Are you ready? Cavaliers begin their quest….now!

Written October 27th, 2009 by Jeff

10:16pm – Winding it down.  Stretches of success, stretches of failure.  This was a playoff game without the playoff atmosphere.

10:12pm – Cavs going to lose their opening game for the second year in a row to Boston, have lost 5 of the 7 openers in LeBron James era.  Have lost at least two of their first three games in 5 of last 6 years.

10:11pm – Son of a bitch, Parker.  Catch the ball.

10:09pm – I’m not sure how Pierce gets away with shoving Mo Williams to the floor, but he just did.  Cavs down 6 with 1 minute left.

10:07pm – Two minutes left, pulls within 4 points!

10:06pm – Pierce gets his fifth foul trying to murder LeBron.

10:05pm – As it looks right now, the supporting cast is not pulling their weight.  Anthony Parker is 3-for-9 from the field.  Still have a shot

10:03pm – Uh, ohhhh, Shaq’s first FTs of his Cavalier career.  Clank, clank.

10:00pm – Yes, LeBron palmed that ball.  But if you’re going to call that, then you’ve GOT to call three steps on Pierce and Allen.

9:58pm – It’s LeBron time!  3-pointer brings us to within four!

9:55pm – Sweet Jesus, I hate Paul Pierce

9:54pm – Chances to get closer being wasted.  We need one more burst to win this.  6 minutes remain in a five-point game.

9:52pm – Z hits two FTs, within 5 now!

9:47pm – Crowd very quiet, almost waiting for a reason to get excited.

9:42pm – Z finally scores a FG, but the defense overall is lagging again.  Fresh Shaq and LeBron on the floor for the stretch.

9:38pm – It’s only three-quarters of one game, but Zydrunas is officially the Derek Anderson of the Cavaliers.  Can’t pass, refuses to score, looks scared with the ball.

9:34pm – The difference in the past 6 minutes has been defense.  Boston was shooting 57%, now down to 48%.  Boston has missed 8 of their last 10 shots and only has three FGs in the last 9 minutes of play.

9:33pm – Cavs turn a 15-point deficit into a 7-point one in half a quarter.  Looking better….here comes the 4th!

9:29pm – LeBron’s first “and-one” brings us to within 9… but not 8.

9:27pm – Watching Ilgauskas exclusively, and it’s very very ugly.  He has no speed to return to his player when he jumps off the screen.

9:25pm – LeBron takes over again!  Blocks another layup and then buries a three!  DEEP at the Q!

9:24pm – Mo Williams has arisen

9:23pm – Z refuses to jump and doesnt get the rebound because of it

9:20pm – Oh, shit here comes Z

9:18 pm- Replays at The Q show Allen took three steps to the hoop and got the foul call for him.

9:14pm – Back to within ten points.  The defense has stepped up again and forced three turnovers by Boston in four possessions.  5-0 run brings them to within 62-52.

9:12pm – Shaq’s first dunk as a Cav

9:10pm – Shaq is not working to the rim anymore.  He’s getting the ball and shooting too quickly.  Kendrick Perkins has only one foul, because he’s not being forced to foul.

9:07pm – Celtics on a run of 54-26.  No excuse for that at all.

9:06pm – Boston shooting 57 percent from the field.

9:05pm – Now its getting embarrassing.  No defense whatsoever.  When a guy like Rajon freaking Rondo can get to the rim with his head intact, it’s ridiculous.

9:04pm – Mo Williams trying to do too much, ends up turning it over.  The rhythm is gone for now.

9:03pm – Garnett tastes floorboard, crowd loves it.

9:01pm – Third quarter about to begin, usually our worst period.  Maybe we transferred that to the second quarter for this game?  One can only hope, as we were outscored by 13 in the 2nd.

8:55pm – Only two players shooting over 50% for Cleveland – Shaq and LeBron.

8:46pm – LeBron with 14 points, no other Cav in double digits (earlier report of Shaq with 10 was wrong).  Mo Williams struggling with his shot, but his defense has been good.  We’re allowing over 51% shooting from Boston, and 78% from 3-point land.  Adjustments need to be made, and fast.

