Sunday, May 31, 2009

Torture. Agony. Anguish. Frustration. Sadness. Misery.

Those are the feelings we're left with, yet again, as the Cavaliers just could not match up with the Orlando Magic and fell 4 games to 2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

There will be a lot of time to discuss what went wrong. LeBron James, uncharacteristically, walked off the court and out of the locker room without addressing reporters. He's been called out today for mild unsportsmanlike behavior, and maybe rightfully so. People will certainly draw many conclusions from his behavior after the game, and the meaning of it as it pertains to LeBron's future in Cleveland. But again, there will be time to worry about that.

One thing this series was not was a "choke." Or even an "exposé" of the Cavaliers weaknesses. A team does not win 66 games, including 8 straight playoff games, if they are a one man team. The Cavaliers just ran into a team playing on all cylinders, who posed grave matchup problems with the Cavs. It wasn't The Shot, or The Fumble, or anything that could have gone either way. It was just The Execution that the Magic could do, and the Cavaliers could not, when it counted.

I can only mourn in haiku:

Confetti falling;
LeBron walks from the building;
"Wait Until Next Year."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 with a little hatin'

Mike Freeman offered the genius analysis that this should be "The Choke", even given that the Magic are playing at an otherworldly level, and it's not any choking by the Cavaliers, or even less, by LeBron James, that has the Cavaliers at the brink of elimination, down 3 games to 1, headed back to the Q for game 5.

Freeman even manages to get some Earnest Byner digs in, glossing LeBron "LeByner." Really?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick... BOOM: ECF Game 3

I have a recurring dream where I'm frantically racing around my old high school, or sometimes college, trying to find my classroom. When I get there, I realize I didn't study for a test and there's absolutely no way for me to answer the questions. At this point I usually wake up from that dream.. not so lucky in what has become a nightmare of an Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavaliers may have studied for this test, but they studied the wrong material. Not only did they study the wrong material, they're in the wrong grade. The Cavs look like 8th graders taking the SAT. They simply cannot answer these questions. Period.

Think about this for a minute. The Cavs are one miracle shot away from being down 0-3 and on the verge of being swept after a 66 win season. You might look at it from a more positive perspective and say we had a 15 and 23 point lead and are a Rashard Lewis 3 away from being up 2-1. Okay, if that makes you feel better...

What I want to know is where is the confident, composed Cavalier team that I fell in love with this season? The team that didn't play it's opponent... their opponent played them. In other words, the Cavs played their game. They dictated everything. They challenged themselves to play the game the right way and to follow their game plan. The Cavaliers have become a struggling, deperate team as the Magic continue to frustrate them in almost every aspect of the game. Now the Cavs have to win 3 of 4 against this new nemesis. Can it be done? I guess. But nothing I've seen so far in this series leads me to believe it will.

Speaking of frustration, one word: referees
I can't stand when people act like it's blasphemy to call out the officiating. I have a saying... "Money can't buy happiness, but it sure helps." While officiating may not be lone reason a team loses, it sure doesn't help. I bring this up in light of Dwight Howard bulldozing anyone or anything in his path to the basket (not to mention traveling). If the refs are going to let him throw his shoulder into a defender's midsection, how can he possibly be defended? On the flip side, then they're calling ticky-tack fouls left and right. There were 86 free throws in Game 3. 86! And they're inconsistent. Turkoglu hooks and pushes off every time he drives. Even Barkley and the TNT guys called out the officiating.

That being said, the Cavaliers from the 2008-2009 regular season have all but vanished in a puff of smoke due to the guys from the Magic Kingdom. In their place is the Cavs teams from years past. The one-man-gang Cavs are back. I almost prefer those teams because nothing was expected. It was just a fun ride. The only ride we're on now seems to be off a cliff. The result? Crash and Burn.

TNT keeps playing a commercial for a new horror flick. In the movie, a girl is cursed and subsequently tormented as she grasps in desperation to hang on to her life. Sound familiar Cleveland? The name of the movie: "Drag Me to Hell". I'm on board... who's with me?

Bad thoughts

After the disasterous Game 3 vs. the Magic, in which the Cavaliers played like garbage, yet stayed in the game, and yet couldn't make up the seemingly small deficit, some sad facts are starting to make themselves clear.

The Cavaliers have not shown they can beat the Magic or Lakers 4 out of 7 times.  Embarrassingly so, in this Easten Conference Finals.

Is this torture continued?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good and bad, heading into Game 3

Well let's talk now about the Cavaliers-Magic series, where it stands now as the series heads to Orlando, tied 1-1, with the Magic now holding the home court advantage.

