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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Miami was baffled

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra admitted his team didn't know how to defend LeBron James on Tuesday.

"To be quite frank, we didn't have a lot of answers," he said. "James was just coming at us from every single angle and situation. He's so explosive. He just gets to the rim before you can blink.

"We had some of our best rotations and we were still late. They went to a very smart adjustment by isolating him up top and letting him go one-on-one. We couldn't get our help there quick enough."

James led all scorers with 38 points.

It's always fun to see who's in the crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Among the celebrities in the arena were former Cavs coach Mike Fratello, Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, Dolphins players Joey Porter and Ronnie Brown, Olympic silver medalist swimmer Dara Torres, "Worldwide" Wes Wesley, James' agent Leon Rose and singer Kelly Rowland.

James admitted after the game Heat guard Dwyane Wade "is like the brother I never had."

James is 0-3 on his birthday since coming to the Cavs.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fun with numbers

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavs remain the league's only unbeaten team at home at 16-0. The media seems to be hitting the home record hard, but Coach Mike Brown said he doesn't mention it to the team.

If you know Mike, he's probably telling the truth.

The last NBA team to win at least their first 16 games at home were the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic. The Bulls won their first 37 games that season, while the Magic won their first 33.

Don't expect the Cavs to reach those heights. They could have lost each of the last two if they hadn't come alive in the fourth quarters against Washington and Miami.

They've now won 6 in a row overall. During that stretch, the Cavs are shooting 47.9 percent from the field (222 of 463) and averaging 97.5 points. Their opponents have shot 43.1 percent (202 of 469) and averaged 85.7 points.

At one point in the Heat game, the Cavs were getting smashed on the boards. However, they ended up winning the battle of the boards, 46-43. Both Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao were dominant on the boards with 14 rebounds and 10 rebounds, respectively.

The Cavs have outrebounded their opponents in 13 of 16 home games and 24 out of 30 games overall this season.

Heat forward Udonis Haslem suffered a cut above his right eye and needed 6 stitches and glue to close the wound.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chalk talk

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs forward LeBron James unveiled his new shoe - Nike's new "LeBron Six - Chalk Edition," on Christmas night at The Q.

Fans also got to throw up "chalk" before the game when James stepped to the scorer's table.

It was a cloud of dust in the arena.

"That was unbelievable," James said. "Cleveland fans: 'I’ll never forget that, ever.' It wouldn’t have been good to get an ‘L,’ do all that confetti and throw up chalk and lose. It would have ruined my Christmas."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quality win

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Tuesday night's 99-90 win over Houston was one of the top games of the season for the Cavs. Houston, trust me, is a quality opponent. They had won 11 in a row on the road against Eastern Conference opponents.

They were playing their fourth games in five nights on Tuesday at The Q. With the exception of guard/forward Tracy McGrady, they didn't look fatigued.

The Rockets could come out of the Western Conference and make it to the NBA Finals. They have 7-6 Yao Ming and other star players like Ron Artest and T-Mac.

McGrady has been bothered by a sore knee. Perhaps he was bothered by it on Tuesday. He just didn't look right and finished with four points in 30 minutes.

This was the best team the Cavs have played at The Q this season. And, as always, the Cavs got it done with a stifling defensive effort in the last 5 minutes. It was fun to watch.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Boobie, the rough guy

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs guard Daniel "Boobie" Gibson was hit with a double technical with Oklahoma City's Desmond Mason with 2:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"The referee said 'Boobie' and Mason were jawing at each other," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Both are good guys. It’s a little uncharacteristic."

Gibson, who returned after a 5-game absence with a sprained big toe, said he was clueless why he got a technical.

"I don’t know why I got the technical," Gibson said. "We did exchange words. But after that, it was over with. He came to my end (on the Cleveland bench). Someone stepped in front of me. The referee called a double tech."

It was one of at least two questionable calls by the refs. Cavs power forward Ben Wallace earned a technical with 4:02 left in the game for raising his voice to the refs after a non-call. He got absolutely hacked on a play under the basket and he complained - and rightfully so.

While we're on the subject, center Zydrunas Ilgauskas also got a technical in the third quarter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mile High beatdown

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The LeBron James-Carmelo Anthony duel fizzled, as always, as the Cavs hammered the Nuggets, 105-88, on Friday in the Pepsi Center.

It's really not fair to compare the two players. James is far superior in almost every facet of his game. Normally, Melo is a much better shooter, but one can't even say that this year.

On Friday, James outscored Anthony, 33-13. James was 13 of 20 from the field, while Melo was 5 of 14. James outrebounded him, 10-2, and had eight assists to one for Anthony.

For the first time in James' career, the Cavs swept the Denver Nuggets in a season.

The Cavs will gun for the sweep on the three-game West Coast road trip on Sunday in Oklahoma City.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Boobie not ready

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

It appeared as if Cavs guard Boobie Gibson was ready to return to practice, possibly on Thursday in Denver.

But that's not the case. Gibson is still plagued by soreness in his left big toe, he said after Wednesday's game in Minnesota.

Gibson was injured in the Dec. 10 Philadelphia game at Quicken Loans Arena. He's missed the last four games, and he definitely won't play against the Nuggets on Friday.

"It’s hard to say (when I'll be back)," Gibson said. "I’m going day to day. I’ve started shooting drills. I’m not ready for full-contact drills."

