Archive for the ‘Cleveland Cavaliers’ Category

The Old to the New

June 26, 2009
Apparently the NBA held their annual draft last night. It’s hard to remember that when all the current talk revolves around a guy who had his draft day in the sun almost two decades ago. A lot of that has to do with the fact that this year’s draft was weak in talent. But mostly it is due to the fact that SHAQUILLE O’NEAL STILL MATTERS!!!!

How do I know that he still matters? Well, everyone is talking about him, that’s how. Even non-basketball fans are coming up to me to mention that Shaq got traded. ESPN interrupted their draft coverage last night to run a live interview with the big man, who didn’t let us down by somehow interjecting shout-outs to both Michael Jackson and Stanley Roberts in his answers.

But is Shaq the answer for Cleveland? Like most moves made by GM Danny Ferry, it is a move in the right direction but it isn’t enough. It seems Ferry has the right idea but just doesn’t take it far enough. Look no further than the Mo Williams deal. He knows that LeBron needs help to win a title, but he just doesn’t get him enough help. Now this is in no way stating that the trade for O’Neal is a bad move – they got an All-NBA big man (which is a necessity to win a title) for next to nothing. And the talk of Shaq coming off the bench for Cleveland is just ridiculous – there are still only a handful of big men that would justifiably take a starting spot away from Shaq, and with all due respect, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is not one of them. So O’Neal is a definite upgrade in talent for the Cavs.

The only way that this becomes a bad move for Cleveland is if they think that acquiring O’Neal is enough to put them over the top. Yes, Shaq had a career resurgence of sorts last year in Phoenix, but a large part of that was due to the Suns training staff (considered the best in the business) coming up with a program that kept the big man healthy. Last I checked, the Suns Head Athletic Trainer Aaron Nelson and his staff wasn’t included in the trade, so will Shaq Fu be able to play a full season and a long playoffs for the Cavs? O’Neal also doesn’t address the need for an athletic big man that can run the floor and guard Dwight Howard over the course of a seven game playoff series. Just ask Steve Nash – Shaq transforms your team into a plodding, half court oriented unit.

Despite all this, Shaq does improve the Cavs and will help take some of the load (both on and off the court) off of LeBron’s muscular shoulders. But this move doesn’t make them a better team than Orlando (especially now that they have added Vince Carter) or Boston with a healthy Kevin Garnett. Trading for Shaq could become the new Mistake by the Lake if Ferry is fooled into thinking that Diesel makes them a championship contender. While Shaq is an answer, he’s not THE answer.


Down With The King?

May 27, 2009

We should have seen this coming, all the warning signs were there. But winning can cover up a lot of a team’s flaws. And Cleveland has done a lot of winning – 66-16 in the regular season, undefeated through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Cavs looked like a lock to at least come out as the champions of the East, if not the champions of the “world”.

So, what happened on the way to The King’s coronation? The true Cavs team has showed up, that’s what. It is true that this the best team that LeBron James has had since he can upon the scene, but that is more of a backhanded compliment than anything. The thought of Mo Williams as a solid second “star” on the team is laughable. Williams is apparently more concerned about listening to the sound of his own voice than the sound of the swish of the net after taking a shot. (As an angry aside, Williams and J.R. Smith need to SHUT THEIR MOUTHS. If your name is not LeBron, Kobe, Dwight, Chauncey or Carmelo, you have no business predicting victories. Since when do role players get to make such bold statements?).

So the fact that Cleveland is down 3-1 shouldn’t come as a very big surprise. Orlando simply has more talent than the Cavs do. Dwight Howard is one of the best players in the League, Rashard Lewis is a two-time all-star still in his prime and Hedo Turkoglu could be the least-decorated best player in the League. What does LeBron have on his side? A borderline all-star in Williams (he only made it this season because a bunch of players got boo-boos and skipped the game) who is shooting under 40% these playoffs. The rest of the roster is dotted with washed up stars and role players. Not a recipe for a championship team. Or for keeping LeBron from jumping zip codes in 2010.

In fact, if Cleveland did win the title this season it would be the least talented team to take home the crown since Hakeem’s 1995 Houston Rockets squad. Every other championship team since that time has had at least two stars to carry the load. Michael & Scottie. Tim & David. Tim & Tony & Manu. Shaq & Kobe. Shaq & Wade. Every team left in these playoffs, outside of Cleveland, has at least a couple of star players in place to diversify their attack. Cleveland has Mo Williams. And Delonte West. And Anderson Varejao. And it became quite apparent at the end of Game 4 that LeBron realizes that he has to try to do it all on his own. But it is a futile task, even for a talent like James – look no further than his turnovers and missed shots in overtime. So while James is a singular talent, that is exactly the problem – he’s singular – he’s only one man(child).

And with each Cleveland (and L.A.) loss, a little piece of David Stern dies.

Donkey Games

May 16, 2009

Now is not the time to be messing about. If you want to take games off, do it in November or December, not in May and June when the outcomes really matter. Yet the Lakers of Los Angeles think it is ok to only show up every other game, and wave off lax performances with a shrug and a “we’ll get ’em next game”. Sorry, in the playoffs, THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

The Houston-Lakers series should have been over games ago, after Yao went down with his injury. Instead Houston has won two games since then – with a lineup that wouldn’t have even come close to making the playoffs, even if they played in the (L)Eastern Conference. Yes, somehow the Lakers are allowing the Rockets to fulfill the prophecy of another bunch of Houston’s finest.

The Lakers 40-point blowout win in Game 5 shows that they think that they can just turn it on and off whenever they like. And against a decimated Houston team they probably can get away with it and win Game 7 on their home court. But if they think that they can show up only when the spirit moves them in the next round against Denver, they are in for a rude awakening.
Denver has a legit leader and champion running their team, and a scoring machine star holding it down on the wing. Throw in some athletic bigs and energy guys off the bench, and the Lakers will have their hands full. That is assuming they can even get past Houston tomorrow.

Now Cleveland, on the other hand, know what time it is. They are going about their business like it is just that – business, not fun and games. Get in and out as quick as possible then chill at home and wait for their next victim. As well as Houston is playing, there is no way the Cavs would be letting them hang around for seven games. Despite the Lakers having more talent than LeBron’s squad, and having a “genius” coach, Cleveland has to be considered the heavy favourite to grab the title this year. And if the Lakers don’t get their act together in time for Game 7 on Sunday, all this “we’ll get ’em next game” talk will be fruitless – eventually there is no next game.