Archive for April, 2010

Links To The Present: April 30th, 2010

Friday, April 30th, 2010

“At age 25, James becomes the second-youngest to win back-to-back MVPs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a couple of months younger when he won his back-to-back award in 1972. The others two win back-to-back are Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Abdul-Jabbar. Only Bird, Chamberlain and Russell ever won the award three years in a row.” [Brian Windhorst on LBJ MVP]

LeBron to receive the Maurice Podoloff trophy in NYC Akron.

“They played terrific defense against the Heat, especially in Boston, and did something no Celtics team has done in the past three years — win a playoff series in fewer than six games. That gave them time to prepare for Cleveland — not that there are really any surprises left — and, more important, to rest up. They’re going to need it.” [Peter May - ESPNBoston]

“It’s tougher because we’ve got to go there,” he said. “We’ve got to grind it out, go there first. But we have to make sure we go with the mentality of attack first. That’s how it is. You’ve got to go to the fight — bring it to them and attack their fortress. Bust their wall in with a wood tree and attack at night. That’s how it is.” [Glen Davis Watching Too Many Medieval Movies]

“His matchup with Antawn Jamison could be the most important of the series. The Cavaliers acquired Jamison to stretch the floor and force power forwards such as Garnett to guard the perimeter, making more driving space for LeBron James.” [Gary Washburn - Boston.com]

“And so it is only fitting that the next step in this run would pit the Cavs against the team that started it all.  While some of the details may have changed (Cleveland now has the better record, both teams have managed to win on the other’s floor, and the Cavs are the favorite), the same script is in place.  The main characters remain for Boston.  Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins are all starting for the Celtics, just as they were in 2008.  LeBron, Delonte, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Anderson Varejao were a part of that 2008 Cavs team (Daniel Gibson was injured at the time), and you know they are chomping at the bit to try and exact some revenge.” [Colin Zvosec]

The Cavs Will Win If….

Looking for Chinks in the Cavs Armor

I always thought the idea of bulletin board material was ridiculous.  Shouldn’t professionals being paid millions of dollars have enough incentive to play hard?  Then again, LeBron has a history of “going off” after a fan/player/Bosh girlfriend harassed him.

Dwight Howard told to stop whining

Tweets To The Present: (follow me @tompestak)

“If the Rockets get Bosh over New York because they can sign and trade for Hill, I will laugh so much that I might die.” [NoamSchiller]

“With two series ending last night, Cavs-Celtics Game 1 locked in at 8 pm now.” [Brian Windhorst]

“More like relief that its over. Few fan bases more willingly shoot messengrs RT @Kevin_Mouritsen Spurs beat Mavs in 6. Vindication?” [John Hollinger]

What is Jamesian?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

As my insomniac twitter followers know, my method for keeping my sanity during these playoffs has been watching an episode or two of Twin Peaks every night after I’m done with my work. Every time I watch it, I can’t help but think of David Foster Wallace’s brilliant essay on David Lynch. One of the driving forces behind the essay is Wallace trying to find a working definition of what is “Lynchian.” DFW’s eventual definition of the term ended up being the blending of the grotesque, fantastic, and the strange with the everyday. Here are some of Wallace’s examples of Lynchian happenings: Jeffrey Dahmer putting body parts in his fridge beside condiments and normal frozen foodstuffs. A murdered housewife whose 50′s bouffant hairdo was left perfectly intact.

It’s impossible not to see the moments Wallace was talking about in Lynch’s work after reading his essay. Blue Velvet opens with a man collapsing and dying while watering his lawn. A cute dog coming over to drink the water out of the still-flowing hose is what makes it Lynchian. The second episode of Twin Peaks famously ends with a scene where Agent Cooper has a vision where a little person and a woman who looks exactly like Laura Palmer talk to him in a mysterious red room. Both of them were filmed talking backwards, then that film was played backwards to make it seem like they were talking forwards. Also, Cooper was in old-man makeup. Oh, just watch the scene. The point is that none of those elements are what make the sequence Lynchian. What makes it Lynchian is Cooper’s bed-head when he calls the sheriff to tell him that his dream let him know who killed Laura Palmer.

