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

Friday, February 29, 2008

How's Ben doing?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Many have wondered how Ben Wallace has done in the first four games of his Cavs' career. He's averaging 8.3 points and 9.0 rebounds and is shooting 60.9 percent from the field.

He's not the same player he once was in Detroit. He never will be. He's 33 years old. The Cavs have to keep an eye on his minutes. But he can still be an effective player. Will he be a defensive stopper? Probably not. But the Cavs' interior defense is top notch.

With Wallace, Joe Smith, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao, that group can match up with about any front line in basketball. This team is geared for the playoffs. It's hard to judge the trade until the postseason is over.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not a day to remember

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

There are some people - probably some at my own paper - who think my day starts at 7:30 p.m. when the basketball game tips off.

Let me tell you something, you're dead wrong.

Let's take a look at my day on Wednesday:

It started with 5:40 a.m. wake-up call. After getting gas for the rental car, it was off to the airport for my 8:30 p.m. flight.

Unfortunately, because of the weather conditions in Cleveland, my Continental jet was a hour late coming from Ohio. That meant I'd miss my connection in Cleveland. So, I had to find another way to Boston.

I flew to Newark and then took another jet to Boston. I never checked into my hotel after getting in close to 4 p.m. I also hadn't eaten all day, so I ate when I got to Logan Airport. I also changed clothes in the bathroom at the Delta Crown room.

I took a cab to TD Banknorth Garden, and chatted with Joe Tait before the game. It was a long, hard day. Then the Cavs lost to the Celtics, as LeBron James hurt his ankle and scored his 10,000th point. Also, Coach Mike Brown was ejected for the first time in his career.

I finally made it to the Cambridge Marriott after midnight. The overstuffed bed never felt better.

Familiar surroundings

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Perhaps more than any team in the league, the Cavs need practice time. They need to spend time together on the court. They need to know each others' idiosyncracies. They need to find out where they like the ball, when they like the pass delivered and when to get out of the way.

They are 1-1 since the trade, and really should have beaten the Bucks on Tuesday. That's because the their next opponent, Boston, has the best record in the NBA. That's going to be a tough game whether center Zydrunas Ilgauskas plays or not.

Ilgauskas missed his first game of the season on Tuesday with an upper-respiratory infection. He'll be needed on Wednesday, but is listed as questionable.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

This is going to be fun

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Once the Cavs' injured players return, not only will they have a bloated roster, they are going to be an Eastern Conference power.

I've finally drank the Kool-Aid. This is going to be an accomplished team, one that should get back to the NBA Finals. They'll likely have to face either Boston or Detroit in the second round of the playoffs.

I think they're a better team than Boston. The Pistons still bother me. I worry about defensive coverage of Detroit's backcourt. But, remember, the Cavs still have No. 23 on their roster. He's the equalizer, and someone the Pistons have been unable to deal with over the years.

One thing is for sure, the Pistons games will be much more interesting with Ben Wallace on the roster. Can you imagine the trash talking going on between the two teams? It's going to be fun.

Jump aboard. It's going to be some ride.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rewarding win

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Their 90-89 victory over Washington was one of the most rewarding victories of the season.

The four newcomers sat in a luxury box and watched the game. They spoke at halftime of the Wizards' game and appear to be very excited about what's to come.

Forward/center Ben Wallace has much to prove after the three-team, 11-player deal. Many around the league think he's washed up. One national columnist said he's ready for the glue factory. Now, that's a bit extreme. He might not be the player he was in Detroit.

With the Pistons, he was in a perfect system. He had three great players around him and was able to guard the basket, a trait he accomplished with much success. Whether he'll be able to thrive next to Zydrunas Ilgauskas is yet to be determined, but it going to be fun to watch.

It's impossible to know whether the trade to push the Cavs back to the NBA Finals, but don't count them out.

Blockbuster deal

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

It was an exciting day for the Cavaliers on Thursday. During the Indiana game on Wednesday, I was able to confirm the Mike Miller talks had broken down. He would have been a nice addition to the Cavs.

