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

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brown's mastery

Say what you want about Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. His all-time playoff record is now 30-20 overall (.600) - by far the best in frachise history.

His Coach of the Year award this year might not be the only one he wins in his career. There's no question he has a bright future.

Here are some other tidbits from the 4-game playoff sweep:

-- The Cavs improved to 5-2 in games in which they can clinch a playoff series on the road under Brown.

-- Forward LeBron James led the Cavs with 36 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. He finished the series averaging 32 points, 11.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists, becoming just the third player in NBA history to average at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a single postseason series. Boston's Larry Bird and Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson are the others.

-- James became just the second player in NBA history to accumulate at least 1,300 points, 400 rebounds and 350 assists in his first 50 career postseason games. Robertson was the other.

-- With Sunday's 99-78 victory, the Cavaliers are now 14-8 (.636) in franchise history in Game 4s. Out of 86 times in NBA history in which teams have led a playoff series 3-0, Cleveland became the 52nd team to finish the series with a 4-0 sweep.
Up 3-0 86 times
Win 4-0 52 times
Win 4-1 25 times
Win 4-2 6 times
Win 4-3 3 times

Friday, April 24, 2009

Love that commercial

NIKE COMMERCIAL: The Cavs' spoof of the Heineken commercial is a classic. View the video here.

WHERE'S TAYSHAUN?: The next time you’re in the dairy aisle of your favorite grocery store, check the back of the milk cartons for Tayshaun Prince. Because after the first three playoff games - and quite a few during the regular season - he has been nowhere to be found in this series. This comes courtesy of A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers.

His back must really be bothering him. He's just been no factor whatsoever.

“He’s got to (become more of a scorer),” Pistons guard Richard Hamilton said of Prince. “You can’t have LeBron relax on defense. That’s what he’s trying to do right now, he’s trying to pretty much play safety, play behind the rim; he’s helping a whole lot. So we have to make him play defense; wear him down on that end because he means so much to them on the offensive end.”

PLUS/MINUS NUMBERS: Here’s the plus/minus ratio for Detroit’s starters in the first two games of this series - Rodney Stuckey (minus-35); Richard Hamilton (minus-49); Tayshaun Prince (minus-37); Antonio McDyess (minus-30); and Rasheed Wallace (minus-34).

It's hard to put too much stock into these numbers (some guys swear by them). But they might tell the story in this series.

OBIT WRITERS: The end is near for the Pistons. It will likely come in Game 4 on Sunday. Someone asked Pistons coach Michael Curry if it was too soon to write the Pistons’ obituary.

“You can write the obituary, but you might have to change the date on it,” Curry said. “I’m sure the obituary has been written for a while, but the date keeps having to be changed. We will die eventually.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Observations from Game 2

For the fifth time in franchise history, the Cavs have a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.

They are 4-0 in the previous series in which they led, 2-0.

-- The Cavs' 32 free throws was the most they've had in a postseason game since they made 33 against Detroit on June 2, 2007.

-- F LeBron James' 13 rebounds are the second most he's had in a playoff game.

-- In the first two games, James is averaging 33.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists. He is also shooting 58.8 percent from the field.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mo's slow start

At halftime of Game 1, Cavs guard Mo Williams was 1 of 5 from the field and 0 of 3 from the 3-point line for two points.

It was a different game in the second half for the All-Star guard. He had 10 points after halftime, as he made 4 of 9 shots from the field and 2 of 4 from behind the arc. He did miss a free throw, which illustrated the kind of night he was having.

This was just the sixth career playoff game for Williams (the other 5 were in Milwaukee).

Cavs coach Mike Brown would find no fault with Williams' game.

"I thought Mo was solid," Brown said. "His shot wasn’t going in. He got two quick fouls. That might have taken him out of his rhythm.

"He’s still a threat. He struggled knocking down his shot in the first half. In the second half, his rhythm was there."

Despite a subpar game, Williams was excited by the playoff atmosphere.

"It was electric," he said. "It was fun. Once I got the first half out of the way, I was ready to go. I think that the foul trouble kind of hurt me a little bit."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gentle Giant

I've been around Zydrunas Ilgauskas since he was drafted in 1996. I wrote about him before that draft. Scouts were high on the 7-3 Lithuanian, especially after his performance against Kentucky in an exhibition game the year before.

