Archive for March, 2010

Links To The Present: March 26, 2010

Friday, March 26th, 2010

“But perhaps a major, if overlooked, accomplishment is the team effort that has helped West become more balanced emotionally. That includes work West has done himself.” [Brian Windhorst on Delonte West]

Anthony Parker has a good MailBag Q&A.  I especially like the part about him being an alleged Kobe stopper even though he thinks Kobe averages like 35 a game on him.

“Even so, it’s still an inane thing to say.  We all know how great LeBron has become. Few even bother to argue anymore against the fact that he is, hands down, the best player in the league. We don’t need him reminding us of what he could do if he wanted to, you know, because he’s just that awesome.” [Brent Pollakoff on LeBron’s scoring title claim] I agree, although, at least what LeBron said is probably TRUE, he leads the NBA in scoring and averages way more assists than those close to him on the scoring list.  Remember when Kobe said “Put me in the East, see what happens” in response to a question about LeBron’s MVP legitimacy.  Well, Kobe’s stats are actually lower against the East for his career…

“Well put this in perspective: the Cleveland Cavaliers star is the only player in NBA history to average more than 25-7-7 over the span of his playoff career. Think about that for a moment, in a league that was/is home to players such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Dominique Wilkins, Wilt Chamberlain, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd and Dwyane Wade; LeBron James is the only player to manage such a feat.” [Silverback Gorillas looks at Franchise Players]

Steve (Cleveland): What odds do you put on the results of a Cavs-Magic ECF?
John Hollinger: I’m conflicted about whom to pick in this one. I’ll say this though: I think the winner will take the championship. Nobody out west playing nearly as well as these two.

Fun Tweets:

“Why so much fuss about LeBron scoring statement? He’s been active career scoring leader for 2 yrs now at 27.8 ppg. Kobe is 25.3, Melo 24.8″ [Brian Windhorst]

“He’s too humble to say so RT @ nuggetsnews I think if he truly, truly wanted it, the scoring title would belong to Nenad Krstic” [Howard Beck]

David Mamet has some advice for the Cavaliers

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

mamet001

(Editor’s note: you may want to read this before the post to get some context. Also, the opinions of Fake David Mamet do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Cavs: The Blog. I tried as hard as I could to have most of what FDM says be legitimate, but in some places I had to bend to have the template make sense. To be safe, just assume the parts you agree with are analysis and the parts you don’t are satire.)

Enter Scene: San Antonio. The CLEVELAND CAVALIERS are playing a road game against the SAN ANTONIO SPURS. After an early Spurs run, the Cavaliers trail by a score of 9-15. Coach MIKE BROWN addresses his team:

Mike Brown: Okay, I think we need to show more energy on the defensive end. We’re not getting stops, and that’s keeping us from getting our offense going on the other end. We need to contest them out on the perimeter. When they give the ball to Duncan down on the block, I want us to react by…

(Enter acclaimed playwright and director DAVID MAMET, smoking a cigarette and riding a horse. Mamet de-mounts, inserts himself into the huddle, and begins to speak.)

David Mamet:

TO THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS:

GREETINGS.

AS WE ATTEMPT TO WIN THE FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE HISTORY OF THIS FRANCHISE, A RECURRING PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR.

Mike Brown: Excuse me, who exactly are you and what is going on?

David Mamet:

LET ME HAVE YOUR ATTENTION FOR A MOMENT! SO YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT WHAT. SOME ROTATION YOU MISSED, SOME LAYUP YOU DIDN’T CONTEST, SOME SLOPPY TURNOVER THAT LED TO A FAST-BREAK OPPORTUNITY AND SO FORTH. LET’S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING IMPORTANT.

(To Brown) PUT THAT SPIT CUP DOWN.

SPIT CUPS ARE FOR CLOSERS ONLY. DO YOU THINK THAT I’M SCREWING WITH YOU? I AM NOT SCREWING WITH YOU. I’M HERE FROM DOWNTOWN. I’M AN ACCLAIMED PLAYWRIGHT. AND I’M HERE ON A MISSION OF MERCY. YOUR NAME’S BROWN?