All of this has gotten me thinking about what it is that makes watching LeBron James different from watching any other player. It’s not just that he’s better than everybody else. He’s different, and that statement isn’t all compliment.

This has been said many times before, but the LeBron paradigm is different from the Jordan paradigm, which is what other elite perimeter players seem to be chasing. Jordan perfected the art of the perimeter game. LeBron isn’t chasing perfection. He’s attempting to redefine the perception of what is possible. Jamesian moments are the ones that make you think “Good Lord. As great as this man is, he might only be scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.”

There are a lot of times LeBron doesn’t seem like a great team sports athlete. He seems more like a Roy Jones Jr. or Anderson Silva; the guys who were so much better than their opponents that they needed to find new challenges for themselves and new ways to prove how much better they were than their competition.

When that works, it’s incredible. Look at this Roy Jones knockdown. That should be impossible. It’s also important to remember the following. When asked about the thought process that went into putting his hands behind his back during a televised prizefight, Jones explained that he was having trouble getting his opponent to exchange, so he decided to “chicken-fight”to get him to do what he wanted. Was putting his hands behind his back the maneuver that gave him the best chance of winning that fight? Probably not. But Roy Jones honestly and truly believes that it was. He was so talented that he was able to toss fundamentals out the door. And it worked. It didn’t just work; it produced one of the most memorable boxing highlights ever. I think LeBron has the exact same confidence in his heat-check threes or crazy attempts to go for the dagger shot.

When those things work, they flat-out work. When they don’t, people get angry. When Anderson Silva put his hands down and Matrix-ed Forest Griffin, everybody loved it. When he failed to finish Damien Maia because he was too busy showboating and dancing, fans turned on him instantly. People love to see athletes win with flair, but there’s few things they hate more than athletes that value flair over winning.

LeBron James is clearly the best player in basketball right now. It’s not particularly close. He’s not only the best player; he’s so talented that he can be the best player while he’s still trying to figure out what he can and can’t do on a basketball court. There’s no one gameplan he’s trying to follow. There’s no individual goal he’s trying to reach. Sometimes, he’s competing against himself and what he’s capable of as much as he’s competing against the other team.

If this was an individual sport, that would be fine. He’d be knocking guys out while dancing around them and putting his hands down. He’d be winning tennis matches by using crazy drop shots where a simple volley would have sufficed, or hitting winners from impossible angles when just going baseline would have kept the rally going. He’d be winning 100-meter races without running hard the whole time. We’d shake our heads sometimes, but at the end of the day we’d all acknowledge that LeBron is the best in the world and that it’s a privilege to watch him.

The problem is that basketball isn’t an individual sport. It’s a team sport. It’s the most star-dominated major team sport, but it’s still a team sport. Being the best individual doesn’t matter in a team sport. The goal of any individual in a team sport is to do everything in his power to help his team win. Because of that, he’s judged by how often his team wins. That’s why LeBron’s quest to find out his capabilities as a basketball player can be infuriating to watch as a Cavaliers fan.

If you put your hands down in the ring because you know your opponent can’t hit you, that’s one thing. When you try to prove a point on the court when you’re one of 10 players with the power to decide the game, that’s quite another. Making a pull-up three when trailing by two or a left-handed free throw in a playoff game would have done wonders to prove LeBron’s superiority over anyone else playing basketball right now. That’s not what he should be playing for. It should be about doing everything in his power to make sure the Cavs win every game. To be clear, I think winning is his first priority every time he steps out on the floor, and he only starts experimenting when he doesn’t think there’s a legitimate chance the Cavs will lose. However, every now and then LeBron’s curiosity about his own capabilities is counter-productive to giving the Cavs the best chance of winning. Again, It’s great to watch when it works. When it doesn’t, it’s maddening.