The good: LeBron James' amazing 3 pointer as the buzzer sounded last night gave new life into the team, pulling them from the feeling of inevitability that would accompany a team who just lost two straight at home in a seven game series.

The good: The excitement shown by the team as they celebrated like crazy. Except for one player, who I couldn't tell who he was, who stood there with one hand in his pocket the whole time.

The bad: Some Magic players seem to have taken the exhuberant display by the Cavaliers as a personal affront, like a player hotdogging after a home run. But in my opinion that is an invented slight, as any team would have been thrilled as the victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat materialized in one final second.

The good: A gut shot like the one LeBron delivered to the Magic can totally change the momentum of a series.

The bad: As Stan Van Gundy insisted, they have lost last-second games throughout the playoffs, and have bounced back each time. Games 1 and 3 against Philly and Game 4 against Boston both didn't unnerve the Magic.

The bad: I'm sure a lot of people, in both cities, feel like the Cavaliers are down, 1-1, like Bill Livingston said today. They have blown huge leads in both games, at times looking like the Cavaliers in LeBron's early years, with their famed 1-on-5 offense.

The good: At the same time, the Cavaliers have led something like 95% of the time in the first two games, as shown on the gameflow charts on ESPN (like this one from Game 2.) Despite blowing the big leads, and being disappointing overall, they have still played very well at times, and built big leads.

The bad: They couldn't hold those leads.

The good: LeBron James is playing amazingly well, although he had some major issues with his jumper, especially in Game 2, (before the game winner, obviously.)

The bad: Mo Williams and Delonte West have not been providing the options the Cavaliers need to keep their offense running at the levels necessary to beat a good Orlando team.

The good: Sasha Pavlovic gave a great spark to the offense Friday, and made some fine defensive plays as well.

The bad: He also had some noticeable defensive lapses. LeBron called out his focus to the media the other day, quite unusual, but like Terry Pluto mentioned, it must be an open issue for the team.

The good: Dwight Howard was neutralized in Game 2, due to the defensive adjustment by the Cavaliers.

The bad: But if Howard is on, it's obvious Z doesn't have the wheels to keep with him (and I'll be a dollar that Doug Collins talks about Z's "lateral movement" after Howard's first basket Sunday night.)

The good: We all know how good Mo and Delonte can be. LeBron James plays for the Cavaliers.

Lots to discuss about the series, but for now just savor...

Save our city

From anger and soul-crushing despair to utter amazement and joy, all in the gasping second-and-a-half it took for the ball to leave LeBron's fingertips and rattle into the hoop.

Holy shit, indeed.

Savor this one, Cleveland. Isn't it just great to be on the other side of history for once? I am still in shock...Yes, this Cavaliers team has some issues to work out on both sides of the ball as they head to Orlando for Game 3 on Sunday. They cannot continue to blow sizeable leads...they can't shoot (and miss) early shot clock jumpers that allow the Magic to run their insanely effective transition offense.

But all the analysis and stat-crunching in the world doesn't matter right now. The season and our collective sanity have been saved with one jump shot. Maybe this will be the play that defines our championship run...maybe this one shot is the catalyst that ends our so-called "curse.". Of course, there's work to be done, but I'll let Coach Brown and his crew suss out the details. For now, I'll just leave you with the dumbest cliche in the English language, one that defines what may well be the single greatest moment in Cleveland sports history: WOW.

Friday, May 22, 2009

MLB pulls stars-and-stripes Chief Wahoo hat

As you can imagine, I'm not the biggest fan of Chief Wahoo in general. But MLB now seems to me moving this way, as they have pulled the stars-and-stripes Chief Wahoo hat.

It was only a mini-controversy last year, but this year they want to avoid any controversy.

Don't Even Bother with the Game Tonight

Written by to Tim Povtak on AOL fanhouse

"There are four teams remaining in the hunt for the 2009 NBA title ? all
good teams, too ? but only three of the four have the essential ingredient
that champions have had throughout the last 30 years. The Cavaliers will
be left out in the cold. Sorry, Cleveland, but maybe free agency this
summer will bring you what you need: A second star."


I also love this quote

"Yes, the Cavs won 66 games during the regular season ? most in the league
? but that doesn't mean anything at playoff time, when teams have so much
more time to prepare. Teams, at this stage, are too good defensively to
let any one player beat them"

I guess in 2007 Detroit wasn't "too good defensively" to let Lebron beat
them. Wait a second didn't he score 29 of the last 30 point in regulation
and overtime in game 5?

