Monday, December 27, 2010

You can have him, LeBron

The Cavs waived Jawad Williams:
In a surprise move, the Cleveland Cavaliers today released forward Jawad Williams, who had nine points in 23 minutes in Sunday night's 98-97 loss to the Timberwolves at The Q.
This is both kind of shocking and not at all.  Williams has been quite underwhelming this season, averaging just 4.0 points and 1.8 boards in 26 games (15 mpg).  And it's not like he's putting up those gaudy numbers efficiently.  Jawad's shooting just 32% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc.  Yuck.

My biggest complaint with Williams this year wasn't that he was shooting horribly, but that he kept taking bad shots.  At times this season, Jawad has seemed like a cross between Eric Snow and Larry Hughes. He has Hughes's willingness to hoist the ball whenever it touched his hands combined with Eric Snow's shooting prowess. Jawad never met a shot he didn't like and when you're shooting 30%, that's is not a good attribute to have.

I find it a bit interesting that the Cavs really didn't give a reason for Williams's release:

“We would like to wish Jawad and his family the best in the future and thank him for his contributions, not only on the court but in the community,” said Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant in a release emailed to the media.

Maybe they have other moves in the works, like a trade where they take back multiple players or simply a free agent signing. Could be they got sick of Jawad's attitude (his body language looked horrible from what I've seen) or maybe they just don't think they need a small forward who doesn't let his crappy shooting hinder his willingness to chuck up shots at every opportunity.  Who can tell, with Chris Grant's email.  

I wouldn't be shocked if we see Jawad end up in Miami, since James was recruiting him this offseason (chances the Cavs resigned Jawad just to spite LeBron: 100%). I'm not sure how useful he'd be for the Heat (or anyone, given his play thus far) but I could see him playing with LeBron at some point.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

(if you want to hang out with the ghosts of Christmas past, check out the PD's interview with Ron Harper. Harp says they could've won multiple titles. Ugh). 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Let Me Get This Straight

These Ohio State players broke the rules. They sold personal items (which they quite literally earned with their blood and sweat) for money. They made money off their status as a NCAA athlete. Therefore, they will be punished.

Suspended for five games.

Starting next year.

The next game, the nationally televised BCS Sugar Bowl sponsored by All-State... they can play in that game.


Well, because they didn't know the rules. The same rules that they broke (which were so bad, it warrants a five game suspension). They didn't know about those rules.

And since they weren't aware of those rules, they're allowed play in the bowl game.

But they still get suspended for five games for breaking the rules that they weren't aware of.

Starting next year.

So now Ohio State players are aware that they aren't supposed to take free services or sell items related to their status as NCAA athletes and they'll still be able to participate in the Sugar Bowl and all that comes with it:
Michigan State had hoped to earn an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl, but was beat out by Ohio State. What gifts are the Buckeyes receiving? Custom earphones, a watch and a cap. Participants also will attend a gift suite were they can order gifts up to a value predetermined by the Sugar Bowl, not to exceed the $500 limit.
Got it? No more than $500.


The whole business of big time college athletics just feels so skeevy to me.

What a system we have. This is a system where (mostly white) men in their 50s and 60s make millions of dollars off of the work that the (mostly poor, minority) kids put in. These kids literally sacrifice their bodies to play in these games in front of 100,000 people. Apparently the best of these players (Terrell Pryor, Boom Herron and DeVier Posey are all major contributors on Ohio State) feel the need to sell items that should be regarded as family heirlooms to get some quick cash.

Some players made as much as $2,500! Almost three-grand! How dare they taint this pure, innocent game.

Again we come to the whole "Should players be paid?" argument. I don't know how that would even work. A work-study program? A stipend for every athlete? Would football players get more than cross country runners? Hourly pay? There's not a lot of easy answers.

I know these kids receive scholarships worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. They earn a free education and that's not nothing. (Nevermind how many pro athletes end up broke, but that's another story).

Scholarships are all well and good, but getting free math classes doesn't buy you a dinner. Or allow you to purchase clothes.  Or provide money for family emergencies. (Or buy booze or pot or whatever).  It's not like these kids can really go out and get 9-5 jobs for some extra cash. (Lord knows how often their pestered by boosters, alumni or fans asking for favors as well. The opportunity is certainly there).

A lot of OSU folks are mad that they sold Big Ten Championship rings and the Gold Pants pins. For shame! Don't they know how special and memorable these items are? Well... no. These are 18, 19, 20 year old kids who need money (and have won the Big Ten and beaten Michigan every year), let alone the fact that it's their personal property.

I just can't get that upset with these guys, especially since they're all still eligble for the Sugar Bowl. I might feel like they actually did something, you know, wrong if they were actually forced to miss a BCS bowl.

But that can't happen, Ohio State has to be at full strength, right? If Terrell Pryor and company sat out that game, who would want to watch? Who would buy commercial air time? Who would place bets on the outcome? Who would tune in? Would Ohio State fans still travel to game? We need Pryor vs Ryan Mallet. Ohio State vs Arkansas! Big Ten vs SEC!

All-State paid good money to sponsor this game, we can't blow it by sitting out the star players.

But they still need to be punished. They broke a rule so egregious that they need to miss five whole games.

Just not the next one. That game is worth money. A lot of money.

Just not to the players.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Streak is Over

The Cavs beat the Knicks. On purpose. With overtime and everything. They won't go 0-December. *whew*

I gotta give the Cavs credit, I did not expect them to pull this game out.  Don't get me wrong, they played the Knicks tough but while they were tied every now and then, most of the game they trailed consistently by 4-6 points. I figured that the Cavs would hang around but eventually the Knicks would pull away.

But Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao had different ideas.

I can't say enough about Andy. Varejao had 14 points and 17 boards (7 offensive!) and did a great job on Amare Stoudemire (Amare finished with 23 and 11, but committed dumb fouls, missed the game winning jumper and seemed really frustrated by Andy). (I know Amare is The Man on the Knicks, but they really should've had Cav-Killer Raymond Felton take the last shot. Felton finished with 23 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds).

Mo Williams hit a game tying runner with 3 seconds left in regulation and then dominated (yes, dominated!) overtime with 6 points and 3 assists in the extra period.  Mo and Varejao are starting to run the pick and roll pretty well, my only concern is Mo will jump in the air before Andy is open.  The passes have worked out, because Varejao is always rolling to the rim (and he pass is so late, Andy is quite open) but I don't like Mo leaving his feet without really knowing what he's doing. Mo finished with 23 points, 14 assists and 5 boards.

All in all, great win by the Cavs. Not only did they stop their 10 game losing streak, but they beat a team with a winning record in the process.

The Cavs face the Jazz on Monday and then travel to Atlanta on Wednesday.  For some reason, Cleveland isn't a part of the NBA's Christmas schedule this year. Weird.

Northern Lights

These are something I've always wanted to see in person.  Just seeing the pictures and videos is awe inspiring, I can't even imagine live.

NASA says 2012 should be a big year for the Norther Lights:
Since 2007 the aurora borealis has been growing in intensity and will peak during the year after next, according to Nasa scientists.
However, if the 2012 aurora are as big as expected, it could cause disruption to mobile phones, GPS and even the national grid.
The event will be caused by the Solar Maximum - a period when the sun's magnetic field on the solar equator rotates at a slightly faster pace than at the solar poles.
The solar cycle takes an average of around 11 years to go from one solar maximum to the next - varying between 9 to 14 years for any given solar cycle.
The last Solar Maximum was in 2000 and NASA scientists have predicted that the next one in 2012 will be the greatest since 1958, where the aurora stunned the people of Mexico by making an appearance on three occasions.
In 2012 scientists have stated that the 'Northern' lights should at least be visible as far south as Rome.

Watch this video and tell me that it isn't at least a little awesome. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010


On one hand, I give the Cavs a lot of credit for hanging with the Heat for four quarters.  The Cavs, most notably Boobie Gibson (26 points) and Anderson Varejao (18 points, 15 boards), really made Miami work for their 101-95 victory.

On the other hand, they still lost. I hate these moral victories (whoo! We lost by less than normal!), but the Cavs really did play with of a lot of energy and effort. It's a positive sign after being blown out in just about every game over the past two weeks.  

But it's frustrating. So you guys can hang with the Heat, in Miami (not that the crowd is really a factor), but get blown out by the Timberwolves, Pistons and Sixers? Really? As long as they stick to offensive plan (the ball movement was quite good, especially in the first half) and play with some defensive intensity (there was roughly a billion more hard fouls Wednesday night compared to December 2nd), Cleveland showed that they can compete with anyone.  Despite the final outcome, there's some positives Coach Scott can point to. 

However, all that being said, this really could've been much worse.  While Cleveland's 40% FG percentage looks (and is) terrible, remember that that's including Gibson's sizzling 10-16 performance. Non-Boobie Cavaliers shot a putrid 35% (25-71) and if you take out Varejao's 6-10, it drops down to 31%.