Instead of letting this drive me completely insane, I have learned to accept that LeBron is LeBron, and attempt to develop a working definition of “Jamesian.” I define “Jamesian” as a moment where LeBron doesn’t do something simple he theoretically should be capable of doing, but instead chooses to attempt to re-define the notion of what a basketball player is capable of.

Interlude: I’m not sure this paragraph fits here, but it isn’t a post of its own and isn’t completely out of place here. I’ve talked before about how great players don’t consistently make difficult shots; they consistently create easy ones. I think fans respond the most to players who consistently create and make fairly difficult shots.

Allow me to explain. When Shaq was in his prime and scoring 30 points a game with a baby hook, counter-spin, and a dominant frame, it didn’t quite look like greatness the way Jordan’s baskets did. When J.R. Smith chooses to launch 26-foot threes off the dribble rather than try to use his athleticism to get layups or just wait for open threes, that doesn’t look like greatness either. Jordan catching the ball on the perimeter, going hard to the basket, stopping on a dime, and draining a fadeaway? That’s more like like it. Kareem facing up his man, going into the lane, and rising up for an unblockable skyhook? There we go. Ray Allen running around a series of screens, catching a pass, and rising up for a catch-and-shoot jumper off a curl? Beautiful. Kevin Garnett catching it at the high-post, using a pump-fake to get his defender to crowd him, using the rocker-step to get space, then draining a reverse hook over his right shoulder? You get where I’m going with this. We love superstars that use their natural gifts to create looks and their skill to convert those looks. There’s a reason why game-winning jump shots stick in the minds of basketball fans like no other plays do; not only is it a player making a difficult shot, but the difficult shot was the best option available to him.

LeBron is odd. He doesn’t have signature “split the difference” moves, like a go-to pull-up from midrange or a series of moves from the post. He either dominates with his physical gifts or uses his range and skill to drain extremely difficult shots. There’s not much of a middle ground. When he goes to the basket, it seems too easy. When he pops a three off the dribble, it seems like he could have taken an easier shot. Look at that game five in Detroit; every shot was either impossible or impossibly easy. If you want to know why some people don’t love LeBron’s game, here’s why: LeBron’s aesthetics don’t match his effectiveness. It’s as simple as that sometimes.

Anyways, here’s my list of “Jamesian” moments:

-When LeBron misses the second free throw, the Cavs get the offensive rebound, and LeBron immediately nails the three.

-To continue with the theme, LeBron missed two free throws in the middle of his explosion at the Bradley  Center last season.

-When LeBron is relatively quiet all game, then explodes for some and-1s late and makes fans wonder if he can do that whenever he wants.

-When LeBron gets it in the post, looks for the cutter or open three-point shooter, doesn’t find him, and reluctantly destroys his defender for an easy bucket in the post.

-When LeBron has all but put the game away and starts firing threes to put the cherry on top.

-Heat-checks.

-When LeBron easily chases down Derrick Rose to get a block in the full-court, but is a step slow closing out Luol Deng for a mid-range jumper.

-When LeBron goes with a behind-the-back dribble into a jump shot for the first time in his career down the stretch against Detroit in game five.

-When LeBron looks over the defense and flicks a skip pass to the opposite side of the court like other players make a basic chest pass.

-When LeBron looks duck-footed and off-balance on defense late, and then you realize nobody can get past him anyways.

-When LeBron’s in transition, sees three defenders back already, says “screw it,” and gets the bucket or the foul anyways.

LeBron is maddening to watch and cover sometimes. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate how good he is, or give thanks every day for the opportunity to watch and write about this man play basketball. LeBron isn’t like any other player. Sometimes that’s frustrating, sometimes that’s confusing. Most of the time, it’s just spectacular to watch. LeBron is LeBron. At the end of the day, that’s about as big of a compliment as I can give.

