An Amazingly Lazy Post

March 27, 2009

One of my favorite players to watch is Rudy Fernandez. His style is a combination of flare and fluidity that last night Kevin Harlan did justice to:

1

Back to the Cavs. Most everyone of you has seen this by now, but here it is anyway:

You know I’ll be watching this – right after a matinee showing against the Mavs. It’ll be a good Sunday.

what

Finally, FSN posted a question during the game tonight on what the viewers  like better: Lebron’s dunk or his powder toss during pregame. But if you’re really a fan of basketball, that question has an obvious answer. So I’m putting forth my own:

2

Do you prefer…

Lebron’s fast break open court on your feet explosive jam?

or

his slowly trailing weak side creeping backboard smashing block from behind?

3

I think it’s arguable.

Playing Ketchup

March 20, 2009

This has been the longest hiatus in posts since I started the blog. My bad. I haven’t always been able to devote myself to recent games (because of Spring Break, being ill, and being under the influence while watching at bars), thus the lack of game Thoughts.

So here’s something I’ve been thinking about…

3rd Qtr Woes. With 10 wins in 11 games this month, Cleveland is only strengthening its lead in the conference (Orlando w/ 7; Boston, a pathetic 4). In eight of those wins, though, they came out sluggish in the second half but somehow still managed to win the game (6 of those wins Cavs down going into the fourth). This is highly reminiscent of last year (without the comebacks), when continuous and horrible third quarter outings made me question the productivity of halftime and what was actually going on in the locker room.

But this March, the fourth quarter has been magical and seems to be a whole new ballgame for them. The following lists second half scoring in those eight wins (Cavs in red). Lebron’s fourth quarter stats show he is the reason they come out winning these games, many which seemed hopeless until the end (5 of 8 won by 5 or less).

vs. Atlanta (3/1)

3rd: 14-21

4th: 21-19, Lebron: 3/2/5

Cavs win by 1

vs. Miami (3/2)

3rd: 18-27

4th: 31-18, Lebron: 12 pts, 3 boards, 1 steal

Cavs by 7

vs. Miami (3/7)

3rd: 20-25

4th: 29-28, Lebron: 2/4/5

Cavs by 10

vs. LA Clippers (3/10)

3rd: 18-21

4th: 35-14, Lebron: 10/4/5

Cavs by 4

vs. Phoenix (3/12)

3rd: 26-31

4th: 30-18, Lebron: 8/5/2 & 2 steals, 1 block

Cavs by 8

vs. Sacramento (3/13)

3rd: 24-39

4th: 32-18, Lebron: 16/1/4 & 1 steal, 2 blocks

Cavs by 3 in OT, Lebron: 6 pts, 1 block

vs. New York (3/15)

3rd: 24-29

4th: 24-21, Lebron: 4/2/3 & 1 steal

Cavs by 5

vs. Orlando (3/17)

3rd: 19-25

4th: 25-18, Lebron: 15/2/2 & 1 steal

Cavs by 4

So what does this tell us? According to these numbers, the Cavs are scoring 8 more points and allowing 8 fewer points in the fourth quarter relative to the 3rd (Cavs averaging 20.4 in 3rd, 28.4 in 4th; Opponents 27.3 in 3rd, 19.3 in 4th). Lebron has been phenomenal at the end of games and is doing everything for his team to win. If he had grabbed two more boards against the Knicks, he would’ve had 5 triple doubles in the last 7 games! Even though the Cavs are turning their game up both defensively and offensively in the fourth, which is encouraging, they need to be able to dictate the entire flow of the game and not just make it about the final 12 minutes.

The other two wins in the month, Milwaukee (3/4) and Portland (3/19), are each unique in their own right. The Bucks game was just Cleveland demolishing a clearly weaker team, outscoring them in every quarter. In yesterday’s game, the 3rd/4th quarter data was flipped and Portland forced the overtime. And even after OT, either team couldn’t reach 100 points.

This is a just a small sample of data that may not even end up reflecting the overall month, but it definitely shows the trend the Cavs are demonstrating right now: they thrive on being down.  These 3rd quarter woes are unleashing 4th quarter woah’s!

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And what about this….

Being a professional athlete means being a professional kid in some respect. I remember back in the day incorporating Terrell Davis’ “salute” touchdown celebration into a handshake with my friends. It was fun and cool to have a different handshake for each friend. Baseball stars definitely take it to an extreme and now we got this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

So what don’t they do? During intros, the turned-down lights atmosphere is a must to get the crowd riled up and each Cavalier has a different style as they go through the tunnel o’ players when their name is called. Clearly, the low hand slap has evolved.

