U will see me in the NBA I promise u that…..
When David Lighty fell off the NBA draft board late last week, it was more than just a surprise to Buckeye fans. For four years, we watched this gritty defender frustrate offensive talent completely out of their games.
For the past two seasons, we’ve seen him step up and be the leader of some of the best young talent in the nation. In a down year for draft talent, it seemed inevitable that the Cleveland native would be selected for his intangibles that you can’t really teach.
But when the hometown Cavs passed over him with the 24th pick in the second round, the realization that the NBA covets promise over character and accomplishment sunk in.
Back when this site was on the SBNation network, we made a concerted effort to stick to all things Buckeyes, and not write about other teams, college or pro. The network had blogs from just about every team/sport out there, so we thought that writing about topics that weren’t related to Ohio State would be the equivalent of stepping on someone else’s turf.
Three things have happened since we agreed to that stance.
1) We’re not on the network anymore.
2) It’s spring, and there’s less OSU topics to cover daily.
3) I have an exclusive contract with Fox Sports Ohio and can’t discuss Buckeye football here, and I wanna write, dammit.
So I hereby change that policy. The BBC is a Buckeye-centered blog, but we’ll discuss whatever the hell we want from now on. When the Buckeye news hits, we’ll be all over it….but we’re going to expand the horizons a bit, too.
With that, comes discussion of the Cleveland Cavaliers (yay).
Tonight, the Cavs take on Atlanta is a virtually meaningless game. Cleveland has secured the #1 seed, and there is nothing left to gain. Same thing goes for the Hawks and their #3 slot being solid. This is the time for the main superstars to get some rest and prepare for Game 1 of the first round.
So, even though Shaquille O’Neal is activated and ready to play again, we won’t see him tonight. Same thing for LeBron James. I’m willing to bet that the rest of the starters get about 20 minutes in before they hit the bench.
The only genuine interest in the NBA tonight comes from two other teams. If Chicago wins tonight at Charlotte, the Bulls get the 8th seed and will be our first-round playoff opponent. If Chicago loses, and the Toronto Raptors win at home against the Knicks, we’ll play Toronto in the first round.
If both Chicago and Toronto lose, we get the Bulls.
The playoffs begin Saturday, but we’ll see when our first game is sometime tomorrow. If it’s against Chicago, expect a Sunday 1pm or 330pm tipoff. More potential viewers will give us the prime Sunday time slot.
Frankly, I want the Bulls. The perfect playoff run is being setup for us, and I want it.
Round 1 – Chicago. Revenge for all those Michael Jordan nightmares
Round 2 – Boston. They’re the 4th seed and in line to face us in the Conference Semifinals. Revenge for two years ago.
Round 3 – Orlando. Do I need to explain the revenge factor?
The Finals – L.A. Lakers. Let’s settle this once and for all.
The Finals – San Antonio. Revenge for 2007.
Either way, this weekend begins the quest for what Clevelanders deserve. A championship.
While you’re waiting….here’s a present for Cavalier fans everywhere. Rasheed Wallace scored on his own basket last night with nobody around him. Savor it. Nom nom nom.
Yesterday I posted a quick blurb about the Cavaliers and their fresh legs, but I think I need to go into a little bit more detail now.
A lot has been made about the Cavs potential for being “rusty” going into the next round of the playoffs, especially since they so quickly dispatched the Atlanta Hawks. I’m not buying it for a second.
These same people (Jon Barry, Charles Barkley, anonymous Cavs-haters online) told us that Atlanta would bite us hard in Game 1 because the Hawks had momentum, and the Cavaliers had been sitting around doing nothing for 9 days. I thought it was a bullshit argument then, and it’s a bullshit argument now.
For starters, it’s insulting to believe that the Cavs are “doing nothing” right now. Do you honestly think that the players are feasting on potato chips on the couch, watching Dr. Phil reruns? No, they’re practicing, watching game film on both Orlando and Boston, and fine-tuning their game (and dammit, they’d better be shooting free throws a LOT).
But the exercise they are completing today is enough to keep the body and mind motivated, but not to exhaust it. The same cannot be said about our next opponent, whoever it may be.