Links To The Present: April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

“In the Bulls series, I don’t think the Cavs were expecting Chicago to play as long and as hard as they did. And the Cavs had to ratchet it up to stay with them. But they know what it’s going to be like with the Celtics. And going into the series as the favorite is also something they’re going to have to live up to.” [Austin Carr's Blog]

Bulls/Cavs Series in 2 minutes.

“Asked if the Cavs did anything differently against the outspoken Noah in the close-out game, O’Neal dismissed the disser as an irrelevancy. He said the easy baskets Noah got on the weakside (the side away from the ball) came on rebounds or on passes after O’Neal helped out on Derrick Rose’s penetration. Rose and Kirk Hinrich were the Cavs’ focus, he said.” [Bill Livingston on Shaq]

“We’ll figure it out,” James said, not showing the least bit of worry. “We have the best docs in Cleveland.” [LeBron quoted by Brian Windhorst]

“Finding the problem was key because James was unsure what was causing him stinging pain and numbness in the arm. Second, the diagnosis is not serious and the Cavaliers said James is not expected to miss any time with the injury.” [Brian Windhorst on LeBron's Elbow Exam]

“It still feels as if the Cavs are a work in progress, not hitting on all cylinders. Before Tuesday’s game, Cavs coach Mike Brown lauded the play of James, Jamison and Mo Williams, but said O’Neal and West had yet to get going.” [Marla Ridenour on the State of the Cavs]

“And if the Cavs are comfortably ahead at that point, I believe James will point the way with his left hand only.  Who can’t wait for Saturday to roll around  Raise your good hand or your sling. Either one counts.” [Bud Shaw]

“This is a perfect series for this year’s Cavaliers. They have a habit of playing down to lower-level teams, but rise up and play beautifully against the ‘elite’. Boston, despite its weak regular season finish, still has the polish and image of a championship team. I expect the Cavaliers to dismantle the Celtics with speed and aggression in game 1, followed by a tough win in game 2. Game 3 in Boston will be the hardest of the series. But I can’t see Cleveland losing inspiration like they did against the Bulls in Round 1. This one could go only 5, but I’m still a little intimidated by the Celtics on their home floor, simply because I’m a Cleveland sports fan and give way too much credit to the team we’re playing.” [P.D. Parr on The Celtics/Cavs matchup]

“I can’t help but think about how much the roles are reversed from last year when the Cavaliers flew through the first 2 rounds before facing a buzz saw in the form of a tough battle-tested Magic team. Hopefully that will also reverse the fortunes of last year. I don’t mean to get ahead of myself here, but it helps to put these struggles into context and I only bring it up now as some food for thought as the Cavaliers go through this vicious 2nd round matchup.” [Andrew @ WFNY]

“Defensively, I’m fine with that line-up matching up against the Cavs’ small groups outlined above.  Offensively, though, I worry that the team can go through cold stretches when Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen share the court. We saw this against the Heat, when Erik Spoelstra went to a zone immediately when he saw the TA/Rondo back court and stuck with it until Doc replaced either Rondo or TA with a shooter.” [Zach Lowe - CelticsHub

A look at the Cavs/Celtics rivalry in YouTube Clips

Tweets To The Present: (follow me @tompestak)

"LeBron just bought a RingPop for each finger and is wearing them all. He is embarrassing me." [LeBronsElbow]

“When @LeBronsElbow passes me in followers, I think that will be a sign to do some serious soul searching.” [Ken Berger]

“LeBron should be fine unless he takes another direct hard hit. Based on history, I’m sure the Celtics will play cleanly and avoid it.” [Brian Windhorst]

Notes and Errata: April 29th, 2010

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

-For everyone who thinks Mike Brown has held LeBron back: would you rather the Cavs play like the Nuggets? They don’t have their coach, and they still might win this series against Utah. But even when Karl’s been on the bench, that team clearly hasn’t played up to their talent level. Maybe they’re “fun to watch” for some folks. Me personally, it hurts to see a team with that many good players go out in the playoffs year after year because they don’t play defense or execute like they should on offense.