When he arrived, he spoke broken English and could barely put sentences together. He came aboard with another European in that draft, Wright State forward/center Vitaly Potapenko, who had the luxury of playing two years in college before coming to the NBA. It was an absolute nightmare to interview the pair.

But along the way, Z has emerged as not only one of the best interviews on the team, but one that has a good sense of humor and a bit of sarcasm and wit.

I was honored to present him with the Austin Carr Good Guy Award before the game on Wednesday. At midcourt, nonetheless, with the PA announcer alerting the sold-out crowd what was taking place.

Z got a nice round of applause. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Seriously. He's one of my favorite Cavs in the 15 years I've covered the team.

I ran into him in the hallway after the game and he thanked me again. No, thank you, Z.

* * *
PLAYOFF SCHEDULE - This is all over the internet, but here's the playoff schedule I just received from the NBA:

Local EDT
Western Conference

L.A. Lakers vs. Utah

Game 1 - Sun April 19 Utah at L.A. Lakers 12:00PM 3:00PM ABC/R
Game 2 - Tue April 21 Utah at L.A. Lakers 7:30PM 10:30PM TNT
Game 3 - Thu April 23 L.A. Lakers at Utah 8:30PM 10:30PM TNT
Game 4 - Sat April 25 L.A. Lakers at Utah 7:00PM 9:00PM ESPN/R
Game 5 * Mon April 27 Utah at L.A. Lakers TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 30 L.A. Lakers at Utah TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 2 Utah at L.A. Lakers TBD TBD TNT

Denver vs. New Orleans

Game 1 - Sun April 19 New Orleans at Denver 8:30PM 10:30PM TNT
Game 2 - Wed April 22 New Orleans at Denver 8:30PM 10:30PM TNT
Game 3 - Sat April 25 Denver at New Orleans 12:00PM 1:00PM ESPN
Game 4 - Mon April 27 Denver at New Orleans TBD TBD TBD
Game 5 * Wed April 29 New Orleans at Denver TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 1 Denver at New Orleans TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 3 New Orleans at Denver TBD TBD TBD

San Antonio vs. Dallas

Game 1 - Sat April 18 Dallas at San Antonio 7:00PM 8:00PM ESPN/R
Game 2 - Mon April 20 Dallas at San Antonio 8:30PM 9:30PM TNT
Game 3 - Thu April 23 San Antonio at Dallas 7:30PM 8:30PM NBATV
Game 4 - Sat April 25 San Antonio at Dallas 3:00PM 4:00PM TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 28 Dallas at San Antonio TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 1 San Antonio at Dallas TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 3 Dallas at San Antonio TBD TBD TBD

Portland vs. Houston

Game 1 - Sat April 18 Houston at Portland 7:30PM 10:30PM ESPN
Game 2 - Tue April 21 Houston at Portland 7:00PM 10:00PM NBATV
Game 3 - Fri April 24 Portland at Houston 8:30PM 9:30PM ESPN
Game 4 - Sun April 26 Portland at Houston 8:00PM 9:00PM TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 28 Houston at Portland TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 30 Portland at Houston TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 2 Houston at Portland TBD TBD TNT

NBA Playoffs 2009 - First Round Schedule
page 2 of 2

Local EDT
Eastern Conference

Cleveland vs. Detroit

Game 1 - Sat April 18 Detroit at Cleveland 3:00PM 3:00PM ABC
Game 2 - Tue April 21 Detroit at Cleveland 8:00PM 8:00PM TNT
Game 3 - Fri April 24 Cleveland at Detroit 7:00PM 7:00PM ESPN
Game 4 - Sun April 26 Cleveland at Detroit 3:30PM 3:30PM ABC/R
Game 5 * Wed April 29 Detroit at Cleveland TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 1 Cleveland at Detroit TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 3 Detroit at Cleveland TBD TBD TBD

