounds (6) and attacked the rim (though I'm not sure if missing close range shots works for or against him... but at least he tried to do something). Either way, neither guy looked comfortable but I'd say Pavlovic at least had something to build on.

Give Mike Brown credit, he kept with a lineup that was working. In the fourth quarter, the Cavs began to click with a lineup of Gibson, Brown, James, Varejao and Ilgauskas (one could argue that this should be the starting five... could argue...) and Brown rode them til the end (well, almost, for some reason Pavlovic replaced Z on the Kings final possession(??)). Brown actually does this fairly well from time to time (sticking with a lineup that works) and I wished he'd ride the hot hand (or hands) more often.

I still hate Mikki Moore. I don't care what team he's on, he's always annoying. Him and Pavlovic had a couple of rough run ins throughout the game (which I assume is a carry over from last year).

Z bounced back with a decent game. After barely making a dent in the Hawks game Wednesday night, Z played a very active game against the Kings, scoring 14 points and grabbing 15 boards. He didn't shoot particularly well (a Larry Hughes-esque 4-15) but it wasn't like he was taking bad shots or forcing things, his jumper simply wasn't falling (and neither were his tap ins). Z also had a nifty pass from the post to a cutting LeBron (for a 3 point play) which should make some nightly highlight reels.

Odds vs Evens. The Cavs first and third quarters were terrible; there was little to no energy, there was terrible shot selection and even worse defense. The crowd was booing (I mean, Larry Hughes turned the ball over by stepping inbounds... while inbounding) and the team looked rather abysmal. However, the second and fourth quarters were practically inspirational. Varejao, Brown and Gibson actually played with passion and their played ignited the crowd (and, to a certain extent, LeBron). LeBron took advantage of his active teammates by sitting back and distributing the ball (only 5 points in the second half). He didn't exactly 'let the game come to him', but at least he started looking to pass after he scored a ton of points (and it sure helped that his teammates moved without the ball).

Hey... wasn't that guy cut by somebody? Beno Udrih looked very much like starting point guard on his way to scoring 11 points (just 5-12, but he did miss a few point blank layups. Like Pavlovic, I'm not sure if this a point for or against him) and dishing out 9 assists. Udrih looked very (very very) quick with the ball and I was really impressed with some of his passes (they seemed to hit players right in the hands. Weird).

and finally...

Keep 'em coming. This game wasn't the prettiest (the first and third quarters) but it wasn't the ugliest either (thanks to the second and fourth). They've won 4 of 5 and they're only a game out of .500 (16-17). They travel to Toronto for a matinée game against the Raptors on Sunday and they follow with games against the Sonics, @Hawks, Bobcats and @Grizzlies. Another 4 out of 5 isn't out of the question (and 3 of 5 is a must).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cleveland 98, Atlanta 84

LeBron saved their sorry asses. James salvaged an otherwise unwatchable game by scoring 32 of his 36 points in the second half (19 in the fourth quarter... which was the also 19 of the Cavs final 22 points). You may be wondering if he did this while in some kind of offensive flow. Well... no. There was a lot of dribbling around and pulling up for jumpers. But hey, they went in.

Drew Gooden bugs the hell out of me. Gooden got lost on defense countless times (I'm pretty sure he still doesn't know that Josh Smith is left handed), played some terrible point guard (yup) and jumped on every pump fake thrown his way. His stats were decent (13 and 7) but I wasn't impressed.

Mike Brown also bugs the hell out of me. How Drew Gooden stayed in the game was beyond me. How the Cavs scored any points is beyond me (scratch that, LeBron went off). The Cavs offense was extremely sloppy (they started 2008 off with two straight turnovers) and no one seemed to give a crap for most of the game. For some reason Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao both received more shots than Z (1-4 in just 27 minutes) even though Ilgauskas has 5 inches on anyone guarding him.

I think we've found an offense worse than the Cavaliers. My god this game was ugly. The fact that the Cavs were even close to chalupa territory is a minor miracle (and how the final stats show that they were over 50% from the floor is beyond me). Neither team had 20 points during the second quarter and they didn't cross the 40 point barrier until after halftime (and the Hawks didn't cross 50 until there were 5 minutes left in the third).

Speaking of minor miracles... The Cavs played the Hawks and Tyron Lue didn't go off. Thank god.

This was my first Cavs game of the year. Man, I forgot how much I hate Moondog (and I mean really hate). The Cavs had some guys walking around the concourse before the game carrying signs urging fans to vote some Cavs into the All-Star Game... I had a good chuckle every time the guy carrying the Hughes sign walked by. Also, the Q scoreboard totally didn't accept my 'trade larry hughes' text at halftime. Lame (I really hope those marriage proposals were jokes...).

To be fair, Hughes wasn't bad this game. He wasn't even mediocre. He was... good? Hughes had 14 points, 4 assists and 3 boards. The best part is, he shot 6-10 from the field (60%!? Trade him now!). Hughes had a huge jumper under 3 minutes to put the Cavs up 3.

Sasha Pavlovic is still struggling. He had some moments of competenceness (some nice drives, a decent pass or two). But he also had moments of Sashaness (3 turnovers and yet another offensive foul). Overall, he had 7 points (2-6 FG, 3-4 FT) but he did pitch in 6 boards and 4 assists. At least both he and Hughes filled up other columns in the box score...

The Cavs actually got some points from the bench. Daniel Gibson (11 points) nailed some jumpers (which isn't surprising) and so did Anderson Varejao (which is). Varejao gave the Cavs 8 points and Devin Brown gave them 6. Sure, only three guys off the Cavalier bench scored... but the Hawks only had two (Josh Childress and Lue) off their bench put the ball in the hole.

and finally...

Can they win two in a row... please? The Kings come into town on Friday and that should be a very winnable game (plus, future Cavalier savior Mike Bibby could be in town). But honestly, who knows with this team. Frankly, the only reason they beat the (not lowly anymore) Hawks is because LeBron started burying hand-in-the-face jumpers halfway through the fourth quarter. I really have no idea what to expect from this team night in and night out.