So despite finishing in double figures, the rest of the starters were ice cold, Mo shot 6-20 (1-10 3pt), AP shot 4-10 (1-6 3pt) and Antawn Jamison finished 5-18 (but 3-9 from downtown! whoo!).  And if you can believe it, somehow the bench was even worse.  Three players contributed a grand total of 12 points, 7 boards and 4 assists (J.J. was a team worst -12 in his 20 minutes).  

I don't think it's a coincidence that Boobie and Varejao performed well and kept the Cavs in this game. These guy were two of LeBron's most consistent Big Game teammates.  Both Boobie and Andy play without fear and both have had big moments in the playoffs.  Jamison, Mo, Parker? Not so much. 

Even with the effort and the intensity and ball movement and big nights from Boobie and Varejao, the Cavs still lost in the end.  Turns out, you really need to account for Dwyane Wade in transition. Who knew he's allowed to bring the ball up and just shoot a 3? Wade finished with 28 points (including 17 in the deciding 4th period), LeBron had 21-13-5) and Bosh pitched in 16 and 4. Miami didn't play extremely well, but they just had too much talent for Cleveland to deal with.

The Cavs can stop their 9 game losing streak at home on Friday when they face the 11-12 Pacers. If they fail to snap their skid, it won't get any easier any time soon; their next three games are against the Knicks, the Jazz and the Hawks Atlanta before returning home to face the Wolves the day after Christmas. Yikes.

Positive things happened. They still lost. Please don't go winless for the month of December. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This is stupid

Yahoo's Eric Freeman, on LeBron's and Z's statements about the Cavs:

There are a few ways to spin this; perhaps LeBron is just being nice to engage in damage control. Plus, while Zydrunas' words might seem a little cold, at least he's willing to admit that basketball is a business in which rival teams fight to come out on top over all competition. At least he's being honest about his feelings, unlike the devious James.

Except, if we're to commend Ilgauskas for telling the truth, then we also must admit that the affection Cavs fans still feel for him is a bucket of lies, too. Zydrunas is ultimately playing basketball to win and make money. So while the Cavs fans can appreciate his time with the team, they shouldn't act as if he has a kind heart unmatched by anyone who's ever worn the uniform.

In the end, Ilgauskas could be just as cold-hearted as LeBron. There's no doubt that James handled his departure from Cleveland poorly, but the difference in the reactions towards him and Ilgauskas can probably be explained best by the gap between their respective abilities. When you get right down to it, fans hate on the best player who left, not the worst person.

This really isn't all that hard to understand.  One player quit in the playoffs, made a spectacle of leaving and stabbed the city in the heart on national television. The other player worked his tail off, signed somewhere else like a normal free agent and placed an ad in the paper thanking fans for their years of support.

No one hates Z because they don't feel that he disrespected them at any point in time. Sure, talent has something to do with it (losing a past-his-prime center is easier to stomach compared to the two-time MVP) but if you ask any (sane) Cleveland fan, they'll tell you it's not that LeBron left, it's that he rubbed our faces in while doing it.

This isn't hard.

Paying attention, Chris Grant?

This is exactly the type of trade the Cavs should be pursuing:
The New Jersey Nets traded Terrence Williams to the Houston Rockets in a three-way deal that will land them Los Angeles Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and a pair of first-round draft picks, the Nets announced on Wednesday.
The Lakers will receive Nets veteran power forward Joe Smith, two second-round picks from New Jersey and the draft rights to Sergei Lishchuk from the Rockets.
Trade a talented, but troubled young player, pick up some crap and a couple of picks. Bingo. 

It's my opinion that the Cavs have to be stockpiling draft picks. Trade whoever you want, just as long as you get a first round pick from someone.  The Nets dumped Terrence Williams in a 3 team trade and got firsts from both teams. 

Also, let's welcome Joe Smith to a new team, which I believe is his 12th.  Well done, Joe.  Let's hope the Lakers turn around and deal him at the deadline to team number 13. 

Oh, by the way, the Heat are favored by just 17 over the Cavaliers tonight in Miami. Seems a bit low. 17 sounds right if the Cavs were still, you know, trying. The Heat sent the Cavs into this free fall (and haven't lost since) and I don't see the Cavs snapping out of it tonight. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

As tempting as it may seem

.... please don't follow Donald Sterling's example, Mr. Gilbert:

It’s not uncommon to hear Los Angeles Clippers fans heckle Baron Davis. Of late, however, the jeers directed at the team’s struggling point guard are coming from a far more surprising source: The man paying Davis, Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Sterling has expressed his displeasure about Davis’ play by taunting him from his courtside seat at Clippers’ home games, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. Among Sterling’s verbal barbs:
– “Why are you in the game?”

– “Why did you take that shot?”
– “You’re out of shape!”
While Sterling has also taunted other Clippers players since the middle of last season, none have received it worse than Davis, the sources said. Davis has missed 14 of the team’s 25 games this season and is averaging 7.4 points while making a team-high $13 million. Including this season, Davis has three years and nearly $42 million left on his contract.

I can certainly imagine Gilbert at home yelling "Why are you on my team?!" at the TV every time Jawad Williams chucks up another jumper with 18 seconds left on the shot clock.  The body language of this squad is beyond awful and at this point I'm just waiting for rock bottom.  Was it last night when Harden dunked over Hickson? Was it the Heat game? The Minnesota game? Will it be Wednesday night in Miami?

For what it's worth, I'm finding it more and more fitting that this season's "Cavs Fanatic" alternate jerseys harken back to the Diop-era.

It fits, no?

Not J.J.'s Best Night

This wasn't the only fastbreak dunk the Cavs allowed, but it was certainly the sickest:

Not only did Hickson get absolutely posterized, he had some choice words after the game:
”I have to find a combination of that second unit that’s going to come in and play the right way and do the right things,” Scott was quoted in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer after the game. “As soon as all five guys are off the floor, we’re getting slaughtered.”
Hickson, a former starter who had nine points in 24 minutes off the bench (and got crowned by James Harden) last night, couldn’t resist a snappy response when asked about it by reporters.
“Oh, so he’s blaming it on the bench?” Hickson asked. “If (Scott) feels that way, then that’s the way he feels. That’s his opinion.”

Yeah, that's Coach Scott's opinion, but there's some solid reasoning behind it, mostly the whole 19-1 run the bench gave up to end the third quarter. 

The Cavs have too many of those types of runs.  They'll play well for stretches and keep themselves in the game but they seem to have a 3-5 minute stretch every game where the bottom just drops out. There was the 16-0 Heat run that broke open the December 2nd game, they started down 10-0 to the Bulls, after being down 20, they got within 4 in Houston only to watch the Rockets go on a 17-4 spurt and hell, the entire Minnesota game was one giant run.

The Cavs aren't terrible, but they're playing terrible. They have too many dead stretches where nothing happens offensively and it affects their defense. Once the opponent grabs their big lead, they then have a tendency to hoist threes to try to get it back (ignoring the offense in the process).  It's a big mess and I really don't know how they fix it. 

The Cavs head to Miami and Wednesday and there's no way it won't be a blood bath. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Scares Me

I know that cap space isn't totally important to the Cavaliers (I mean, which marque free agent is moving to Cleveland?) but are they really looking to take on big salary?
As the trade deadline approaches, keep an eye on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors. As one executive put it, those are the teams that will have first dibs if a marquee player becomes available because of their $14.5 million trade exceptions. Teams that are looking to get out of a contract will turn to Cleveland or Toronto, even over teams that have a sizeable ending contract to offer because they would still be forced to take on the expiring player's current salary this season. Both teams are looking to use their trade exceptions and will likely be players as February approaches.
I really don't think the Cavs should be adding a sizeable contract to this squad.  Why? What are you building around?

By the way,  the Cavs lost by 15 to the Rockets tonight. Sure, they kept the game close for about 2 and a half quarters, but eventually the whole "not playing defense" thing caught up with 'em.  For whatever reason, they simply refuse to close out on three point shooters (Houston finished 12-26, but at one point was 12-23).

The offense looked OK and at one point they cut a 13 point third quarter deficit (75-62) down 4 (75-71) but never they made it any closer. Jamison had 24, 5 and 2 and Mo pitched in 18 and 9, but it wasn't nearly enough, as they let Kevin Martin dropped a 40 spot on 'em.

This is their 7th straight loss and they face Kevin Durant and LeBron in their next two games.

This season could be spiraling out of control.

Did you fine them for the Minnesota game too?

Because no one showed up for that game either:
Scott said he wasn't allowing players to use a snowstorm as an excuse for arriving late to Wednesday's game at The Q. About half the team arrived only about 30 minutes before tipoff, and a few had to abandon cars and run the last few blocks to the arena. "Our players were late getting here, and it didn't excuse them," Scott said. "They're all still getting fined."
Um, good, I guess? Rule of law!

I dunno I can't really fault the players too much, I've been late for work a few times this week due to the weather (or dumb people driving in said weather).  I guess it's good that the players are aware that they'll be held accountable for everything they do, be it getting to the arena on time or helping out on a weakside rotation. 