Tomorrow night, the Celtics and Magic will take the floor in Orlando for Game 6. Both teams are battered by a consistent string of long, intense games and they’ll have at least one more to endure before the Eastern Conference Finals begins. The Celtics, short-handed already, had to maneuver a minefield against Chicago (which included 7 overtimes), and the Magic, despite what their fans will tell you, had a rough go against Philadelphia until the Sixers realized they suck in Game 6.
This has led to a massive overage in minutes played.
Here’s the total number of minutes played by the starting fives for Orlando and Boston;
|Players name||Min played||Age|
And meanwhile, how many minutes have the Cavaliers’ logged in the playoffs?
The three top Celtic players will be over 500 minutes by the end of Game 6, and if Orlando somehow pulls out a series win, they’ll have their three best players with at least 400-450 minutes.
As for Pierce and Allen…..these are guys in their 30s, and they’ll have posted over 500 minutes each. That is GOING to hurt them by the time they have to visit Cleveland.
Which leads me to my next point – mileage. These teams have been on the road a LOT and that too wears a team out. The Cavs have had it easy in that category too;
Using Google Directions for mileage stats, I came up with the following numbers
Adding up the number of trips each team has had to take, here’s the total mileage that everybody has had to log;
Those are NOT small differences. If you’ve ever traveled long distance, you know like I do that it does not shake off easily. These teams have put in a LOT of traveling and that too will wear on them as the playoffs expand.
Yes, it’s true that these stats might not matter in the end, because for 48 minutes players can shake off anything. But it’s yet another example in a long laundry list that points towards the Cleveland Cavaliers becoming the 2009 Eastern Conference Champions.
The first point in that list being, of course, that the Cavs are a superior team.
The front page of your local sports page probably has a nice picture of LeBron James today, doing something that you’ll never do ever. It probably has a headline about a blowout win and most of the story is about LBJ and how he took over another game and it was unbelieveable.
Yeah, The BBC did it last night too. So did every other onlite site that I frequent.
On further review, the Cavaliers didn’t quite look so good last night.
Yes, it’s nice to know that LeBron can take over a game when he has to, but this is NOT the team of two years ago where LeBron needs to do that. We’ve got five All-Stars on the team and, despite being very young, enough playoff experience to make James Worthy go “DAAAAAAAAMN”. This is a team that should still extend leads with their star resting on the bench, but last night they couldn’t do much without him.
And that’s not good.
Fortunately, this team is led by two factors….LeBron, and defense. Both were outstanding as usual. Holding the Hawks (who played their best game of the round) to 82 points is no small feat. Their interior defense was unstoppable and they did exactly what they wanted to do, which was to force Josh Smith into shooting anything from more than 10 feet away from the rim. When Smith begins to do that, he doesn’t know how to stop, short of several fans emerging from the stands to tackle him.
I don’t like to look for the bad in games like that…..I prefer to appreciate the winning while we have it, because any Cleveland fan can tell you about how it’ll end in a heartbeat. But I think that it’s crucial to get better as the playoffs linger, because the opposition will most certainly get better as we advance. While Atlanta is no pushover (ask Boston from their title season), winning by 15 should be thrilling….but it isn’t.
Call it Playstation Syndrome. You play on rookie level for so long, and you get used to winning games by huge margins, then you get really upset with yourself when you “only” win by a mere double-digit margin.
The good news is that we played our worst game of the NBA Playoffs, and Atlanta played their best. And we won by 15. On the road.
Thanks to LeBron James.
Let’s look at this in the “big picture”…..having a guy that can and will do that when needed is not exactly a bad thing to have on your team. There’s a reason that fans of the rest of the NBA troll our cavaliers, and it’s not because they DON’T want LeBron James on their team too.
I actually didn’t see the end of the Dallas-Denver game until it was on Sportscenter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion on it.
If you have a foul to give, don’t pat the guy on the butt just before he shoots it and hope for the call. TELL the ref you’re going to do it, then WRAP the guy up until the whistle STOPS blowing.
Yes, the ref failed to make the call. Yes, he admitted it through the NBA. But Mark Cuban and Josh Howard running around throwing temper tantrums and crying midcourt isn’t the answer. Playing the game like you’re supposed to IS the answer. It’s Carmelo freaking Anthony. He wilts at the first sign of physical defense. HIT the guy and then you don’t HAVE to rely on a whistle.