Mike Brown: Yeah.

David Mamet:

YOU CALL YOURSELF AN NBA COACH?

Anthony Parker: I don’t have to listen to this.

David Mamet:

YOU CERTAINLY DON’T.

BECAUSE I’M ADDING A LITTLE SOMETHING TO THIS YEAR’S NBA PLAYOFFS. AS YOU ALL KNOW, FIRST PRIZE IS AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP. SECOND PRIZE IS A FINALS APPEARANCE AND ANOTHER 12 MONTHS OF HEARING HOW YOU CAN’T GET IT DONE WHEN IT REALLY COUNTS. THIRD PRIZE IS LEBRON LEAVES.

YOU GET THE PICTURE? ARE YOU LAUGHING NOW? YOU’VE GOT THE PLAYERS. DAN GILBERT PAID GOOD MONEY FOR THEM. USE THEM TO WIN GAMES!

(In the background, assistant coach MIKE MALONE talks with head trainer MAX BENTON)

Malone: Is that true? If we don’t make the finals LeBron leaves?

Benton: Well, he’s talked about wanting to play in New York or Brooklyn.

Malone: What do you mean, has he actually been talking about it, or has he just…

Benton: No, he’s just…

Malone: He’s just “talking” about it.

Benton: He’s just speaking about it. As an idea.

Malone: Yes.

Benton: He’s not actually talking about it.

Malone: No.

Benton: Talking about it as a…

Malone: No.

Benton: As a free agency destination.

(Return to MAMET addressing the team)

Anthony Parker: What’s your name?

Mamet:

GET BACK ON DEFENSE, THAT’S MY NAME! YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE YOU DROVE AN 80,000 DOLLAR BMW TO GET HERE TONIGHT. I DROVE A HORSE. THAT’S MY NAME.

YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR NAME IS? “SPOT-UP SHOOTER.” AND YOU CAN’T PLAY IN A MAN’S GAME. AND YOU GO HOME AND TELL YOUR WIFE YOUR TROUBLES. BECAUSE ONLY ONE THING COUNTS IN THIS GAME! PUT THE BALL IN THE NET THAT IS WOVEN!

NOW, ONTO WHAT I WAS SAYING EARLIER. AS YOU ATTEMPT TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP, A RECURRING PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR.

THE PROBLEM IS THIS: HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN *OFFENSE* AND NON-OFFENSE. LET ME BREAK-IT-DOWN NOW.

EVERYONE IS SCREAMING AT US TO INCLUDE LOTS OF BALANCE AND BALL MOVEMENT. WE ARE TASKED, IT SEEMS, WITH CRAMMING A CRAPLOAD OF DRIBBLING AND PASSING INTO A VERY SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME.

OUR FRIENDS, THE PENGUINS, THINK THAT WE, THEREFORE, ARE EMPLOYED TO INCORPORATE *BALANCE* — AND SO, AT TIMES, IT SEEMS TO US.

BUT NOTE: THE BALL DOES NOT GO IN THE BASKET BECAUSE OF BALANCE. YOU KNOW IT, I KNOW IT. IT NEVER HAS OR WILL. THE ONLY THING THAT PUTS POINTS ON THE BOARD IS OFFENSE.

QUESTION: WHAT IS OFFENSE? OFFENSE, AGAIN, IS THE ENDEAVOR OF THE PLAYERS WITH THE BALL TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT THEM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC *ACUTE* GOAL.

SO YOU, THE OFFENSIVE PLAYERS, MUST ASK YOURSELVES *OF EVERY POSSESSION* THESE THREE QUESTIONS:

1) ARE YOU DRIVING THE BALL AT THE BASKET?

2) ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A TEAMMATE WHO IS OPEN AT THE BASKET?

3) IS THERE AN OPEN THREE-POINT SHOT AVAILABLE THANKS TO THE THREAT OF A DRIVE AT THE BASKET, OR A WELL-PLACED BACK-SCREEN?

THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE LITMUS PAPER. APPLY THEM, AND THEIR ANSWER WILL TELL YOU WHETHER THE POSSESSION WAS EFFECTIVE OR NOT.