However, if Moe and Delonte, Z and everyone on the bench do not shoot
better we are going to be in big trouble. I also don't think that Orlando
is going to shoot lights out during every game in this series, and our
defense can only get better.

Should be a fun game tonight....if you want to waste your time since we
can't win with only Lebron.

Here's the link to the whole article

In case you were wondering, at lunch yesterday I saw Hedu Turkoglu hanging
out with a friend and no he doesn't smile and laugh all the time, that
only happens going into and coming out of timeouts during games.(hopefully
I'm not the only one who noticed that Wednesday)

fyi, I posted this through email so hopefully the formatting is OK because
lotus notes sucks.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Debacle at the Q: ECF Game 1

As I literally floated down the steps from my seat at the Q, moments after Mo Williams swished a shot from the opposite 3 point line to beat the halftime buzzer, I had one thought in my head, which I should've known was the thought of doom:
"I've never seen my team catch the breaks like this. I think we may be destined this year. (3 long buzzer beaters so far in the '09 playoffs)."

I smiled to myself, my bright orange Lebron throwback jersey glowing from the inside-out.
Then in what can only be described as an episode from the Twilight Zone, the unthinkable happened... the Cavs reverted back to previous years, stunk up the joint in the 3rd quarter, ran an elementary school offense with Lebron pounding the ball at the top, and gave the Magic Game 1, blowing a 15 point lead... at home.

I love Coach Brown, and on this blog have said he's a great playoff coach. But the Coach of the Year got out-coached by the Master of Panic. I thought the game plan to start the game was borderline genius. Coming out with Lebron guarding the point was just one of the many things that shell-shocked the Magic into a 16 point deficit in the first half. Guys were cutting, the offense was flowing, Dwight Howard had 3 fouls (or was it 4?) in the first half (we'll come back to that later), and 3/4 court shots were falling... everything was good at the Q.

But halftime is the time of adjustments and in-game strategies, and here's where the coaching staff let us down.
  • Dwight Howard had 3, maybe 4, fouls, so why the HELL are you not coming out in the 3rd quarter and attacking him. You have a 15 point lead. Who cares if you get blocked a few times. To me, the Cavs players seemed scared of Howard, and were very hesitant near the rim.
  • In my expert NBA opinion, Dwight Howard can have his 30 points. Hell, he can have 40... he abused us in the first half and we were leading by 15! Why? Because Lewis, Turkoglu, and the other guys were not. Howard is the game changer because of his defense. He guards the lane like Cerberus, the three-headed dog, guards the underworld... or the Minions guarded the evil Undertaker. When he was out of the game, Lebron got to the rim much more. So by attacking, either Howard is forced to be less aggressive on defense, or he fouls out. I'd love to see the stats on how many of Lebron's 49 points were in the paint vs. jump shots. I have a feeling it would be astonishing.
To expand on that concept of getting Howard out of the lane:
Z, my lovable Lithuanian who actually WANTS to stay in Cleveland while other athletes are bolting for the sunshine or the bright lights... you have to hit the 15-20 footers to keep Dwight Howard honest. If Z's hitting the outside shot, Howard is forced to step out, opening up the lane for Lebron and others. If not, then Z is virtually useless. Defensively, I thought Z did okay on Howard. He forced him into several ugly hook shots that happened to fall (and don't kid yourself, Dwight basically closed his eyes and threw those up at the rim). Another thing... Joe Smith and Ben Wallace did pretty well on Howard in the first half, but Coach Brown didn't use them in the second half.

And now I'm going to utter two words I never thought I would need to utter these playoffs. God help me:
Sasha Pavlovic
He's erratic, he plays dumb, he disappears at times, but he might just be what the Cavs need. He's tall, he's athletic, and he's a guard. We all know Orlando isn't the best match-up for the Cavs, so maybe our rabbit in the hat is a guy buried on the bench. Every playoffs has that guy on the bench who turns out to be key. Boobie two years ago. P.J. Brown last year. Maybe Sasha can guard the taller guys like Turkoglu, or even Lewis. (I just vomited in my mouth a little).