Plus, it's not like Cleveland's winter is going to be getting better any time soon.  These guys (like the rest of us) are going to have to learn to give themselves a little more time to get to work.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Also, Defense

J.J. lost his starting job, he thinks he knows how to get it back:
Hickson had a brief conversation with his coach.

"He said for me to be professional about it and deal with it," he said.

He said he thinks he knows what it will take for him to get back in the coach's good graces.

"I guess rebounding and play harder, which I did (on Tuesday in Philadelphia)," Hickson said.

Ya, I guess.

Hickson has certainly been a disappointment lately (averaging 8 points and 3 boards in the month of December).  The Cavs aren't very good (shocking!) and if they're going to win/make the playoffs, they need reliable production from Hickson on both ends of the court. On a team full of streaky shooters (Mo, Boobie, The Jumpshooter), J.J. has to give consistant production (and his 11 points and 5 boards ain't cutting it).

I'm not really sure what how the Cavs should handle this besides giving J.J. some tough love. He has the skills and the body to be a productive NBA starter for a long, long time.

Or he's Drew Gooden 2.0.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Various Stuff

The Cavs had a one point lead with 26 seconds left and ended up losing by five to the Bulls.  The Cavs' lack of a number one option hurt them down the stretch, as they had no one to trade baskets with Derek Rose (who is an absolute beast).

Coach Scott tried out a new starting five (Mo, Boobie, Parker, Jamison and Varejao) and while things were better (despite the 10-0 head start for the Bulls), the end result remained the same.

I also want to pass along a couple of Cavalier interviews floating around the net.  Dime Magazine interviewed former Cavalier Brad Daugherty while HoopsHype interviewed Anderson Varejao.  Nothing earth shattering here (though Andy says he "wouldn't mind" retiring as a Cavalier), but I found both of them interesting nonetheless.

Also, some Cavs fans have turned their eyes to Grizzlies' O.J. Mayo.  He's had a rough year and he may end up being the odd man out in Memphis. I have no idea what the Grizzlies would want, but he's the type of guy the Cavs should be targeting (not Iguodala).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

On Dan Gilbert

ESPN's Howard Bryant takes owner Dan Gilbert to task at how he's handled the Cavaliers:
Successful organizations must adopt and believe in an institutional philosophy. The Cavaliers had won 66 and 61 games the previous two seasons, the two best win totals in franchise history.
Gilbert sent the message that he did not believe in his front office, firing coach Mike Brown two weeks before general manager Danny Ferry resigned as the possibility of losing James as well hung over the team.
The takeaway is that Gilbert is blaming everyone but himself.
But in preparation for a potential James departure, Gilbert stood pat, let James control the negotiation and then was left without a chair when the free agent music stopped. Judging from his actions and his words, Gilbert apparently believed that his team wasn't very good, that his star was a quitter and that his coach and general manager weren't good enough to win a championship -- harsh assessments for a team that crossed 60 wins in consecutive years. What is more likely is that Gilbert clearly did not know what he wanted after the tough playoff loss.
The result is a 2010-11 team without a compass and a fan base of season-ticket holders who thought they were going to be watching championship-level basketball paying to see a team that might not even make the playoffs.
The Cavaliers' payroll this season is $51.8 million, down from $80 million last year. Their highest-paid player is Antawn Jamison, whose $13.5 million salary represents more than a quarter of the team's total payroll -- and he doesn't even start. Nor is their fourth-highest paid player, Daniel Gibson, in the starting lineup.
This is why bad organizations remain bad.

I highly suggest you read the whole thing.

I have mixed feelings on Dan Gilbert. I love that he's willing to spend money on the Cavaliers.  The new practice facility, the new locker rooms, changing the seat colors, taking on extra salary and paying the luxury tax and, of course, the post-Decision letter: awesome.  However, I don't like the over the top game day celebrations (fire breathing score board!!), his appearances in the broadcast booth and his misguided determination to plow ahead with this team.

Since LeBron left, Cleveland fans have rallied around Gilbert.  It makes sense. Gilbert is the face of this franchise, for better or worse (it sure as hell ain't anyone in uniform at the moment).

Yes, LeBron is a prick and his leaving completely messed up the franchise.  But Gilbert is the head of that franchise. The Cavs made no major moves this offseason. They didn't choose a direction. Go young? Add a veteran All-Star? Nope. They kept most the team mostly intact and continued on their way.

I'm writing as the Cavs trail the Sixers by 20 points, headed for their fifth straight loss. It's time to blow this thing up. I really don't understand the point in gunning for the 8th seed with this group. Not after their peformance this past week. They look like a shell of a team.

There is no future with this group, that's what makes this season so brutal.  It's one thing to bad but be young. At least you can watch and root for improvement and growth.  But this team? Mo Williams is who he is.  Antawn Jamison won't be getting any better. Anderson Varejao is the only one playing at full speed but he's a limited offensive player.  The only young guy is J.J. Hickson and he's a space cadet.

Blow it up, Dan. Give the team some direction.  Have a long term plan. Specifically, have a plan that doesn't involve paying money to Andre Iguodala. You're not going to build a starless championship team like the Pistons (not with this group, anyways).

LeBron leaving has given the Cavs franchise some breathing room. No one expects them to contend this year or anytime in the near future.  The worst thing they could do is build an expensive, mediocre team (45-54 wins) and then drag it out before eventually having to rebuild anyways (like the Cavs from 95-2002).  Just cut your losses and start fresh.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Excellent Read

Great column by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski.

That sure was fun

In case you weren't reminded after the Derek Anderson/laughing controversy, the Cavs showed us last night that fans care more about these games than the players do.  These past six months make the whole idea of following sports feel silly, doesn't it? This used to be fun.

I don't even know if there's any basketball analysis to be done.  The Cavaliers showed no heart, no effort and absolutely zero toughness on Thursday night.  They were absolutely terrible.

Does this game get added to the list? The Shot, the Fumble, The Drive, The Decision and The Return?  Really, how much worse could it have been? The Cavs lost by 28 points!! Was this not the biggest game of the year?

The Heat players tried.  They looked like they gave a shit. They looked like they didn't want to lose this game for LeBron (who played and conducted himself quite well). The Miami Heat played like this game mattered.

The Cavs players? Well, they lost by 28 points.  The Heat got whatever they wanted offensively.  Not one Cavalier offered any resistance. No hard fouls.  No getting in anybody's face. No trash talking or chippiness. No one paid for going inside.


Bah. This sucks. Sports are supposed to be fun. The players are supposed to give a shit. Isn't that the trade off?  We give you millions of dollars, you at least pretend to give a shit. Get off my lawn. Bah humbug.

I dunno. I'm feeling a bit jaded at the moment, but can you blame me? Dan Gilbert seems pissed off too, I wouldn't be surprised if he trades the whole team today, he tweets:
CavsFans: Words don't express my feelings so I won't even try. Know this:There's nothing U are feeling that I'm not. The best B-Ball player ever once said: "My pain was my motivation"....And so it will be with us...
But hey, look at the bright side, at least no one threw anything.  The fans didn't embarrass the city. 

The team did. 

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Merry Quitness

Here's a whole bunch of LeBron vs Cavs articles to help get you through the day.

Cavaliers probing Tampering Charges.

LeBron James and his Kingdom of Ruin.

Cleveland, Don' Turn LeBron into a Sympathetic Victim.

Cleveland an Opportunity for the Heat to Show Heart.

Cavs Fans Have Payback on Their Minds.

Bud Shaw: A few well-chosen words from Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert can help set the tone for game with Miami Heat.

LeBron James returns and Cleveland Cavalier fans face their own Decision.

Jason Whitlock: Sorry, but LeBron's a Lost Cause.

Home is where the Hearts are for LeBron.

Jon Krolik: Can LeBron Learn from his old Playbook?

Brian Windhorst: A Different Homecoming for Ilgauaskas.

Greeting James: Jeers and... Laughter?

Some final thoughts before tonight's game...

I love the idea of the Cavs Chants and the Laugh at LeBron campaigns, but I have some issues. I feel like this a little too elaborate to actually work.  And while I like the spirit of the chants (and that they used comic sans as their font (.pdf)), I don't actually care for the chants themselves.

For instance, chanting stuff like "NO-Ring-King" doesn't make sense to me. Cleveland doesn't have any rings either. Seems dumb to call him out on this. The "Akr-on Hates You clap clap clapclapclap" is meh to me and "Wit-ness No-Thing" seems a little too clever by half.

In their defense, they do have the "Side-Kick" and "Scot-ty Pip-pen" chants, which are my two favorites. I like the spirit and the idea, but singing some song to the tune of "My Country Tis of Thee" seems like asking A LOT of the crowd.

I go back and forth on how the crowd is going to be.  On one hand, I feel like the vast majority will be well behaved, if a bit rowdy and loud. But I wouldn't be surprised in the least if someone (or someones) threw some shit. I've read the comment sections and have seen the tweets and Facebook posts, Clevelanders are pissed off. All of the anger over the Decision, the losing, the economy, the weather, and lord knows what else is being directed squarely at LeBron.

I hope people will behave (this is just sports) but I would not be surprised if some didn't.

