Archive for January, 2009

Recap: LeBron Dominates Stat Sheet, D-Miles Dominates Feel-Good Vibes

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Overview:

Tonight: a dominant performance, a heart-warming comback

Tonight: a dominant performance, a heart-warming comback

With the Cavs missing their starting frontcourt duo and forced into starting Lorenzen Wright, the Cavs used lockdown defense, a barrage of three-pointers, and most of all an absolutely dominant performance from LeBron James, who posted his second triple-double of the year, to propel the Cavs to a second-half takeover and a comfortable double-digit win.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

-LeBron was freaking ridiculous. Tonight, we got LeBron as a requiem in three movements, all of which I’ve come to be familiar with throughout the year:

1. “Let’s get everyone involved and take the shots when they’re there and play good happy fun time basketball”

This is what you generally see in the first half this year, with Mo handling the ball and initiating the play with Mo running a screen-roll or ISOing big Z on the low blocks, with LeBron getting the ball running off of weak-side screens and looking to set up Delonte from the deep elbow, Mo in the corner, Z for a mid-range J, or Ben or Andy as the roll man, with LeBron testing out his deep jumper, finding a seam and getting through it for a dunk or layup, and seizing fast-break opportunities where they come.

LeBron was trying to run the offense responsibly in the first half and stuck to the script for the most part, but Z’s passing, screening, and mid-range J, as well as (really), Ben’s basketball IQ, activity, passing, and ability to set screens (again, I’m serious), are hugely important to that offense, and JJ and AV’s overlap in offensive talent and Lorenzen Wright and Wally Z’s out-and-out terribleness made the normal offense look like a mess in the 1st half.

(Solution: I guess Wally’s been pretty soldi guarding fours, but just put Sasha in at the three and plug LBJ in at the four. It is CLEAR he’s more than capable of playing there for stretches of time, and Sasha’s actually been playing well. Hell, I’d rather see Tarence Kinsey out there than Lorenzen Wright.)

2. “I am LeBron James, the chosen child of Akron, and I have come to destroy your rims, silence your crowds, burn down your villages, defeat your finest warrior and pillage your stores of mead, and then make a shoe commemorating the occassion.”

We saw some of this near the end of the second quarter, where LeBron was absolutely strangling Rudy Gay on defense and flying around the court with the ball at 10,000 miles an hour on offense, grabbing the pall and pounding it while trying frantically to crash his way to the basket or firing up a crazy off-balance shot and trying to just intimidate the ball into going in, as well as arguing with absolutely every call-you KNOW LeBron’s pissed when he gets T’d up after getting a dunk.

Then in the second half, LeBron came out to destroy, just using a simple pick-roll in the middle of the floor and flying straight through the Grizzly D over and over again for either a layup or two shots. This was absolutely unfair. There was one play where LeBron got around the show and Hakim Warrick rotated to the middle to cut off the penetration, leaving Andy open under the hoop, but then LeBron just said “You know what? Screw Hakim Warrick,” and went DIRECTLY THROUGH HIM for an and-1.  LeBron scored 30 points tonight. You know how many jumpers he made? One. In the first quarter.  Everyone in the building knew where he was going, and then he just did it anyways. Amazing. Dominant.

3. “We’re going to win this game, I’m 24 years old and the best player on the planet, I have $100 million dollars in the bank, and I have a gold medal and Warren Buffet’s cell number. Let’s find out what we can pull off.”