Damon Jones always did something with LBJ before games and now you have these individual greetings everywhere: the back-of-the-hand high-fives, guns in the holster, pinky high-fives, scratching the cheek, etc. I’m not saying this a bad thing at all; it’s a part of the superstitious side of sports. In fact, it toughens the bond and I really enjoy watching the theatrics.

I also wonder if Cleveland buys the highest quantity of talcum powder in the league now that the King deems himself worthy to use half the bottle for every game (although only a small portion of that actually remains on his palms).

Finally, the Cavs definitely put the “camara” in camaraderie. This “photo shoot” thing is hilarious, especially when Darnell holds up Delonte. And yesterday they actually had their imaginary camera placed on an imaginary tripod with an imaginary self-timer set for what seemed to be 2 seconds – just so everyone could get in the picture.

It’s like Chad Johnson on steroids.

Thoughts up to Cavs v. Suns

March 13, 2009

atlasFun Clippers game back on Tuesday.

Cavs down 7 after 1, 14 after 2 , 17 after 3, but keep clawing and manage to win by 4. Mo and Boobie’s clutch treys in the fourth helped seal the win in a game where Lebron clearly was Atlas.

Also…

According to the AP, after hitting a 90-footer in a game! and an 80-footer in practice, Dayton Christian High School basketball player, Casey Weber, wants to challenge LBJ in a shooting contest.

“Hey, LeBron, anytime, anyplace!” said the whole team apparently in unison in front of some cameras. The supposed bet would be if Weber scores the first full-court shot, James would have to buy the team a burrito restaurant.

Really?! Like a Chipotle? Would Lebron get a financial stake in this venture? I think this would make for a very exciting contest.

And…

Great, great, GREAT NBA spot (2 and a half steps, son):

Also, I was saving this vid for a future potential playoff match up, but what the hell:

And now on to the game…

US Airways Center was the only building in which Lebron hadn’t won in until tonight.

James gets his third consecutive triple dub in the waning seconds of the fourth after brushing off Varejao for the final board. Please don’t take it away.

Ok, how about this stat: Lebron James had a GAME-high in points (34), assists (13), boards (10), steals (3), and blocks (3)! Yes he is a beast, I swear he needs to be tranquilized.

Mo didn’t let a bad shooting night carry over, as he added 30. Pavlovic was quality tonight, reminiscent of his minutes as a starter in December. 6 for 9 shooting for 16 pts.

Recently, Delonte hasn’t been playing with any offensive consistency. His drive attempts are poor and yesterday he turned the ball over 7 times in 22 minutes before heading to the lockroom with a sore lower back. He is questionable for tonight’s game, but I think he’ll play. If it’s a gametime decision, Brown should replace West with Sasha in the starting line-up and see what he can do. ‘Cause it’s only Sacramento.

Lastly, yesterday night had to be a record for the most Sideshow Bob imitators on the floor at the same time: Varejao, Lopez, and now West.

Final: 119-111, Cavs tie a season-high in scoring

Final Thought: 6 road games remaining. Detroit down 18.5 with 19 games to go. Here’s hoping nothing drastic happens.

Heading West

March 10, 2009

There are many likable cats on this Cavs roster. Delonte is definitely one of ‘em and his mailbag is tight. He’s open to answering all types of questions, not just those basketball-related, and his personality really shines through in his responses. Being a laid back dude, humor is just a piece of this man’s swagger. In regards to trying to get ladies, West writes:

Females watch you dance and, subconsciously, they’re thinking about the way you move a little later on that night. So you’ve got to learn the two-step. Learn the two-step and stick with it. You can change it up for every song. You can speed it up or slow it down, but stick with the same two-step. That’s something that translates in any country.

And if you’re broke, one more thing – besides working on your two-step, which is important – you got to work on your game and your “mouthpiece.” If your mouthpiece is strong, she’ll give you some money.

I don’t even know what that last sentence means, but two-step and mouthpiece – remember that next time you’re in the club.

A little bit ago, after Delonte’s return from injury, I posted a picture of West all GQ’d. I just happened to stumble across a video of the photo shoot. Here West discusses style, tats, and time:

Some more out of D West’s mouthpiece:

peach

Also, how sick is this:

Mo in March, behind the arc: 19-26 (73%)! Right now his wing shot’s a winner, and his spontaneous spot-up makes him all the more deadly when he chooses to drive and delicately deliver a floater.

grape

Alright, three road games this week against the Clippers, Suns, and Kings. One more road win will tie a franchise record of 22.