Believe it or not, there were some highlights from Game 1:
  • Lebron's absolute facial on Dwight Howard. From my seat, LBJ looked like he was sitting on the rim. And to overpower Superman like that. Wow! (Link here or see video below)
  • Mo William's bomb at the halftime buzzer. What's the NBA's slogan? "Where Amazing Happens". Uh Yeah. (Little did we know the "amazing" would be blowing a 15 point lead).
Sign of the Night:
Barkley = DUI

I know there are a couple readers of this blog that absolutely detest the phrase "must win" unless it is an elimination game. But Game 2 is a must win. Strap it on Cavs. One Goal.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ah, Sir Charles, you lovable rogue

Orlando smote the Celts tonight, and good ol' Chuck Barkley already has the Magic beating the Cavs in the ECF. (CST contributer Froms sent me several rage-filled texts concerning this matter.) The former deodorant pitchman, midget tosser*, and little girl spitter-uponer says the Cavs have a chance if LeBron goes "ballistic." Well, I guess it wouldn't be Cleveland if we weren't the 'dogs. Regardless, there should be plenty of media fodder to dissect over the next couple of days before the fun starts...keep ya head up, Cavs fans. Let's put this team on our backs! The playoffs are about to get very intersting...

*My favorite Barkley quote took place when someone asked him if he "regretted" throwing a man through a bar window.

"Yeah, I regret we weren't on a higher floor," Barkley replied. Heh.

Memories: 16 points in 2 minutes

LeBron goes off for 16 points in 2 minutes with heat-check after heat-check against Milwaukee in February.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

While we wait...

There was a story in the Atlanta papers last weekend that I’m surprised didn’t get more run in national media circles: Before Game 3 against Atlanta Saturday night, LeBron James reserved all three floors of a midtown restaurant and nightclub for a post-game bash. (Eyewitness accounts stating that the Cristal “flowed like Niagara Falls” could not confirmed as of press time. However, several wire reports verified the presence of “mad honies up in this piece.”)

The first two rounds of the playoffs have certainly been festive for the Cavs. Eight wins, all of them by 10 points or more. So, is the party officially over now as we watch Boston and Orlando pummel each other for the right to play Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals? Is anybody worried that this team has yet to face any real adversity? To paraphrase Martin Lawrence in the made-for-TV edit of “Bad Boys II,” did the “sheep (sic) just get real?”

We will discover the answers to these critical questions next Monday at the earliest, according to the NBA (Wednesday if Boston-Orlando goes seven games). I’m not worried about the Cavs becoming lax or comfortable with their envious position as alpha dog. While I do expect a greater challenge no matter who emerges from the Magic-Celts slugfest, I’m reassured by the Cavs’ mental toughness, an attribute that in past years buoyed Mike Brown’s teams even when the surrounding cast around LeBron was found wanting.

These Cavs simply do not beat themselves: When they were hammered in the 2007 Finals by San Antonio and were edged out of the post-season last year by the Celts, they lost to the better team in both instances.

That cerebral sturdiness, now backed by some real talent, will prevent LeBron and Co. from becoming complacent in their good fortune. I cannot imagine Cleveland giving up a 10-point lead with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, as Orlando did this week against Boston. The Magic are the definition of a paper tiger…a collection of talent rather than a team. The shame is they are probably better than the Garnett-less Celtics.

Maybe Stan Van Gundy really is a “master of panic” as Shaq labeled him. Orlando is a squad that obviously cannot handle success…the Celtics are tough, defense-minded, and championship-tested, but Orlando seems to play not to lose when faced with adversity. Anybody see Hedo Turkoglu get called for an eight-second backcourt violation during a critical possession at the end of Game 1 in Boston? That would not happen to Cleveland…I cannot recall the last time I saw one of my hometown teams so focused. If there’s one thing you can say about this year’s Cavs, it’s that they take nothing for granted.

OK, you ‘Lost’ me
(Ahead are my thoughts on the season finale of “Lost.” Read on at your own risk, for thar be major spoilers off the starboard bow, mateys!)

Before “Lost,” J.J. Abrams created “Alias,” a pulpy spy series that also straddled the realms of science fiction and mythological weirdness. By the end of its five-year run, the show was an incomprehensible mess of plot twists and its own kooky mythology.

That’s how I felt after watching last night’s “Lost.” Seriously…what the hell was that? It wasn’t a bad episode, it was just kind of wonky and confusing, and presented a slew of new questions that I don’t really care to see answered.

We finally meet Jacob, the enigmatic spirit who appears to control the island. We still don’t know who Jacob really is, but that’s OK. He’s not Christian, Aaron, Locke, Lee Iacocca or any of the other rumored names floating through the dorky Internet transom.

The newest twist is Jacob’s apparent battle with another ageless, God-like figure that’s as powerful as he is - and whom we discover is posing as the actually non-resurrected John Locke. This guy also manipulated Ben to seemingly murder Jacob - but not before Jacob warned non-Locke that “they're coming.” Oy. The letdown here is introducing a new character and having him “find a loophole” and “kill” the all-powerful Jacob without any buildup. What’s the bloody point, other than to deepen the show’s already complex mythology?

