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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sasha sent to Siberia

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Sasha Pavlovic certainly can't say he didn't get a chance. Coach Mike Brown pulled the plug on having Sasha in the starting lineup on Sunday.

When I got to the game, I had the feeling something was up. Brown was scurrying around. He met with GM Danny Ferry in his office before meeting with the Cleveland media.

I was thinking he would alter his starting lineup a bit. Then I heard Sasha was out. Not only was he out of the starting lineup, he was out of the rotation. He never budged from his seat at the end of the bench. He didn't join the team in huddles.

He just wasn't getting the job done. His shooting was off all season. His defense was spotty at best. I'm not sure Devin Brown will be more productive, but he'll certainly be an upgrade on defense.

One thing about Devin, he'll always give effort on the court. He's not the most talented player on the team, but he's like a junkyard dog. He'll bite, scratch and claw to get the job done.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Maybe it's time to worry

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

I'm seeing some real bad signs from this basketball team. While history says how a team finishes the regular season doesn't carry over to the playoffs, no team wants to back into the playoffs.

The Cavs were humiliated on Saturday in Detroit, 85-71, but still got into the playoffs after New Jersey lost to Phoenix.

Just making the playoffs was not the goal for the Cavs. They want to win a championship. Does this team look like a championship contender right now? Heck, no. Just making the playoffs was a foregone conclusion.

The Cavs are coming apart at the seems. They've lost 6 in a row on the road. One player after another is getting injured. Ben Wallace can't stay on the court. They shut him down for almost a week and he still aggravated his bad back. Perhaps, he can't be counted on for the rest of the season.

Now Delonte West's ankle is messed up. He has tendinitis. He tried to play on Saturday and Coach Mike Brown thought about putting him in the game. He might play tonight against the Sixers, but don't count on it.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert took a huge risk by agreeing to make the Feb. 21 trade. They took on more salary and will pay more luxury tax. The Cavs are now 9-9 since the deal. That's not exactly what he had in mind.

The Cavs are only 1 1/2 games ahead of Washington for the No. 4 seed. With nine games remaining, it's now possible they could drop down to the fifth seed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Joe Tait's Perch

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

I have been fortunate to know Joe Tait and call him my friend. Wednesday night he was honored for his 3,000th game of broadcasting the Cavs.

"You've never looked better," former Cavs owner Gordon Gund joked. Of course, Gund is blind.

Cavs GM Danny Ferry might have said it best.

"We have the best announcer in the NBA," Ferry said.

Tait has one year remaining on his contract, which he hopes to fulfill. He also wants one special thing before he goes.

"I hope we'll all be talking about an NBA championship right here," he said.

Tait has always been one of my favorite guys. It won't be the same without him.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

There are concerns

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

There is concern with the back spasms by Cavs forward/center Ben Wallace. He had an MRI on Friday, which was negative. Some think it would make sense for him to sit out the New Orleans game on Wednesday.

That way, he could sit out most of the week and be ready for the Pistons on March 29.

One person who misses Wallace is center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

"When I get beat, he's always there at the rim," Z said.

Cavs coach Mike Brown said Wallace has been very good, when healthy. It's just a matter of keeping him on the court. That might be easier said than done.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Defense name of game

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

One of the most impressive things about their nine-game home winning streak is their defense.

Opposing teams have averaged just 85.6 points in those nine game, along with 41.9 percent shooting from the field. They have held seven of their nine opponents to fewer than 90 points.

They held the potent Toronto Raptors to 83 points - 20 points under their average. They came into the game ranked first in the league in 3-point accuracy, and made just 4 of 16 shots from behind the arc.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No love lost

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

These two teams just don't like each other. There's talk about hate. The teams are so close to each other, there are fans that overlap. But it's either love or hate with the fans.

Pistons center Rasheed Wallace is a talented individual. There's no question about that. He also can shoot the 3-pointer, which is unheard of for a 6-11 player. But he was held in check on Wednesday in the Cavs' big win. He had 16 points and six rebounds. But he shot just 6 of 17 from the field.

That can be attributed to the defense of Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao. Both players hounded 'Sheed. Some thought Varejao was frustrating Rasheed Wallace, and the two players exchanged elbows and some cheap shots. But Varejao was making Rasheed Wallace "feel him," a favorite term of Coach Mike Brown.

The teams play two more times this season. They are always an event worth watching.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Historic meeting

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Just before the first half was to begin, Cavaliers forward LeBron James walked across the Amway Arena court and shook hands with golfer Tiger Woods.

Even though the two stars are the top two henchmen for Nike, it was the initial meeting of the two megastars.

"It was the first time I’ve met him," James said after the game.

Someone asked if he watched Woods play much.

"Of course, how can you not watch Tiger Woods play?" he asked.

Woods is coming off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill Club in Orlando.

Besides both being paid millions of dollars by Nike, the two superstars have something else in common.

"We have the same birthday, too (Dec. 30)," James said.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Things I hate ...

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

If I see Anderson Varejao dribble between his legs and try to take his man off the dribble one more time, I'm going to run down on the court.

He turned the ball over once again on Sunday trying to be Chris Paul. Hey, Andy, you're a "big." Act like one!

Also, Wally Szczerbiak's minutes have dwindled, and will continue to go down as long as he misses shots. He was 1 for 4 from the field. He's at 31.5 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from the 3-point line since the trade.

Once Daniel Gibson comes back, he might not play at all. He was on the court for just 9:56 against the Bobcats, after playing just 12 minutes against Washington.

It would be difficult to take Devin Brown off the court at this point. He's playing passionate basketball and really goes after his man on defense.

