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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Celtics waiting in wings

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

There's an outside chance LeBron James will play in Sunday's game in Boston. If not, things could get extremely ugly. The Celtics are still smarting about their overtime loss to the Cavs Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Coach Mike Brown said James could have played on Friday. He said he would have if it was a playoff game. However, since it was only November, they did the right thing and forced him to miss his first game of the season.

His absense was evident not only offensively, but also on defense. Forward Drew Gooden played well for the Cavs on Friday, as he had 15 points, 14 rebounds and five steals.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It can't be!

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

If LeBron James misses any considerable time with his sprained left index finger, it could be devastating for the Cavs. This team just can't generate any offense without its floor leader, as evidenced by their performance in the second half of Wednesday's 109-74 loss to Detroit.

The Cavs managed just 31 points in the second half - the Pistons scored 32 in the fourth quarter. Where are the Cavs going to find 31 points on their roster? The answer is nowhere. They don't have much firepower now on the bench. If Damon Jones or Devin Brown are moved into the starting lineup, there's not much there.

The Cavs bristle at such talk. The fact is, the bench is extremely weak. People were saying the Cavs were one injury away from oblivion. Obviously, James the player they could least afford to lose.

We'll find out what happens during James' doctor visit today (if the Cavs make any kind of announcement). Cavs fans are crossing their fingers.

Tough schedule? Who cares?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

A colleague of mine commented the other day about the strength of the Cavaliers’ schedule this week.
Games against Indiana on Sunday, Boston on Tuesday, Detroit Wednesday and Toronto on Friday. Then they get a return engagement in Boston on Sunday.
I didn’t think it mattered who the Cavs were playing this week. It made no difference because of the way Cavs forward LeBron James was playing. I’ve never seen James play any better. This might sound strange, but despite leading the league in scoring, he’s playing unselfish basketball.
When double teamed, he’s finding the open man. And, the Cavs’ shooters are making 3-point shots. As long as they continue to shoot at a high percentage, they’ll continue to win. The Celtics had the best defense in the NBA, yet the Cavs shot 48 percent from the field.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Huge game on horizon

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The biggest game of the season is almost upon us. The Cavaliers will host the high-flying Boston Celtics on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs have won four in a row over Boston at The Q.
The Celtics come into the game with the best record in the NBA at 11-1. They are the most accurate shooting team in the league, and have the best defense.
With their three All-Star players, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, it’s quite a load for any team. The Cavs are playing their best basketball of the season.
“Boston is a very good team right now,” Cavs forward LeBron James said. “It’s going to be a good test for us. It’s going to be a good test for them, too.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Offensive firepower

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers are starting to remind me of the Browns. You know, they put points up on the board, but just can’t stop anyone.
We’ve been writing about this for weeks. They are allowing more than 100 points a game and teams to shoot 46 percent from the field. Trust me, the first thing Coach Mike Brown looks at on the box score are those numbers. He was harping about their defense more than their 13 3-pointers.
The Cavs have been fun to watch, especially MVP candidate LeBron James.
If the Cavs don’t shore up their defense, they won’t be a major factor in the postseason. And, that’s exactly why I’m not looking for too much out of the Browns. Their defense is porous and they can’t stop the run.
But, like the Cavs, the Browns are fun to watch for the first time in years. Another thing I’ve observed is the Cavs are operating under the radar because of the Browns’ success.
The focus hasn’t shifted to them yet. And, it might not until the Browns are either eliminated from the playoffs or fall just short.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

LBJ at MVP level

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

I’ve seen more of LeBron James’ NBA games in person than all but two or three other media members on this earth. I’ve got to tell you, he’s playing out of his mind.
He might be playing the best basketball of his career, and that’s saying something. Even though Boston’s Kevin Garnett might be the sentimental favorite among the national media right now for the MVP award, James might be playing better.
James is leading the league in scoring. His 45-point effort against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday was a dazzling display.
When he’s making his 3-point shots like he did against the Wolves – he was 6 of 10 from behind the arc – he is almost impossible to defend.
Believe me, he’s been fun to watch. I could have worse jobs than to chronicle the exploits of the 22-year-old megastar. I’m not impressed easily, but he’s definitely on top of his game.
The rest of the Cavs are going along for the ride.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Wild, wacky night at Q