-When the Lakers are on, they’re scary good. They’re the Western team I wouldn’t want to see in the finals, in spite of everything. The only reason I’d want the Lakers to play the Cavs in the finals is because my “NBA Finals 2010: this time, Cleveland’s going to set the Lake on fire” t-shirt idea might take off.

-Really, Atlanta? You can’t take care of the Bucks at home? If the Hawks can’t win their next two games, the East is going to look a lot different next season.

-From reader Joshua re: LeBron’s elbow — “I had a similar condition, nothing structually wrong but I felt pain in my elbow. Acupuncture cleared it right up and it hasn’t bothered me since. If there is anyway you could relay this to the Cavs medical staff, millions of Witnesses would be in your debt.” This is the best I can do, Joshua.

-I don’t have much tonight, so I want to direct credit to those who deserve it. First of all, I just want to say how thrilled I am that Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball is now on the TrueHoop network. Him and Ben Q. Rock have had one of the best team blogs out there for a while. It became clear a while ago that Eddy was more than good enough to have his own blog; him and Ben on one blog was just unfair.

Now Eddy has his own site, but he’s no less excellent. As much as I’m scared of the Magic, I’m glad that the Cavs’ biggest conference rival has such excellent coverage. Orlando Pinstriped Post was a daily read for me because of the consistent quality; now Magic Basketball is as well. Welcome aboard, Eddy. If the Cavs have to lose to any team, I’m glad it’s your favorite one. (The same goes to Zach Lowe and co. at CelticsHub, another of the best team blogs out there.)

-And while things are relatively quiet, I’d like to take a moment to recognize what Tom Pestak has done for this website over the past few months. Links editor can be a thankless job, and Tom had to apply for it. His application blew me away, and he was already one of the site’s best commenters to boot. He’s gone ahead and exceeded my high expectations of him. His work has been timely, done on a daily basis, and excellent. With my NBC job and class, there’s no way I’d have been able to do an afternoon post. Not only has Tom filled that void, but his links have been much better than mine and as good as anybody’s. He’s done it every day, he’s done everything I’ve asked of him and more, and his enthusiasm has been much appreciated. It hasn’t been that long, but I already can’t imagine this site without him.

-While we’re at it, give props to Mark Cameron, who’s brought a statistical element to this site that didn’t exist before.

-That’s all for tonight. Until tomorrow, campers.

Links To The Present: April 28, 2010

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

“After the game, LeBron said that he was pleased the Bulls made the playoffs and pleased they put up such a fight. He went so far as to say that if the Raptors would have gotten in that it wouldn’t have been a test and wouldn’t have helped the team prepare for the next round.” [Brian Windhorst's Beat Blog]

Windhorst’s most EPIC podcast ever.  Wait till the end when he starts going OFF on Dwight Howard.

“But there were too many quarters in this series where the Cavs seemed to think this was the regular season. Yes, they put the Bulls away in five games and did hold the home court, but they can’t possibly believe they can repeat this so-so performance and knock off Boston.” [Terry Pluto's Scribbles]

“As for the series, Chicago challenged the Cavs, especially in the last game, which could have gone the Bulls’ way had two Rose fourth-quarter shots that were all but in not somehow rolled out, and had the officials given Rose continuation and a basket in the fourth quarter when he was fouled by O’Neal. Those breaks went Cleveland’s way, and as a result the Cavs advance to face the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 of that series will be played in Cleveland on Saturday.” [Pat McManamon - Fanhouse]

Derrick Rose and LeBron think Del Negro is a good coach

Be Afraid of the Magic

Good Vid of Game 4 Highlights.

“And if you’re ever feeling down, here’s something you can always remember as a pick-me-up — even LeBron James isn’t perfect at everything. He can’t even make clutch free throws with his off hand.” [Trey Kerby - Ball Don't Lie]

Awesome collection of picture over at WFNY. I was listening to Mike Synder last night and he said Shaq’s vest was the largest he had ever seen worn by a human being.  Now I see what he meant.