As for the game itself (yes, there's an actual basketball game to be played), I have absolutely no idea what to expect.  Bill Simmons, who has watched more of LeBron and the Heat than I have, believes that  the Heat will wilt under the pressure.  Skip Bayless tweeted the same thing, saying that LeBron won't be able to channel the negative energy into his play.

Maybe, maybe not. I could see the Cavs winning purely because of the crowd and I could also see LeBron drop 50 on us and add another chapter to the Book of Cleveland Sports Misery (the dude is the two time reigning MVP).

I have absolutely no idea what to expect out of the crowd, out of LeBron or out of the Cavs.  Should be fun.

Let's Go Cavs!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


I really can't recommend this article enough. Well done, Wright Thompson, well done.

Quick Cavs - Celtics thoughts

- Possible the Cavs were looking ahead to Thursday? If you can look past a 12-4 team...

- Cavs defense was terrible. No one stopped any penetration, no stood their ground and no one made the Celtics work. Rondo got inside at will (not Mo's best game, to say the least) and Boston exploited matchups and mismatches inside (note: Big Baby vs Jamison is a terrible matchup for the Cavs).

- I like that Mo is being aggressive, but he can't be forcing things (like trying a thread the needle bounce pass between the entire Boston defense).

- The Celtics are good.  They have a lot of guys who do a lot of different things well. They're filled with guys with unique builds (KG, Shaq, Rondo, Nate Robinson, Big Baby) and they can be both conventional and unconventional.

- J.J. had no room to operate inside but he seemed more than willing to settle for that jumper.

- Cleveland's small forward position is trash.

- Liked the effort I saw from Varejao.  I still think he's the Cavs' best trade asset. Stay healthy!

- The refs were fairly shitty.  Not that they caused the Cavs to lose or anything.  But they certainly made things more difficult (Varejao was getting beat up).

- In the same vein, Boston didn't win the game because of their moving screens, but Jesus Christ do they get away with a ton moving screens. KG is especially bad.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thoughts on December 2nd

Many people in Cleveland are excited for Thursday's game against LeBron and the Heat.  I am but I'm not, if that makes any sense. I'm anxious to see how the night unfolds but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have major concerns... both on and off the court.

First, the basketball worries:

It sure is Pile on LeBron Week, huh? Everyone seems to be hating on LeBron and the Heat. There's a coach bump controversy and planted stories.  We got Bill Simmons calling the Heat weak and predicting that they'll get blown out on Thursday. And Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski simply takes LeBron to the woodshed in his latest column:
The fundamental problem for Spoelstra isn’t that James doesn’t respect coaches – he doesn’t respect people. Give LeBron this, though: He’s learned to live one way with the television light on, and another with it off. He treats everyone like a servant, because that’s what the system taught him as a teenage prodigy. To James, the coach isn’t there to mold him into the team dynamic. He’s there to serve him.
Wade was one of the Team USA players who’d watch incredulously as James would throw a bowl of fries back at a renowned chef and bark, “They’re cold!” Or throw his sweaty practice jersey across the court and command a team administrator to go pick it up. Everyone wants James to grow out of it, but he’s never showed much of an inclination for self-examination and improvement. And he’s never surrounded himself with people who’d push him to do so.
What’s more, the timing of this leak was no accident, because James and his business manager had to like the idea of someone else going on trial this week. When the public wanted to talk about James’ return to Cleveland, about the callous way with which he left, about the disjointed start in Miami, they thrust everything onto Spoelstra.

Oh and that's not all, for some reason we're caring if he throws his stupid chalk or not

Maybe I'm crazy, but aren't the conditions perfect for LeBron to throw down an absolutely monster "Eff You" game on Thursday? 

LeBron James is the reigning two-time MVP, is he not? The guy is a world class ass but I believe he's still a pretty damn good basketball player.  One of the best.  Ever. 

(Or has the month of November in the 2010-11 NBA season changed all that?).

And you gotta figure LeBron is going to be a little motivated on Thursday, no?  He's taken an absolute beating in the national press and he'll be facing most hostile non-Ron-Artest-fighting crowd of the last 20 years. He's suffered rumors about his mom. He's been called a quitter.  The guy has every reason to be amped up and ready to bring it. 

Let's not forget he'll be playing in an arena he's extremely familiar and comfortable with (at least with regards to sight lines and things like that) and he'll be going up against Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker, (who he faced in practice every day all last season). *gulp* 

I know it's fun to hate on the Heat right now; they look petulant, childish and overwhelmed.  It's great. HAHA IT'S NOT AS EASY AS YOU THOUGHT, YOU JACKASSES! 8 OR 9 TITLES? YOU SHOULD'VE STAYED IN CLEVELAND, AT LEAST THE CAVS TRY HARD AND PLAY D!

I totally get it.  I love it too. Every time Miami loses I'm immediately put into a good mood. Karma and all that jazz.

But I can't get past the fact that we're just one month in to a six year experiment.  The NBA has an absurdly long season (and postseason!) and due to injuries and Wade's divorce proceedings, Miami didn't get a lot of work during the preseason. This early stretch is basically their training camp and there's roughly 60 games until the playoffs. Yes, they're struggling, but they got time. 

I really hope that the Cavs win on Thursday.  This city and area needs a boost.  But despite Miami's struggles, this is by no means a sure thing. Remember when Chris Bosh was taking some flack and the Heat fed him straight from the get go in a route over the Suns.  What's to stop them from doing the same thing with LeBron?  The Cavs counter with... Andy taking a charge? The big and powerful J.J. Hickson hammering LeBron near the rim? Antawn Jamison doing something useful? We're trusting Parker and Moon to check him? Awesome.

The Cavs, like most teams, don't have an answer for LeBron James.  I don't care how bad Miami is playing, this scares me (I'm not saying he's gonna go off, LeBron could totally blink in the face of all this negativity.  I really have no idea. But I certainly don't think it's out of the question that he has a big night).

The non-basketball worries:

I'm not so much concerned about the Cleveland crowd as I am about some knuckleheads in said crowd. All it takes is one jackass to throw something and the entire city is going to be smeared. After this past year (and counting), do you really think the national media isn't salivating at the chance to wag their finger at us unruly, uncouth, meat-head Cleveland fans? I mean, really?

I'm willing to bet that a lot of people aren't showing up to The Q to catch a basketball game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat but rather to give LeBron a piece of their mind.  I've seen the angry tweets and have heard the bar room bravado (search me all you want, I can still throw my AA batteries from my camera HAHAHA!).  People are fucking pissed and they're going to let LeBron know about it (look at how we treat Braylon Edwards).

The other day, I was struck by something Dave Dameshek said during a podcast with Simmons, that sports matter so much to people in cold weather cities because good teams make the winters so much more bearable.  I completely agree with this.

Cleveland was hit hard by the foreclosure crisis and is hemorrhaging jobs. The our local government is ineffectual and corrupt, our sports teams haven't won a title since the 60s and the weather sucks for six months a year.  Having LeBron on the Cavs was a ray of sunshine during the bleak winter months. Being able to look forward to Cavs game on a random Tuesday night in January was really, really nice.  Plus, there's nothing better than when the city gets behind a team during the playoffs.

(And conversely, winter is that much worse when our teams stink. Terrible weather combined with putrid sports does not a fun winter make).

So Cleveland fans care. A lot. Probably more than we should. That's one reason why we're so mad. LeBron didn't only only kick us in the nuts on national television, but he ended up going to a team that has to print flyers to remind fans to show up to games on time. "You left us for to play at a half empty arena?! Seriously?!?!"

So that's what worries me.  We care too much. The weather is turning cold, the job market is bleak, our winter sports teams are struggling to play even .500 ball and Thursday presents the opportune time for a knucklehead to get drunk and take out his frustration on LeBron.

That's fine, just as long as that knucklehead isn't throwing things or turning into multiple knuckheads. This is just sports, if people start throwing things, someone could get seriously hurt. And as a city with 10 Cent Beer Night and Bottlegate on our permanent record, I'm not sure we've earned the benefit of the doubt in the "not throwing things" department. I've joked about this with friends, but I kinda want the Cavs to put up a net around the court, US vs Mexico in Mexico City style (still won't stop those bags of urine!).

Generally, I feel like the public is behind Cleveland fans at the moment (though some are growing tired with our bitching). The Heat are a perfectly hatable team and people are piling on LeBron. But a poor showing by Cleveland fans this Thursday will swing that public perception the other way.  If the fans are too unruly and tasteless, LeBron ends up looking like, well, if not the Good Guy, at least someone who was justified in bolting town the way he did.  The whole world will be watching this game, how will we act?

(I hope the crowd boo the hell out of him. I like the idea of chanting "Sidekick" or "Robin" whenever LeBron has the ball or "MVP" when Wade is shooting free throws.  Also, I'm all for quitting, lying and backstabbing signs.  Game 5 references are well within play. Just leave his family out of it, everything else is fair game). 

So those are my concerns about Thursday. I'm concerned that LeBron could drop 60 points and completely eviscerate the Cavaliers... assuming the game even gets under way.

