Sunday, April 19, 2009

What a Saturday!

What a Saturday for Cleveland sports--and yet here in Chicago I'm being overwhelmed with Facebook statuses and tweets about how great a CHICAGO sports day it was! I guess I can't argue--Blackhawks and Bulls win playoff games, Cubs beat St. Louis in extra innings, and the Sox won too. Only the Fire ended up with a tie. (Great rule, soccer. Remind me why nobody cares?)

First, let me remind you to follow our new Twitterfeed at @CleveSpTorture.

If you had told me the Indians and Cavs would both win on Saturday, I'd be happy. If you told me they would both win by the same margin, I would be nervous for the Cavaliers. If you told me (accurately) that they would win by 18 points/runs each, I would call you delusional. That's how good a day it was for the two teams.

Let's start with the, Buster Olney might be right. Yankee Stadium's new layout might vastly promote home runs--right now they are on pace for a 250% increase in home runs over last year. With the way some of the Yanks' pitching is going, that is a very bad omen. Wang--wow. The Indians put up a record 14 runs in the second inning Saturday, and tied their old record of 22 runs against the Yankees. Nice. The Indians may be perfoming a bit sub-par so far, but they've shown signs of life. And nothing is better than the fact that Travis Hafner seems to have somewhat found his swing, after a rough spring training.

The Cavs, on the other hand, played a hot-shooting Pistons team by matching them with their own shooting, and made it seem easy at the end. Both teams were shooting near 60% for a while, and so the game appeared close, but soon the Cavaliers' dominance exposed itself. It's hard to put a finger on the specific aspect of the game that made the difference, but the overall hustle difference was apparent. And the inability of the Pistons to contain LeBron or guard easy hoops for the Cavaliers was just too easy. Game one to the Cavaliers, 102-84.

Was it just me or does Rodney Stuckey blatently travel most of the time he drives to the hoop? Maybe he's got a move that is deceiving, but at least on three separate occassions I figured he traveled for sure.

So one thing to comment on. Gregg Doyle on wrote a whole article on how the Cavaliers struggled without LeBron on Saturday. Look, Gregg, have you watched the first 82 games? The Cavs far from shrivel when LeBron is on the bench. They have a deep, talented team, and this hypothetical column after one game (in which they did struggle a bit) is ridiculous. Struggling for material? it irrelevant, meaningless, silly -- unless it becomes so relevant that it means the end of the Cavaliers' season. Because that could happen....

Twice Cavs coach Mike Brown took out James for a long rest, at the end of the first and third quarters, and both times the Pistons mounted such a charge that Brown nearly sprained his shoulder waving James back into the game. If you're a Cleveland fan, that's a problem....

...I'm thinking about the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals, or the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Both those teams also are reliant on a superstar, Orlando on Dwight Howard and the Lakers on Kobe Bryant, but the Cavaliers aren't even recognizable when James is off the floor.
Seems to me that the writer is suggesting that the Lakers and Magic suffer less if their superstar is missing in action. Ummm, maybe, because LeBron is the best player in the league. But I would conjecture that a LeBron-less Cavalier team would kill a Howard-less Magic team, and squeak past a Kobe-less Lakers team. Let's hope we never have to find out.