LeBron to CHARLOTTE!!

Tweets To The Present: (follow me @tompestak)

@PDcavsinsider Please tell the Cavalier nation I am fine. LeBron is sleeping and I am playing Call of Duty. I will be ready for Boston. [LeBron's Elbow]

He’s up to 400 followers RT @LeBronsElbow Told them I’m fine, they keep poking me & putting me in machines. All they’ll find is awesomeness. [Brian Windhorst]

I’m not one of the people screaming for more Hickson, but last 2 games against Boston: 26 pts., 14 reb. (11 reb in last game) [Dan Labbe]

Recap: Cavs 96, Bulls 94 (Or, 12: Cavs advance, make it interesting)

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Overview:

In an ugly game, the Cavaliers managed to hold onto a slim fourth-quarter lead to outlast the Bulls by a score of 96-94. Antawn Jamison led the Cavs with 25 points, and Derrick Rose led all scorers with 31. The Cavs have eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs, and will face the Boston Celtics in round two.

Game Summary:

The Cavs came out running their offense and hitting shots. LeBron looked to be a facilitator early, and was setting guys up with laser-beam feeds for open threes. The Cavs scored 27 in the first quarter, with almost all their shots coming from the paint, on open threes, or on awkward Jamison shots.

But one of the Cavs’ issues from the regular season reared its head in game five. The Cavs were scoring at will on offense, and they felt that allowed them to play sloppy. They gave up too much penetration and too many open looks. They committed silly turnovers without forcing them at the other end. They failed to close out the quarter. Because of all those things, the Cavs only led by one after the first period.

The Cavs threated to break it open in the second. They were able to force some turnovers and get out in transition, and that allowed them to open up the lead. Jamario ran the floor for an alley-oop and a layup. Delonte was finally wreaking some havoc out there and finding loose balls. Shaq beat the Bulls down the floor for a dunk — after a made basket. Things were looking good. The Bulls kept it close by closing the half with three straight catch-and-shoot jumpers for Deng, and the Bulls went in down only seven.

The offense stalled badly in the third quarter. Jamison didn’t keep his hot hand going, LeBron wasn’t taking over, and the shots weren’t falling for anyone else. With Cleveland struggling, the Bulls were able to claw back into the game. After three quarters, the score was 73-71 in favor of Cleveland.

The fourth quarter was ugly. Shaq drew three fouls in rapid succession to start the quarter. The Cavs were fouling left and right when the Bulls had the ball. The Cavs caught a break when Derrick Rose’s and-1 was called a foul on the floor. Delonte hit a big three, and LeBron made some and-1s to put the Cavs in the driver’s seat. When Antawn Jamison hit a pick-and-pop three to put the Cavs up nine with 3:29 remaining, the game seemed over.

Most of what happened after this point is a blur of rage and confusion to me. LeBron made a bad turnover that led to a Deng floater. He ran down the clock and tried the dagger three (not a horrible decision, actually), and then Andy fouled Deng going after the rebound to send him to the line. (ARGH.) Jamison got called for a pass-and-crash charge. Rose drew a foul on Andy in 10 seconds. A possession later, the Bulls got two points in two seconds when Delonte tried and failed to draw a charge on Rose at mid-court.

LeBron then got fouled on a drive and hit two big free throws. Rose missed a floater. Mo missed a runner, but Noah let an easy rebound slip out of his hands and out of bounds. The Cavs ran the clock down, LeBron got trapped and passed it to Varejao, and Andy coughed it up. The Bulls wisely went for the quick two, but Andy redeemed himself by forcing Rose to go to his left on a floater. LeBron got fouled, hit the first one to make it a two-possession game, and…bricked the second one because he shot it left-handed.