Various other Random Thoughts: 

- I like the idea of both Cavs Chants and Laugh at LeBron, but I feel it's too little, too late.  This is something that needed to be organized weeks ago and there's going to be too much going on to get anything coherent set up. There's also talk of everyone turning their back on him during the player announcements.  I don't see how that'll get coordinated either.  Just have 10-20 really loud dudes (in the lower bowl especially) get on the same page with a "sidekick" or "robin" chant, the rest of the arena should catch on.

- I have a hard time getting myself up for some of these Cavs games (especially if I work through the game).  I've heard people tell me how much more fun these Cavs are to watch, on account of the ball movement and such.  I agree, but only so much. I enjoy the ball movement and running style but you know what's really fun? Contending for a championship.

I love this teams resilience and that they're trying hard every night (for the most part).  But to what end? What's the best case scenario for this season? Beating the Heat on the 2nd and then selling off parts for picks and young players? What does a 40-42 8th seed get them? It's a shame, because if this team had The Guy, they'd be pretty well constructed.  But as it stands... where are they headed?

- I don't see the Heat firing Spoelstra. Pat Riley and his gelled hair may look impressive, but switching coaches won't magically make the Heat be able to guard point guards and centers. Yes, the offense needs work but they have structural roster problems that won't go away.

- That being said, are they not allowed to run Wade-James pick and rolls? Is that really too hard? That seems like it would be unstoppable.

- Here are some LeBron related videos going around the web: LeBron James is a Bitch, Michael Jordan's response to LeBron, LeBron flips out on Cleveland fans.

- I cannot believe that the Browns survived that game against Carolina. That had all the makings of a classic expansion Browns loss. They played well enough to win but were in a position to lose at the end.  Good win, but man, Colt McCoy can't get healthy soon enough.

- Browns Fans :: Peyton Hillis | Germans :: David Hasselhoff

- Just caught up on Boardwalk Empire and Bored to Death. I highly recommend both of these HBO shows. Bored is quirky but really funny and I find Boardwalk captivating, even if they can be heavy handed with the metaphors and modern day allusions.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Give thanks

(Note: If you feel like you've read this before, you did. Last year. I cleaned some things up and moved some stuff around, but the post itself is mostly unchanged.)

While it hasn't always been the case, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; nothing else even comes close. How can you top a day full of football, family, friends and food? You can't. Other holidays have their perks but none are as close to perfect as Thanksgiving.

Fourth of July comes the closest and, like Thanksgiving, it's a holiday that I appreciate more now as an adult. So you're telling me I get a day off to drink outside and grill with friends and family? What's that? And we get to blow stuff up? Awesome. Fourth of July is great, but not better than Thanksgiving (I mean, how many cookouts do you go to over the summer? At least a few).

New Years Eve? When is the last time that a New Years Eve went the way you wanted it to go? Anyone? Maybe it's just me, I dunno.

Halloween? Don't get me wrong, Halloween kicks ass from ages 1-14 (trick or treating) and then from 18-26 (college girls). I like Halloween and all but at this point, I feel a bit goofy dressing up (there's only so many costumes that go with a full beard/mutton chops) and I can only get drunk in an uncomfortable costume so many times. It's not like Halloween is bad but better than Thanksgiving? No..

Finally, there's the big one: Christmas. Like Halloween, Christmas was awesome as a little kid (presents!!) but I've grown away from it as I've gotten older. There's just too much going on with Christmas; there's the pressure of buying the right gifts, dealing with the insanity of shopping, let alone the religious aspect that barely receives a passing mention. Hell, I'm not even religious and this offends me.

Simply put: there's just too much Christmas. It's gotten too big. It's a month long orgy of shopping malls, lame television specials, sugary treats and greed (with only a token nod to the Baby Jesus). Hell, with Black Friday, we're now letting Christmas attempt to ruin Thanksgiving weekend.

(Short aside: back in Christmas of 2004, I worked at the Barnes and Noble in Easton Town Center. At the time, I was getting emails calling me UnAmerican (I had a column in The Lantern, Ohio State's paper, and wasn't a fan of one George W. Bush) and the American news media still reported on the war in Iraq. Now, if you've never been to Easton, it's fairly ritzy shopping plaza and I can't even begin to tell you how elaborate the decorations were inside the actual mall. I swear to God, there entire place was drowned in silver and gold (ed. note: hyperbole) and meanwhile, I'm reading stories from Iraq like this. America: where there's enough money for two-story Santa villages made out of high-end German chocolate but not enough to properly armor the vehicles of our troops. Priorities).

But despite our best efforts, Thanksgiving is still somewhat pure. Yes, radio stations are now playing Christmas music the day after Halloween and Black Friday is threatening to spiral out of control but you can ignore it if you choose. Despite everything, the essence of Thanksgiving is still there. Thanks-giving. A day to give thanks.

It's so simple but yet so beautiful. A (uniquely American) day to reflect on all the things you're grateful for. How great is that? A day not to look at the negatives in life but to accentuate the positives. Be thankful for your friends and your family, your job and your health.

 It's far and away my favorite day of the year.

Every Thanksgiving day since 1999, I've played in a pickup football game dubbed (very originally) Turkey Bowl with various friends from High School and a random assortment of their cousins, in-laws or friends-of-friends.

Is it cold and wet? Of course (it's Ohio in November). Are we all hung over and/or horribly out of shape? Yup. Do I hurt for 5 days after? Yes. Is it worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely.

This is the one time a year I see a lot of these guy. Some are home from college while others are simply back in town for a weekend before going back to Real Life. The games are somewhat competitive and there's usually at least one or two dumb/awesome laterals thrown in there for good fun. It's a couple hours of trash talk, laughing and hitting amongst old friends. What's not to love?

After I crawl home from football, there's the Thanksgiving meal with my extended family. Turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce... Yes yes and yes. Seriously, sitting down for a giant meal with family members I rarely get to see is not a bad way to refuel after a couple hours cold-weather football. Plus after dinner, I can fall asleep on the couch watching even more (mediocre) football. Huzzah!

As you can tell, I adore Thanksgiving. Easily the day I look forward to the most each year. Too often we focus on what we don't have rather than what we do. Thanksgiving is a day set aside to correct this oversight. I'm thankful for my loving parents, my brother and sister and our extended family. I'm grateful for my pets and for all of my friends as well as my co-workers.

I'm also quite grateful to those of you reading this right now. I'm definitely not a big blog (or, heh, your most reliable blogger) but I know more than a few of you keep coming back. I'm still very much blown away that people who I've never met visit this place (or give me a forum) to read my incoherent ramblings on the Cavaliers and Cleveland sports.

Thank you.

I hope everyone has a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Ray Davies (of the Kinks) - Thanksgiving Day

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cavs - Hornets

I was being good. I was all set to watch and write about the Cavs game in New Orleans. The first half was pretty good (Jamison was quite hot) right until the Hornets went on an 18-2 run to close the half. Ugh. The Cavs missed a lot of good looks but they also shot a ton of threes.

Then I switched over to ESPN for the end of the Celtics-Thunder game. Do the Thunder have set plays? I know Kevin Durant was out and Russell Westbrook had to be The Guy for a night but their entire fourth quarter offense was Westbrook forcing jumpers.  They survived but damn, that was ugly.

Then I switched back to the Cavs game.  They cut the lead to 13 heading into the fourth but things still didn't look good. J.J. was gettng absolutely abused by David West (34 points, 11 boards) and Cavs trailed 86-68.  I'll be honest, after Joey Graham got ejected for a flagarant 2 and Jawad Williams started doing terrible Jawad Williams things, we turned off the game and put on Boardwalk Empire pilot (me gusta).

So, needless to say, I missed the Cavs storm back and somehow pull within three (104-101) with 21 seconds to go. How this happened? Well, it looked like some treys finally started to fall (Gibson had two and Parker had one in the rally) but it was too little, too late. I gotta say, I did not expect these guys to keep playing hard down 18 with 10 minutes to go. So, um, good for them! And shame on me for not watching the whole game. But once Fox Sports Ohio started showing CBS commercials over top of the game (Hawaii Five-oh!) and Joey Graham got ejected, our patience pretty much ran out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You Just Have To

Rob Parker, of ESPN New York on the tackling of the Jets fan:
You hate to paint an entire city with a broad brush. But in this case, you just have to. This might be the meanest, dirtiest thing to happen in sports.
Excellent point. Sure, you don't want to use one individual to pass judgement on an entire city and fan base but this time it's OK. Because... well, you just have to.  Hooray logic!

The Cleveland Frowns have much more on this story, including eyewitness accounts and many questions including: how does a grown man attack a child in front of a crowd of people without starting a fight or  someone taking a cell phone video or calling the police? The reason we even know about this story is because the mom (who wasn't there) told the Plain Dealer after the fact. 

But sure, blame the whole city of Cleveland because one asshole acted like an asshole. Someone from New York and/or ESPN shitting on Cleveland? Unpossible!

And speaking of assholes acting like assholes, Clevelanders aren't going to be rallying around Scot Raab for getting himself banned from Miami's American Airlines Arena, are we?