In the fourth quarter, if the Cavs are down or up by less than 10, LeBron is in kill mode. If they’re up by 20 or more, he’s generally on the bench. But if they’re up somewhere between 10-20 points, he becomes a human heat-check, just running around and seeing what he can and can’t do on a basketball court. This is where you start to see in-rythym 30 footers, off-balance drifting jumpers, crazy around-the-head passes, and the occasional half-court shot to attempt to add an and-1 to an intentional foul. (The best example of this is where LeBron just kept drilling threes in the fourth quarter to get him to 50 points at Madison Square Garden.) Tonight, LeBron was playing the last half of the fourth quarter to get the assists he needed for the triple-double, plain and simple, going down and trying to make home run passes every time, only to have many of them fumbled by Wally, finally finding JJ Hickson with a beautiful behind-the-back dime for his 10th assist. You can call it stat-padding (although usually LeBron’s 4th-quarter flights of fancy serve only to drive his efficiency marks down), or whatever, but it’s more of a reflection of the sheer joy LeBron still gets out of playing basketball and an attempt by LeBron to figure out just what the limits of his talent are.

We’re already at 850 words, so I’ll keep it short for everyone else:

-Cavs not named LeBron from beyond the arc: 11-16. It’s hard to lose when you get 33 points on 16 shots. And Boobie’s found his road stroke again! Huzzah!

-J.J. continues to impress, showing a nice dribble-drive for a finish on Hakim Warrick and even a soft 20-footer with a stroke that, paradoxically, looks much smoother than his free-throw stroke.

-Wally continues to be fairly terrible-you know you’re a defensive liability when Darius Miles is not only scoring his first points in years on you in years, but is getting Iso sets called for him because he can burn you so easily. Lest we forget, most people thought Darius Miles was medically unable to play in this league before he showed himself to be that much quicker than a rotation player on the league’s best team. And double-lest we forget, the main reason Wally is getting minutes when his shot isn’t falling is because of his post defense.

-Nothing really notable from Andy tonight-he really benefits from the space Z and Ben’s bball IQs give him to operate.

Notes and Errata:

MIA: Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo and Rudy Gay, combining to go 8-27. Chalk that up to the unheralded D of Delonte and ridiculously heralded D of LBJ.

Hakim Warrick would be about the perfect fit to get Wally’s minutes. Alas. And I like Cavs rumor-subject in the pre-Mo era Kyle Lowry’s game, too.

Who peeped D-Miles’ midpost game? It was straight pretty, and the kind of thing that would help another high school player on the floor become an even better scorer, which is freakish to think about.

YouTube Song of the Night: “LeBron Hammer” by Buckethead

Because it exists, that’s why. And if you believe some accounts which this site does not support except for the purpose of this metaphor, than LeBron is absolutely Buckethead-incandescence for hire. And Kobe is so totally Axl Rose. Peace.

Recap: Sending A Message

Friday, January 9th, 2009
Were At The Top of the heap...For Now.

We're At The Top of the heap...For Now.

Overview:

Well, that was fun. The Cavs jumped on the now-officially slumping Celtics and just never quite looked back, dominating the 1st and 4th quarters and holding the line well enough in the 2nd and 3rd to keep the Celtics from ever getting a lead. LBJ was completely dominant, getting to the hole at will, rendering Paul Pierce completely and utterly ineffective, and peppering in long-range jumpers and finding teammates for a filthy final line of 38/7/6 on 25 shots, with 4 steals and 3 blocks for good measure.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

-My God, that’s the definition of an MVP performance from LeBron James. They couldn’t stop him from getting to the rim at all, he was 9-9 from the line, he was feeling it from deep, he set everybody up in the first quarter, and his defense on Paul Pierce was just brutal. And he was doing it all with a mean streak-he saw this as a playoff game, and instead of spending garbage time firing up long jumpers, he was hawking passing lanes and making gritty drives to the hoop, all while wearing an assassin’s glare. He was sending a message.

-This is the blueprint for beating the Celtics. The Celtics are too good defensively to allow the Cavs to have the same success with Mo-and-Delonte initiated sets they enjoy against the rest of the league-they’re too long and rotate too well to let the Cavs’ role players shoot teams out of games like they like to, something we saw tonight in the form of Delonte’s only two threes coming in garbage time and Mo going without a trey from deep, and Mo only had 1 assist.

-What you can do against the Celtics is this: have LeBron initiate everything and be the offensive focal point (check), get Boobie making some threes and Andy working inside off LeBron feeds (check), and shut them down defensively (double check.) We didn’t just beat the Celtics: we set a blueprint.