Boston vs. Chicago

Game 1 - Sat April 18 Chicago at Boston 12:30PM 12:30PM ESPN
Game 2 - Mon April 20 Chicago at Boston 7:00PM 7:00PM TNT
Game 3 - Thu April 23 Boston at Chicago 7:00PM 8:00PM TNT
Game 4 - Sun April 26 Boston at Chicago 12:00PM 1:00PM ABC
Game 5 * Tue April 28 Chicago at Boston TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 30 Boston at Chicago TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 2 Chicago at Boston TBD TBD TNT

Orlando vs. Philadelphia

Game 1 - Sun April 19 Philadelphia at Orlando 5:30PM 5:30PM TNT
Game 2 - Wed April 22 Philadelphia at Orlando 7:00PM 7:00PM NBATV
Game 3 - Fri April 24 Orlando at Philadelphia 8:00PM 8:00PM ESPN2
Game 4 - Sun April 26 Orlando at Philadelphia 6:30PM 6:30PM TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 28 Philadelphia at Orlando TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 30 Orlando at Philadelphia TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 2 Philadelphia at Orlando TBD TBD TNT

Atlanta vs. Miami

Game 1 - Sun April 19 Miami at Atlanta 8:00PM 8:00PM TNT
Game 2 - Wed April 22 Miami at Atlanta 8:00PM 8:00PM TNT
Game 3 - Sat April 25 Atlanta at Miami 6:30PM 6:30PM TNT
Game 4 - Mon April 27 Atlanta at Miami TBD TBD TBD
Game 5 * Wed April 29 Miami at Atlanta TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 1 Atlanta at Miami TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 3 Miami at Atlanta TBD TBD TBD

Additional scheduling information will be furnished as soon as possible
consistent with the need to fulfill league obligations.

If First Round series are completed in six (6) games or less, the
Conference Semifinals may move up to begin on either Saturday, May 2 or
Sunday, May 3.

*If necessary

All games, except those televised by ABC Sports, are available to be
televised locally.

TBD - To Be Determined R - ESPN Radio
SUBJECT TO CHANGE As of (4-16-09/2:02AM EDT)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Big Ben injured

I was just getting used to Ben Wallace and Joe Smith playing together on the Cavs' second unit. They were productive and got the job done.

Of course, that might have gone out the window on Sunday when Wallace bruised his left knee.

I wasn't able to interview him after the game. He was walking quite gingerly when I was in the locker room.

The severity of the injury is not known. He was injured in the second quarter and didn't return.

This was his third game back after missing 21 with a broken right leg.

He didn't travel to Indianapolis after the game and is listed as doubtful for Monday's game. He is scheduled to get an MRI and possibly an X-ray at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday.

The Cavs are hoping there is no structural damage. It would be a major blow to the Cavs' run at the championship.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My postseason picks

Here are my votes on the postseason awards:

MVP: 1. LeBron, 2. Wade, 3. Kobe, 4. Dwight Howard, 5. Paul Pierce
Rookie of the Year: 1. Derrick Rose, 2. Russell Westbrook, 3. OJ Mayo
Coach of the Year: 1. Mike Brown, 2. Stan Van Gundy, 3. Eric Spoelstra
Most Improved Player: 1. Devin Harris, 2. Danny Granger, 3. Kevin Durant
Defensive Player Award: 1. Dwight Howard, 2. Ron Artest, 3. LeBron James
Sixth-Man Award: 1. Nate Robinson, 2. Anderson Varejao, 3. Jason Terry
Executive of the Year: 1. Danny Ferry

First team – F LeBron James, F Paul Pierce, C Dwight Howard, G Dwyane Wade, G Kobe Bryant
Second team – F Tim Duncan, F Pau Gasol, C Yao Ming, G Chris Paul, G Tony Parker
Third team – F Dirk Nowitzki, F Carmelo Anthony, C Shaquille O’Neal, G Joe Johnson, G Brandon Roy

First team – F Ron Artest, F LeBron James, C Dwight Howard, G Chris Paul, G Kobe Bryant
Second team – F Gerald Wallace, F Andre Iguodala, C Emeka Okafor, G Shane Battier, G Delonte West

First team – Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love
Second team – Marc Gasol, Michael Beasley, Brook Lopez, Mario Chalmers, D.J. Augustin

* * *

Cavs forward/center Ben Wallace is one of the league's most overpaid players on this list on the sports blog "Club Seats." I guess they just realized Big Ben is making more money than LeBron James this season.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's that time of the year

Every day, I'm getting one or two pieces of propoganda from another NBA team. They are sending out letters, e-mails and props promoting their players.