The show ends with the 1977 crew – Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Juliet, et al - trying to stop The Incident that lead to the building of the hatch and eventually to Oceanic 815 crashing on the island. Our last image is Juliet setting off the hydrogen bomb that may or may not change the future. Boom. White screen. The End. Eight-month cliffhanger, ahoy.

Whatever…I actually enjoyed the season as a whole, but it was not as good as last year. The focus and intensity of season four was somewhat missing; last night’s disappointing finale, perhaps the weakest in the show’s history, did not help matters any.

With all that’s happened in five long seasons of my favorite show, I still stand by my overarching theory: The island is on the moon. Makes as much sense as anything that happened last night, no?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Live Blog: Cavs-Hawks game 4

Well the man's got me down today...after working about 11.5 hours straight I realized that I had hours more work to do at home. And of course I had already missed a lot of Game 4 of the Cavs-Hawks series, so thought I might as well make it home, turn on the TiVo, turn off Twitter, and waste some time doing what I've thought about but never done before.

So with great apologies to Bill Simmons...the less funny, less wordy, and no stat-guy-back-up-having....LIVE BLOG!

Pre-game: Marv points out that LeBron still has the oppportunity to take the team playoff lead in assists and steals, virtually leading in every category.

I'm always surprised the road team lets LeBron do the chalk-throwing ritual. Shocked one of the opposing teammates doesn't put him on his ass for doing that on their floor. Speaking of chalk throw...I don't really get this Nike ad...what are they trying to say? That LeBron is excited? And likes Chinese food? And Kobe is too cool for school?

Q1 11:33. Delonte airball, Varajao hustle rebound, Mo hits a jumper and gives his bench an amused look. Bad then good start. Next time down the floor LeBron travels! Is this the ref trying to stretch out the season?

Q1 10:02. 40-foot lob pass for a layup from Delonte to LeBron! Followed immediately up by a "too easy" 2-on-zero fast break for a LeBron dunk! The kind of start that makes Hawks fans think about beating traffic.

Q1 8:40. Delonte with a steal and a fast break dunk (with a man on him!) Looks like playground basketball for the Cavs so far.

Today on, Gregg Doyle opined that the Cavaliers couldn't win the championship due to their lousy frontcourt. The entire article can be summed up greatly by SamVox: "Once someone argues that LeBron has a bad supporting cast, I tune them out. It means they haven't watched the Cavs much this year." Exactly. So there's no "Scottie Pippen" or "Horace Grant." Anyone who has watched the Cavaliers with any regularity knows how freaking good the supporting cast is for LeBron this year. Anyone who says it's a one man team is totally ignorant. Anyway we've seen stats this year that shows the Cavs struggled mostly in the games Z missed.

Q1 6:07. The Czar chart shows that the key is to "Get ball out of LeBron's hands." That's just not enough. It has to be accompanied greatly by "Hope the rest of the team can't shoot worth a damn," because that's the only chance the Hawks (or maybe anyone) has. And "Don't look ahead." I don't think that's going to be the Cavs problem.

Q1 5:27. LeBron loses the ball out of bounds...2 seconds to shoot....and they can't convert on the inbounds alley oop. They're trying to hammer nails into the coffin in the first quarter. Blocks, steals, and dunks. But the Hawks are hanging tight.

By the way I'm not sure what would have gotten Delonte the idea that a tattoo on his neck would help him look better.

Q1 3:34. Josh Smith has 10 of the first 16 by the Hawks. Can they keep this up? And what did I miss that Sacha is wearing a face mask? I've said for years he should wear one all the time, but apparently female fans disagree. Uh oh. Z walking (gingerly) to the locker room.

Q1 2:30. LeBron gets doubled up high. Not what we've seen a lot. But it turns into a wide open missed three by Joe Smith.

Q1 1:35. Sacha with a no look pass turnover. Next time, look, my man. Turns out he has a broken nose that I missed at some point. You catch a lot more of the game watching at home alone than you do at a noisy bar full of Blackhawks fans.

End of Q1. Cavs down by seven. Shots aren't falling for the Cavs, after a hot start the game got a little sloppy. "In every Hawks playoff game, the team with the lead at the end of the first quarter has gone on to win." You know what else? The team with Joe Smith has gone on to win, also. Something's gotta give.

Miller Lite has a can with a "taste protector lid." I didn't know people found the "metal can taste" of a beer offensive. I sure don't. Time to crack a Bud Light here.