THERE IS NO MAGIC FAIRY DUST WHICH WILL MAKE AN INEFFECTIVE OFFENSIVE PLAYER DANGEROUS IF HE GETS THE BALL AFTER A SERIES OF FANCY CUTS AND SCREENS WHICH END UP WITH HIM ON THE PERIMETER.

THIS MEANS ALL THE *LITTLE* OFFENSIVE SETS WHERE TWO PLAYERS SET OFF-BALL SCREENS TO GET THE BALL TO ANTHONY PARKER IN THE TRIPLE-THREAT POSITION 20 FEET AWAY FROM THE BASKET. THIS BUSHWAH (AND WE ALL DO IT IN THE THIRD QUARTER) IS LESS THAN USELESS, AND IT’S GOING TO PUT US ALL BACK ON STUDIO SHOWS.

SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE THE POSSESSION EFFECTIVE. THIS IS NOT THE JOB OF THE ROLE PLAYERS. (THEIR JOB IS TO PLAY DEFENSE AND MAKE THE OPEN SHOTS YOU CREATE.) IT IS NOT THE HEAD COACH’S JOB. HIS JOB IS TO MAKE THE PLAYBOOK, RUN PRACTICE, AND TELL LISA SALTERS HIS TEAM NEEDS TO GET MORE STOPS. PLAYERS WITH THE BALL IN THEIR HANDS, IT IS *YOUR* JOB.

EVERY POSSESSION MUST BE EFFECTIVE. THAT MEANS: A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD ATTACK WHICH IMPELS THE BALL TO BE TAKEN AT THE BASKET.

ALL THESE POSSESSIONS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE GAME, CONSTITUTE THE *OFFENSE*.

ANY POSSESSION, THUS, WHICH DOES NOT INVOLVE ATTACKING THE BASKET, OR HAVE LEBRON JAMES TOUCH THE BALL, IS EITHER SUPERFLUOUS, OR INCORRECTLY DRAWN UP.

YES BUT YES BUT YES BUT, YOU SAY: WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF INCLUDING ALL THAT “BALANCE?”

AND I RESPOND “*FIGURE IT OUT*” ANY DICKHEAD CAN BE (AND IS) TAUGHT TO SAY “INCLUDE MORE BALANCE AND MOVEMENT” AND “I WANT TO SEE *THAT PLAYER* GET MORE “TOUCHES.”

WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT EVEN THIS PENGUIN IS HAPPY, BOTH YOU AND HE (OR SHE) *WILL* BE OUT OF A JOB. ACTUALLY, THE LATTER STATEMENT IS PROBABLY UNTRUE IN THE WORLD OF PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL.

ANY DICKHEAD, AS ABOVE, CAN SAY “BUT MIKE, WE NEED TO GIVE LEON POWE MORE TOUCHES DOWN LOW TO KEEP THE DEFENSE OFF-BALANCE”

Leon Powe: Hey, I’ve actually been pretty good down low.

David Mamet:

YES, YOU’VE ACTUALLY BEEN VERY EFFECTIVE DOWN LOW. I JUST WANTED TO MENTION YOUR NAME. I LIKE THE WAY YOU BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF PEOPLE UNDER THE BASKET. I WANT TO CAST YOU AS THE LEAD IN MY NEXT RUN OF “OLEANNA.” I MAY WELL CALL IT “POWELEANNA”. WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN BOSTON ANYMORE?

Leon Powe: I was going to be locked-up long term, but then I got injured and they decided not to keep me. In the end, they ended up giving my minutes to Big Baby Davis.

Ballboy: Don’t call Glen Davis “Baby.”

Leon Powe: What did you say?

Ballboy: You heard me. Don’t call Glen Davis “Baby.” He doesn’t like it.

(Powe snaps and throws the ballboy into a Gatorade cooler.)

Daniel Gibson: I think Leon was about to hit that ballboy with a chair.

DAVID MAMET:

DON’T WORRY ABOUT HIM. HE’LL BE ALRIGHT. MOVING ON.