Raab (who I've written about previously) is a writer for Esquire (we also both had articles in the Cavs Zine) and was denied a press pass for Miami's home games mostly because he spends his time on Twitter creating #WhoreofAkron hashtags and tweeting nasty things to LeBron James

I certainly understand being pissed at LeBron and all that jazz.  But you lose me when you use childish nicknames (LeQuit, LeDouche, Whore of Akron, etc) in your pieces or take time out of your day to tweet nasty things to LeBron. If LeBron is such an asshole and liar and quitter and blah blah blah blah, why waste your time on him?

I mean, I'm sympathetic with the "us against the world" view of Cleveland sports as much as anyone, but I have a hard time working up my righteous indignation over this situation.  Raab is a great writer and a passionate Clevelander but I can certainly understand the Heat not giving him a press credential.  Can you really blame 'em for not credentialing the Whore Of Akron guy? 

Basically, if our choice is James (the athlete who stabbed the city in the back) or Raab (the national writer who tweets nasty, childish things all day), I choose neither.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shocking News

It's like shooting (and missing) whenever you feel like it doesn't get you into Coach Scott's good graces:
Graham is a licensed pilot, a trained chef and an accomplished musician. He credits his father for making his sons educated and well-rounded. Joey certainly fits that.

Now Byron Scott seems committed to finding out if he can play. Scott confirmed today that Graham has moved ahead of Jawad Williams in his rotation. He wants to give Graham a fair chance and find out what exactly he can give the Cavs besides a low post presence and the ability to hit mid-range jumpers consistently. If Graham can rebound and defend consistently, he could really push Jamario Moon for minutes at small forward.
I was less than thrilled at the Graham signing but he sure was a breath of fresh air Tuesday night against the Sixers. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

As for Jawad Williams.... he's been a disappointment (4 ppg on 33% shooting). He was mediocre at defense and offensively, he seemed to think he was allowed to shoot whenever he got the ball.  It was ugly. Between him and Jamario Moon, the Cavs small forward position was awful.

Graham isn't going to set the world on fire but he should be able to give the Cavs something.

Welcome to the rotation, Joey.

Can't Wait for December 2nd

Not a good sign:

An 8-year-old New York Jets fan was tackled by an adult Browns fan after Sunday's game, according to a television station in Cleveland.

The boy went to the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium in a Jets jersey with his father, who was born in New York. Much to the chagrin of the local crowd, the Jets rallied for a 26-20 overtime victory. The boy's mother, identified only as Danielle by ABC affiliate WEWS because she didn't want to reveal her last name, said the fans in the stadium were great, but things got out of control after the game.

"Calling him a bad word, to my husband and to my son, throwing food at them," she said, according to WEWS.

When the family reached the parking lot, the situation got uglier.

"As [my husband] was walking, holding my son's hand, a guy from behind tackled him. A drunken Browns fan tackled him and pulled him out of his dad's hand. He was on the ground crying," Danielle said, according to the station.

The boy was left with a scraped and bruised ankle. The mother said her husband didn't call police, opting instead to quickly get in the car and leave. But the mother wrote a letter to The Plain Dealer in Cleveland detailing what happened.


I'm definitely think there's a chance that the December 2nd Cavs-Heat game will never get started (assuming Bron-Bron shows up).  If Cleveland fans are tackling 8 year olds (and I'm fully aware that this asshole isn't representative of our fans, but still) then I'm not sure what's off limits.  Hell, look at how nastiness thrown Braylon Edwards's direction.  LeBron is gonna get all of that and much much more.

This is an area that has no jobs, shitty weather and lots and lots (and lots!) of sports heartache. It's not even the majority of fans I'm worried about. Much like the post-Michigan riots, I worry that the Heat coming to town will be the perfect excuse for knuckleheads to act up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Missed opportunity

Cavs had a chance to sweep the home-and-home but just ran out of gas.  I liked a lot of what I saw (mostly in the first half) but they have to take better care of the ball.  Part of it is focus (paying attention, making quality passes, knowing where you are on the court) and part of it is just trying to do too much.  They can't really afford making a lot of unforced errors (or have the biggest shot of the game be an Anthony Parker running, turnaround, fade-away trey).

Antawn Jamison played well (14 points, 9 boards) but Hickson only gave 'em 15 (good) and 6 (not good) and Mo struggled (shooting 4-11 while getting torched defensively) before leaving with an injury.  Ryan Hollin is like a taller, rawer version of Hickson.  I like a lot of what Hollins does offensively but he played 13 minutes and grabbed just 2 boards (he did 11 points).  The playing time is there for him, he just has to produce.

It wasn't a terrible loss (it's not like they slept walked or went through the motions), but after beating a team in their home building, it would've been nice to do it in Cleveland.  Also, I feel like Fred McLeod could call a game with an Austin Carr soundboard and there'd be no noticeable difference.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cleveland 93, New Jersey 91

Solid win, good road trip.  The Cavs beat the Nets to finish 3-0 on their three game road trip (against Philly, Washington and New Jersey, but still).   Their starters didn't play particularly well but Cleveland moved teh ball well (27 assists) and got major production from it's bench (outscoring their New Jersey counterparts 52-15). J.J. Hickson led the way with 18 points and 10 boards but the big story was Antawn Jamison (who looked like he actually a gave a shit), who finished with 15 points, 8 boards and 3 assists.

The Jumpshooter (worst nickname ever?) did more than just stand around and shoot.  Antawn looked engaged.  He moved without the ball (beating the entire Nets team down the floor for an easy bucket) and actually moved with the ball (scoring on floaters and setting up others with his drives).  In short, he showed all facets of his game and was very effective.  The Cavs are going to need more games like this from Jamison.  They're a much tougher team to guard when Antawn is active and aggressive.

The ending was kinda crazy.  Jamison hit a trey with a little over two minutes left to give the Cavs a 86-82 lead. After a defensive stop, the Cavs were scrambling (Boobie got his shot blocked) and the ball ended up in Anthony Parker's hands and he hit a rainbow three as the shot clock expired (Cavs lead 89-82).  Leading 91-85 with 21 seconds to go (after Jordan Farmar blew two layups), the game seemed well in hand but then Jamison was whistled for a terrible foul (you really couldn't have gone up any straighter) and gave Anthony Morrow three freebies (which he made).  The Cavs sealed it with two free throws from Parker (which is nice, considering the Cavs nearly gave the game away at line by going just 12-22).

J.J. Hickson: productive. Hickson played only 25 minutes but shot 8-14 on his way to 18 points and 10 rebounds.  I'm more impressed with the 10 boards (3 offensive) than the points.  I want to see to him notch double digit rebound totals on a regular basis. Against New Jersey, he was active and decisive (finishing nicely near the basket) and he was knocking down his midranger jumper.

It was not Mo Williams best night. Mo, coming off a nice finish against the Wizards, never got it going.  He shot a woeful 1-12 from the floor and never found a rhythm offensively.  Williams ran the pick and roll with a couple of Cavs bigs (Hickson, Varejao, Jamison) but his passes always seemed a bit behind.  I like (re: LOVE) using him and Hickson in the pick and roll, but their timing just isn't down yet.  Ramon Sessions stepped up in Mo's place, providing 15 points and 5 assists (including 7 and 3 in the fourth period, respectively).

I expected Brook Lopez would've hurt them more.  With 16 points and 8 boards, Lopez certainly didn't put up bad numbers but he only shot 6-18 from the field.  I give a lot of credit to Anderson Varejao, who looked healthy as he pestered Lopez for much of the evening. Aside from Travis Outlaw (27 points, 4-7 3pt) the rest of the Nets didn't really give Lopez a lot of help. I would've liked to see more of Derrick Favors, who grabbed 7 boards in just 15 minutes and looks like he'll be a load to handle down on the block.

and finally...

What? You guys again? The Cavs face the Nets in Cleveland tonight to wrap up their early season home-and-home. I'm interested to see how guys like Hickson and Lopez play after already seeing the defensive schemes (will Lopez handle Varejao better? Will Hickson get as many open looks? etc).  Hopefully, the Cavs will continue to share the ball and not have a let down at home after going 3-0 on the road.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Eight isn't enough

In this nice article about J.J. learning the Princton Offense, we find this little nugget:
Scott said Hickson will never be Jamison and stretch a defense to the 3-point line, but he is comfortable with Jamison shooting from as far away as 17 feet.

But there is a tradeoff. If Hickson is 17 feet away, he's not in position to rebound. With Jamison's knee bothering him thus far, the Cavs are deficient in rebounders after Anderson Varejao. It's why Scott began harping on Hickson to be a better rebounder.

Hickson responded with eight rebounds in the victory over the 76ers last Friday in Philadelphia, proving again he is capable of answering whatever demands Scott throws at him.
Eight rebounds? That's enough to answer Coach Scott's demands? Really? Eight. From your über-athletic starting power forward? Umm... no

J.J. has the size and ability to average eight per game.  He should get eight boards simply by being on the court for 35 minutes. Hickson should not get praised for eight boards.