8:40pm – Officiating crew, in an attempt to be correct, have failed.  They called a conference, then called a foul on Moon (before the travel was called), but failed to recognize that if the foul is called, it’s not a shooting situation.  Pierce gets two free points.  Cavs failing down the stretch and have a horrible second quarter, down by six at the half.

8:29pm – Now it’s looking like the playoff game all the pundits said it would.  Shaq has ten points, LeBron with 13.  Celtics hitting 3s at a 75% clip, keeping them in the game.  Tied at 44, 2 minutes left in the half.

8:25pm – Regarding Jamario Moon – Never mind.

8:20pm – Boston decided not to run away from the early deficit.  The Cavs are not in sync at the moment, and a couple of ill-advised shots haven’t fallen.  Meanwhile, the typical “close my eyes, throw it in the air, and bitch at the ref” strategy by Pierce is working for him.

8:18pm – Now it’s a game again.  Tied at 34, but the starters are all back on the floor.

8:14pm – Yes, Varejao has a better FT % than Ray Allen

8:09pm – Jamario Moon can’t hold onto the ball inside, and shoots like Wally Szczerbiak outside.  The bad Wally Szczerbiak.  Cavs lead about to disappear.  Get Z and Moon on the bench and get the flow back on the floor.

8:07pm – Ilgauskas is a liability again

8:00pm – Cavs lead at the end of the first quarter by only 7 points.  Celtics made a run against second-teamers mostly.  Not impressed with Ilgauskas or Jamario Moon yet.  One key factor is that LeBron doesn’t HAVE to take over a game anymore.  Multiple players to help out with the offense, potentially.  However, the Celtics are back in the game and the early burst has ended.  The 14-point lead is cut in half.

7:52pm – When are players going to learn that if LeBron is within twenty feet of a layup, you’re not going to score?  Even Boobie Gibson is looking sharp.  Cavs keeping a double-digit lead on a surging Boston team.

7:48pm – Celtics on a little run, Shaq looking AWESOME.

7:38pm – Cavaliers have a flow, momentum, they look relaxed and calm.  Celtics can’t find a rhythm and looked pissed.  Pierce hasn’t even tried a shot yet and the Cavs are dominating.  13-2 good guys already!

7:33pm – Here we go!!

7:25pm – I’m thinking the fans are going to let out a LOT of frustration from months of suffering over the Indians/Browns.  The Cavs will be the recpients of a warm, overdue reception tonight, ALL night.

7:10pm – Glen “Big Baby” Davis not playing (for a long time).  Surgery today on a broken thumb, then discussion of being suspended by the Celtics for misconduct.  Davis wasn’t a main cog, but he was a big part of the backup that got Boston through their injury stage last year.  It will hurt having him out.

——————-

Quicken Loans Arena filled up in a hurry tonight and the fans are LOUD already.  Updates throughout the night….

Wait, where was I when that happened?

Written July 9th, 2009 by Jeff

Oh, yeah…I was out of town and turned off my cell phone.  Tuesday I took a trip to Cedar Point and Wednesday I was in Pittsburgh for a concert, so I missed the news about the Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavs signed Tony Parker to a contract.  Let’s see what Eva Longoria says about having to live in Cleveland NOW, huh??  Yeah!

Oh wait….wrong Parker.  The Cavs went out and signed Toronto shooting guard Anthony Parker to an undisclosed deal.  Eva is still a big bitch and I can still hate her skanky ass.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the wine and gold also avoided the long drawn-out process they went through in 2007 by re-signing Anderson Varejao quickly.

With the rest of the major players in the NBA making moves over the past two weeks, the sportswriters have been looking at every possible angle to see who is now the “team to beat”.  These two signings (plus the Shaq trade) put the Cavaliers back on top of that list, in my own biased opinion.

We can actually go big against the teams that require it and we can likewise go small and fast.

Imagine having a lineup that consists of LeBron, Mo Williams, Delonte West, Anthony Parker and Shaq or Varejao.  Fast, tenacious, and with four shooters that can hit from 3 with no trouble.

Or putting a big lineup on the floor with Shaq, Zydrunas, Varejao, LeBron and Mo Williams.  Holy crap.  And that lineup is not only big and strong, it has FOUR All-Stars in it.

I’m liking what I see here.

