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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Paul is the real deal

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavaliers forward LeBron James called him the "best point guard in the Western Conference" after Saturday's 86-76 loss to the Hornets.

He was referring to New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, who had an off shooting night on Saturday but still dominated the game. He finished with 20 points, nine assists, seven steals and six rebounds. He shot just 6 of 18 from the field.

Paul played at then Gund Arena in 2003 when he was leaving high school. He played in the McDonald's High School All-Star Game in Cleveland. He was overlooked in the game because the media paid so much attention to James.

But you could tell then he was going to be a star. It didn't take long to establish himself in the NBA after his college career at Wake Forest.

He's so fast dribbling the ball, often times outrunning players who are just running next to him. He leads the league in steals and is in the top five in assists.

Steve Nash and Deron Williams might get more ink in the West, but he's in their class.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hughes' turnaround?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

What has gotten into Larry Hughes? He has put two good games together since being moved to point guard. He was very good on Thursday in Dallas with 17 points, a season-high nine rebounds and three assists. He was 6 of 15 from the field, which included two strong drives to the basket.

In his two games at point guard, he's averaged 10.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals. He's shooting 36.4 percent from the field (8 of 22).

Maybe this is what the doctor ordered for Hughes, who was stuck in perhaps the worst slump of his career. Coach Mike Brown said he was being moved to point guard whether he likes is or not. It was what's best for the team.

It might be what turns his season (career?) around. We'll have to see how it turns out. But for now, it's worked.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Z's night

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

With eight rebounds on Tuesday, center Zydrunas Ilgauskas moved into second place on the Cavs' all-time list with 4,673. He moved past John "Hot Rod" Williams, who had 4,669.

He trails only Brad Daughterty, who had 5,227 in his career.

I couldn't help but think back to Williams, who was drafted in 1985, but forced to sit out a season for point shaving at LSU. His first year in the NBA was in '86. He became a free agent in the late '80s (perhaps '88), and signed a lucrative offer sheet with the Miami Heat (the Cavs' opponent on Tuesday).

The offer sheet was worth about $24 million over four years. The first year of the deal was worth more than Bulls star Michael Jordan was earning at the time.

The great quote that came out of it was when Hot Rod was tracked down by a reporter, he replied, "I'm a Heat."

Of course, he never played for Miami. The Cavs matched the offer for the forward/center, which threw the team's salary cap totally out of wack for quite some time.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

LBJ hits the road

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavaliers forward LeBron James left the building Sunday night without talking to the media. That might have been the first time since he was drafted in 2003 that he failed to stand up and tell the media what went wrong.

Of course, what could he say that he hasn't already said many times before. This team isn't very good right now, as their 12-16 record attests. It doesn't stop anybody on a regular basis, is lacking in the talent department and needs some more scorers.

Where this is all headed is unknown. Right now, however, it doesn't look like a playoff team. Things might change, but maybe Charles Barkley had it right after all. He predicted they wouldn't make the playoffs before the season started. He could be right.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Huge win for Cavs

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers have won four in a row and five of the last six games against the the Los Angeles Lakers. They have won four in a row at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Lakers didn't score in the last 4 minutes of the game. It was an outstanding display of defense by the Cavs. All-Star Kobe Bryant had 21 points against the Cavs, but only two points in the fourth quarter.

The Cavs have committed just 35 turnovers in the last three games, average of 11.7. Their season average is 15.4.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Never before seen aggression

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

I've covered the NBA for 13 years now. I've never witnessed the cold war that's going on in New York between the Knicks and the media.

Reading the New York Daily News today was an experience. It featured a full-page poster: "Fire Isiah." This is all-out war.

A fan who was tossed at the Madison Square Garden became front-page news in New York. He had the audacity to hold up a "Fire Isiah" sign, and was sent packing. The fan was interviewed and said he'd outlast Coach Isiah Thomas this season. He was probably right.

Thomas was asked the other day whether he questions about his job security should be asked. He said give things a couple weeks. Headlines the next day: "Isiah gives it two weeks."

There's no question he'll be whacked at some point - and rightfully so. The way he put this team together is an absolute joke. But what's going on right now in the Big Apple makes for great theater, and many people around the league are getting a lot of laughs from it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Larry slumping - again?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

One jokester suggested that the Cavaliers should have traded guard Larry Hughes right after his 36-point game last week.

He's back in another shooting slump. Those who follow the Cavs realize that's not shocking. In his last three games, he's shooting 22 percent from the field (8 of 36).

In the double-overtime win over Milwaukee on Monday, Coach Mike Brown did something that took some courage: He sat Hughes in the later stages of the game. He played Devin Brown, who responded with some rugged play and good production.

I like everything about Devin's game until he shoots the ball. He's not a strong shooter, but he does everything else pretty well. I want to see more of him, and Coach Brown said he'll play in the next game.

This team has too many guards right now. GM Danny Ferry needs to thin out the roster a bit with a trade.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Travel woes

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

People constantly say, "You have a great job." The thing is, it's not always glamorous by any means.

How about when I don't get back to the hotel until 12:30 a.m., and I have a wake-up call at 4:30 a.m.? That's not exactly glamorous. That's called bleary-eyed. When I don't get my eight hours of sleep, I'm a bear. When I don't get my coffee in the morning, I'm a bear.

While flying home from Newark, N.J., on Saturday, I overslept. I was just getting out of the shower when the phone rang and my ride was already in the lobby waiting to leave for the airport. Not a good call to take first thing in the morning.

