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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

C'ya Sheed

Pistons forward/center Rasheed Wallace, one of the most hated athletes in Cleveland, picked up his 16th technical foul in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's win. That means an automatic one-game suspension from the NBA.

That happened to Warriors guard/forward Stephen Jackson earlier in the season.

Wallace guaranteed a Pistons' victory over the Cavs in the playoffs two years ago. Of course, the Cavs won and fans thumbed their noses at him.

TIME OUT WOES - The Cavs had a 24-second violation after a time out in the fourth quarter on Tuesday. Excuse me, but isn't there like 10 coaches on the sidelines now. Shouldn't one of them alert the players that only so many seconds are left on the shot clock?

OK, that's my pet peeve of the day.

DON'T LIKE IT - The Cavs show a picture of Desmond Howard's "Heisman" pose on the JumboTron when they want the fans to boo during an opponent's free throw.

I really wish they'd quit that skit. Remember, even though he played at the University of Michigan, he's a St. Joseph's High School grad.

WHERE ARE CHEERLEADERS? - Speaking of game operations, the fans are treated to just one appearance from the Cavaliers Girls in the firs half. Fans see way more of the Scream Team (nothing against them) than the cheerleaders. How about a little more dance team and a lot less Scream Team.

Several people have noticed the halftime shows have gotten worse as the season has wore on. Apparently, they are trying to save some money.

But old favorite Quick Change was on hand on Tuesday. Love that show.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Postseason ballots

I received by postseason award ballots from the NBA office on Monday. I'll get to vote on Most Valuable Player, the All-NBA team, Most Improved Player, Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year.

Ballots must be in by April 16 at 3 p.m.

A later blog will deal with who I vote for and why. Got to head to Independence for Cavs' practice. I'll check in after the Detroit game on Tuesday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trap game?

For most of the first quarter of Sunday's game, I was thinking the Cavs would catch a case of the 11-game hex. Five times in the history of the Cavs, they've won 11 games in a row. On each occasion, the Cavs lost their next game.

Of course, the 2008-09 Cavs are like no other team in franchise history. They destroyed the Mavericks on Sunday for their 12th win in a row. No one knows where this winning streak is heading.

Things looked bleak early on in the Dallas game. The Mavs guards attacked the basket at will. They drove to the basket for easy layups. When they didn't go all the way to the rim, they found center Erick Dampier for dunk after dunk.

The Cavs started defending in the second quarter. They almost caught up at the end of the first half. They clamped down on the Mavs in the third quarter. The Mavs scored 30 points in the first quarter, 44 in the final three.

The Cavs are 35-1 at home now. They have five more home games. The toughest might be next Sunday when they host San Antonio at 1 p.m.

I believe the Cavs are going to match Boston's all-time record of 40-1 at home in 1985-86. That's why it's also imperative for the Cavs to get the best record in the league. They just don't lose at home.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is he a Hall of Famer?

Cavs forward/center Ben Wallace is close to returning to the team. I got into a discussion with a colleague before the game about whether Wallace is a Hall of Famer when he retires.

He won four Defensive Player of the Year awards, in addition to winning a championship in 2004 in Detroit.

For a five-year stretch, he was the most dominating defensive player in the league. He impacted games with his defense, rebounding and shot blocking.

It's not out of the question he should win another ring this season.

But should he be enshrined in Springfield, Mass.? In my opinion, no.

His career scoring average is 6.5 points per game. He's a 41.8 percent career foul shooter. But his career rebounding average is 10.5.

Can a player be a Hall of Famer with a 6.5 scoring average? I don't think so. But it's open to debate. Obviously, he was a defensive force. But as good as he was defensively, he was just as bad offensively.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Highlights from win No. 58

-- The Cavs’ starting front court outscored their New Jersey counterparts, 54-15.

-- The Nets, however, had the edge in bench scoring, 41-15.

-- The Cavs are now 13-1 in the month of March. The 13 wins matches the most victories in any month in franchise history.

-- The Cavs have won 10 games in a row and are averaging 101.9 points on 46.5 percent shooting from the field. Their opponents are averaging 95.5 points and 43.6 percent.

-- The Cavs are 18-2 since the All-Star break, best in the league.

-- They are 33-1 at The Q, also tops in the NBA.

-- They held their opponents under 90 points for the 30th time this season. They are 29-1 when that happens.

