Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Cavaliers’ Case

Ed. note: This article was written by Guy, who, in case you couldn't tell, is a Cavs fan. Enjoy.

There has been a lot of talk about how the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans are “just happy to be there.” That is bull shit. The avid fans that root for this team are the same ones that watched their Tribe die in the World Series in both ’95 and ’97. Do you think we look back and weep tears of joy about that? The city is dying for a championship. If a Cleveland team ever has a close-out game in my lifetime again, I plan on being downtown for the festivities. That, or the riot after we blow it.

As for the players, a story has come out about the post-Game 6 celebrations. With the fourth quarter winding down, team employees were letting the players know that champagne was waiting for them in the locker room. LeBron quickly got the champagne removed; telling his team afterwards that they can do all the celebrating they want after they take down the Spurs. LeBron isn’t satisfied with his shitty Eastern Conference Champions t-shirt and hat, he wants a God damn ring. However, no matter how bad the city and team want it, there are still some many on-the-court issues for the Cavaliers in this series that they must control in order to win the title.

1. Supporting Cast: Hit Your Shots

Sasha Pavlovic, Donyell Marshall, Larry Hughes and Damon Jones have been downright embarrassing shooting the ball throughout the playoffs, save a few games here and there (see: Donyell vs. the Nets game 6). If this team has any chance of putting an end to the Spurs’ dynasty, they will have to shoot lights out to create an open lane for LeBron. As great as Boobie Gibson has been, you have to think he can’t keep this up by himself. Look for Sasha to remove the dick from his ass and start knocking down a few open J’s.

As far as the frontcourt goes, Drew Gooden has to show up and hit that 15 footer that he fell in love with for part of the Pistons series. Another factor will be Z and the pick and pop. Even when it’s not open, it draws a big man out and gives the Cavs a better chance at offensive rebounds after errant Larry Hughes jumpers.

2. Minimize the Coaching Disadvantage

Not something that can exactly have a quick fix. Popovich is going to own Mike Brown—no arguments there. The only hope for the Cavs is that Coach Mike has learned some “fundamentals” along this playoff journey. For one, he should maybe try to save a timeout for the end of the game. Those Anderson Varejao 88 footers at the ends of Games 1 and 2 in the Detroit series were decent looks, I suppose, but just weren’t really the offensive possession I was hoping for given the situation. Another idea might be to surround LeBron with shooters at the end of a tight game. Brown did this later in the Pistons series, which leads me to believe that he is finally getting the idea. Popovich is going to respond with quick adjustments, and Brown has to minimize this glaring advantage as much as possible.

3. Contain Mr. Longoria

It is no secret that the Cavaliers struggle with quick point guards. Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and even Ray Felton have been known to light up the Cavs in recent history. What worries me here is the injury to Hughes. I would like for him to be guarding Parker for most of the minutes that he sees, but we have seen Hughes play until his painkiller wears off, which translates into no second half minutes. The alternative defender? The pride of Canton, Ohio, the Snowman. The guy has seen NBA Finals minutes before; the last time, ironically being the one-man Sixers going down to the Lakers. We can only hope that the Cavaliers are as adorable as that Sixers team by winning Game 1, getting a hopeless sports city excited, and going on to get the wood laid to them in the next four.

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Snowman log 5-10 minutes a game in this series, even if the only good that comes from it is the exposure to Canton. Gibson could be another guy to guard Parker, considering his quickness and size (6’2—yeah right, 194 to Parker’s 6’2, 180). Gibson’s lack of experience could get him into some quick foul trouble with Parker, though.

4. Pray for Referees Bias (The Wade factor)

As much as the Spurs have been coddled by the NBA, you have to think that there is some pressure on them to make this series a fair one. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stern and Stu Jackson go overboard (call it wishful thinking), getting the officials worried into calling games in the Cavaliers’ favor. Game Six in the Pistons series served up a little bit of home cookin’ for the Cavaliers and Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry are on short leashes ever since they picked on the league’s poster boy Steve Nash.

As big of a star as Tim Duncan is, LeBron is the player that everyone wants to see. You have to think that LeBron is going to get star treatment with his Bowen matchup. In last years finals, Dwyane Wade got every call against what many thought was the better team in the Mavericks as he lead the embarrassing Heat onto an NBA title. I still cannot believe that Antoine Walker and Gary Payton shamelessly earned rings like that. And neither will you if Damon Jones and Scot Pollard’s clown asses raise that trophy after LeBron’s 20 trips to the line per game this series.

Then again, who is to say that LeBron will even cash in on 75% of those free points?

5. Get Duncan’s ass to the line

I don’t have much to add here. The guy is a great player, but he’s shooting 64.8% from the line this postseason. The Cavs have the horses to pile up fouls (Z, Anderson, Gooden, Marshall). Plus, Bill Simmons knows a lot more about basketball than I do, and he says to put him on the line and hope he gets frustrated. Whatever.