If you need the refs to make a call, MAKE them make the call. That way, no cameramen will get hurt by your owner on his way to a fine and a lawsuit.
Some really crappy news out of Houston with Yao Ming’s broken foot. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like the guy and he was the Rockets’ last hope for beating the Lakers. At least now Ron Artest can have something new to finish off his usual sentence of “we’d have won if not for (blank).”
I didn’t think the Rockets could knock off L.A. four times in a series, but now there’s no chance of it at all.
Game 4 of the Magic-Celtics series is at 8pm tonight in Orlando. The Magic could go up 3-1 if Boston plays like they have since early March. The Celtics have no fire and no solid gameplan, and Doc Rivers is being exposed as a hack. And when Stan Van Gundy is looking like the superior coach in a series, you’re got a REALLY shitty coach on the other team.
I’d like to see Boston win tonight and tie the series up at 2-2. I’d also like to see Boston pull the whole thing out. I want this for one reason – I want revenge on Boston for last season.
Prior to tonight’s game, I said the following to my friends and family;
“If the Cavaliers are going to lose a game in this series, it’ll be tonight. I don’t think they will lose, but if any game will go against us, this is it.”
I honestly thought that Atlanta would come out energized and ready, and their fans are always loud. This team was desperate for a win, and their injuries were healing up for them (hint to ABC – if the players are starting in the game, don’t list them in the stats as “injured players”). They were ripe for a big win. Plus, this is the team that took three games from Boston in Philips Arena last year. The Hawks feel comfortable at home.
Atlanta’s defensive scheme from the get-go was to double-team LeBron James whenever possible and force him to pass it off. Make the rest of the Cavs hit their shots.
The plan didn’t quite work out as well as expected, as the Cavaliers won 97-82.
The Hawks did double-team James, but the Cavs first three baskets were all on assists by James, giving Cleveland a fast 6-1 lead. The open man was hitting his shots and Atlanta quickly switched defense. That didn’t work out so well either.
LeBron changed his plan and started driving to the rim. When Atlanta backed off to play a more prevent defense, James took long jumpshots, all of which led to him scoring 11 of the final 16 points of the quarter.
Basically, nothing worked out for the Hawks in their gameplan.
Even the fans, who have a tradition of standing up and cheering until the first Hawk FG is made, couldn’t do anything right. They sat down long before Mike Bibby hit a jumper nearly four minutes into the game.
LeBron ended up doing it all for Cleveland, scoring 47 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and dishing out 8 assists. He added a blocked shot and a steal, and only had one turnover. It was another game in which you never doubted why he was named the MVP.
“There’s not a whole lot you can do. Everyone says to double him, but he hit about eight or nine shots where we couldn’t even get double-teams to him, they were way beyond the three-point line.”
- Atlanta Head Coach Mike Woodson
There just wasn’t any way to stop him. He never slowed down.
Atlanta made three strong runs at Cleveland, but never quite had enough to put the game away as the wine and gold always had an answer for any Hawk rally. The Cavs took the lead for good with 2 minutes left in the third quarter and the wheels seemed to come off Atlanta’s wagon. Zaza Pachulia (yes, thats his real name) argued a call and shoved Anderson Varejao, earning himself an early shower and Josh Smith decided he was the only player wearing a home jersey and began shooting from everywhere (fans eventually started booing his misses, and Head Coach Mike Woodson pleaded with his young star to drive the ball and stop taking jumpers. He didn’t).
Now with a 3-0 lead, a lead that no team has ever overcome in the NBA Playoffs, the Cavaliers look to close out the series Monday night in Atlanta, a city that has to be truly demoralized.
The Cavs are now the first team in NBA history to win 7 straight playoff games by a double-digit margin.
Some other amazing statistics;
Game 4 tipoff is scheduled for 7pm.
Haftime, and the Cavs are in a battle. The Hawks are playing their best game of the playoffs and trail Cleveland by 1 point.
But of course, the story is LeBron James. He’s been burying shots that no other NBA player should even attempt. Another 30-footer, three-pointers with defense in his face, driving through triple-teams, etc etc etc.