————–

By the way, the whole search for a Shaq nickname is over.

I’m calling him “Witness Protection”.

Well…..dammit. Now what?

Written June 2nd, 2009 by Jeff

Yeah, I’ve been avoiding writing this because I was just too irritated, but the time has come to sit down and begin planning for the ’09-’10 Cavaliers season (and beyond).

Frankly, the discussion about Game 6 has been played out already.  We had our runs at it and Orlando just had everything working for them (including getting the calls when Anderson Varejao touches Howard’s back, but not when LeBron gets tackled on his way to the basket).  But whose fault is it?  It’s everybody’s fault.  Nobody had a full game Saturday night and as a result, everybody has the summer off.

Now for the good news.

After his brief hiatus from the media, LeBron James stepped forward and discussed his satisfaction with the Cleveland Cavaliers, including their front office and the direction of the team. Contrary to popular belief, LeBron has NEVER said that he wanted to leave this city (that’s the product of a frenzied media and several thousand internet trolls).  What he DID say was that he wanted to stay in Cleveland as long as the Cavaliers continue building towards success and keep him happy.

Monday’s press conference with LeBron brought some sighs of relief to a city.

“I’m great. I feel great about this situation that’s going on.  You want to continue to get better, that’s all you can ask. We got better and I feel this team will be better next season. You don’t want to take a step backward. I think we went forward from the Boston series last year.  Hopefully we can go forward next year.”

Upon being immediately deluged with claims of LeBron going to New York after the Eastern Finals loss, this was a welcome sound for Cavalier fans worldwide.

Now, LeBron did NOT say he was going to re-sign with the Cavs, but this was a STRONG step towards that inevitable conclusion.  The facts are laid out before him, he knows it, and everybody with half a brain knows it too.

The Cavaliers are the only team that can offer him everything he wants and needs, and his family is here.  No major city, especially one that is in a rebuilding phase of it’s own, can give him anything more except money…..and the Cavaliers just got a HUGE infusion of cash to offer James.  The news of a Chinese investment group offering to buy 15% of the Cavs will all but seal the deal to keep LBJ in wine and gold.  With that move, LeBron can successfully market himself, his shoes, his jerseys, and anything else he wants to a billion chinese people who are starved for NBA stars.  The Chinese government doesn’t allow an open and free market as much as we do, but with part-ownership in the team, expect to see Hu Jintao open the gates for anything with LeBron’s name on it.

But that won’t happen if LeBron leaves the Cavs….because the Chinese ownership is NOT of LeBron, it’s of the Cavs.  Sucks to be you, Knicks.

Here’s our current money situation, seen through the eyes of an optimist like me;

  • Currently, LeBron makes 14.4 million dollars, and he’ll want to sign for more before the next season begins.  We can lock him up for a long-term deal at around 20 million a year plus bonuses that do not count towards the salary cap.
  • Wally Szczerbiak has played his last game as a Cavalier.  His contract is up, and we will not sign him again….making 13.8 million per year to be a bench player is not what we want or need.  We loved you, Wally….but sorry.
  • Joe Smith’s contract is also up, but he’s making 1.2 million.  Give him more if he needs it, he’s a big part of this team’s chemistry and he’s inexpensive to boot.  If he wants to break the bank though, we’ll have to let him go.
  • Ben Wallace is talking retirement and he might want a buyout of his final year.  Hell, we KNOW he’ll want a buyout.  Anything we spend on the buyout also does not count towards the salary cap, so we should offer him that and wish him well.  It’ll add to our coffers, as Ben was making nearly 15 million this year.  Again, Ben…we loved you, thanks for your dedication and spirit.
  • Anderson Varejao will be looking for more money.  Again.  His current 5.8 million dollar contract is not going to be enough to keep him, and we’re going to have to up that to 9 or 10 million per season.  There’s very little question about that right now, especially with the possibility of losing Wallace and Smith.  Also, Z’s age doesn’t make anybody comfortable in C-town.

This all adds up to good fortune for the Cavs.  We’ll have to add 10-12 million a year to LeBron, Smith and Varejao’s contracts, but we save about 19 million with the losses of Wally and Big Ben.  That leaves us with 7-9 million dollars left to grab a strong player to add to LeBron’s arsenal, and that’s only if we want to keep the same salary as 2008-09.  We can go over the limit and pay a luxury tax to the NBA since we have that money to spend (hello, China!).