Coming up: Thoughts v. Clips

Pregame Thoughts: Boston Recap + Miami Preview

March 7, 2009

Ok, only so much recap:

The Cavs settled over and over again but only down 2 at the end of the half.

Z didn’t really get into the game with 0 shots in the paint. Lebron with only 2 in the paint.

I didn’t think Joe Smith would get 22 minutes and J.J. only 7. That inch in height really matters.

Mo Williams had a great offensive outing, shooting 8-15 (4-5 behind the arc), 26 pts, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers. However, he had the lowest +/- of the game, -14.

The largest +/- went to Leon Powe, +16, going 9-11 with all his shots in the paint. He was the difference maker – outscoring the entire Cavs bench by five. He also grabbed more boards, threw more dimes, and blocked more shots than that same bench.

Final: 105-94, in a game where the Celts trailed 8-10 and then never looked back.

Final Thought: If all stays true to this winning-at-home thing between Cleveland and Boston (15 straight now), the Cavs should hopefully win the final regular season match up on April 12, but until then….

plumb

Less than a week ago, James and Wade combined for 83 POINTS, in what continuously proves to be a phenomenal rivalry. Since the Cavs stole a victory in D Wade’s House, look for Wade to be angry tonight.

And “When I’m angry, I attack.

If that doesn’t do it for you, how about something visually stimulating: a great edit of Lebron and Dwayne doin their thing last Monday:

A Short & Sweet Post

March 5, 2009

Being a fan of music, I appreciated this little piece by Windhorst. Chemistry will only be improved with the addition of Joe Smith because he and Mo used to be neighbors in Milwaukee and would chill in the off season and record music together. Said Mo of Smith:

He’s a great person besides a basketball player. I’m happy to have him. We’ve cut a couple records together, I’m not sharing any lyrics until he puts the CD out and I get paid.

this is how we do it

ALSO, I love Youtube, but I’m pretty late on this. Featured is a collection of Lebron’s ten best plays of the year up until the end of January (HQ is a must):

Thoughts on Cavs v. Bucks

March 5, 2009

First, a Pregame Thought:

Cavs are a record 36 games above .500, but how did they get here? Mike Brown’s defense is the backbone that makes this team shine. And of course Lebron does everything. But Danny Ferry’s front office maneuvers have created this magnificent lineup that complements Lebron perfectly – AND FOR NOTHING!

KG and Allen were shipped to Boston back in August of 07. The Celts won the ‘Ship and Ainge won GM of the Year. Since then, GMs sought after big-name combos for their respective teams. The Lakers were able steal Gasol from Memphis and with players like Kidd, Marion, Shaq (twice) and Amare being available, the opportunities were there. But Ferry passed up on each, by choice or not.

Since the halfway mark of last season though, Ferry started to fix his earlier mistakes by orchestrating a colossal 11-player trade with Seattle and Chicago that:

1. Sent Drew Gooden, Shannon Brown, Cedric Simmons, and Larry Hughes to Chicago. Gooden will be the biggest loss in all of this, which is pretty good. And no mo Larry.

2. Sent Ira Newble and Donyell to the late Sonics.

AND

3. Gave the Cavs Delonte, Wally, Ben, and Joe Smith.

Next, during the off season, and in a very underrated trade when it went down, the Cavs dealt Damon Jones to Milwaukee and Joe Smith to OK City for Mo Williams.

Now, Smith gets bought out and signs with the Cavs. This means Ferry got Mo Williams for Damon Jones, below:

So, GM of the year anyone? Regardless of money, Mo Williams for DJ. That should seal it right there.

And by the way, Cleveland also has Chicago’s second round pick in the upcoming draft from last year’s trade.

And now on to the game …

Quick Thoughts:

The Bucks didn’t score more than 20 pts in a quarter, shooting 37%. The Cavs didn’t shoot much better, but great behind the arc (9-17).

D West has been stealing like he isn’t going to get caught (13 steals in the last 2 games). Tonight, Cavalier D scored 27 pts off turnovers.

Keith Bogans looks straight hood.

Did anyone else see Lebron score 23 points on 11 shots? I did. Also, since the last time the Cavs played the Bucks back on Feb. 20, James is shooting 57% from behind the arc! 26-46.