-- They shot 52.9 percent from behind the arc (9 of 17). They are 16-2 when they shoot 50 percent or better from the 3-point line.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

LBJ to Big Apple

Why can't LeBron James play a game in New Jersey or New York and not have speculation run rampant?

Personally, I'm tired of it. He's asked questions and he answers questions, and then headlines ensue. Of course, I think he encourages the rumors and has some fun with it.

Before the Nets-Cavs game on Sunday at the Izod Center, James was asked about someday playing with Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

"I don't know, it doesn't matter," James said, "Whatever happens, we'll go against each other, and maybe we'll go against each other in practice. I don't know, that'd be fun, wouldn't it?"

James and Wade were teammates on Team USA last summer. Sure, they can be free agents in the summer of 2010, but there's only a miniscule chance they'd play on the same team.

They both want to be the star of the team. There's little chance of them being teammates despite how exciting it would be for the fans.

Of course, that didn't prevent James from bringing up the subject of them being teammates.

Very few teams could afford to sign two players with maximum contracts in 2010. The Cavs are actually one team that could if they clear the necessary contracts. The Knicks could be one also.

Both players will likely re-sign with their teams. Don't be surprised if James signs a contract extension this summer or next.

Very good team

I can't impress you readers enough with how good a team the Atlanta Hawks have become. With that said, the Cavs just dismantled the Hawks for about three quarters on Saturday.

The Hawks came back in the late going to make the final score look respectful, 102-96. The Hawks are the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. It's not out of the question that they could be the Cavs' second-round opponent.

If that's the case, it won't be an easy series by any means. I've become a big fan of Al Horford, who has really grown as a player. He had a game-high 11 rebounds in Saturday's game.

The Hawks' backcourt of Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson is also very strong. Johnson had 24 points to lead the Hawks.

If these two teams meet in the playoffs - I'm not sure who to pick between Atlanta and Miami - the Cavs' backcourt of Mo Williams and Delonte West will be hard-pressed in the matchup.

ANDY SHOWS UP - The Cavs weren't completely sure Anderson Varejao was going to play in the Hawks game. He was questionable coming in with a quad bruise.

Cavs coach Mike Brown did his Sgt. Schultz routine before the game when asked about Varejao's status. "I know nothing," he said.

Varejao finished with eight rebounds, a total that was matched by rookie Darnell Jackson.

HIGH ON DARNELL - Now, one can see why Brown is so high on Jackson. He plays hard, hits the boards and isn't afraid to knock someone on his butt. Jackson played 17 minutes on Saturday, compared to four by rookie J.J. Hickson.

Wasn't Hickson the Cavs' first-round pick last year? Am I missing something here? Jackson's ceiling might be what we're seeing right now. Hickson's ceiling is a possible starting power forward. I'm not saying he has star qualities, but he's way more talented that Jackson.

But he doesn't have the drive to succeed that Jackson has. And that might be the reason one rookie is playing and one is sitting on the bench.

GIB'S COMEBACK - Daniel Gibson has had back-to-back eight-point efforts in the last two games. He's played well since Brown went back to him in the rotation.

The Cavs hope he continues to play at that level.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Having fun with numbers

Huge win for the Cavs on Tuesday over Orlando. The Magic could face Boston in the second round and that's going to be an awesome series.

Don't overlook the Magic in the playoffs. They have the needed ingredients to make it to the NBA Finals. Boston is starting to fade and the Magic will likely finish ahead of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

Here's a different look at the game:

X The Cavs are 54-13, tying for the third most wins in a season. They won 54 games in 1992-93 and 57 in both 1988-89 and 1991-92.

X In their six-game winning streak, they are averaging 104.3 points and shooting 46.5 percent from the field. They are holding their opponents to 98.7 points and 44.8 percent shooting.

X The Cavs are 14-2 since the All-Star break, the best in the NBA.

X LeBron James recorded his ninth 40-point, 10-rebound game of his career.

X James' 43 points were the most ever scored in the Cavs-Magic rivalry. It surpassed the 41 points scored by Tracy McGrady against the Cavs on Dec. 25, 2003.

X The Cavs are 13-0 when they record 10 or more steals.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New York pub

Marc Berman of the New York Post asked several members of the Cleveland media, including this reporter, if they thought Cavaliers forward LeBron James was going to New York in 2010.

I told him I didn't think he was, that he might sign a contract extension as early as this summer.

