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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Sasha time

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs coach Mike Brown pleaded with the beat writers after the game to place Sasha Pavlovic's name in the headlines for Sunday's papers.

"I have pull with these guys," Brown joked, referring to Fox Sports Ohio.

But he jokingly wanted The News-Herald and Plain Dealer to play up Sasha's contribution to the Cavs' 97-85 win over Milwaukee.

"Who says we have any pull?" the PD's Mary Schmitt Boyer said.

Sasha drained two big 3-pointers, including one at the third-quarter buzzer. But he said he was most proud of his defensive performance on Michael Redd. He slowed him down in the fourth quarter, which sparked the Cavs' rally.

The Bucks never led in the game, but they had seized the momentum in the game.

That's when LeBron James took over. Of course, we've all seen it before.

Sasha had fallen on hard times as of late. He's almost out of Brown's rotation altogether. The other night, he shot an airball on a free throw. But he had a big hand in the Cavs' win on Saturday.

So did big men Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. They helped the Cavs grab 17 offensive rebounds and dominate the Bucks on the boards. Of course, Milwaukee was playing without 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, but no one in Cleveland is going to shed a tear.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Could streak end tonight?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Some observers think tonight's game at 9 o'clock in Milwaukee could be a tough one for the Cavs.

It will be the back end of a four-games-in-five-nights stretch. It will be on the road. Also, Bucks guard Michael Redd could play for the first time since Nov. 2. He's been out with a sprained ankle.

The Cavs, though, have been playing inspired basketball. That's why I'm not betting on them having their 4-game winning streak snapped. They are not only doing it offensively, but are stopping good offensive teams in their tracks.

That has started with G Delonte West. He put the clamps on Stephen Jackson on Friday. Jackson was just 2 of 11 from the field en route to 11 points. West has stopped some All-Stars in the last couple weeks, such as the Nets' Vince Carter, Atlanta's Joe Johnson and now Jackson.

The Cavs lost three of four games to the Bucks last year, but that was when Mo Williams played in Wisconsin. He will be making his first trip back to Milwaukee since the August trade. He could go off on a big night for the Cavs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This could get real fun

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

You don't need to read this blog to be informed that the Cavs are playing well. They've won 11 of the last 12 games. They seem to getting better and better.

Personally, I'd like to see them go up against another good team. The last real good team they've played was Detroit, who got hot at the right time and snapped their eight-game winning streak.

It's difficult to gauge just how well they are playing when they are facing terrible teams. They destroyed New York and Oklahoma City the last two nights.

They shot a season-high 60.8 percent from the field against the Thunder. The starters jumped all over the Thunder. When Coach Mike Brown went to the bench, it never missed a beat.

First-round pick J.J. Hickson is evolving right before our eyes. He's only 6-9, but he looks like he could become a major shot-blocker in time. He had career highs in points (14) and blocks (4) on Wednesday.

According to scouts who were at the summer league in Las Vegas, he was one of the top bigs there. Everyone wanted to see what he would do against legitimate NBA bigs. We're now seeing that can compete against high competition.

And, forward Darnell Jackson is right on his heels. He's got a better jump shot than many people realize. He's also tough as nails. He's not afraid to whack guys on the court.

"You should see him in practice," Brown said.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quite a night in the Garden

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

It's strictly my opinion, but I think LeBron James is teased by what could await him in New York. If he wants to be a global icon and a billionaire, he might be able to accomplish both playing in New York.

However, he might not have as much fun as he does playing in his home state. He's adored in Cleveland. He couldn't be treated any better playing for any other organization.

Any team he goes to will be a good team, a playoff team. If he stays in Cleveland, though, it's not totally out of the question that the Cavs could become a dynasty. He's playing so well right now, he's just toying with the opposition.

He's dragging the rest of the team along for the ride. It's not an accurate gague beating the stuffing out of the Knicks. Their two trades last week left the team in shambles.

But the Cavs are playing at a high level, perhaps a championship level.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wally's World

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs coach Mike Brown has been harping on guard/forward Wally Szczerbiak to bang on the boards.

He keeps saying what a strong guy Szczerbiak was. Brown was thrilled on Saturday that Szczerbiak had eight points and a season-high six rebounds in the Cavs' 110-96 victory over Atlanta.

"I've been challenging Wally to rebound the basketball and it was good to see him go out tonight and get six rebounds," Brown said. "That's something we need from him. We know he can make shots. We know he has to be guarded. Now, he has to make sure he keeps doing the little things."

Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas has scored in double figures in all 13 games this season and 26 consecutive games dating back to last season.

The Cavs shot 50.6 percent from the field (41 of 81). It was the third time this season they shot better than 50 percent. They lead the Eastern Conference in field-goal percentage.

They also shot a season-high 91.3 percent from the free-throw line (21 of 23).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ground to a halt

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavs came into Wednesday’s game ranked third in the NBA in field-goal percentage (47.6 percent) and fourth in points scored (101.5). Cavs fans aren't used to such lofty rankings.

However, things got a bit ugly for Coach Mike Brown's offense in the 96-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Their 89 points against the Pistons was their lowest total since the season opener in Boston on Oct. 28 when they scored 85 points.

Part of the problem could be traced to the fact that their starting backcourt of Mo Williams and Delonte West were saddled with foul trouble against the Pistons. The two guards can match up with almost anyone in the league.

Brown was forced to play Daniel Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic with his starters on the bench. That threw the Cavs' offense for a loop.

Gibson was 1 of 7 from the field, 0 of 4 from the 3-point line. He had as many turnovers (2) as he did points. He continues to slide into a funk offensively. He's shooting 37.4 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from the 3-point line. His numbers continue to go down.

He says there's nothing wrong, but the numbers say otherwise.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mo's fitting in

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

To say that point guard Mo Williams is fitting in with the Cavaliers is an understatement.

In Tuesday's 106-82 victory over New Jersey, Williams finished with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists. He had two turnovers in 34 minutes.

The Cavs had just one turnover in the second half for the third consecutive game.

"It felt great," Williams said. "You feel confident when you know you've got help behind you, that you have four other guys. It give you more confidence when you defend on the ball.

"All in all, I was just a piece to their puzzle. They were already a good defensive team. The biggest thing for me was just aligning myself with the philosophy, but I've got all that down now."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Boobie's back

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavaliers guard Daniel "Boobie" Gibson was limited to just 15:25 minutes against Utah on Saturday with a back injury.

"It just got sore in the second half," Gibson said. "I feel like I would be out there and able to play if we had a game (today). Luckily, we have (today) off to recuperate and ice and get ready for Tuesday."

Gibson made 2 of 6 shots for eight points in the 105-93 win.

Coming into the game Cavs power forward Ben Wallace was questionable with a bruised left knee. Afer having an MRI on Friday, he decided to give it a go on Saturday. He was one of the stars of the game with 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

The guy is amazing in that he can impact a game greatly and not even score a point. He did have one point on Saturday, which is strictly icing on the cake.

Coach Mike Brown instructed Wallace to stay with Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer, who was booed lustily by the Cleveland fans. He hounded Boozer to a 5-for-12 shooting performance. He had 17 points and nine rebounds - both team highs.

Brown also lauded the defensive effort of guard Delonte West, who was assigned the difficult task of shutting down sharp-shooter Kyle Korver. Korver finished with nine points and made 3 of 4 from behind the arc.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

World According to George

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Sometimes it's beneficial to solicit the opinions of opposing coaches when trying to find out about the team you cover.

After the Cavs hammered the Denver Nuggets on Thursday on national TV, Nuggets coach George Karl was obviously impressed.

"They seem to have more strut to their step," Karl said. "They seem to have more confidence that they are going to win. Whatever it takes, they're going to figure out what it takes to win more so than last year."

Karl was one of two former Cavs coaches in the building. The other was TNT announcer Mike Fratello.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Making it look easy

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs forward LeBron James had 41 points. According to Bucks coach Scott Skiles, he made it look easy.

"We played two or three people on him," Skiles said. "My only real complaint would be that we're still not aggressive enough on someone like that.

"LeBron is going to get his numbers. Sixteen for 24 (from the field). That's a pretty easy night for him. Along with his scoring, he made some great decisions with the ball."

James has scored 41 points in three of his last four games. He's averaging 37.5 in his last four, and has soared to the NBA lead in scoring at 29.75 on the season. If he isn't the best player in the league, I want to see him.

Those on the West Coast think Lakers guard Kobe Bryant remains the top player in the NBA. But no one could be doing more for his team than James right now. He is on an amazing run right now. Believe me, it's fun to watch.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bench play

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavs have three players who are consistent performers off the bench: Anderson Varejao, Daniel "Boobie" Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak. All-Star LeBron James keeps raving about how deep this team is.

What's important is when James goes to the bench for a breather, the opposing team no longer goes on a 14-2 run. The reserves are holding their own when James hasn't been in the game.