Translation – relax, Cavs fans.  LeBron will stay, and with the mastermind known as Danny Ferry at the helm, we will get everything we need and start fresh again in October.

Is it over? No, but it’s bad

Written May 27th, 2009 by Jeff

Yeah, it’s bleak right now. We’ve played well enough to win but are still down 3-1. Is it over? Hell no. Here’s why.

1) We’re playing at home Thursday night in Game 5. Say what you will about the past week of basketball, but there is no house in the NBA that is tougher to win in than Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers, in front of a raucous crowd, will do what they need to do at home. That crowd will not let them down and I do not expect the wine and gold to disappoint. Win a big game at home in Game 5, and we’re at a 3-2 series deficit.

2) Along the way in Game 5, we need to do one more thing as we get that victory. Irritate Dwight Howard. Anderson Varejao is great at that and he’ll be at peak performance tomorrow. Get under Howard’s skin just enough and he’ll get another technical foul, which would be his 7th of the playoffs. On his 7th foul, he gets an automatic suspension for the next game.

3) Game 6 without Dwight Howard? Do you think Orlando would have won a single game without him. It’s a perfect scenario for Orlando’s final home game in this series (and any other)….no big man in the middle. It would disrupt their offensive flow and allow us to defend the perimeter without having to give Z help on the inside. No Dwight Howard, and I see a Cavalier victory. That makes the series 3-3.

4) See point #1. We’d be at home for Game 7 and freshly rejuvenated. Victory at home? Yes, I see that happening too.

OK, it’s not really THAT easy, but it could be. We HAVE to come out strong tomorrow night and we HAVE to get under D12s skin. Do that, and we can see our path to The Finals more clearly. Fail, and we become another Cleveland story.

The long wait is finally over

Written May 20th, 2009 by Jeff

Tonight at 830, we can get back to business. The Cleveland Cavaliers will take the floor in the Eastern Conference Finals against Orlando, and it’s not a moment too soon.

In the last 24 days, the Cavaliers have only played four games, and the concern is that they are not battle-tested enough for Game 1. “Shake off the rust” has been an overused phrase on Cleveland talk shows (and Orlando, and Los Angeles, and the drunk tank where Charles Barkley resides on alternate Friday nights).

Yes, it’s a concern…will the Cavaliers be ready for Game One?

Frankly, I’m not worried at all, and you know this if you read The BBC. To me, Orlando has a much bigger concern on their hands….are they worn out from playing two long and harsh playoff rounds?

Here’s a quick look at the amount of minutes the starting 5 has logged so far this postseason;

Team/Player Position Minutes Minutes Position Team/Player

Cleveland Cavaliers

Orlando Magic

LeBron James SF 314 493 SF Hedo Turkoglu
Zydrunas Ilgauskas C 230 458 C Dwight Howard
Anderson Varejao PF 246 523 PF Rashard Lewis
Mo Williams PG 287 394 PG Rafer Alston
Delonte West SG 322 251 SG JJ Redick

Howard is only two minutes away from doubling the minutes that Z has played, but that’s the one matchup that doesn’t matter.  Z needs that rest and Dwight Howard does not.

As for the rest…..do you really think that 30-year-old Hedo Turkoglu is going to be able to handle LeBron James even if they were equally rested?  How about when the old man has played 3 and 3/4 more FULL games than the MVP?  That’s a whole lot of fatigue that’s about to set in for Turkoglu.

Also, the young and energetic Varejao has seen LESS than half of the court time as Rashard Lewis.  Tired legs are gonna get ya.

Yes, it’ll be a war early on and I expect to see a close game….but when the 4th quarter is on and old man Turkoglu is weary, he is NOT going to be able to handle LeBron.  If the game is close, there’s going to be a lot of late fouling, with the hopes of keeping James out of the paint and on the free-throw line.

Should be fun.

It’s Orlando. Bring it.

Written May 17th, 2009 by Jeff

There are two teams in the NBA that have a winning record against the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. Both of them are still alive. I’m fine with that, I want to take them both apart during this drive for the trophy.