But after the game on Wednesday, there were some rumblings about a blockbuster. I didn't know the particulars, but there was a buzz.

A colleague of mine and myself sat in the Indianapolis airport on Thursday morning discussing possible deals. I was convinced the Cavs were going to do something. Now, I can't tell you I thought they'd trade six players and bring back Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West.

It was a bold move. These guys are going after it - this year. I do have a few reservations about the trade:
1. Wallace hasn't played at a high level this year, but maybe the trade will inspire him.
2. His free-throw shooting is so bad, it's hard to play him in the fourth quarter of close games.
3. Wally can't guard me. But he can shoot the lights out.
4. West is a good basketball player, but he's not a great point guard.
5. This trade has huge luxury-tax implications down the road.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rumors flying

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs coach Mike Brown went on and on and on after the game about LeBron James being the MVP. It's hard to argue with him after James recorded a triple-double on back-to-back nights.

Frankly, he's the best player in the league. It would be great if Cavs GM Danny Ferry can find him some help by today's trade deadline. They are very active in trying to get something done.

Unfortunately, Mike Miller won't be coming to the Cavs. Memphis is reportedly hanging onto him and isn't expected to make any big deals.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rumors hot and heavy

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Do the Cavs have what it takes to pry loose Mike Miller from the Memphis Grizzlies? Imagine what they'd look like if they could insert Miller into their starting lineup at shooting guard? It would be a huge upgrade.

Also, Kyle Lowry's name is also floating around. He's a tough little point guard who can defend and run an offense. He just doesn't shoot very well.

The Grizzlies want expiring contracts and the Cavs would send three to them in this deal - Ira Newble, Shannon Brown and Dwayne Jones. The Cavs would also have to send a first-round pick to Memphis, along with Donyell Marshall and Cedric Simmons.

The downside would be taking back Brian Cardinal. The second former Grizzlies president Brian Cardinal signed him to that lucrative deal a few years ago, he probably knew it was a mistake.

Let's see how this shakes out. The Cavs are definitely trying to make a deal.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All-Star break is upon us

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers were 31-22 at the All-Star break last year. They went on to win 50 games for the second consecutive season. It's possible they can win 50 games again, but not probable. They'd have to finish 21-9 in the second half.

Cavs forward LeBron James reminded everyone that the Cavs are a strong second-half team, but that might be too much.

The Cavs could have forward/center Anderson Varejao back soon. He's so important to the success of this team, especially on the defensive end.

Swingman Sasha Pavlovic, though, won't be heard from for some time. His sprained mid-foot was just taken out of a cast. He's looking at least two or three more weeks before he can start running.

The All-Star break couldn't come at a better time for center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who is still bothered by back spasms. He's been keeping things quiet, but he's been in a lot of discomfort.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fun night in Disney World

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Even a basketball sage like myself knew something was up when Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes scored 33 points in the second half of Monday's game. It was one off the team record set by LeBron James (34 in Toronto on Jan. 6).

The superlatives were fast and furious on Monday in Orlando:
X Hughes scored 23 points in the third quarter, one off the franchise mark.
X His 40-point outburst was his Cavs' high.
X It was only four points shy of his career high of 44 set on April 9, 2000, against Denver when he played for Golden State.
X He's averaged 19.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in his last seven games. He’s reached double figures in all seven of those games.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Frustration boiling over

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Players are getting quite frustrated by what's going on with the Cavaliers. Guard Damon Jones unleashed some unpleasantries toward his teammates in the third quarter. Some thought he was yelling at LeBron James, but Jones said it wasn't directed at anyone.

Injuries are starting to tear the heart out of what could be a banner season. Drew Gooden, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic missed Sunday's game. Then, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Damon Jones both left the game with injuries.