Speaking of rebounds, Jason Whitlock lays into Chris Bosh for not getting enough of 'em:
Bosh had one rebound against the Hornets. He’s averaging 5.4 boards through seven games -- five fewer than he averaged in White Vegas last season.

Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony can’t fix this. They’re not long enough, bulky enough, tough enough, talented enough or hyper enough to give the Heat what they’ll need to beat the serious title contenders (Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio) or maybe even the pretenders (New Orleans, Orlando, Atlanta) in a seven-game series.

Miami’s lone 7-footer, Zyndrunas Ilgauskas, is a spot-up shooter. He’s not a defender. He can only give the Heat 15 good minutes.

Jordan’s Bulls not only employed Rodman and Grant, but Phil Jackson kept a stable of assignment-sound big defenders (Bill Cartwright, Luc Longley, Bill Wennington, Will Perdue, Scott Williams).

Bosh has to step up. This week.

 By Christmas, if he hasn’t drastically changed his approach and production, Pat Riley will surely explore every option to move Bosh and acquire a goon.

OK, I’m not an NBA trade expert. I don’t fully grasp how you get the contracts to match up and the value of “expiring” contracts. I’m just going to suggest the kind of players who could make James and Wade as lethal as Jordan and Pippen.
I agree 1000000%.  Bosh is soft. He has to be the guy who's going to get those tough, rugged boards and that's not his game.  I see no way that Bosh is keeping KG, Howard or Gasol off the boards during big playoff games.  He doesn't have the body and he doesn't have that crazy drive that guys like Anderson Varejao and Reggie Evans have.  Rebounding is about wanting the ball more. I don't know if Bosh (or Hickson, for that matter) has the mindset to be that guy.

Speaking of Varejao, Whitlock has an idea for who Miami should pick up:

Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao and Houston’s Luis Scola should be at the top of Riley’s wish list. 
Varejao is ideal. He’s high energy. He’s 6-10. He’s played with LeBron. Scola is off to a ridiculous start in Houston, putting up 22 and 12 through six games.
There is no way in hell that the Cavs are trading Varejao to LeBron's Miami Heat (and, once again, if LeBron had such terrible teammates, why should other teams want them?). First of all, the Cavs already have all of Miami's pick from the LeBron sign-and-trade and the Heat have no young talent. Secondly, if you think Dan Gilbert is going to give LeBron the pieces to win a title, you've got another thing coming. Third, seriously, who would Cavs even want from the Heat?

I will say that Varejao is one of the more attractive, tradable Cavaliers.  He can rebound and defend, he's signed fairly cheaply (thanks to that awful awful GM Danny Ferry) and he's still young (only 28).  Andy is a great fit for a contending team. I just can't imagine that team being the Heat (I've said it before, but Oklahoma City is the perfect spot for Andy. It makes too much sense).

It wasn't the flash

Braylon Edwards never shuts up:
Former Browns receiver Braylon Edwards, who will come to town Sunday with his 6-2 Jets, got his homecoming party started early this week with the following Tweet on Monday:

"And before I take off and forget, all you Cleveland browns fans, 17 is coming back and you better bring ya [darn] popcorn."

 Edwards, who was traded to the Jets last season, knows he won't be warmly received, especially after telling the New York Times earlier this season: "There's nothing going on in Cleveland. There's no real estate. There's no social life, no social networking. All the people who have something going on leave Cleveland. So Cleveland has nothing, and I came in there with a New York-type of essence. So what? That was the attitude I came in with. Like, this is who I am. They didn't like the flash."
It was never that Braylon was from Michigan or that he had "the flash" and us dumb Clevelanders don't like  shiny things. I can't speak for anyone else (but as a life long Clevelander and an Ohio State grad, I will), but what pissed me off was all that dropping of the football. Us boring Ohioans can live with the attitude if it comes with the on field production (see: the entire LeBron James era), but if you fuck up and still act like an asshole, well ya, there's gonna be some issues.

I don't think this is a particularly hard subject to grasp. Not dropping footballs = happy fans (you get millions of dollars to catch a ball for a living. If you fail to catch said ball, well, fuck you). But if Edwards is looking to egg on Browns fans, maybe he isn't that bright.

Meanwhile, Coach Mangini refuses to name a starter for the Jets game.... sneaky!

Friday, November 05, 2010

"Cleveland's Response to LeBron"

South Park isn't the only one to parody LeBron's "What Should I Do" video:

I go back and forth on stuff like this.  On one hand, this is really well made and pretty cathartic.  What should I do? Don't dick us over on national television, you douche! And then don't kinda sorta apologize or ask for sympathy in a fucking shoe commercial. Way to speak from the heart, bud.

But on the other hand, we're gonna have to get past this sooner or later, right?  Yes, it's only been a few months (which is forever in the internet era) but at some point we have to move on from getting dumped.  Life goes on. The sports world sympathizes with Cleveland at the moment, but a few more videos like this (or a really ugly display on December 2nd) and we're gonna lose any good will we've built up. LeBron didn't bad mouth the city or the fans, he went to play for another franchise (in the most asshole-ish way possible, but still. No one died or anything).

(Also, I'm really really really really concerned about December 2nd. Please guys, don't do anything embarrass our city. Booing: OK.  Throwing stuff: Not OK).

I will say that I enjoy that they point out that LeBron quit in the Boston series.  This really can't be said enough, in my opinion.  LeBron and the rest of the Cavs quit.  This was the franchises' best chance to win the title and they gave up before the final horn sounded. I know his teammates were the worst players in the history of the NBA and all, but LeBron James quit. That's on his permanent record.

But ya, good video. Well done. I'm fairly certain I know the one girl (hi, Adey!), so that's neat.

What to do with Antawn Jamison

The veteran forward hasn't been shooting well, he's been hurting and he doesn't like coming off the bench. Awesome.

From the Plain Dealer:
The knee was good enough for practice Thursday -- the first time since playing in Saturday's game against Sacramento -- though Jamison is still questionable for Friday's game at Philadelphia. The 34-year-old has had an MRI and tests that show nothing structurally wrong, and while surgery hasn't been discussed, Jamison also said he is "not going to deal with it throughout the season."

If it sounds like Jamison is frustrated, he is.

"So far, as a whole, this season has been frustrating -- as a team and as an individual," Jamison said. "But this is when you stay positive, continue to work knowing that you're doing the right things and hopefully you get a breakthrough on both parts."

That's why Jamison continues to work on his shooting; he figures it has to get better eventually. Typically, shooting is a strength for the 6-foot-9 forward, but he's hit just 32 percent in three games this season. In the preseason, he was 8-for-38 (.211) and missed one full game and most of another because of his knee injury. 

If the Cavs are going to have any hope of making the playoffs, Jamison has to be a big contributor. But can he do it while coming off the bench?
Jamison's new job as a sixth man requires delicate handling, and he won't say he's unhappy with it. He simply smiles big and chuckles softly. His hesitance in speaking and his face say all the things he can't before he utters the right words.

"It's just an adjustment," Jamison said Thursday. "I'll leave it at that. It's an adjustment.

"My job is to do whatever they ask me to do. I will never question anything. I'm a team player. Whenever they call for me to go out there on the court, I'll be ready to play."

Jamison came off the bench only one other time in his career, when he won the Sixth Man of the Year award for Dallas in 2004. He averaged 14.8 points on 54-percent shooting that season -- the highest percentage of his career -- in 29 minutes per game.

That experience and Jamison's increasing age are both reasons why Scott says he envisioned a smooth transition to the bench. 
On one hand, I feel bad for the guy.  He left the woeful Wizards to come to a championship contender only to wind up back in a similar losing/rebuilding situation. That's gotta suck.

On the other hand, he played like shit in the playoffs (hey! They're gonna throw it over the top to KG! Stop fronting him!!!!!!!) and the Cavs are paying him $14 million a year through the end of next year.

I really don't want Jamison starting.  The Cavs defense is mediocre as it is and I don't think the aging Jamison can keep up with the starting small forwards of the league. Plus, I like the idea of Jamison providing the scoring for the second unit.

However, the Cavaliers' best case scenario is for Jamison to play really well and get traded to a contender. And if he only plays well as a starter, it might behoove the Cavs to start him, just so he can put up some decent numbers. But will a playoff team even want him as a starter? I dunno. It'd be best for everyone if he does well as Cleveland's sixth man.

Before I go, one programming note to pass along. I'm not sure if I'll be able to catch tonight's game against the Sixers. I have company in town and I'm working all day tomorrow.  Not sure if I'll have the time to watch the game (though I'd like to), let alone write it up. Same goes for tomorrow's game against Washington, it's my buddy's birthday and again, company is in town. I'd like to happen, but I won't promise you anything.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Mid Terms

Here's my quick thought: we threw the Republicans out because they trashed the economy and fucked everything up. We elect Obama but he can only get so much done thanks to Republican obstruction and wishy-washy Democrats. So we decide to put the Republicans one of the Houses, even though they've explictly stated they aren't going to change their stripes (tax cuts! deruglation!) and probably won't cooperate with Obama (unless cooperation = doing what the Republicans want).