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

What a crazy night in the NBA. Four different players scored at least 40 points, led by Sacramento guard Kevin Martin's career-high 43. Seattle guard Damien Wilkins had 41 and Cavaliers forward LeBron James and New Orleans power forward David West each had 40.
That craziness was rampant in Quicken Loans Arena in the Cavs’ 99-94 win over the Utah Jazz.
On one play in the second half, James lost the ball while dribbling near the baseline. The ball was headed out of bounds. While flying in the air, he swatted the ball across court to a wide-open Damon Jones behind the 3-point arc. Of course, he made it.
It couldn’t have been any more dazzling than the block by Cavs forward Cedric Simmons in the first half. Jazz forward Carlos Boozer put up a baseline shot, which Simmons swatted out of bounds. It was a big-time play, and perhaps a glimpse of better times to come for the second-year forward.
It was also one of a season-high 12 blocks by the Cavs on the night.
Keeping with the theme of the night, perhaps the wackiest thing to happen occurred in the first half after a skit by Moondog, who was wearing a Jim Tressel sweater vest.
The problem was when in-game host Ahmaad Crump and Moondog left their O-H-I-O placard on the court. Official Bill Callahan stopped play and removed the placard from the court.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Defense lacking for Cavs

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

For a sportswriter, there might not be anything more boring to write about than defense. It’s just not a sexy topic. But for those of you that really understand basketball, defense is what usually separates the contenders from the pretenders in the postseason.
There are some uncharacteristic numbers associated with the Cavaliers right now. The 4-5 record heading into the Utah game on Friday? One can live with that. It hasn’t been an easy road for the Cavs in their first nine games, six of which have been on the road.
The numbers that jump out at you are the fact that the Cavs are allowing 103.7 points a game and 46.2 percent shooting. Those numbers are probably embarrassing to Coach Mike Brown.
If you don’t know Brown, he lives and breathes defense. He talks about it daily. They practice it by the hour. It’s what drives him. That’s why it’s got to be bugging him that teams are scoring on the Cavs at will.
In the last two games alone – both losses, by the way – the Cavs have allowed 122 and 117 points. That’s never a good thing.
They’ll eventually figure it out. Brown will make sure of it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Home cooking needed

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers sure looked like they were on the final leg of their West Coast road trip on Monday.
They were smoked by the Denver Nuggets, 122-100, at the Pepsi Center. Let’s face it, the Cavs just don’t match up well with the Nuggets, who have now beaten them in four consecutive games.
Since the 2003 draft, Carmelo Anthony has gotten the best of LeBron James seven times in the nine meetings between the two teams.
It wasn’t billed as a seven-game road trip, but Wednesday’s game will feel like it for the Cavs. They flew home after the game and arrived in Cleveland early Tuesday morning.
The Cavs will get back on the court on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena against the Orlando Magic. It will almost feel like another road game for the Cavs.
The only saving grace is that the Magic play at home on Tuesday and must fly to Cleveland after the game.
The Cavs finished a very respectable 3-3 on the road trip. In two of the losses, they were in the game until the fourth quarter. On Monday, no one seemed to have that pep in their step.

Z soars in win over Clips

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers blew the Los Angeles Clippers off the court in the fourth quarter in their 103-95 victory on Sunday at the Staples Center.
The Cavs outscored the Clippers, 31-20, in the fourth quarter. They trailed after three quarters, 75-72, before center Zydrunas Ilgauskas got hot in the late going.
The 7-foot-3, 260-pounder paced the Cavs with a season-high 25 points. He had just six rebounds – the first time this season he’s had fewer than 12 rebounds in a game.
He’s really played well this season. The worry is that he’ll wear down if he keeps playing major minutes like he did on Sunday (39).
Ilgauskas went into the game ranked fourth in the NBA in rebounds (14.3), just one notch behind Clippers center Chris Kaman.
Cleveland fans will remember how well Kaman played for Central Michigan at the Mid-American Conference tournament at Quicken Loans Arena his senior year. He’s since come into his own in the NBA.
The Cavs are now 4-3 overall, 3-2 on the West Coast trip. It ends tonight in Denver.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Devin sensational in win

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavaliers guard/forward Devin Brown probably doesn’t read The News-Herald.
He picked a great time to have his best game as a Cavs player – on the day I wrote about his poor shooting.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder was all over the floor on Friday in the Cavs’ 93-91 victory over the Kings at Arco Arena.
He shot 19.5 percent from the field in the preseason, and went into Friday’s game shooting 25 percent in the first give games of the regular season.
So, of course, I picked Friday to write about it. So, to show me up, Brown erupted for 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
The Cavs desperately need Brown - and a few others - to step up on the bench. That’s where the drop off has occurred thus far this season. And, in case you didn’t notice, forward Cedric Simmons made his Cavs’ debut on Friday.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