BTW I'm with Bill Simmons. I hate in-game interviews with coaches and managers. Totally unnatural. What executive thought fans would like this?

Q2 11:23. Wally Szerbiak dives and saves a loose ball with a quick timeout. And gets a ton of high fives for it. After the timeout, Delonte West with a three at the shot clock buzzer. He can get hot and the Hawks need to watch him. Yes, there are other Cavaliers besides LeBron James.

Q2 10:20. The Hawks are outscoring the Cavs by far at the line. A big difference so far. Delonte hits a jumper for points 7 and 8. Like I said...

Q2 9:22. LeBron just came back from the locker room. Maybe they had a big southern-cooked pregame meal?

Q2 7:20. Wally with the pump fake, drive, and DUNK! How about that. Cavs were +9 with LeBron on the bench.

Q2 6:38. Flip Murray. Nice drive and score on LeBron. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Flip. Although don't miss him thanks to Mo!

Q2 6:25. LeBron splits his first free throws of the game. That's a key to the game, right there.

Q2 5:00. Wally gets T'd up and Mike Fratello thinks the Hawks crowd is waking up. Cavs up 29-28 right now.

Q2 4;37. Kevin Martin had the second most FTA per game in the NBA this year??

Q2 3:37. LeBron took four steps, then missed a layup. Hey I call 'em like I see em. Great interior pass from Varajao to Z for the dunk. Cavs up 33-32. Next time down a beautiful inside pass from Mo to LeBron for a great easy score!

Q2 1:55. A personal pet peeve. Czar: LeBron is "an historian" of the game. Sorry, I prefer "a historian."

Q2 1:00. Seven-foot-three Z hits a three! I love when he does that. Love Z.

Q2 0:00. A furious burst at the end, missed shots, a turnover, LeBron gets it back and makes a great move, gets the ball to Z who gets fouled. And a technical foul too. Wally missed the tech, and the Cavs go into the locker room with a 2 point lead, 40-38. LeBron maintains that the Cavs are playing "good basketball"--not great, and he'll take the two point lead on the road.

Halftime--skipped it. The best part of DVRing a game.

3Q 11:16. LeBron hits a jumper that doesn't even touch the net, it seems. He has 14 on 11 shots. And that's a good thing.

3Q 9:43. LeBron has been jawing a bit with a fan. That worked really well for the Hawks in Game 3.

3Q Zzzzzzzz....Okay, Mo hits a three, there's 7:17 left, and it's 48-38. Hawks haven't made a shot yet in the third quarter...until Flip breaks that streak.

3Q 6:26. Z gets one of his endearing 1-4, 3 rebound possessions. Infuriating for many fans, but not me.

3Q 4:27. The Hawks have put together a nice little run and have cut the deficit to two. Hanging around way too long. I was getting used to these double digit leads.

So Miller Lite has a "taste protector cap" that "locks out air." That is so revolutionary. I was tired of air getting into my bottles and all the beer evaporating out of the seal.

3Q 3:55. Great steal and drive by Delonte. Got fouled and that negated a spectacular 11 foot high block by Josh Smith.

3Q 1:59. LeBron takes a hard head foul that knocks his headband off. When he loses his headband I feel better about my hairline. I have a few years on LeBron and think his hairline will pass mine sometime soon.

3Q 1:15. Wally hits a three and the Hawks take a TO. During which they go to the replay to make sure it's not a 2, which was called on the floor. The camera angle seems to be pretty damn conclusive, but the refs hold it at a 2. They zoom in a bit, and Mike Fratello complements the "amazing technology." There is amazing technology in the world, Mike, but video cameras are not it. Tennis ball appeals--maybe.

3Q 0:00. Cavaliers are 10-for-21 from the line. That's a dangerous stat that has kept this game closer than it could be. Cavs up 62-57. LeBron with a three with 5 seconds left, then Flip with a drive at the buzzer.

4Q 11:28. Josh Smith gets the ball downcourt and scores as LeBron had fallen at the other end. Cavs immediately turn it over on the shot clock violation. Mike Brown needs to get Mo back in.

4Q 9:28. Mo Williams has had a couple looks at threes in the last two possessions, but neither have fallen. 64-62 Cavs.

4Q 7:55. Delonte West is having a nice little game. Drives, layups, and dunks. Picking up for Mo Williams who's a little off today. (Ouch, I wrote "layoffs" by accident there at first.) My phone just buzzed from a text message but I just can't look. Last time I didn't watch a game live and DVR'd it at home, I had a dozen text messages about how the Indians had scored 22 runs while I was on the golf course!