We finally made it to the airport, but I was one of the last people on the plane. All of the overhead room was long gone, so there was no room for my suitcase. That had to be checked.

While out on the tarmac, the pilot said about the worst thing that could be said: "We're 18th in line. It will only be a 'few' minutes."

We finally arrived in Cleveland, albeit about 20 minutes late. It certainly could have been worse, especially when we got to the airport and the person checking IDs stared at mine for about 5 minutes, constantly looking at my driver's license and my face to make sure it was me. It slowed down the process several minutes.

This was just a slice of my "exciting" life.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Two peas in a pod

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan/Dec. 14, 2007

Whenever I'm around Cavaliers forward/center Anderson Varejao, I'm immediately reminded of Manny Ramirez.

Both are happy-go-lucky. Both are Hispanic in nature. Both let things roll off them easily.

Of course, Ramirez, an outfielder for the world champion Boston Red Sox and formerly with the Indians, was far better at his sport than Varejao. I once conducted a 5-minute interview with Ramirez, with him never uttering a word. He shrugged, shook his head and nodded. There was one grunt in there for good measure.

Varejao is far more engaging, even though on Ramirez's recent appearance on Jay Leno, he cracked jokes, smiled and talked at length about his father's restoration project on an old car.

All these years, Manny was just being Manny. He didn't speak to the media for years at a time.

But Varejao has never to my knowledge turned down media requests. He talked freely, even when his English was difficult to understand.

Two peas in a pod

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Look out East?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan/Dec. 11, 2007

The Cavaliers' heart and soul has returned. Forward LeBron James returned to action after a 5-game absence and made a huge impact immediately. He also asked Coach Mike Brown to come off the bench so that he could come in and game at the same time as Anderson Varejao.

That way, he figured, the fans wouldn't boo Varejao. There's no question this kid is not only very good, but he's crafty. When James, Varejao and Larry Hughes came into the game at the same time, with 5:59 left in the first quarter, there were mostly cheers and only a couple of boos.

Coach Mike Brown is toying with the idea of bringing Hughes off the bench, a la Manu Ginobili and Jerry Stackhouse. Hughes isn't quite on par with those players, but he has been the last two games - 58 points.

Hughes won't always play like this, but for now, he's been sensational. Add Boobie Gibson to this mix, and the Cavs' core is almost intact. Like James said in the post-game, anyone who dismisses this team better have their head examined. The Cavs are primed to make a run at tne Central Division title.

Detroit sure looks solid right now, but don't overlook the Cavs.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Shannon Brown's plight

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Are the Cavaliers about to dump Shannon Brown to the curb?

He's been in the starting lineup for three games. His numbers aren't terrible and has averaged 16 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He’s shooting 47 percent from the field in the three starts.

Every time he makes a good play, he follows it with a bad one. The Cavs obviously liked something about him when they drafted him No. 25 in the 2006 draft. Maybe they should have drafted UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar instead.

I still don't understand why they didn't pick up the third-year option on Brown's contract. To me, it just doesn't make sense. If they are trying to trade him, wouldn't it be easier to trade him if they had picked up his contract?

Maybe some day someone will explain it to me. All I see on the court is an error-prone player who can score points in bunches.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Almost unwatchable

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

These Cavs are becoming harder to watch by the game. Viewers are probably tuning in like they always do, realizing that LeBron James isn't playing, and then switching to Law & Order. By the time they check back during a commercial break, the Cavs are already behind by 20.

Help is on the way. Forward/center Anderson Varejao, whose offer sheet was matched on Wednesday, is just days away from joining the team. Guard Larry Hughes says he's going to practice on Friday and hopes to play sometime next week. James, still suffering from that sprained left index finger, could return to action at any time.

Obviously, many thought he'd be back by now. The Cavs are taking a cautious approach to the most famous index finger in Cleveland.

Do the Cavs need him? Desperately. Some of the units Coach Mike Brown is putting on the floor is not NBA caliber. They are also struggling on offense and defense for a reason. They are down to their 10th and 11th men.

They've lost 5 in a row and it's time to put their foot down and stop the nasty slide.

Shannon being shopped?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Could Shannon Brown's days be numbered in Cleveland? That seems to be the prevailing notion. The Cavs will soon need a roster spot, and either Brown or Demetris Nichols will have to go.

Brown's career has been disappointing. He came in with such big promise, and will probably leave with little fanfare. If another team, preferably one on the West Coast, needs a scorer, perhaps they'll call. There's no question he can put the ball in the basket.

He's athletic and very strong. But he's not one to create for others. His ballhandling is still a bit suspect.

Have the Cavs done everything in their power to develop Brown's game? That's debatable. He reminds me a bit of former Cavs guard DaJuan Wagner, who is now out of the NBA. He was very athletic and could score, as well, but lacked the necessary ingredients to be a top-notch player in this league. Many hope the same fate is not awaiting Brown.

The Cavs would love to get a first-round pick for Brown, but that might be wishful thinking. A second-rounder might be the best they'll be able to receive. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Nets come to town

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers will face the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena. That will mark their first meeting since the Eastern Conference semifinals last season when the Cavs upended the Nets, four games to two.

It’s unsure whether Cavs forward LeBron James will play. He’s missed the previous two games with a sprained left index finger. The Nets, obviously, hope that he doesn’t.

Without him, the Cavs are averaging 76 points in the two games. They are having major problems making baskets. They recorded season lows in points (70) and field-goal percentage (32.9 percent) in Sunday’s loss to Boston.

The Cavs have lost three in a row for the first time this season.