LBJ playing at high level

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

All-Star forward LeBron James is playing at an MVP level right now and because of it, the Cavs have been in every game on the current West Coast trip.
The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder had 32 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists, three steals and two blocks on Wednesday, as the Cavs dropped a 103-101 decision at Utah.
His 3-pointer with 6 seconds left knotted the score at 101. Jazz guard Deron Williams’ driving layup with 1.3 seconds left was the game-winner.
James’ display came on the heels of the Golden State game where he finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
In the first three games of the trip, James is averaging 27.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 10 assists, 3.0 blocks and 1.6 steals. He’s shooting 46.9 percent from the field (32 of 69), 45.5 percent from the 3-point line and 58.3 percent from the foul line (14 of 24).
The Cavs should be very competitive in each of the next two games – at Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Larry sidelined - again

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavaliers forward LeBron James came within a whisker of his 11th career triple-double in his team’s 108-104 victory over Golden State on Tuesday.
The All-Star had several chances to get the one assist he needed, but it wasn’t meant to be. He finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
The Cavs played without guard Larry Hughes, who missed the game with a left lower leg contusion. He banged knees with Suns guard Leandro Barbosa on Sunday in Phoenix and was forced to miss practice on Monday.
Don’t be surprised if he misses a few games. The left knee is quite painful.
It wasn’t like he was completely healthy heading into the Phoenix game. He hit the floor hard in the season opener against Dallas.
Hughes had gotten off to a dreadful start shooting the ball (27.3 percent from the field). Some thought it was only a matter of time before he was injured.
He was replaced in the starting lineup at shooting guard by Sasha Pavlovic. He was held to six points and shot 2 of 11 from the field, 0 of 4 from behind the arc.
Coach Mike Brown got very good minutes from reserve guards Devin Brown and Damon Jones in Tuesday’s game. Devin Brown was matched up against Warriors guard Baron Davis on the defensive end. Jones, who had 10 points and four assists, played a stellar floor game.
That’s the kind of efforts the Cavs have been searching for off the bench.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

What a wonderful opportunity it would have been to upset the Phoenix Suns on the first leg of the West Coast trip.
With Amare Stoudemire sidelined with a swollen knee, that could have been the opening the Cavs needed. But it wasn’t meant to be, as the Suns prevailed, 103-92, at U.S. Airways Center.
Despite the Cavs’ starting frontline having their way – LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden combined for 71 points – it wasn’t nearly enough.
Suns point guard Steve Nash was dominant once again. He must circle the two Cavs games every year on Phoenix’s calendar. Last year, he had 36 assists in the two games against the Cavs. On Sunday, he had 30 points, 22 in the second half, and 10 assists. He simply does whatever he wants against the Cavs, who have no one to defend him.
Cavs coach Mike Brown was asked on Saturday how he was going to combat Nash. He said he was going to say some extra prayers and that he didn’t know how to defend Nash.
The prayer-route didn’t work, and neither did anything the Cavs tried on Sunday. The Cavs dropped their ninth consecutive game in Phoenix. Next in line is the defenseless Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
They are 0-3 and allowed 133 points in a loss to Utah on Saturday.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Nuggets in the news

David S. Glasier
Today's stories by Cavaliers beat writer Bob Finnan yield three newsworthy nuggets.
In each of those nuggets, fans can find a reason to be concerned about the Cavs at the outset of the 2007-08 season.
Nugget 1 - "The Cavaliers decided not to pick up the third-year option on Shannon Brown's contract, making him an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2008. Brown's salary for next season would have been $1.1 million.''
Brown, the Cavs' first-round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft out of Michigan State, is coming off a lackluster rookie season. He was uninspiring this year in his second training camp and exhibition season. No, make that downright awful.
What's more, he was awful with the golden opportunity of swingman Sasha Pavlovic's holdout dropped in his lap. Brown did zilch with his chance to make hay while the sun shined. Now, Pavlovic is back and Brown is re-established at the far end of Coach Mike Brown's bench.
With this move, the Cavaliers are all but writing off a guy who, if he was living up to his potential, would be a steady contributor in his second NBA season.
On a team that currently has big-time issues with its depth players, this is a bad thing.
Nugget 2 - LeBron James says he "will try to put more emphasis on the offensive end'' in tonight's game against the Knicks at The Q.
Well, that would be a good idea.
In Wednesday's stinker of a home opener against Dallas, James played more like gone-and-gladly-forgotten Henry James than King James. There are 81 games yet to be played, but the franchise player needs to do more than score 10 points and take 11 shots for this franchise to succeed this season.
Nugget 3 - Cavs general manager Danny Ferry said his opposite number on the Celtics, Danny Ainge, "embarrassed all of us'' over the summer by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Boston roster.
How gracious of Ferry to acknowledge the fine work of an Eastern Conference competitor. Wouldn't it be nice if Ainge had cause to similarly praise Ferry for using the past offseason to land the jump shooter and proven point guard the Cavs so desperately need?