-LeBron’s shutting down of Paul Pierce got the attention, but don’t forget that Ray Allen was absolutely wearing Delonte West all night and needed 12 shots to get 12 points and didn’t see the free throw line once. 6 of Lont’s 8 were meaningless points, but he did his job tonight.

-Getting his confidence back: Tits Gibson.

-Hickson played a lot better than the box score shows in his 20 minutes: he only had three points, but he was extremely active and didn’t make too many mistakes.

-Wally was not better than his 3 points in 15 minutes, however.

-Ben was the Ben of old tonight, and him getting 1 free throw every time the Celtics went to Hack-a-Ben was a huge morale booster.

-Mo did what you want him to do against a team too good for him to be successful running the team; he created shots for himself and got buckets with teardrops and mid-range Js so that the Celtics had to think about someone other than LBJ.

-Andy continues to be rock-solid as a starter.

Play of The Game:

4:39 remaining, 3rd quarter, Celtics down 5: LeBron finds Andy for a sweet reverse toss-in with a KG foul for a 3-point play. The Cavs were in a lull here and the Celtics had pulled to within striking distance, and the team was getting close to settling in and watching LeBron launch jumpers when LeBron made a play that got the crowd loud, got Andy going, and put the Cavs firmly in the driver’s seat, and they never looked back.

Notes And Errata:

-You stay classy, KG: Not only did some lip-reading catch KG saying “Let’s go, you m***********ing p***ies” at the top of his lungs to nobody before tip-off, but after LeBron made a great hustle play to pick Eddie House clean, chase the ball down the length of the court and slap it out of bounds to make the Celtics have to get the ball all the way up the court with 8 seconds left on the shot clock, KG decided to give him a little hip-check while he was running by him during the dead-ball. There’s a difference between hustle and intensity and bush-league crap that’s supposed to be hustle, and that pretty much encapsulates it.

-If LeBron’s half-courter that he timed with a hack-a-Ben foul had counted, that would have been the coolest play ever.

-Fun moment of the night: Brian Scalabrine ducking his head behind a bench seat after Delonte hit a 3 to put the Cavs up 11.

-Wow, Ray Allen’s midrange game is pretty.

-I really do like pretty much everyone on this team except KG.

Recap: Let’s Just Play the Bobcats Every Game

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Overview:

With the Cavs coming off their lowest point of the year and the Bobcats coming off their highest point, the Wine and Gold looked pumped while the ‘Cats looked exhausted. The Cavs got on Charlotte right out of the gate and never looked back, holding a double-digit lead the entire way and allowing LeBron to sit for the entire fourth quarter. After a stretch of more human-level ball, the Cavs had a game that recalled their month of absolute dominance.

Cavs Bullets:

-Fourth-Quarter takeovers are sexy and make the highlights, but there are such things as first-quarter takeovers. The points count all the same, and they can be as crippling as crunch-time displays sometimes. While LeBron generally starts the game looking to distribute and goes for the jugular late, after an outing in Washington that was far too passive until the final stretch LeBron decided to come out in kill mode.

He attacked mismatches, made strong moves to the hole, and even got a lefty dunk with the EXACT SAME amount of steps that he took with the “crab dribble” in Washington.  If you’re going to let that go, please don’t change things up when the game’s on the line.  Anyways, LeBron went 7-10 from the field in the first quarter for 15 points, the quarter ended with the Cavs up 17 points, and the game was essentially over from that point. Even though it all came in the first quarter, LeBron’s barrage was what demoralized the Bobcats and allowed LeBron to put in in cruise control for the final three quarters.

-Oh, this is a dangerous offensive team when our two shooters off the bench make their threes. Boobie and Wally combined to go 6-7 from behind the arc, and their play with LeBron on the bench after his initial barrage kept the game from ever really being competitive. The effectiveness of that second unit is often the difference between a close one and a blowout, and so much of it hinges on the two guys who we know can make shots making their shots. And honestly, what is it about Charlotte that puts Boobie in kill mode? Is it just that he wants to show up D.J.?

