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

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The aftermath

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

All-Star forward LeBron James admits the Cavs need to make some changes. He said they don't need a major overhaul, but some talent needs to be added.

They'll probably have some problems signing point guards Delonte West and Daniel Gibson, who are both restricted free agents. They won't come on the cheap. Heck, Gibson's agent could ask for the full mid-level. West could ask for $3 million or $4 million a season.

The only other free agent to worry about is unrestricted free agent Devin Brown. After the amount of time he played in the playoffs, he might not want to come back. But that's something you take care of in September.

The Cavs might need to add another shooter and another big man. They do have their own first-round pick, No. 19 overall.

They don't have a second-round pick. That was sent to Phoenix in the Milt Palacio deal a few years ago.

They'll have their mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Game 7

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

Game 6 on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena was one of the ugliest games I've ever seen. It was a defensive slugfest between two of the best defensive teams in the league. Despite how ugly it looked, to Coach Mike Brown, it was a thing of beauty.

The Cavs defense is getting better every game. We'll see if they can carry it over to Boston on Sunday.

The Celtics are great at home and had the best home record in the league. Don't equate that as being unbeatable at home. The Cavs can win the game, but they'll have to play extremely well.

They'll be close to a 10-point underdog in that 3:30 game. Don't count out any team that has LeBron James on it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Now they're in trouble

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

This was one they needed desperately.

Yes, the Cavs could win Game 6 on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. Obviously, the Cavs play well at home and the Celtics don't play well on the road. So, yes, the Cavs could - and should - beat Boston on Friday.

The real problem is coming back to Boston and winning Game 7. It probably isn't going to happen. Any time a team has LeBron James on its roster, there's always a chance. But the Celtics are too good.

The game they had to have was on Wednesday. They led by 14 points in the second quarter before unraveling at the end of the second quarter. They just fell apart in the third. The Celtics scored on 9 of 11 possessions in one stretch of the third.

James was very good once again with 35 points. But cente Zydrunas Ilgauskas didn't show up and they didn't get enough of a lift off their bench. It added up to their 96-89 loss, the first time the Celtics have topped the 90-point mark in the series.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It starts with 'D'

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

During the postseason, the Cavs have held their opponents to an average of 87.9 points and 41.8 percent shooting from the field. They've held their foes under 90 points in eight of their 10 games.

The Celtics managed to shoot just 38.6 percent from the field in Game 4. That's their worst percentage in the 2008 postseason.

Basically, the Cavs are beating the Celtics at their own game. Boston had by far the best defensive stats in the league this year. They are dominant on the strong side of the ball.

But the Cavs' defense, led by architect Mike Brown, got better and better as the game went on during Game 4. They got stop after stop in the fourth quarter. The most important matchup was in the middle where Anderson Varejao stopped Kevin Garnett in his tracks in the fourth quarter. He missed his two shots in the fourth and didn't score a point.

It was impressive to watch.

It's also why I now think the Cavs will win the series.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ben's heroics

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

Forty-five minutes before Game 3, many of the Cavs players didn't know if Ben Wallace would be playing.

He was suffering from dizziness after Game 2. The Cavs are glad he did. He had nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes.

When he's on the court, it gives the Cavs more confidence. He battles Kevin Garnett on the low post. He's not going to stop KG. But he makes him work extremely hard.

He's not the most friendly guy in the locker room, even though his teammates love and respect him.

But he's a major key to the Cavs' success.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What we know about this series

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

1. Has a team ever taken a 2-0 lead in a playoff series after making just 41 percent of their shots? The Cavs are making things tough on the Celtics.

2. Boston's defense has been dominant. The Cavs are shooting just 33.1 percent from the field in the first two games. Of course, most of their struggles have started with LeBron James. He's averaging 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 7.0 turnovers. He's shooting 19 percent from the field.

3. Who has been the star of the series thus far? Here's one candidate: Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeaux, the architech of their defense.

4. Kevin Garnett is averaging a double-double in the series with 20.5 points and 10 rebounds. Obviously, he's a major talent. But you've got to love the Celtics' young big off the bench, Leon Powe. He's so active around the basket.

5. No, the reason the Cavs lost wasn't because Ben Wallace was sidelined with dizziness. But in six career playoff games against the Celtics (before Thursday's game), he's averaged 15.8 rebounds. He fights KG on the block. He can't stop him, but he makes him work for everything he gets.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some playoff observations

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

1. First of all, one has to applaud the Cavs' intensity in Game 1. TD Banknorth Garden was loud and the fans were crazy. Even when LeBron James was forced to the bench with foul trouble, the Cavs didn't fold. They came after the Celtics.

2. The Celtics are beatable. Yes, I picked Boston in 7 games, but that doesn't mean the Cavs can't win this series. Forward Kevin Garnett was sensational in Game 1 with 28 points and eight rebounds. But Ben Wallace fought him the whole game. That guy refused to back down from KG. When Coach Mike Brown took Wallace out of the game with under a minute to play, KG immediately attacked Joe Smith on the game-winning basket. Note to Mike: Leave Big Ben in the game during crunch time. Because of free-throw deficiencies, coaches like to take Wallace out at the end of games. But in this instance, he had to be on the floor.

3. Of course, LeBron James won't shoot 2 of 18 again in the playoffs. I guarantee it. He'll come back strong in Game 2, and don't be surprised if the Cavs win. Unfortunately, Ray Allen won't be scoreless in Game 2. The Celtics will do everything they can to get him off. He'd never been held scoreless before in a playoff game, and only twice in his entire career.

4. Paul Pierce took the challenge of guarding James. He said their strategy was to send James toward the help defense (KG and Kendrick Perkins).

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Let it all hang out

Cavs playoff blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs guard/forward Wally Szczerbiak was downright terrible in Game 5 in Cleveland. He missed 3 of 4 shots and had four turnovers. He got in foul trouble, which allowed Coach Mike Brown to bench him.

Brown had to be thinking that Szczerbiak was on a short leash for Game 6 in Washington. Wally was turned every which way but loose by Wizards swingman Caron Butler in Game 5. That's the quickest way to find yourself on the bench while dealing with Brown.

But he came ready to play in the close-out game on Friday, as the Cavs demolished the Wizards and won the series, 4 games to 2.

Szczerbiak had a career playoff high 26 points on 8 of 13 shots from behind the arc.

"I was going to let it all hang out tonight," he said.

Suffice it to say that he did.

The Cavs also got solid performances from Boobie Gibson and Joe Smith, as they won going away.

Wally also did a decent job on Butler, who never really got going after his outstanding game in Game 5.

Now, it's onto the second round against Boston or Atlanta. The Celtics will be favored to win in Game 7, but don't count out the Hawks. No one told them they were supposed to lose this series. They are causing the Celtics some major problems on the defensive end. Yes, Boston has the best defense in the league, but the Hawks have found a way to exploit it.