That was, to say the least, a moment. After the game, LeBron revealed he’s had elbow issues for a while. He says it’s nothing to worry about and that an MRI was negative, but that the arm goes numb sometimes, like he’s been hit in the funnybone. He says he “didn’t want to risk it” by taking his second FT righty, seeing as to how the Cavs were already up four. I’m not a doctor, and his decision turned out to be the right one. There is a little part of me that wishes he’d just have taken the FT righty, but only he knows how bad he was hurting.

Anyways, Cavs win. Cavs advance. Series over. I sweated through my t-shirt. Another round. Another challenge. One step closer.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

-Game ball goes to Antawn Jamison. This is why the Cavs got him. He made his threes, he cut to the basket, he carried the Cavs at times, and he made his free throws. When the Cavs needed baskets late, they went to him and he delivered. Great game for Antawn.

-How about Shaq going 7-9 from the floor? And getting a team-best +8? The Bulls were able to punish him on pick-and-rolls in the fourth and Shaq turned it over a few times, but he looked very strong posting up tonight. That’s a great sign.

-Good, not great game from LeBron. He made some nice passes early, and some big baskets late. He closed out late on Deng a few times, but did a good job on Rose down the stretch. The six missed free throws aren’t great, but he made them when it counted. At least the ones he shot righty.

-Delonte! There we go! He hit threes and made hustle plays. He defended Rose beautifully; according to ESPN stats and information, Rose went 1-8 with two turnovers when Delonte was defending him. He was everywhere on the court, and did everything he was supposed to.

-Andy. No. This was not good. He drove the Boston bigs crazy with his activity when the Cavs and Celtics played each other in the regular season. Hopefully he can find some of that in round two.

-Mo had a very bad night from the floor. Those will happen. Fortunately, this was a game where the Cavs could (barely) afford Mo’s shot being off.

Bullets of Randomness:

-Derrick Rose: 31 points on 27 shots. I continue to be okay with that.

-Noah: four field goals, seven turnovers, five fouls. He bleeds! He is human! Seriously, good job by the Cavs to keep a body on him at all times.

Alright, that’s it for this series. Here come the Celtics. Get ready. Until later, folks.

Preview: Bulls at Cavaliers, April 27th

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Now is not the time to get fat and happy. It’s time to close out the series. Ride LeBron’s insane play, try Shaq early and give him the hook if he’s not effective. Take the threes if they’re there, but look to get a good shot on every possession. Contain Rose, win the battle on the boards, keep a body on Noah. Try to get something out of Delonte and Varejao.

The series is Cleveland’s for the taking. Time to play a strong 48 and get it done.

And then there’s this

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

(Bangs head against desk repeatedly)

New mini-controversy. Looks like a bit of a jerk move to me. Here’s what I’m thinking right now:

-7% of me thinks he should’ve just handed him the clothes and given a nice smile. How hard would that have been?

-3% of me thinks this would be evidence of how dialed in he was and how much “killer instinct” he had going if he had a ring.

-4% of me thinks that players probably do this all the time without having it go viral.

-80% of me just wants to talk about basketball.

-6% of me wants to talk about Bango the deer. That’s why the Bucks won both their home games without Bogut. My favorite part about that skit is that the Bucks in-game PR team clearly had one Hawks jersey. Also, backflips. Bango does them.

Notes and Errata: April 27th, 2010

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Quick fan poll regarding potential Magic matchup: Are you more heartened by the fact the Bobcats rendered Howard completely ineffective offensively or scared by the fact the Magic got the sweep anyways?

The Hawks haven’t won on the road against a Bogut-less Bucks team. How did this team get the #3 seed?

Is there anyone — anyone out there who thinks the Magic can lose to the Hawks or Bucks in R2? If so, why?

I think the Thunder are playing better basketball than the Lakers right now. I don’t know if they’re better enough to win in LA, though. Who would’ve thought that a series with two teams shooting 40% could be this much fun to watch?

Rumors of Kobe’s demise: exaggerated. If the Lakers get past the Thunder, the Jazz don’t have enough lanky perimeter defenders to frustrate him the way Sefolosha and Durant have, and even Green to a lesser extent. They might try Kirilenko if he gets healthy, but Sloan will start Matthews or Miles on him. Plus, Kobe took Kirilenko apart last year.