YES BUT YES BUT YES *BUT* YOU REITERATE.

AND I RESPOND *FIGURE IT OUT*.

HOW DOES ONE STRIKE THE ESSENTIAL BALANCE BETWEEN KEEPING THE OFFENSE FROM BECOMING TOO PREDICTABLE AND MAKING SURE THAT YOU AREN”T TAKING YOUR OWN BEST WEAPONS AWAY FROM YOURSELF? *THAT* IS THE ESSENTIAL TASK OF THE MAN RUNNING THE OFFENSE. AND THE ABILITY TO *DO* SO IS WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE LESSER SPECIES COACHING THE TEAM WHILE WATCHING TV.

HERE ARE THE SIGNS THAT YOUR POSSESSION IS A CROCK OF CRAP.

IF A CAVALIER TOOK ANYTHING BUT A LAYUP, DUNK, OR WIDE-OPEN THREE WITHOUT LEBRON TOUCHING THE BALL, THE POSSESSION WAS A CROCK OF CRAP.

IF ANTHONY PARKER WAS ASKED TO MAKE A PLAY OFF THE DRIBBLE AGAINST A SET DEFENSE, THE PLAY WAS A CROCK OF CRAP.

IF LEBRON JAMES TOOK A CONTESTED JUMP SHOT AND MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE WAS NOT GOING TO DRIVE BEFORE HE SHOT IT, THE POSSESSION WAS A CROCK OF CRAP.

IF YOU PRETEND THE PLAYERS CAN’T CREATE THEIR OWN SHOT FROM ANYWHERE OUTSIDE OF 5 FEET, YOU HAVE WRITTEN AN EFFECTIVE OFFENSIVE POSSESSION.

IF YOU DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF THE CRUTCH OF STEP-BACKS, FADEAWAYS, PULL-UP JUMPERS IN TRANSITION, CONTESTED SHOTS OUT OF THE TRIPLE-THREAT POSITION, YOU WILL REALIZE THAT YOU ARE CONSTANTLY PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE DEFENSE AND GETTING MORE LAYUPS, OPEN SHOTS, AND FOULS. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE THE WHISTLE-PENGUINS PUT YOU ON THE LINE. UGLY POINTS ARE BETTER THAN PRETTY BRICKS.

THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT COMES NATURALLY. NEARLY EVERY PLAYER WITH THE BALL IN HIS HANDS IN THE NBA WAS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE FLOOR FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF THEIR LIVES. YOU CAN TRAIN YOURSELF NOT TO WASTE POSSESSIONS, BUT YOU NEED TO *START*.

I CLOSE WITH ONE THOUGHT: IS THIS PLAY GOING TO FREE SOMEONE UP NEAR THE BASKET OR BEYOND THE ARC? IF IT IS RUN CORRECTLY, IS IT REALLY GOING TO GET YOU A SHOT YOU ARE CONFIDENT YOU WILL MAKE FAR MORE OFTEN THAN YOU MISS? IF NOT, GIVE THE BALL TO LEBRON AND GET OUT OF THE WAY. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY QUESTIONS, TOO BAD.

(Mamet, whose horse is now gone, grabs a harness dangling from the roof and is pulled out of sight. The Stunned Cavaliers go onto win the game, although they later find out that a washed-up RICHARD JEFFERSON stole their playbook the night before.)

Shaq in the new Owl City video

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I have no comment.

Links To The Present: March 25, 2010

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

“But it is clear the Cavs’ young big man is feeling some urgency. One missing center is back and another is coming, and Hickson is going to have to step up his game or lose minutes.  He certainly played with urgency on Wednesday come gametime.” [Brian Windhorst’s Game Recap]

“When the cameras are on and when fans are in the building pregame it can look like James is just messing around, dunking and trying halfcourt shots. At some points in the season he is. But don’t just believe what you see, James is working harder than ever.” [Brian Windhorst’s Beat Blog]

“O’Neal pounded every single step in the lower bowl along with assistant strength coach Ken Snead, working his away around the arena while the Cavs went through drills before facing the Hornets. That workout, plus what O’Neal said has been a personal ban on cheeseburgers, appears to have helped him peel off weight during the recovery period.” [Brian Windhorst on the Cavs Playoff Rotation]

”It’s going to be a process,” Ilgauskas said. ”I’m thinking more than reacting. I was just trying not to force anything. I was just trying to find my spots and space. At times it felt like I was in space on the floor. The floor was very huge for me. I expect it to shrink for me with each game.” [George M. Thomas]

From the Fanhouse PowerRankings: “Some think this makes the Cavs invincible, but despite the wealth of talent, getting everyone on the same page chemistry-wise may be more difficult than expected heading into the postseason.”