If the Cavs come together as a team, they could be very good. Coach Mike Brown is going to have the ability to push buttons and make substitutions like never before. It's going to be fun.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Z, where art thou?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Daniel "Boobie" Gibson is an important piece to the Cavaliers, especially with the way the second-year guard can shoot the ball. But the guy the Cavs need desperately is center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Z's back condition is supoosedly going to be reassessed on Saturday. He's missed two weeks with a back strain. He's needed on offense and defense. No, he's never going to be Bill Russell in the paint, but he knows how to play defense and protect the rim.

Also, he's a reliable shooter, a player LeBron James can go to in the clutch. That's also needed an offense that sputters from time to time.

In the loss to the Wizards on Thursday, the Cavs shot entirely too many 3-pointers (32). But part of that came from not having an inside presence to go to. They're not going to go to Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao much in the low post.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Newcomers struggle

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The four newest Cavaliers didn't exactly shine in New Jersey on Wednesday. The Cavs lost 104-99, and none of the four players played well.

Let's start with starters Delonte West and Joe Smith. West played just 20 minutes and had five points, five turnovers and two assists. A late 3-pointer made his numbers look a little better, but not much.

Smith, a veteran power forward, had one of his worst games as a Cav. He had five points, seven rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. The worst play came with less than a minute to play. He allowed Vince Carter to get an offensive rebound on a missed free throw by Marcus Williams. The Cavs were down by only two points, 100-98, with 15.4 seconds left. Some how, VC got around Smith for the rebound and was fouled himself. He made both free throws for a 4-point advantage.

Guard/forward Wally Szczerbiak, still struggling from the perimeter, had seven points, a season-high five assists and four rebounds. But he was just 3 of 8 from the field, 0 of 2 from the 3-point line. If he doesn't start making outside shots, he's going to find himself on the bench. He seems to be pressing on his shots.

Forward/center Ben Wallace didn't play against the Nets because of back spasms. I would be surprised if he plays against the Wizards tonight.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scary team

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs forward LeBron James said it was going to be scary how good they'll be once they get their entire team intact.

I'll tell you who will be scary: the Portland Trail Blazers once Greg Oden gets on the court. They are already a very good defensive team. Add Oden's defense and shot-blocking ability, look out.

That team could be a power in the Western Conference for some time to come. They need some outside shooting, and perhaps some veteran players, but the Blazers could win a title in the next five years.

The key will be adding some parts.

They have a star in Brandon Roy, and forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge is not far behind. They also have a good coach and leader in Nate McMillan. I'm very impressed by what GM Kevin Pritchard has done with this club.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Viva Varejao

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavaliers starting center Anderson Varejao had his best game since his serious ankle injury on Saturday with 15 points, 16 rebounds, a career-high six assists and four steals in the 103-95 win over Indiana.

He told me last week his left ankle is still not 100 percent. It's sore and there's still swelling. Zydrunas Ilgauskas could be close to coming back from a back strain. His presence will be a welcome sight, too, as will his 18-foot jumper.

A friend told me the other day that people will appreciate Z AFTER he's retired, and then they'll realize how difficult it will be to replace his talent. You just can't go out on the street corner and find 7-foot-3 guys with basketball skills like he possesses.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Alarming stat

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

It's not about scoring 50 points. It's about defending for the Cavs. But LeBron James recorded 39 points on Thursday in the Cavs' 107-96 loss to Chicago. But the stat that jumped out at me was in the assist column: James had one assist.

The thing that distinguishes James from many other superstars is his ability to find the open man. He found just one open man on the night. Maybe it was because he was too busy shooting. He was 13 of 27 from the field, giving him 57 shots on the last two nights.

Also, James had just three rebounds, well under his average. Of course, the Cavs were embarrassed on the boards, 56-48. Rookie center Joakim Noah had a career-high 20 rebounds. It didn't help the Cavs' cause that Zydrunas Ilgauskas is sidelined with a back strain.

He might not have stopped Noah, but his length would have made it harder on him. If the Cavs ever get healthy, they might be a good team. Until then, there's going to be many ups and downs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Not Mike Brown type game

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs coach Mike Brown absolutely hates games like Wednesday's. He's born and bred thinking about defense. The Knicks, though, shot 51.4 percent from the field and rang up 105 points against the Cavs. Brown, who is sick and thought about not coming to the game, will toss and turn in his sleep.

"That's definitely not the way we like to win games," Brown said. "But I guess every once in a while, you're going to have a shootout. I'd rather come out on the winning end than the losing end. New York always gives us problems. Their perimeter and their post-up players seem to have our number."

Of course, they were saved by LeBron James' 50 points. He was magnificent and is the best player in this league.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dysfunctional team

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

I don't usually write about the opposing teams. Obviously, I get paid to write about the Cavaliers, but I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to write about the Chicago Bulls.

I have not seen such junk all season. I just hate the way this team plays. Kirk Hinrich brings the ball down the court and he passes it one of his teammates, who immediately jacks up a 20-foot jumper.

Every game seems to be a contest of who can launch more jumpers - Larry Hughes, Ben Gordon or Luol Deng. It makes for terrible basketball.

One of the few players worth watching is center Joakim Noah. He hustles non-stop and is a beast going after the ball. Ben Wallace couldn't keep him off the boards.

Poor Jim Boylan. The guy has little chance to stay on next year as Bulls coach. He's one of my favorite guys, too, in the league.

The whole season has gone into the dumper for the Bulls. It all started with Gordon and Deng turning down extensions. Then, when the Bulls refused to part with Deng, they were unable to trade for Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant.

They might live to regret that decision.