On the other hand, watching Fisher vs. Deron Williams will be fun.

Kobe will bounce back. He always bounces back. Still, let’s take a moment to savor the fact that LeBron’s playoff PER is 22.66 points higher than Kobe’s right now.

I don’t know how to talk about LeBron right now. The Cavs haven’t won any games they haven’t been expected to win easily yet, and he’s going to be judged by how the rest of the playoffs shake out. Still, he’s easily the best player in the league right now. Easily. It’s him and everyone else. Seriously, look at what the other MVP candidates have done in their first-round matchups. Kobe, Howard, and Durant are all going against great defensive teams, but yeesh.

Man, I’m afraid LeBron will end up like Dirk someday. (He’s already proven himself to be better, but you know what I mean.) That is a cursed, cursed man. He makes that jumper over hill 9 out of 10 times, even in crunch situations. He’s such a money player with the game on the line, but seems to pick the exact right moments to come up short. Also, he really deserved a title against the Heat that year.

Russell Westbrook, you are the captain of the “have a league-average TS% for a full season so I can buy your hype, because I love watching you play” team.

So Jeff Green takes a lot of bad shots, he’s very versatile, he makes plays but doesn’t rack up assists, his TS% is terrible, and he defends multiple positions well without being a lock-down guy. Part of the “core” without ever really playing like an untouchable. On a team with a transcendent offensive player but still manages to be a below-average team offensively. I hate to do this — anyone else getting a “Larry Hughes on the Cavs” vibe here?

On that note, who’s sad the Cavs missed out on Stephen Jackson now? I bring this up because I’m never right about anything. Also, Jon Kuester. Sometimes there’s a method to my bitterness and skepticism.

Alright, that’s all for tonight. Good night, and good Hubie Brown.

Links To The Present: April 26, 2010

Monday, April 26th, 2010

“What Del Negro probably should have said was something like: “You know, we didn’t play too bad but they have LeBron. And they have some pretty good players playing with LeBron and when those guys play this well we’re just not good enough to beat them.”” [Brian Windhorst's Beat Blog]

“He can score on shots that are flicked from afar, not flung. On shots taken with a reasonable expectation of prowess rewarded, not prayers answered. On shots that are as pure as a driveway fantasy. On shots that hit nothing but net, over and over, and eight times over, as he said in the second game of the Cavaliers-Bulls playoff series.” [Bill Livingston on LeBron's Range]

“James was precise and pretty close to unstoppable. He started by finding his teammates, and ended by scoring, making 11 of his 17 shots (and 9-of-10 free throws). He ended the second and third quarters with emphasis.” [Pat McManamon - Fanhouse]

“There, I said it, and it’s a relief to do so: King James eventually will succeed His Royal Airness as the best basketball player ever.” [Mike Imrem on LBJ]

LeBron with a Playoff PER just under 38! (just like last year)

“When Lebron hit that 35-footer, the crowd went silent for a second, then a whoosh of a low ‘whoa…’ moved throughout the crowd. LeBron just stood near midcourt and glared around the stadium. It was a surreal moment. I’m still stupefied by it. On Sunday afternoon, we witnessed.” [BullsbytheHorns]

LeBron Raymone James Basically Has Freaking Unlimited Range

Tweets To The Present: (follow me @tompestak)

“Kobe has taken 1 more shot than LeBron thru 4 playoff games…and scored 44 fewer points. Obviously Kobe struggling but LBJ very efficient.” [Brian Windhorst]

“Noah: “Can’t put our heads down” (while putting head down)” [WayneEmbrysKids]

“LeBron. Just LeBron. Because I don’t know what else to say.” [langwhitaker]

“LeBron putting on a show in Chicago. I’m sitting next to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who just said, “I think he’s heard enough about Rose.”” [Joe Gabriele]