QUICK BANNER: Just noticed the 2008-09 Central Division banner hanging in the rafters at Quicken Loans Arena. Geez, they just wrapped up the division title on Friday in Sacramento.

There isn't much in the Cavs' past to dignify with a banner. The others are the 1975-76 Central Division crown and the 2006-07 Eastern Conference championship, not to mention the six retired jerseys.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

LBJ fails to get triple-double

Poor LeBron James. He wasn't able to get a triple-double. He had to settle for a mere 51 points instead.

He added nine assists and four rebounds. He was 16 of 30 from the field en route to his third 50-point game of the season and eighth of his career.

The Cavs (52-13) earned their first Central Division title since the 1975-76 season, and second in franchise history.

They trailed by 14 points after three quarters, 98-84. That was after they allowed the Kings (14-51) rang up 39 points in the third quarter.

James had 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime periods.

Forward/center Anderson Varejao added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, while Wally Szczerbiak had 12 points and six rebounds.

The Cavs have won four in a row and eight of their last nine.
James split two free throws with 23 seconds left, which knotted the score at 116 apiece. Kings guard Kevin Martin, who had a team-high 34 points, missed a shot at the end of regulation.

Cavs coach Mike Brown was ejected with 8:15 left in the second quarter. He earned three technical fouls in the last two games.

Assistant coach John Kuester took over on the hot seat after Brown’s second ejection of the season.

-- James is tied with Hornets G Chris Paul with six triple-doubles this season. James became just the 12th player in history to record three triple-doubles in a row (Jason Kidd and Grant Hill are the only active players). The last player to register four consecutive triple-doubles was Bulls guard Michael Jordan, who had seven in a row, in March and April, 1989.

-- James has scored at least 20 points in 34 consecutive road games.

-- The Cavaliers lead the Central Division race by 18.5 games, and join this year’s Lakers (18-game lead in the Pacific Division) as the only teams to have a lead of at least 17 games in their division this late in the season since the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

-- The Cavs’ 52 wins gives them the fourth- highest victory total in franchise history. The 1988-89 and 1991-92 teams each won 57 games, while they won 54 games in 1992-93.

--The Kings are now 0-25 against the Eastern Conference this season.

--The Cavs have won six in a row over the Kings, and are 22-4 against the Western Conference this season.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is it Sasha time?

The first thing on my mind after the Cavs' 119-111 win over Phoenix on Thursday was that guard Delonte West won't likely play in tonight's game in Sacramento.

He took a hard fall on a drive to the basket and landed hard on his back. Judging by the way he gingerly walked off the court, he won't be back in action for a few days.

Luckily for the Cavs (51-13), Sasha Pavlovic stepped in and scored 16 points.

LBJ KEEPS ROLLING: Is there any question Cavs forward LeBron James will be the league's MVP?

He recorded his third consecutive triple-double against the Suns with 34 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. He's the first player since Jason Kidd last season to record three straight triple-doubles.

The win snapped a streak of nine consecutive losses at Phoenix. The Cavs hadn’t won in Phoenix since March 10, 1999.

James had never won in five attempts in U.S. Airways Center before Thursday. It was the only NBA arena in which he’d never won.

MO ON FIRE: Guard Mo Williams added 30 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Teams are learning that they’d better game plan for Williams. He’s been on a major roll since returning from the All-Star game. In his last seven games, he's averaging 23.4 points and shooting 61.4 percent from behind the arc (27 of 44) during that span.

In two games against the Suns this season, he's averaged 37 points.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Cavs set a franchise record for road wins on Thursday with 23. It broke the old mark of 22 set by the 1991-92 team.

The franchise mark of 57 wins is also in their sights.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh my gosh

What a comeback.

Why it took the Cavs so long to finally start playing on Tuesday, no one knows. But they were downright awful for almost three quarters.

Once they flipped that switch, it was almost scary. Their defense threw a blanket over the Clippers' offense. They couldn't get an easy look at the basket in the late going.

Guard Mo Williams finished with 14 points, but he had one of his worst shooting nights of the season. He did make a couple clutch shots down the stretch.

Their next road win will set the franchise record. They now have 22, which ties the all-time record set by the 1991-92 team.

They also won 50 games for the third time in the last four seasons. The franchise record is 57, done on two occasions. That record is going down as well.

Forward LeBron James recorded his second triple-double in as many games. He has five on the season and 22 in his career.

The Cavs trailed after three quarters, 69-52. The Clippers' biggest lead in the game is 19 points.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Numbers from Miami game

-- The Cavs are 12-0 when they dish out 24 or more assists.