In the last week, I got some rose-colored glasses from the Bulls asking me to vote for Derrick Rose for Rookie of the Year. I also got a bottle of glass cleaner from the Timberwolves wanting me to vote for Kevin Love, also for top rookie.

I got a personal message from Pacers president Larry Bird the other day promoting Danny Granger for Most Improved Player.

The Cavs do not believe in promoting their players, coaches or GMs with such material. However, they did recently start a website for LeBron James - By the way, he is really good, but you don't need me to tell you that.

I usually read most of the material, some of which are very clever. But it doesn't sway my vote one way or the other. I do much research on the postseason awards and really take them seriously.

I know most of my peers in the media do the same.

NO WIZ IN PLAYOFFS - Cavs forward LeBron James is glad he won't be facing the Wizards in the postseason.

"I think we both say we’d rather not see each other (in the playoffs)," James said. "It got a little out of control. We became heated rivals. They’ll be back in the Eastern Conference next year."

We're not quite sure what league they were playing in this year, but he's right, they will likely be a East playoff contender next season.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

So long, Eric

Eric Snow's NBA career officially ended on Sunday when the Cavs waived him.

Many media members thought he wasn't the easiest guy to deal with. When you'd ask him a question, he'd think about it for a few seconds and then reply, "What do you mean by that?"

Those few seconds of indecision scared off many reporters.

I always thought once you got past that first salvo, he was great. He was very insightful about the league, which is why he's a good analyst with NBA TV.

The first time I covered him, he was with the Seattle SuperSonics. The Cavs were playing in Seattle's Key Arena. After I filed my stories, I walked outside the press room and Snow was standing against the wall crying.

The Sonics had traded him to Philadelphia during the 1997-98 season. It was the first time he'd ever been dealt and he didn't want to leave Gary Payton and the rest of the Sonics.

It turned out to be a godsend for his career. He thrived in Philadelphia next to Allen Iverson and even made an appearance in the NBA Finals.

Once he came to the Cavs, I walked into the locker room one day and asked him some question. He replied, "Offensively challenged."

Since I had asked him about something totally different, I was confused.

I asked the question a different way, and he answered it the same way, "Offensively challenged."

Finally, I said, "What are you talking about?"

Snow said that I referred to him as being "offensively challenged" in my midseason report card in The News-Herald. I just started laughing. I told him I didn't realize he paid so much attention to my midseason report card.

I'll miss the guy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Is Howard slighted?

The Orlando media and fans think Magic center Dwight Howard's name hasn't been prominent enough in talk about the Most Valuable Player.

He's probably not on par with MVP candidates LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or even maybe Kobe Bryant, but Howard is going to finish in the top five in the voting.

He's having a phenomenal season and will be a first-team All-NBA player, as well as the Defensive Player of the Year, but the 6-11, 265-pounder's name shouldn't be used in the same breath as James or Wade.

One reporter tried to goad James before Friday's game by saying ESPN isn't showing Howard's 20-20 games as prominently as James' 35-point outbursts.

"I think they are," James said. "Maybe you’re getting bad reception."

HE'S BACK: Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi is back at it. But I can't argue with his line of thinking.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

LB not embarrassed

The question came from the veteran Associated Press writer, "Were you embarrassed losing to the Wizards?"

Cavs forward LeBron James didn't like the question from the start. Embarrassed?

"Do I have to answer that?" he asked.

In his thinking, the Wizards - despite being 41 games under .500 - are an NBA team. A team with a very bad record, but an NBA team nonetheless.

If this team is healthy, it's among the top 8 teams in the Eastern Conference playoff race. But injuries to key personnel, including Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas, among others, kept them from being a playoff contender.

However, if the Wizards some how get the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, how would Oklahoma center Blake Griffin look in their starting lineup? If you say, "Sweet," you would be right.