The biggest problem is he's unable to push off. When he does, there's a lot of pain. He could miss the entire 3-game road trip.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Delonte struggling

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavaliers guard Delonte West’s shooting has abandoned him in the last four games. He’s shooting 32 percent from the field in that span (17 of 53), 19 percent from the 3-point line (4 of 21).

He finished with 11 points and five assists in the 97-92 loss to Atlanta on Saturday, but he made just 5 of 19 attempts from the floor. He did have three steals and two rebounds.

On the bright side, he is averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 assists in those four games.

There were some good and disturbing numbers in Saturday's game at Philips Arena.

The Cavs were outrebounded again, 40-34. They shot just 42 percent from the field (34 of 82) and 22.7 percent from the 3-point line (5 of 22). They were outscored from the foul line, 31-19.

Anderson Varejao continues to play well in place of starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas (sprained ankle). In two games as starter, he has averaged 14 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 block. He has also shot 60 percent from the field (12 of 20).

Guard/forward Wally Szczerbiak is shooting 13 percent from the field since Ilgauskas has gone out (2 of 15). It's even worse from the 3-point line, as he's missed all six of his attempts.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hawks on horizon

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavs will face one of their stiffest tests at 7 tonight at Philips Arena against the Atlanta Hawks.

They ride into Georgia on an 11-game winning streak.

Forward Josh Smith is back for the Hawks and will likely hound Cavs forward LeBron James.

"(Smith) is a very active player," James said. "He is a stat stuffer: Rebounds, points, steals, blocks and assists. It's another team that we have to get back into transition against. They're going to be very excited being at home in Atlanta. We have been on the road and won big road games and we have to continue that."

The Cavs are 7-3 on the road this season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last 11-game streak

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The last time the Cavs won 11 games in a row - during the 1994 season - they marched into the United Center feeling good about themselves.

I remember going into the Bulls' locker room and asking Scottie Pippen about the impressive streak.

He acted like he didn't even know the Cavs existed. He said he wasn't aware of their 11-game streak and could care less.

Of course, the Bulls destroyed the Cavs that night.

Things are different now. Unless an injury bug hits, this team might reach unprecedented heights this year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Different perspective

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Raptors guard Jose Calderon loves what he's seen of the Cavaliers.

Of course, most people would after a team has won 17 of its last 18 games, including their last nine in a row.

"They have confidence and they're playing well at home," Calderon said of the Cavs' 12-0 start at The Q.

"They've been playing well for a long time and sometimes that's good. Right now, Boston and Cleveland almost have the same team as last year. They added Mo Williams, but he's the same kind of player."

The Cavs' identity is on the defensive end. They are first in the league in points allowed and opponents' field-goal percentage.

And that's why they'll go deep into the playoffs.

Jump aboard.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Brown is touting LB

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

Cavs coach Mike Brown is truly amazed by the defensive exploits of forward LeBron James.

In the last two nights, he held Indiana's Danny Granger to 4 points and Charlotte's Gerald Wallace to 1. Their combined shooting was 2 of 13.

"People should consider LeBron for the all-defensive team," Brown said. "I think it’s a carryover from the Olympic team. He takes pride in that.

"His communication is off the charts. He’s like the quarterback of our defense. Even if he’s not involved in a particular action, he’s telling people what they need to be doing."

James has obviously grown into perhaps the best player in the league. But there's still room for growth, Brown said.

"He has not reached his ceiling," Brown said. "(He can) shoot 3s and pull-up jump shots (better). (He can play) weakside defense (better). He hasn’t tapped out or come close to reaching his ceiling."

And that's a scary thought.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Defense name of game

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

The Cavs' defense continues to impress. The Pacers came into Friday's game averaging 100.6 points per game - seventh best in the NBA.

Of course, the Cavs caused problems defensively. The Pacers managed a season-low 73 points, 18 fewer than they've scored in any game this season.

They also held them to 40.3 percent shooting from the field.

"That's exactly what defense is," Cavs guard Mo Williams said. "In Mike Brown's system, it's all five guys. We don't just leave somebody on an island and say, 'Hey, stop this guy.'

You have got to have five guys helping each other every single time down the floor."

The most impressive defensive stand was by LeBron James. He stopped Pacers forward Danny Granger, who came into the game scoring 24.4 points per game. He was held to a season-low four points on 2 of 7 shooting.

James' offensive night might have suffered from it, but it's all about winning around here right now.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dying for a close game

Cavs blog by Bob Finnan

I'm absolutely dying to watch a close game. In the last six games - all wins by the Cavaliers - their closest margin of victory is 12 points.

In the latest stretch, they are winning by a margin of 21.7 points. The Cavs are blowing teams away. The host the Indiana Pacers on Friday. They upset the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

The Pacers score points in bunches. Danny Granger has evolved into a top offensive threat.

But the Pacers' problem has been stopping teams. They just don't defend.

That's what separates the Cavs from many other teams. They have become a superb defensive team. The Cavs have held their last five opponents to a combined 38.9 percent shooting (159 of 409) and an average of 89.2 points per game.

In that span the Cavs are scoring 112.6 points per game and are shooting 50 percent from the field.

It's going to be a fun year.

When I was leaving Milwaukee the other night, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Tom Enlund left the press room by saying, "Have fun working in June."

He was obviously referring to the Cavs making it back to the NBA Finals.