Tonight, the Orlando Magic earned their shot to be humiliated on National TV. They buried the Boston Celtics in the 4th quarter of Game 7 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals starting Wednesday night in Cleveland. A 5-point game was blown wide open as the Magic won 101-82, and it truly was a beautiful sight watching an empty Boston Garden* as the clock wound down.

I’d been harping on it for about a week, and it finally bit Boston in the ass….they were tired. Paul Pierce looked like he did two years ago, helpless to do anything in a losing cause. Ray Allen dragged his feet late in the game, after being worn out all night by JJ Redick. Incidentally, that’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever written about a Boston player.

The Magic have made a lifelong career of underachieving in the postseason, but they won in a place that very few people believed they could win a Game 7. Frankly, there’s a place that Orlando hardly EVER wins a Game 7…it’s called the NBA. But tonight, they stood tall against a Boston team that looked like they had no reason to win. They didn’t want it. When you have Brian Scalabrine shooting 22-footers and Stephon Marbury handling the ball at the point, you’ve run out of ideas.

So here comes Orlando. They won 2 of 3 games against Cleveland this season, and both games in Florida were BIG Magic wins. That will be the rallying cry for all Magic fans. What they did in the regular season in those two games mean everything. The other 80 games mean nothing.

They’ll have two days rest before they have to come knocking at Quicken Loans Arena, and Game 1 will be a BIG test for Orlando. If they have a shot at knocking off the Cavs, it’s after a 9-day layover for Cleveland. If the Cavs get off with a big Game 1, it’s going to tell a lot for the rest of the series.

Here’s the biggest keys to the series for the Cavaliers to beat Orlando.

1) Dwight Howard is going to clean up the boards. But when he gets the ball in rotation, force him to stay 6 feet outside of the rim. He’s awful when he has to take 8-footers and will miss 2/3rds of them. Use Z to body him out and Varejao to drive him crazy.

2) Despite having a huge inside presence, Orlando can only beat us with three-pointers. Don’t let Turkoglu and Lewis bury us with wide-open 24-footers.

3) Orlando is not capable of stopping LeBron James. James averaged 30 points per game, and nearly had triple-doubles in all three regular-season contests. Obviously, everything runs through him.

4) Pressure, pressure, pressure. If you force this team to make multiple mistakes in a row, Stan Van Gundy will panic and make unnecessary changes. The higher his voice gets, the funnier it will be for Cavs fans. Also, his state of panic tends to piss off his players. They’ll fold right along with him.

And here’s the best news Cavs fans could have….Charles Barkley just said “I think the Orlando Magic will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.” Kenny Smith is now mocking him, saying “in basketball?” Nobody’s dared to ask him if he’s drunk yet. Chris Webber just said that “if both teams had the same NBA I.Q., I’d go with the Magic. But both teams do not have the same NBA I.Q.”

When Chris Webber picks an Ohio team to win, you know there’s a good reason for him to do it.

* – or whatever the hell they call that decrepit basketball shithole these days.

Well-rested and dominating

Written May 8th, 2009 by Jeff

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.

  • Game 1 – Cavs win by 27
  • Game 2 – Cavs win by 20

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?

CLEVELAND

Player Min played Players age
LeBron James 187 24
Delonte West 232 25
Mo Williams 217 26
Ilgauskas 166 33
Varejao 189 26

BOSTON

Player Min played Players age
Rajon Rondo 396 23
Paul Pierce 367 31
Ray Allen 362 33
Kendrick Perkins 333 24
Glen Davis 350 23

ORLANDO

Player Min played Players age
Dwight Howard 274 23
Rafer Alston 266 32
Hedo Turkoglu 300 30
Rashard Lewis 320 29
JJ Redick 127 24
Courtney Lee 163 23

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.

Very good. Scary good.

Written May 5th, 2009 by Jeff

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.

  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas was 2-for-9 shooting for 7 points and had no defensive rebounds
  • Anderson Varejao was 2-for-8 shooting for only 4 points, but grabbed 9 boards
  • Joe Smith missed all four shots he took
  • Ben Wallace scored on his only attempt, a slam-dunk

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.

Themselves.

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