David Thorpe explaining on Tyreke Evans should learn from LBJ: “After all, James leads the league in scoring partially because defenders know he is more than willing to find the open man. So LeBron’s teammates love playing with him even though he scores so much. If the Kings can learn to love playing with Evans in the same way, they’ll become a much more dangerous team.”  (Maybe Kobe should learn from LeBron?)

Brian (CA): Lebron is the best basketball player in the world hands down. However, there is still one element that separates Kobe from Lebron. Kobe is a proven champion and as of now Lebron isn’t.
David Thorpe: So is Josh Powell. And?

What would you do to keep LeBron in Cleveland?

82games update. Jamison’s NET production looking strong so far.

Fun Tweets:

“Shaq looks like he’s dropped at least 15 lbs.” [George M. Thomas]

“In san antonio bout to practice. Don’t know what I’m going do with the rest of my day. Might walk the riverwalk” [Mo Williams]

“Even the Knicks dancers Blow. – http://bit.ly/deBuCs” [realcavsfans]

“Classic Joe Tait tonight… “That sounded vaguely like the national anthem”.” [realcavsfans]

We just landed in san antonio, saw my boy d fish and kobe, it reminded me of that .o4 shot, thanks d fish” [Shaq]

“Whenever Dajuan Blair hits the deck, I worry about the floor.” [langwhitaker]

Recap: Cavs 105, Hornets 92 (Or, Z returns, LeBron keeps doing his thing)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Overview: Led by a dominant LeBron James, the Cavs cruised to an easy 105-92 victory in New Orleans. Zydrunas Ilgauskas played 17 minutes in his first game back with the team, and JJ Hickson went for 20 points on 9-11 shooting.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

This was a LeMasterpiece, plain and simple. LeBron controlled the game, and did it in a variety of ways. 38 points on 73% True Shooting is impressive on its own, but it’s the way LeBron got his points that really made it a special game. LeBron was dangerous from everywhere on the floor.

He constantly took the ball to the block when the Hornets put a smaller defender on him and showed a series of nice post moves over either shoulder. He pulled out an array of beautiful floaters and in-between shots with his right hand. He was active on the weak side and got a number of easy layups and dunks by moving without the ball. He was 3-5 on mid-range jumpers outside of the paint. His passing was laser-sharp as well. He worked the pick-and-roll beautifully, found cutters, and did a great job rewarding his bigs running the floor when the Cavs pushed the ball. An ultra-efficient, dominating performance.

-The Hornets have some major issues with their weak-side defense, and the Cavs were more than happy to point that out. There’s a reason New Orleans allows 45 points in the paint per game. The Cavs got 58 on Wednesday night, and they did it with only five fast-break points.

JJ Hickson was active all night, and the Hornets fell asleep on him time and time again. Hickson got 20 points on 9-11 shooting, and he played just about a perfect JJ Hickson game. He slipped picks and ran the floor for easy dunks. He made some beautiful moves around the basket to avoid the rotating defender when he was a step late. This was JJ at his absolute best.

-Mo’s shot was off, but he did a really good job of running the offense and being where he was supposed to be. It’s a very good sign that Mo can finish with eight assists and a +20 on a night where he wasn’t hitting shots.

-Anthony Parker was also cold from deep, but I actually liked what he was doing. He didn’t force shots, made crisp passes when he got closed out on, and played solid defense. No three-point shooter can be on every game, but AP did the little things to make up for his bread-and-butter not being there.