4Q 6:01. This fourth quarter is about as scintellating as the third. LeBron just woke it up, breaking a couple minute scoring drought with a 3-pointer, but still, 69-62 Cavs halfway through the fourth quarter. Four minutes since the Hawks have scored a point.

4Q 5:51. Mo Williams picks up his fifth foul and has to sit down. He is off today.

4Q 3:40. The Hawks just got three wide open three point attempts and missed them all. Delonte finally scooped up a rebound and led the Cavs right into a shot clock violation. 73-66.

4Q 2:42. Mo Williams in the corner with a huge 3! (Gotta admit, I saw @Szczepanik and @Bo_Matthews tweet about this by accident earlier!)

Heineken makes good ads. Or maybe any ad with Biz Markie laying down the tracks is good. No way to tell. I'm reasonably certain "Stand" by R.E.M. and "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie are the only two cassette singles I ever bought. I just dated myself. No, not in that way, sicko.

4Q 1:00 to go and the Cavaliers are on a fantastic 1-minute possession saved by offensive boards by Anderson Varajao and Zydrunas Ilguaskas. 79-74 and the next Cavs basket coulod be a dagger!

4Q 0:52.1. Mo Williams with a huge 3 and Mike Fratello indeed calls it the dagger! 82-74 Cavaliers!

4Q 0:34.7. Hawks in foul mode and there are chants of "M-V-P" from within the arena!

And that'll do it! The Hawks are a great team, but as said at the end, "they came across a team on a mission." All eight games in the playoffs this far have been won by the Cavaliers by double digits. An unbelievable run. Now a well deserved rest. Well, I guess "well-earned" is accurate! A nice round of applause for the Hawks from their fans.

Delonte had a great game, with 21 points on only 13 field goal attempts. Every night there is someone else to help LeBron. And that's what the national media doesn't always catch. Too easy to call the Cavaliers a one-man team.

Cavaliers win, 84-47. Celtics or Magic next.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Win 6. Game 2 vs. Hawks, easy as can be...

Game 2 vs. the Hawks, and win 43 at home this year in 45 44 (real) attempts. And what can you say about this one. A laugher with so many LeBron highlights it was just party time at the Q tonight.

Joe Johnson went down with "an ankle" in this game. Like Brian Windhorst basically put on twitter during the game, if he is out for some games, it's not even a fair contest.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another steroid user? This would be a surprise.

After all the bad news MLB has had the past few years where it comes to steroid use and the tainted records all over the record books, the past few months have been a cherry on the cake. Even after the collective baseball world came to grips with the fact that bigger-than-life stars like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds may have used performance enhancing drugs, there were still some stars that we always thought were pure naturals.

But lately they keep falling. First the revelation that A-Rod used steroids a few years ago. I actually tend to believe that he used them for a while, and then stopped. Call me naive perhaps. Now, today, it was announced that Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating the drug policy. He, however, denies that it was a steroid, saying it was prescribed. However, he is not appealing the suspension.

"Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me," Ramirez said. "Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now.

"I do want to say one other thing; I've taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons. I want to apologize to [Dodgers owner Frank] McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, [manager Joe] Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation."

If you had to name a handful of stars, especially given the testing environment now, that are most likely not juicing, despite their prodigious statistical records, many fans would have said, A-Rod, Manny, Albert Pujols, Ken Griffey Jr., etc. Manny in particular seems very unlikely to ever need anything in order to hit a ball 450 feet. I hope this was a mistake by the doctor, that Manny is getting blamed for.

One by one even these names are being sullied.

It's sad.

(And even me, as a die-hard Indians fan, can't just assume that many of our stars weren't doing the same thing, even though only Paul Byrd has been named. There's certainly no proof, but we had some big guys back in the day, like Albert Belle and Jim Thome, and I hope it was all the weight room, and not the needle.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So much for rust

Eight seconds. That’s how long it took the Cavaliers to get in game form after their nine-day sabbatical. (Thank you very much asinine NBA schedule makers.) LeBron James takes a handoff from Delonte West (or “Delonnie” as Dick Stockton calls him), flashes across the baseline for a dunk, and there goes any worries about rust.

To be fair, the team looked a bit out of it defensively early on. Atlanta started off hitting seven of nine field goals, many of those at or near the hoop. The Hawks shot 56% in the first half, but the Cavs were still up by 5 at the break. It was an unusual game in the sense that LeBron acted as more of a scorer than a distributor early; that was likely due to the Hawks choosing not to double cover him, as well as guys (namely Z, who had his worst game of post-season) just not hitting shots.