-Delonte and Mo combined for 13 assists. Hey, when shooters make shots and playmakers make plays, this team puts some points on the board! Who knew?

-HICKSON. Crap, this kid is a monster. When he’s playing with confidence and is setting up angles by setting screens and finding open spots instead of trying to force everything at the basket, he’s just relentless. I didn’t like that MB was essentially only playing him in garbage time before, because the way he’s going to be effective this year is working off plays made by others, like LeBron and Mo, instead of being fed the ball and trying to do it all himself, which is what he was doing when he was getting blowout minutes. If you’re looking for a silver lining to Z getting injured, this is it: Hickson could be a Leon Powe for us in the playoffs.

Play O’ The Game:

Generally, this is going to be a play that represents a turning point, but since this was a blowout I’m going to go with Boobie’s alley-oop to J.J. We all know that Boobie’s quick and J.J. can jump out of the gym: the amazing thing about this play was how FAST Hickson got from baseline to baseline. When Boobie got the ball, Hickson was behind him and a couple of Bobcats, and then he just absolutely flew down the court. In a league of freaks, Hickson’s got to be in the 98th percentile of pure athletes. With his speed, length, and hops, J.J. could be an amazing defender, especially on hard shows, and he can be so dangerous if he’s off the ball. Hang onto Hickson.

That’s all for today. Friday it’s the Celtics-that should be easy.

The Official Manifesto of Cavs: The Blog

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Greetings world,

Welcome to Cavaliers: The Blog. It’s like the Cavaliers, except it’s words on the internet. My name is John Krolik. I’m sheriff of this here neck of the interwebs. My basic information is helpfully labeled in the top-right; for here, I love the Cavaliers, I write, and my email is johnkrolik@gmail.com.

In all seriousness, here are the goals for this here site, which I reserve the right not to meet:

-Recap every game possible (I have league pass, but I also have other responsibilities) in a comprehensive and enlightening manner-stuff you hopefully wouldn’t just get from reading an AP recap or a box score.

-More than just report pertinent news like injuries or trade rumors or struggles, but try and provide a perspective on them you won’t get anywhere else.

-Do our best to provide a subjective but fair spin on the team, somewhere in between major-network sterility (darn you, journalistic standards!), and knee-jerk reactionism (OMGGGGZ HOW COULD U NOT SAY THE CAVS AREN’T BETTER THAN THE JORDAN BULLS MAYBE U SHOULD STOP EAST COAST BIASING AND REALIZE THAT BOOBIE IS DA MAAAAAAN!)

(Sidebar: This is not to suggest that we do not believe Boobie is the man.)

-Give you off-day stories that make you laugh, see something differently, provide you with argument fodder for your friends, and more than anything are just fun to read. Brian (formerly of YAY! Sports NBA and currently of Brian’s Thoughts About Airplanes) is even going to be dropping in every now and then, so you know we’re going to have a great time.

-To provide a community that can make you feel like you’re just outside of the Q even if you’re thousands of miles away.

-To avoid using cliches, except when necessary, as it was with the last bullet point.

-To get a banner at some point in the future.

-To make AWESOME CUSTOM T-SHIRTS THAT ARE CAVALIER INSIDE JOKES.

If I saw a Girl Wearing This, I would Propose on the Spot.
If I saw a Girl Wearing This, I would Propose on the Spot.

I’ve spent some time as a journalist. Journalism is great. But for this project here, I’m putting on my creative writing hat to bring you stuff you won’t see anywhere else, but more than anything this blog is written by someone who loves this game, loves this team, and knows them both like the back of his hand. Hopefully that’ll allow me to tell you some new information, but most of all I want all of us to have a great time. Stick around-it’ll be worth your time.

Sincerely,

John Krolik

Founder and Grand Viceroy, Cavaliers: The Blog