-Big Z looked rusty, but it was good to see him back. We’ll see how he does with the home crowd behind him. Interestingly, both Jawad and Powe were left out of the rotation to make room for Z.

-Delonte was hot like fire coming off the bench. He has a number of weapons as a scorer, and they were all working in the second quarter. He’s so good with his left around the basket when he can’t quite get the corner for a layup, and his outside shot was falling. His 11 straight points to start the 2nd definitely helped the Cavs get separation.

-Workmanlike effort for Antawn. Hit a few jumpers, got some floaters, and made some layups. 11 points on 10 shots, and 11 rebounds. Nothing to write home about, but a solid game.

-Strong defensive effort from the Cavs as well, who made the Hornets work for all their baskets. Only Collison and Songaila shot better than 50% from the floor, and Paul and Thornton combined to go 10-25 from the field with only three free throw attempts.

Bullets of Randomness:

-Part of me is sad that new Scrubs got cancelled. It was a very flawed show whose time had passed, but Dr. Mahoney is one of the funniest women I’ve seen on a TV show in a long time, and her boyfriend was a perfect foil. The Hornets are kind of like new Scrubs. They have one veteran worth building around (Dr. Cox/CP3), and two promising young stars as well. (Collison/Thornton and the aforementioned pair of actors.)

However, way too many overpaid vets on this squad who aren’t doing much and shouldn’t be there while the team tries to rebuild. Okafor isn’t guarding the paint and has one of the worst contracts in the league. Posey barely even tried to guard LBJ. Peja is hurt, again, and isn’t a 10+ million player when he’s healthy. David West isn’t a star, or close to being one. Songalia is way overpaid. This team is a mess, and there’s no easy fix.

-Epic broadcaster jinx early on when they mentioned that DWest had hit 40 free throws in a row. Don’t mess with one of Dell Curry’s records, is the lesson here.

-LeBron was credited with zero blocks, but I feel like I distinctly remember at least two. Maybe LP broadband didn’t give me a good enough view, but didn’t he chase down Collison, a guy many consider the fastest player in the league?

-Shame to see CP3 rusty, but there were some flashes of what he can do when he’s on. Man, that guy can throw a bounce pass.

Alright, that’s it for me tonight. Until tomorrow, campers.

Preview: Cavaliers at Hornets, March 24th

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Quick Notes:

-Hornets are scary. They gave the Cavs a real test last time, Chris Paul is back, and the Cavs are on the road. Far from an easy game.

-Keep Marcus Thornton out of the transition game.

-This should be the game Z returns. Get excited.

-Your recommended reading is Hornets 24/7 and At The Hive. See you after the game.

Links To The Present: March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

“Grinning from ear to ear, Varejao bounded over to the mob of reporters at Cleveland Clinic Courts, who asked if he was excited to have Ilgauskas back.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

Rick @WFNY discusses Anthony Parker and Delonte West

Great interview with Z

Neil Paine @ BBallRef with a poll on the Loophole that allowed Z to return to the Cavs

“Isn’t it time we all finally just face free agent reality, ending this season-long charade over where LeBron James will be playing next fall and stop drooling every time he teases us with something as innocent as wearing his Yankees cap.” [Tim Povtak is picking the Cavs]

“Six months later, Big Z and his wife, Jennifer, have adopted two boys – five-year-old Deividas and four-year-old Povilas – from his hometown. In that time, he was supplanted in the starting lineup by Shaquille O’Neal, set the franchise record for games played, was traded to Washington ten weeks later and returned to Cleveland one month after that.” [Joe Gabriele on Z’s Turbulent Season]

“Something else happened recently that could dramatically affect the free-agent cataclysm that’s about to hit. Henry Thomas, the Chicago-based agent for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, joined forces with Leon Rose, the agent for LeBron James, at Creative Artists Agency.” [Ken Berger on July 2010]

Brian Windhorst’s Podcast

Fun Tweets:

“At long last, we now know whether Matthew Modine thinks LeBron will sign with the Knicks. http://bit.ly/bzmZ65” [vincethepolack]

“Z hasn’t stopped smiling…AP just took a picture of Z and Andy together…All is right with the world!!” [Fred McLeod]

“Mom’s book ” walk like u have somewhere to go” http://bit.ly/9DJ3d2” [Shaq]

Notes and errata: March 23rd, 2010

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Wow, I thought I posted this before I went to bed last night. Whoops.