-- They are 26-1 when holding their opponents under 90 points.

-- They are 28-1 at home, best in the NBA. They are holding opponents to 88.2 points on 41.8 percent from the field at The Q.

-- Forward Joe Smith is averaging 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in his first two games with the Cavs.

-- The Cavs shot 55.6 percent from behind the arc (10 of 18). Sixteen times this season, they've shot 50 percent or better from 3-point land. They are 14-2 in those games.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Loosey, goosey

Midway through LeBron James' pre-game ritual with the media, Cavs guard Mo Williams made the announcement: "Sorry, media, but the locker room is closed."

The 50 reporters and cameramen didn't pay much attention to Williams, but it showed just how loose the Cavs were for one of the biggest games of the year.

Guys were laughing, joking and having fun before the game. You'd never know they were about to play a game that could decide the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Obviously, things never materialized on the court. They were smashed by the Boston Celtics, 105-94. They just weren't able to muster any consistency.

The Celtics were a better team on the night. That started with the coaching staff, too. Coach Mike Brown credited the Celtics' coaching staff for getting their team ready to play.

For the Cavs, they had fun - at least before the game.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Odds and ends from Bucks game

The Cavs (48-12) are 36 games over .500 for the first time in their 39-year history. The 1988-89 Cavs were 34 games over .500 (55-21) on April 11.

-- The Cavs are one road win away from tying the franchise record of 22-19 in 1991-92. They are currently 21-11 (.656) – the fourth best road mark in the NBA behind the Los Angeles, Boston and Orlando). Only three times in their history have they won at many as 21 road games. The other times it happened were 1995-96 and 1991-92.

-- C Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a streak of four consecutive double-doubles snapped on Wednesday. It was the sixth time in his career he’s had four in a row. The last time he recorded four straight double-doubles was during the 2007-08 season. He’s averaged 12.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in his last five games.

-- F LeBron James was 4 of 5 from behind the arc and G Mo Williams was 3 of 4. In all, the Cavs shot 52.9 percent from the 3-point line against the Bucks (9 of 17). They’ve shot 50 percent or better 14 times this season (13-1).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Road trip exhausting, successful

The Cavaliers' 3-1 road trip is one that will build character. They got blown out on the first game of the trip in Houston, and then posted three consecutive wins.

All four teams they faced are solid playoff teams. San Antonio and Houston - under the right circumstances - could be NBA championship contenders.

Here are some numbers to devour:

X The Cavs are 4-0 when Mo Williams has 30 or more points. It's the third time in his career he's had at least 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

X It was the Cavs' 21st road win of the season, which ties for second most all-time with the 1995-96 team.

X They are 29-0 when they score 100 or more points.

X They are an NBA-best 12-2 on the second night of a back-to-back set, a truly impressive stat.

X Guard/forward Sasha Pavlovic made his first appearance in nine games. He's recovered faster than anyone thought from his high ankle sprain.

Only in Hotlanta

Let's preface this by saying it was a crazy day in Atlanta.

When this reporter drove to the Cavs' shootaround in the morning, it was snowing like crazy. Being a life-long Ohio resident, I'm no stranger to snow, but it was the first time I'd ever seen it in Georgia.

The people in Atlanta were flipping out. Delta Airlines cancelled like 500 flights when the snows piled up.

However, things didn't improve as the day wore on. The Cavs were embroiled in a dogfight with the Hawks. But behind the scenes, all kinds of stuff was going on. Two key big men became available on the open market - and both have Cavs' ties.

Both Joe Smith and Drew Gooden were bought out of the last years of their contracts by Oklahoma City and Sacramento, respectively. You can be sure that the Cavs will come away with one of them, probably Smith.

The Cavs pulled out an 88-87 decision over the Hawks, but along the way, Coach Mike Brown just about blew a gasket in between the third and fourth quarters. He was told that guard Delonte West picked up his fourth foul late in the third. He substituted for West, which allowed Hawks guard Joe Johnson to get going.

Up until that point, Johnson was held in check. He finished with 21 points, but missed an 18-footer at the buzzer that would have won the game.

Finally, the night ended. The Cavs are 2-1 on the road trip, and could soon add a big man that is desperately needed.

Some have wondered if the Celtics reacted too soon by signing Mikki Moore now that Smith and Gooden are available. Both players are better than Moore.