Thus far, he’s got 22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
But it’s the Atlanta fans that are firing him up. They boo him for touching the ball, and he silences them. then they boo him, and he silences them. Again and again and again.
Just take the lesson, Hawk fans. You’re making it worse.
Heading into the second-round series with Atlanta, a lot was said about the Cavaliers’ potential for being rusty. An 8-day layover between games was bound to hurt, and with the Hawks coming off their longer series, it was possible that momentum would carry Atlanta to a victory in Game 1 or even Game 2.
There goes that theory.
Rather than showing any signs of rust, the Cavaliers instead returned to their desire and thirst for victory. Along the way, they got some much-needed rest than no other NBA team has been able to see thus far.
The Cavs dispatched Detroit in four games, and it looks like Atlanta may be headed to the same fate, with a slight chance at having to return north to be eliminated in 5 games. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, Boston and Orlando both had hard-fought longer battles in the first round, and are going toe-to-toe for their second-round matchup.
This brings me to my point. The Cavaliers are going to be VERY well rested when the tougher opponents come knocking. In about 7-10 days, we’re going to be facing the Celtics or the Magic in the Eastern Finals. By that time, will either team have enough left in their tanks to keep up with LeBron James and Company?
|Player||Min played||Players age|
|Player||Min played||Players age|
|Player||Min played||Players age|
Obviously, the shooting guard position for Orlando is rested, since it changed hands four games ago with the injury to Courtney Lee. He’s scheduled to return tonight and he’ll be well-rested. But by the looks of this chart, he’s the ONLY player on either Orlando or Boston’s starting rosters that will be fresh for the third round.
ALL of the starting five Celtic players have played over 300 minutes this postseason….and two of those players are in their 30s. Two Magic players are over 300 minutes thus far, and their ages are 29 and 30.
Meanwhile, you have LeBron James, the strongest player in the league and only 24 years old…and he’s played a grand total of 187 minutes. The old man of the club, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, has played the least amount of minutes at 166. If we get the Magic, that will be useful against a strength like Howard. If we get Boston, we’ll use Z to pound it inside and force foul trouble on the weaker Boston interior defense.
Right now, these numbers are just that….numbers. But if the Cavs sweep this series and Boston-Orlando goes 6 or 7 games, it will put a serious strain on our ECF opponent. LeBron, Delonte and Mo will have the strength left to play all 48 minutes. But there’s no way that Pierce, Allen, Alston, or Turkaglu will be able to keep up with that. It’ll lead to tired legs in the 4th quarter, and I think you know who usually takes over in the 4th quarter.
Keep a close eye on the rest of the second-round games. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Magic and Celtics will take out of each other on their way to Cleveland.
The MVP of the league wasted no time showing his fans why he was given the award for the NBA’s best player. Then his team wasted no time showing the Atlanta Hawks where the exit is.
A mere 15 seconds into tonight’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, LeBron James was sending his first slam-dunk through the rim. It was a strong start to an even stronger night. James would finish with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in his first game with the official title of MVP.
The Hawks looked strong early on, burying 7 of their first 9 shots to take a 15-10 lead, but that was the end of their fun. From that moment on, the Cavaliers clamped down on defense and held the Hawks to 38 percent shooting for the rest of the night. They were equally as miserable from the free throw line, shooting 50 percent on 9-of-18 shots.
An Anderson Varejao tip shot with 3:33 to play in the first quarter gave the Cavs a 19-17 lead which they would never relinquish. The lead grew to 12 points in the second quarter, and as the second half wore on, the lead only grew larger.
Mo Williams paced the non-MVP Cavaliers with 21 points, and Delonte West added 13 points and 9 assists.
The defense for Cleveland was their strongest asset tonight, holding Atlanta to only 28 points after halftime and forcing 17 total turnovers.
But what is especially scary about this team’s performance is that their big men were a complete non-factor, and yet we still won by a huge margin.
When your four big men combine for 23 percent shooting (5 for 22) and grab a total of only 17 rebounds in 89 minutes of action, you do NOT expect to win by 27 points. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
This team is scary good, and they are perfecting their game at the right time. From what I saw tonight, I see only one team that can beat the Cavaliers in the playoffs.