-The ides of March are upon us, and I admit that I don’t have a full column on tap for tonight. Instead, here are some notes regarding the Cavs and from the league in general:

-Z’s coming back! Yay! This is Cavs: The Blog’s official position on this issue.

-Finishing up my nit-picking of LeBron, which was supposed to be done before the season but has taken me until now to complete:

-I’d still like to see LeBron shore up his man-to-man defensive fundamentals. He’s a lock-down man defender in crunch time thanks to his size and quickness, but his defensive stance isn’t quite perfect. This means he has to expend a lot of energy to play effective lock-down D, which hurts him in the first parts of the game. If LeBron was more on the balls of his feet defensively and did a better job positioning himself to keep his man from getting the corner on him, he could keep his man out of the paint much more effectively.

-Ball-handling. I call some BS on this, because the important part of ballhandling isn’t being able to keep your handle on fancy crossovers. It’s being able to go either direction with confidence at any time, which LeBron does as well as anybody. AI had all the shake-and-bake moves on tap, but he still couldn’t go left very well. Also, LeBron doesn’t have any more ball handling turnovers than most other high-volume perimeter players, according to 82games.com. This is particularly impressive when you consider how big LeBron is and how often he drives in traffic. Also, it’s impossible to see the court like LeBron does if you’re looking down to keep your handle. Still, LeBron doesn’t look quite as confident making audacious dribble moves as some other superstars do.

-Shot selection. LeBron’s isn’t as bad as people say, but I shouldn’t have to scream at my TV so much because a player as talented and smart as LeBron is forcing deep jumpers with time on the clock.

-Not sure how I feel about Darnell getting cut over Bassy. Darnell clearly wasn’t going to make this rotation, and Telfair has much more potential to contribute something over the next year or two. Still, D-Block has an excellent pedigree, and he’s been with the team a while, never doing anything stupid. Part of me thinks that should have been rewarded, even though I’m a big Telfair fan. Hopefully the team votes D-Block a ring if the Cavs do manage to pull it off this summer.

-Even though he plays for the Wizards, I am very happy Shaun Livingston dunked the other day.

-Drew Gooden with a 26-20. In a loss to a Dirk-less Mavericks team, of course.

-The Thunder have absolutely become my second-favorite team. (The Magic would be right up there if they didn’t beat the Cavs last year and represent the biggest threat to the Cavs this year. I feel deeply conflicted about liking that team.) But here’s why I’m not quite sold on them: their three main supporting cast members (Westbrook, Harden, Green) are all capable of going 2-10 from the field in a given game, and Kevin Durant can get one assist while scoring 45 points. I feel these phenomena are not entirely unrelated. Although KD might be the best freaking pure scorer I’ve ever seen. He scored 45 against the Spurs on 15-24 shooting, and his jumper was off. (LeBron’s capable of doing the same, but he’s not a pure scorer.)

-Toronto and Charlotte fighting for the 8th spot. Crap. I would really like to see a team the Cavs outclass on both ends of the floor in the first round, but the Raptors are a great offensive team and the Bobcats play stifling D. If it’s the Raptors, the question of whether or not to bring back Shaq also gets more complicated.

Links To The Present: March 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

“Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers’ beloved center, will sign a one-year deal to return to the team this morning, sources told The Plain Dealer, and presumably will be available to play when the team travels to New Orleans for a game Wednesday.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“1-year/1 season, rest of this season @patrickorrDoes “one year” for Z mean he is signed for 2010-2011 season?” [Brian Windhorst Twitter]

“Doubt it, JJ likely to stay starter & Z comes off bench RT @simmsythekid15 Now JJ can go back to bench and make a dangerous combo w/ Andy” [Brian Windhorst Twitter]

“He is the guy who could have limped off with $60 million after several foot operations, but decided to have one more surgery — an experimental procedure where they rebreak and reshape the foot.” [Terry Pluto on Big Z]

Five of the Cavs’ top six lineups in terms of point differential per minute are with Big Z at center!  Think about this for a second, once he gets back in rhythm, the Cavs can play a lineup (thanks to the Jamison trade) where every single player on the court is a legitimate 3-point threat.