Last 3 games for Mo: 9-14 behind the arc, 65 pts.

Cleveland 6-1 so far during this ‘9 games in 2 weeks’ span that started with the Pistons back on the 22nd.

The Cavs shat on the Bucks this year, a potential first round match up, going 4-0 and winning by an average of 11 pts, which segues perfectly into this video (thanks, Greg):

Enjoy the ride.

Final: 91-73, Cavs. Statement game Friday against the Celts.

Final Thought: Even though it wasn’t a goal of theirs, Cleveland clinched a playoff spot on March 4.

Joe the Cavalier

March 4, 2009
Will he take them higher?

Will he take them higher?

Joe puts on the 32 again. Smith, who had plenty of suitors after his buyout from OK City, was looking to play for a contender this year. When Boston grabbed Mikki Moore last week, Cleveland was the next logical choice for the journeyman (great comparison of the two on Celtics Hub). Although he won’t be in uniform tonight, Smith will probably get some playing time Friday at Boston.

At the end of last season, I thought Smith was the best acquisition for the Cavs from the 3-team/11-player trade (although the play of D West this year certainly makes him the best get). The last time Smith was in a Cavs uni, he definitely did his part off the bench, especially against the Celts in the second round. His elbow and baseline shots were pure, as well as his defensive steadiness, and it will be fun to see that consistency again.

He was also a better pickup than Drew. Sure Drew has a double-double in him every night, but just in terms of chemistry, Joe is the better fit. For someone who averages about 30 minutes a game, the Cavs wouldn’t be able to give Drew more than 20. Along with maybe wanting to start, I could see these issues causing unnecessary locker room conflict. Joe, not having won a ring in thirteen seasons, will be focused on the end result.

The addition of Smith will help secure that 1 or 2 seed (hopefully the 1). If the Cavs get the 2, it will certainly be difficult to go through both Orlando and Boston to reach the finals. In the playoffs though, they’ll be equipped with a powerful front court of Z, Varejao, Wallace, Smith, and JJ. If Ben is healthy, JJ will get the fewest minutes, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing. But with a fresh rotation of big men, this defense will have a better chance of stopping the likes of  KG, Horford, Bynum, and Howard in games that will matter.

Coming up: Thoughts v. Bucks

Thoughts on Cavs v. Hawks

March 1, 2009

I’ve been slacking on writing after games recently, but since I know most of you who read this, I don’t really care. Now that I’m back in it we’ll start with a very, very quick catch-up on what I’ve missed last week:

Shut down defense against the Grizzlies of Memphis. No other highlights as the offense took the game off. Won by 15 (94-79) by shooting 18 more free throws (29 to a miserable 11).

The two-man combo of Artest and Battier pretty much thwarted Lebron’s attacks (21 pts on 21 shots), and like a hive without its queen, the rest of the team went dead. 93-74 Houston.

Very entertaining game to  watch against the Manu- and Duncan-less Spurs. And to complete the trifecta, TP didn’t score a field goal in the second half. Cavs take it 96-87, and the following video will more clearly illustrate the domination (option to view in high quality available):

and now on to the game…

All They Needed Was OneCavaliers Hawks Basketball

On a day when two Giants were felled, the Cavaliers chose to be the anomaly.

Although not before a fight.

The Cavs started off real hot in this one, going 6 of 8 to begin the game. They played beautiful offensive basketball with everyone getting a touch. At the end of the first half, four starters were already in double figures, with Z going 5-5.

Josh Smith is monstrous. He followed a Lebron-esque block on Mo from the back side with a two-handed rebound jam on the other end. Later in the first half he threw down a huge one-handed slam that definitely rivaled Bron’s raw athleticism to the fullest.

JJ entered at the 2 min mark in the first quarter, and in those remaining two minutes scored 4 pts and grabbed 3 boards. Those stats already are comparable to Ben’s game stats of late. It’s good to see JJ active.

Halftime: Cavs up 53-43. 8 steals (at least 1 for each starter) but also 9 turnovers in the first half for Cleveland.

Quick 10-0 run by Atlanta late in the 3rd resulted in a 2 point lead at the end of the quarter for the Hawks. Dribble-penetration breakdown of Mike Brown’s defense, especially by Flip Murray, combined with Cleveland toning down the aggression and continually settling for shots were the main reasons for the turnaround.