That’s about all I’ve got. To take a page out of Log’s playbook, I’ll use the “if you’ve gotten this far into the article, I’m shocked” joke. So there it is—my first article… about one of my favorite teams. I’m excited to go back and read the constant homering, so let’s finish this one off right.

If the Cavs have success with these five keys, I’ve got them in 5. Yep. 5.


Daris said...

I think you missed one more key to the series:

6. Hope Tim Duncan goes down in quarter 1 of Game 1 with a horrific ankle sprain that forces him to miss the entire series.

Cleveland fans congratulations. I am sure you are all very pumped about your first trip to the finals in I don't know how many years (ever?!?!). Your team played well and it is much deserved.


Jones, Marshall, Sasha (who doesn't seem to know how to dribble) simply won't be getting good open looks. Look at what the Spurs did to the Suns in the second round. Phoenix was averaging something like 23 3-pt attempts per game during the regular season, and they were held to 10 attempts per game during the series. The Suns stood a chance because their three point shooters were also slashers. When the Spurs D closed out on Phnx shooters, they were able to penetrate and create looks. The same can't be said for the Cavs. I don't think Jones or Marshall are even allowed to dribble. Sasha looked like he was trying to dribble a football when he attempted to penetrate, and Gibson can't be expected to keep performing at his current level. I haven't even mentioned Larry Hughes because I don't want to waste my time.

Popovich's teams are known for their great perimeter defense. They funnel everything toward TD and force teams to beat them by hitting tough contested shots. Let's suppose Lebron plays as well as Deron Williams did during his series with the Spurs. I think he was averaging somewhere close to 30 points and 8 assists before his injury. It still won't be enough! Lebron's cast of second tier garbage just can't get it done and its a shame. Cleveland loses Game 5 in Detriot (and most likely the series) if Lebron doesn't put on one of the greatest performances of all time. Literally, every time another CAV touched the ball in the 4th quarter/OT's of that game it was a disaster.

I haven't even mentioned the fact that the Spurs O will be too tough for the CAVS. TD will get his 20-25 pts 10-15 reb. unless he gets in foul trouble or starts missing free-throws (possible I know, but not 4 out of 7 games). Moreover, who is going to handle Parker and Ginobli? They are just too tough.

I won't even get into experience, playing under pressure, and execution down the strech. The Spurs are a very very good team, and if games are close they will find a way to win.

Don't get me wrong, I hope I have to eat my words, but I don't see it happening.

Alright gotta get back to work. later.

BigLots said...

Good stuff Mccready. However, I have to mention that I think the Spurs have two tremendous advantages with Duncan and Parker. I just don't see the Cavs being able to stop either of them. I think the key to the Cavs' success is Gooden and Z. If they can hit jumpers and pull Duncan out of the lane as well as getting garbage put backs and drawing fouls on Duncan then they might have a shot. However, the Cavs have LeBron so you never know. Anything can happen.

Guy said...

I can't really argue with you too much about the Spurs-- because honestly, I don't know that much about them. And you're right, our supporting cast is embarrassing. I'm not asking too much from them-- just for them to hit their open shots. Trust me, every time Sasha dribbles and takes it to the hole, I lose 2 months from my life.

For me, its hard to believe that they won't get open looks with LeBron orchestrating the offense. Educate me because I don't know much about SA-- are they really not going to double LeBron? As good as Bruce Bowen is defensively, I don't think thats a very good idea. If the Spurs aren't going to double him, opening up a shot for someone, I would expect to see pretty good results (LeBron layups/And 1's/nuts in Tim Duncans face after he blows past Bowen).

Most of the time the open looks don't even matter because our shitty outsider shooters brick them anyway. So if they don't want to double him, fine by me.

As far as the Spurs on offense-- again, I haven't seen much of this team. What I do know, though, is that Mike Brown is a Popovich disciple, and the results have shown that. He took this historically shitty defensive team and made them into a top 5 in that category.

To reiterate my article, I didn't list points that I felt the Cavs had an advantage in; I listed things that they need to do differently in order to make this a series. If I listed advantages, the list would look like this:

1. LeBron James
2. Mike Brown as a disciple of Popovich (NOT Mike Brown the fantastic coach, considering he isn't). It has the Nellie taking down the Mavs ring to it, but not nearly to the degree.

That pretty much covers it.

Educate me on the Spurs, because I do want to know more going into Thursday. That way maybe it won't hurt as much if what you are saying is going to happen does indeed happen.

Buzzsaw said...

You'll be educated .. I've gotta go to work, I'll finish her up when I get back, Daris nailed a few points that I think are really important... be back after my grueling 3.5 hr work day.

Guy said...

One of you need to write a Spurs article then. I would enjoy reading something about that from one of you.

About Health Blog said...

Popovich is going to own Mike Brown—no arguments there.