I’m lucky enough to be going to the game this Sunday (I’m already working on my lung capacity for the 3 minute long “ZEEEEEEE” I’m going to be belting), and I might have to show up wearing this.

“James said that the fact he and his teammates have been able to take care of business against weaker opponents shows a lot about the team.” [George M. Thomas]

The Cavs have taken care of business against the best teams too.  Against the other top 9 teams in the NBA(by record), the Cavs are 13-7, only Denver has a better record (14-6) against the top competition.

“You go through all the physical rehab, but so much of recovering from an injury like that is mental. You’re carrying that knee. That’s just the nature of a significant injury like that. It’s so important to have confidence in that knee, so you won’t drag it. In Leon’s mind, he’ll start to say: ‘It’s normal now.’ And now, instead of dragging that knee along, he’ll pick it up and bring it with him!” [Austin Carr on Leon Powe]

Fun Tweets:

“Cavs to sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas today, per multiple reports. In equally shocking news, when I close my eyes, it gets dark” [InsideHoops]

“Z might not start games but if JJ goes into his Drew Gooden mode Z will finish games.” [RealCavsFans]

“I think it would be cool of the Cavs wore throwback jerseys from the first year Z played for the team. I realize they are terrible.” [WayneEmbrysKids]

“Yo my moms on Twitter @Real_Shaqs_Momfollow her! & check out da new site 4 her book!www.lucilleoneal.com. Proud of u mom!” [Shaq]

How will Big Z’s return change things?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Forgive me in advance for this being somewhat of a bare-bones rundown. According to the most recent rumors, Z is expected to re-sign with the Cavaliers at some point on Tuesday. Assuming that happens, although nothing is certain until Z’s signed the agreement, let’s take a look at some of the effects:

– First off, Z should absolutely not start his first game at the Q. Man needs a standing O to call his own when he comes off the bench. I am very excited about this. For all you YouTube geniuses out there, if you get that standing O, please send it to me so I can put it on the site.

-Past that, the question is whether or not Z should start at center until Shaq comes back. Z has been a starter his whole career, and has struggled to find his shot coming off the bench. On the other hand, the Cavs have done pretty darn well with Z coming off the bench thus far, and Z’s unit has dominated the 2nd half of 1st quarters this season. Here are the pros and cons of some starting frontcourt combos:

Z/Jamison:

Perhaps the most likely frontcourt combo, as both Z and Jamison are veterans. Having Z space the floor and work from the high post would allow Jamison to use his greatest strength offensively, which is his ability to make smart cuts, tough catches, and finish from odd angles. (As much as his outside shooting and floaters get played up, Jamison is more effective around the rim.) The issue with this lineup is that it puts the Cavs’ two best front-court shooters together, and MB may be hesitant to plunge Z back into the starting lineup.

Z/Hickson:

Hickson excels at cutting to the rim and finishing. In fact, that’s pretty much all he does. He also is much better early in the game, when the ball moves more and he’s not forced to make one-on-one moves. Brown has shown a lot of faith in Hickson all season, and Jamison did win 6th Man of the Year in Dallas. Don’t count out this possibility.

Hickson/Jamison:

It hasn’t been so bad thus far, and Z and Andy have proven to be effective coming off the bench. This would be the lineup least likely to tweak the chemistry, but it could leave the Cavs with a hole in the middle to start games.

Other notes:

– Whatever happens, it appears that Brown is committed to bringing Andy off the bench. Judging by Andy’s +/- scores this year, that’s a tough strategy to argue with.

-It appears obvious that Z should get Jawad’s minutes when he returns, but Brown has surprised us before. As of now, it looks like Leon Powe deserves 10-15 minutes a game, and Jawad has not been playing at a high level.

Alright, those are my cursory thoughts. Sound off in the comments and let me know what I left out.