Zaza was also on the offensive glass tonight with 6 boards. Cavs desperately need a big. They played small for a large part of the game which, more often than not, resulted in a mismatch of West on Marvin Williams. And as much as I’d like to see Joe Smith in a Cavs uni, he won’t dramatically improve this depleted front court.

A hot Z only took 4 shots in the entire second half. Although a 17/11 night for his third consecutive triple-dub, he could’ve scored a lot more if the Cavs fed inside (0nly a third of his shot attempts were from the paint).

There is a pleasure in watching your team slowly and agonizingly give away a game and then abruptly take it back. After continual bad play in the fourth, hope began to dwindle and victory seemed out of reach. But at that very last moment, with under a minute to go, Mo hit a second-chance trey from the Atlanta bench to tie the game at 87. An open Mo Williams on the wing is money. Money I tell you. His spot up was also on tonight as he went 4-5 from behind the arc.

And Lebron (26/6/11), without making a single field goal in the fourth, scores the final and definitive point with 1.6 seconds to go to close out the game . . .  but only after a near buzzer beater by Joe Johnson. Very exciting finish.

Final: 88-87, Cavs.

Final Thought: Joe Smith is now bought out. Even though the Spurs are also interested, the Cavs can offer Smith $2 mil more.

Thoughts on Cavs v. Pistons

February 23, 2009

With a little over 10 minutes to go and the game well in hand (90-60 Cavs), my friends and I made the garbage time interesting by putting an over/under of 80 on Detroit’s final score. Three of us (including me) took the under and one, the over. The game slowly inched forward (and I by slowly I mean Darnell Jackson continually chucking up mid and long range jumpers), and with just under 2 minutes to go the score was 97-78 Cavs. After the Pistons missed their last 2 baskets and 2 shots at the line, the game finally concluded with an exciting  Kinsey steal to burn the clock and secure the friendly bet victory.

And that’s how the game pretty much went. HUGE defensive effort put on by the home team against an allegedly competitive rival in front of a national audience. The Stars definitely put on a show during tonight’s ESPN Oscars.

Defensive slaughter. Detroit missed a lot. They shot 37%, mostly because less than 30 of their 86 shot attempts were in the paint. Cleveland closed lanes, blocked shots, and switched on picks perfectly while eliminating costly mismatches. They played smart and only turned the ball over 5 times. It didn’t hurt they got D West back in the lineup, who brought his defensive toughness equally as hard as his offensive initiative tonight.

delonte1

Delonte won the “Mickey Rourke Award for Best Comeback Performance” for his season-high 25 pts on 8 of 11 shooting (5-5 on 3 pts, 4-4 FTs). Z also had an equally impressive debut after injury with a double-double against the Clips back on January 30th. After sitting for over a month, Delonte’s return has Cleveland firing on all cylinders again – and it will be tough to contain.

Lebron played the facilitator perfectly. He wasn’t pushy trying to shoot the ball (a modest 20 pts) and had a game-high 9 assists. Nothing flashy from Z either with a 16/8 night. Although I’m really feeling his attitude right now, especially because of these recent confrontations with Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva.

Right now there’s no reason to give Boobie more minutes than Wally. In a blowout like this I could understand, but in a close encounter with Milwaukee two days ago, Boobie played 30 minutes – 10 more than Wally – with 0 points. Why else is he on the court than to score points? Gibson has had a very sub par season (as far as third year expectations go), but I’m still holding out for the playoffs where he could easily pull off another Game 6 against Detroit.

Since Sasha’s injury, Wally still has that hot hand. Tonight, he went 6-8 (2-2 3 pts) for 15. As uncomfortable as it must have been always having to hear your name in trade rumors, he kept on delivering. He is a man that seems to be constantly having to prove himself game-in game-out, and maybe Ferry’s unsuccessful trade negotiations were a blessing. The way Amare went down immediately after the deadline, maybe holding on to Wally will play a larger role in Cleveland’s fortunes. That’s it, I’m calling it right now: Wally’s my X-factor for this year’s playoffs.

Cleveland is now 32 games above .500 (43-11) and 16 games ahead of Detroit (27-27). The once proud franchise has lost 6 straight and 10 of the last 13. Wow.

Final: 99-78 Cavs; 0 free chalupas for Cavs fans

Final Thought: Tonight was a great way to start off a 9 game/14 day test which will feature the likes of Houston, Atlanta, Miami twice, San Antonio, and Boston. Only one of these games will be at home (Heat). Good news: a lot of upcoming games to watch. Bad news: I already mentioned the bad news.


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