If you think Sunday's 30-point loss to Denver was bad, wait until Monday's game in Orlando. That could be worse.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Great ball movement

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers are 5-1 when they record 25 of more assists this season. Coach Mike Brown marveled at the ball movement by the Cavs on Friday in their 100-95 win over Atlanta.

That happens when Eric Snow plays the point. He missed all four of his field-goal attempts, but he had five assists and five steals.

The contest was fun to watch for a number of reasons. The Cavs played extremely hard, especially when they went "small." Ira Newble, who played center for much of the fourth quarter, was scrapping for every loose ball. He was joined by LeBron James, Devin Brown, Eric Snow and Damon Jones.

It's difficult to say how long Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao will be out of the lineup, but we might see more of that small lineup in the days to come.

I'd be surprised to see Daniel Gibson anytime before the All-Star break. He's walking quite gingerly on that strained hamstring.

Gooden's strained groin, though, is close. He could play against Denver on Sunday.

And, believe it or not, another player was knocked out by injury on Friday. Guard Larry Hughes stubbed his right big toe with 5:21 left and he didn't return. Coach Mike Brown said he could have gone back into the game if needed.

Hughes said afterward that he'll get treatment on the toe and might be able to play against the Nuggets.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Another game; another injury

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavaliers lost to the Houston Rockets on Thursday. Obviously, with Drew Gooden (strained groin) and Anderson Varejao (sprained ankle) sidelined with injuries, the Cavs couldn't compete on the boards. The Rockets outrebounded the Cavs, 55-35.

That was the story of the game. A subplot was second-year guard Daniel Gibson leaving the game with a pulled hamstring. Gibson's whole family was at the game. They had to watch him limp off the court.

That might be the last straw for the Cavs. They've remaining highly competitive with all the injuries they've had. But you just can't keep taking away quality players from the lineup and expect to win, regardless if LeBron James is playing or not.

The Hawks game tonight might not be real competitive if Gooden and Gibson are out. The Hawks will try to run them off the court.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ira's big night

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

I don't know what's a bigger story - Ira Newble's big night or the Heat close to trading Shaquille O'Neal to the Suns?

The Suns have gone out of their way to stay under the luxury tax and keep salaries in check. So now, they're going to add a $20 million player? It doesn't add up to me, but maybe the Suns know what they're doing.

He's still a very valuable player and a post presence. But he's nearing the end of his stellar career.

It would be huge for the Heat to get out from under Shaq's massive contract. I'll believe it when I see it.

Newble, on the other hand, is just taking off. He had 15 points on Tuesday against Boston, including a key dunk with 1:30 to play.

"I had a driving lane," Newble said. "Early in the year, I wouldn’t have dunked it. But I thought he was going to block it. It was a big play, though."

If Drew Gooden misses any time with his groin injury, you might see a lot of Newble in the next couple games.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Place to be

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavs recorded their 15th sellout of the season on Saturday. They are averaging 20,413 fans on the season.

They have sold out all but six games this season. Of course, much of it is because of LeBron James.

The Cavs have won 14 of their last 18 games overall. Since Dec. 25, the Cavs are 14-4, best among Eastern Conference teams.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Laughable moment (and game)

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

In a light moment in Thursday's game, Cavaliers forward Donyell Marshall was summoned to enter the game. He pulled off his warmup jacket and inadvertently yanked off his jersey as well. He stood there waiting to go into the game wearing only a blue undershirt.

The Cavs' bench howled in laughter, including LeBron James, who was sitting out of the game with a sprained ankle.

Later, when Marshall went to the foul line - for the first time this season - James yelled over to his friend. "Welcome back, Donyell," he said.

Cavs coach Mike Brown wasn't in such a jovial mood after the game. He probably wasn't thrilled with his team allowing 40 points in the first quarter, as the SuperSonics looked like they were playing the Washington Generals.

Still, the Cavs finished 2-1 on the West Coast trip, which is about as good as anyone can expect. If James misses many more games, the Cavs just aren't real competitive without him. They are 0-6 when he misses games this season.