Also, Coach Mike Brown needs to have center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and point guard Mo Williams on the court when James is on the bench. Someone has to be out there on the floor who can score.

Varejao has played great in his last two games. He's averaging 15.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in his last two games. He's providing a major lift when he's in the game. He played so well on Saturday, Z never played a minute in the fourth quarter.

Brown has shortened his rotation to nine men. J.J. Hickson was the ninth man and he played only 5:08.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A buzz around The Q

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

From the moment I walked into Quicken Loans Arena on Friday, I felt there was something going on. Could the Cavs be involved in trade talks with the Charlotte Bobcats?

Forward Gerald Wallace told Charlotte writers on Friday he expects to be traded. Is he the kind of player the Cavs want? The Bobcats are still probably interested in Anderson Varejao.

It turned out to be nothing. But that was my intuition. Sometimes my gut feelings are wrong.

The Cavs have a major chip to use sometime between now and the trade deadline. Wally Szczerbiak's $13 million expiring contract will be put to good use. I've asked this question before: What if Wally plays so well, he becomes too valuable to trade? Wouldn't that be a hoot.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some observations from the Cavs-Bulls game

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Bulls power forward Drew Gooden will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Would it be out of the question if the Cavaliers took a solid look at him? While Gooden was here, people loved to concentrate on things he couldn't do.

But what about the things he could do. He's a scorer, plain and simple. The Cavs need frontcourt scoring. Adding a relatively young frontcourt player who could score would be an added bonus.

There are many at The Q who don't want the 6-10, 250-pounder back. They say his inconsistencies are too frustrating. I totally disagree. He's a great guy and teammate and would be a good addition with age creeping up on Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace and Lorenzen Wright.

Celebrities in the house: Former Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia (friend of Gooden's); former Cavs owner Gordon Gund; rapper/actor Ludacris.

Taking nothing away from the Cavs' coaching staff, but when you have a young head coach like Vinny Del Negro, the Bulls did it the right way by hiring coaches like Del Harris, Bernie Bickerstaff and Bob Ociepka.

Monday, November 3, 2008

AI 4 times a year?

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The blockbuster trade that sent Nuggets guard Allen Iverson to Detroit in exchange for point guard Chauncey Billups, power forward Antonio McDyess and center Cheikh Samb was announced on Monday.

My first question is, why make this deal now? The Pistons must have thought Billups was on his last leg and had to do something now.

Think back to the last bad trade by Pistons president Joe Dumars. Can't think of one? That's because he usually fleeces the opposition. He acquired Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins from Orlando in a sign-and-trade for Grant Hill. He received Rasheed Wallace and Mike James in a three-way deal with Atlanta and Boston. The third major trade was getting Rip Hamilton from Washington for Jerry Stackhouse.

Even though the current trade doesn't look that great on paper, it usually works out well for the Pistons. They tried to get Iverson about five years ago when he was with Philadelphia.

Both A.I. and Rasheed Wallace will be unrestricted free agents this summer. The Pistons will be considerably under the cap. Even though there aren't a ton of great free agents available, teams can work wonders with cap space. It will allow them to hit the reset button again on their roster.

There's also a rumor that McDyess doesn't want to play in Denver and is discussing a buyout. If that happens, he will bring his trusty 18-foot jumper back to Auburn Hills.

Because, as it stands, the Pistons are a bit thin up front. Their only reliable big man coming off the bench is Jason Maxiell.

One thing is sure, it's a bold move by Dumars. He promised a shakeup and he delivered on Monday.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

LB's lost night

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

When Cavaliers forward LeBron James struggles offensively, very seldom does his team win.

They had a golden opportunity to knock off the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday. They were playing without 7-1 center Tyson Chandler, who had 16 rebounds in the season opener, and 6-10 forward Peja Stojakovic.

But it didn't matter because James could never get into any kind of groove. He ended with 15 points and made 6 of 15 shots from the field, 0 of 3 from behind the arc. His foul shooting has been off all year, but he made 3 of 4 on the night.

Observers kept waiting for James to get on one of his patented runs, but it never happened. Instead, they got to watch Hornets point guard Chris Paul take over the game.

Isn't that what James usually does? Cavs fans are accustomed to him taking over in the late stages. He turned the ball over five times on the night, as the Cavs had 18 turnovers, which led to 26 Hornets points.

Unless James decides to show up on Monday, the Cavs will lose again. Dallas is a formidable foe, especially at home.