What’s great about this team is how unspectacular they can look and still control a game. The Cavs simply squeeze teams to death with their unsexy but effective boa constrictor defense, which I’m now convinced is the best in the league. Cleveland gets a few stops, creates a few turnovers (17 for the Hawks last night), and before you know they’re up by 16.

I still think Atlanta’s explosive enough offensively to take a game from us at their house. However, the energy the Hawks get from their home court, where they possess a 31-10 regular season record, may not be enough to bridge the overall gap in talent, depth and experience the Cavs possess. In other words, a 27-point Cavs victory at home may just translate to a six-point win on the road. We could be looking at a sweep, but I’ll play it conservative and stick with Cavs in 5.
The Tribe has gotten short shrift this season here at Cleveland Sports Torture. They are steadily becoming the third horse in this town behind the Browns, whose draft has been the subject of much hand-wringing among fans, and of course the surging Cavs, who unlike the Browns actually deserve all the praise and attention they’re receiving.

The Indians are the Fredo of the Cleveland sports triumvirate. They’re just…kind of inconsequential and sad. I feel like they should be managing some Mickey Mouse nightclub in Boca Raton at this point. The disturbing thing is there is not one aspect of the team you can point to and say, “They just need to fix that and they’ll be in contention.” No…there are nights when the starting pitching falters, other nights when they strand a boatload of men in scoring position. The bullpen is once again utterly atrocious, giving up 7 runs against Toronto yesterday afternoon.

Mark Shapiro signs a legit closer in Kerry Wood, a good move, but the rest of the ‘pen is unable to even get to him. Oh, the irony. The cruel, cruel irony. They’re also dealing with Pronk’s creaky shoulder. The big man recently visted MLB’s very own Dr. Doom, orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, to have that $57 million shoulder looked at. Never a good sign.

The Tribe is already near the bottom of the league in attendance. Continued ineptitude likely means you’ll see more fans at Browns training camp than at Progressive Field come July. The franchise almost has an air of complacency, from Larry Dolan on down. They seem content to contend once every couple years, with hopes of building the farm system to supplant the players they inevitably lose to big-money teams. Put simply, I’m getting very bored with this club’s seemingly laissez-faire attitude. Judging by the half-empty stadium most nights, I am not alone.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Round Two arrives...finally....

After only a week+ rest, the Cleveland Cavaliers finally return to action Tuesday night at the Q versus the Atlanta Hawks.

Not much to say about this series, in one humble fan's opinion, this shouldn't be much of a series. And that fan is the ugly white guy who sits next to Magic Johnson in the ESPN studios. After game 7 of the Heat-Hawks series, Tim Legler Jon Barry (I guess) ripped the Hawks for the "worst series of all time", especially after the spectacular Bulls-Celtics first round series, which many called the best of all times. (That one went to overtime in 5 games, while EACH of the seven games in the Hawks-Heat was won by more than 10 points.)

Basically Barry said, "congratulations Hawks, it took you seven games to beat a one man team, now go to Cleveland, play your four games, and go home for the summer."

I hope it's that easy. The Cavaliers are obviously playing near the top of their game all year. As has been talked about ad naseum, the Cavs' team unity is second to none, and showed up again at the very nice ceremony at St. Vincent-St. Mary for LeBron's first MVP award. The whole team got up on stage, LeBron gave them a (kinda small) gift and definitely gave them a ton of credit. He didn't use the line he should have used, though. "I'd much rather be MVP of the NBA Finals this year. Or have Z be the MVP, or Mo, or Delonte, or Andy....."

The Hawks did win one of the four games versus Cleveland this year, but of course, not in Cleveland. Even with that one regular season win, I can't see this going more than 5 games, but my money is on another sweep. The Cavaliers have the intensity not to look past any games.

We'll see. This will be a nice test.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Your 2008-2009 NBA MVP

More later.

Friday, May 1, 2009

According to the Celtics...

Here's an item I came across from Besides the Point: The blog by Patrick McManamon
I thought is was pretty funny, yet true. It should be an interesting game 7 tomorrow night. I wish someone would just level Rondo.

By the way if any of the Cavs series end up like this series has gone I might have a heart attack. I can handle 1 overtime game in the playoffs but not 4 (so far).

Here's the post from Besides the Point courtesy of Waiting for Next Year.

"According to the Celtics …

Celtics Cavaliers Basketball

"This is disrespectful.


"(This) is being a good teammate.


"This is not a cheap shot.


"This is a good play.