I have little faith that things will be any better in two years, after more obstruction, bullshit investigations (I'm 50-50 if they'll try to impeach Obama before 2012) and gridlock.  Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Republicans will act responsible (and this time they really mean it when they say they'll be fiscally responsible!!!)

I'm somewhat bemused by a bunch of my Republican friends on Facebook who, after two years of bitching about Obama and socialism, are upset that they might face budget cuts at the schools where they work.  Well done.

People are in trouble. Foreclosures, 10% unemployment... and our solutions seems to be cutting medicare, social security and other "entitlement programs".   Awesome. That'll sure stop the misery (but onward in Afganistan! Maybe we should also attack Iran!). 

My only solace is that I don't think that there's anyone credible the Republican's can put up against Obama. Plus, in the primary, the Republicans are going to have to run hard to the right (Birtherism, Christianism, etc) but that won't fly in the general.

And hey, at least Harry Reid won... right? Harry Reid? Whooo?


Sorry I've missed the past couple games. I caught most of Saturday's game against the Kings on the drive down to Columbus (Mike Snyder and Jim Chones did an excellent job filling in for Joe Tait) and I was reading during yesterday's loss to the Hawks.

The Cavs need to put together four good quarters if they're gonna beat a team like the Hawks (or like Kings, I guess).  The Cavs had a brutal first quarter against Atlanta and then had to spend the whole game playing catch-up.  Against the Kings, they had a great first half but then blew a 14 point lead during a debacle of a third period.

With LeBron, the Cavs could overcome a terrible quarter.  But, like the Browns, they're good enough to beat anyone, but they can't be spotting them easy points.  If they play well, they can win.  If they have a quarter of brain farts... notsomuch.

That being said, it was nice seeing Mo back in the lineup and J.J. Hickson put up a career high 31 points.  The Cavs were without Antawn Jamison, though I'm not really sure how much he was missed (I am NOT happy with the way he's played in this young season. With LeBron and Shaq, Jamison could float around and pick his spots.  But on this team, he has to shoulder a lot of the scoring load and he simply hasn't).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Toronto 101, Cleveland 81

Little bit of a different feel to this one.  First post-LeBron game, home opener against Boston? Cavs had a lot of effort and energy.  A simple late-October game in Toronto? The Cavs focus and energy were, um, lacking to say the least. The Cavs gave up too many easy baskets and they made things hard on themselves offensively by standing around and chucking threes. Night and day compared to Wednesday's win over Boston.

Not J.J. Hickson's finest hour.  After scoring 21 points against Boston, Hickson followed it up with a 6 point, 6 rebound performance.  Fouls limited Hickson's court time to just 15 minutes, but I wouldn't blame the refs.  J.J. commits dumb fouls and he has to find ways to limit that (like not needlessly swiping at the ball).  The Cavs aren't deep enough (especially without Andy) to be able to win many games with Hickson on the bench.

The defense was not good.  Cleveland's defensive rotations were a step slow and they gave up way too many open jumpers and easy shots inside.  The Raptors shot 47% from the floor and simply had better effort. Reggie Evans absolutely killed the Cavs on the boards (14 rebounds, 5 offensive) and always seemed to end up with the loose ball (Hickson needed to do more on the glass too).

The starters were, well, awful.  The five starters combined for 29 points on 11-37 shooting.  Ramon Session went 1-10, Jamario Moon was 1-5 and Anthony Parker went 4-11.  There was too much standing around and way too many contested jumpers.  Ryan Hollins, starting in place of Varejao, scored 7 points in the first half but finished the game with those same 7 points (however, I did like his effort).  Again, the Cavs were without both Mo and Andy, but a disappointed effort from the starting group.

The game didn't get out of hand until the third quarter.  Toronto held a 7-10 point lead for most of the second quarter and Cleveland trailed 46-38 heading into halftime.  The Toronto lead built to 13 early in the third but after some treys from Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison, the Cavs cut it to 54-48 at the 8 minute mark.  Led by Linas Kleiza (13 points in the quarter), the Raptors finished the third on a 23-7 run and that was all she wrote (the Cavs "tried" to get back into it by lofting a ton of threes).

On the plus side, a whole quarter of garbage time! Cavs fans who stuck around through the fourth quarter got their first glimpses of Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels.  I thought both guys played well in their first NBA action.  Samuels scored 7 points on some nice post moves (as well as an alley oop from Boobie) but didn't grab a single board in his 7 minutes.  Harris scored 8 points (went 2-2 from downtown) and looked extremely fast with the basketball.  Harris looked so good that I wondered why he didn't spell Sessions earlier.

and finally...

First back-to-back of the year.  The Cavs can wash the taste of this game from their collective mouthes with a win over the Kings Saturday night in Cleveland.  I'm going to be interested to see how the Cavs respond and bounce back from this loss. With Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings aren't a team the Cavs can look past (not that this Cavs team should be looking past anyone).

It's a tad early

I'm not going to lie, I'm fascinated by this Miami team.  Am I still pissed at LeBron? Yes. of course. But am I still interested in how his game evolves and how his team does? Yes. I can't help it, I followed this guy's every game for seven years, it's hard to not be at least a little interested.

(Also, I bought some LeBron basketball shoes the other day. But don't judge, their price was slashed considerably).

Bill Simmons column about LeBron touches on many of the things I've been pondering:

This wasn't basketball, more of an arrangement. Something didn't feel right. Wade caught a breather and LeBron immediately snapped into 2008 Cleveland mode: pounding the ball upcourt with a hop in his step, attacking the rim with impunity, reminding everyone that he's the most talented player in the league (and maybe ever). He took three shots in a row. More importantly, he looked like LeBron again. A few minutes later, LeBron took a breather and Wade took over. Same thing. Everyone cleared out, Wade went on the attack, took the next two shots and looked like Wade again. Neither guy looked comfortable until the other one was taking a break.

Then again, was that really surprising? LeBron and Wade are creators in a decidedly modern way: scorers first, then passers if they can't score. I got this. That's how players think in the post-Jordan, AAU-dominated, microwavable fame era. That's how you earn the most money, generate the most attention, land shoe commercials and end up producing one-hour shows in which you pick your next team. You can't expect two superstars in their primes to suddenly shut off the "I got this" switch. It's not realistic. As Bill Parcells famously loved to say, you are who you are. And on this particular team, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are redundant unless one of them changes.


Granted, I love overthinking this stuff. That's what I do. But I attended Miami's first two games and my biggest takeaway was the team's collective joylessness. Even during the Heat's first victory in Philly -- an infinitely easier game because the Sixers stink and their crowd was mostly catatonic -- nobody seemed happy except for James Jones, who was making open 3s like it was a pop-a-shot game. There was a distance between everyone. I noticed it. My father noticed it. My friends on Wednesday night noticed it. The vibe was undeniably weird. I thought the Heat would be as close-knit as Oklahoma City; instead, they acted like like they had been introduced 45 minutes before the game. And LeBron and Wade weren't "Kanye West and Mike Myers raising money for Katrina" level uncomfortable, but you would have never guessed they were buddies or even acquaintances.

So ... why?

The easy explanation: They're adjusting to that "everyone hates us, now it's us against the world" mentality and it's going to take some time.
The overthinking-it-but-maybe-I'm-right explanation: Maybe everyone slowly realized during the preseason, "Good God, LeBron is MUCH better than Dwyane. What do we do? How do we handle this? Do we wait for Dwyane to admit it? Do we ... wait, what do we do???"

Maybe Wade can feel it. Maybe his competitive juices are kicking in. No, no, we're equals. He's not better than me. We're equally good. Look, I'll show you. Maybe it's just been the elephant in the room for six weeks. Maybe deep down, everyone knows the Heat can't take off until Wade has his "You can be chairman and CEO, I'll be president and COO" moment. It goes beyond who gets to take the last shot. It's about the dynamics of basketball. It's about someone emerging as the emotional leader, the spine of the team, the guy who says over and over again, "I got this." And you can't keep saying that if you're looking over your shoulder worrying that someone else is saying the same thing. It's like a fly ball in the outfield. Eventually, someone has to call it.
I agree 10000%. Either LeBron or Wade is going to have to change his game. Their games are too similar and they can't both have the ball in their hands. It was definitely noticable in the Boston game that LeBron was much more comfortable when he was surrounded by a bunch of scrubs (as well as Z).

However, this is still very very very very early in the season.  Also, Dwyane Wade missed a bunch of the preseason with his ongoing divorce proceedings and various bumps and bruises.  It's going to take a while for the Heat to figure out how to play together.

Simmons is right, either LeBron or Wade is going to have to alter his game. Maybe it will be LeBron.  After all, Slam just came out with our annual "LeBron is working on his post game". Hooray! Good for him. He needs it. Badly. But forgive me if I hold off on the low post praise until he does it in crunch time against a good team.

(You want to know what would've made me hate LeBron til the end of time? If he showed up to the Heat with a turnaround and a jump hook in his arsenal. If he had a polished post game on Day 1 in Miami, I may have gone on a murderous rampage).