The Cavs aren't playing very good basketball right now.
The reality of basketball in Cleveland is that the new look Cavs are almost as dependent on Ilgauskas as they are on James. All the guys brought in were to help compliment Lebron and Z.
I know a lot of people consider this Cavs team to be deeper with the recently acquired players, but thats' only true from a numbers perspective. Basically Z is what makes Ben Wallace (potentially) a decent NBA player again.
I firmly believe that the only reason the Cavs won the Portland game was because of some back spasms sidelining Ben Wallace for the second half. Having only Joe Smith and Varejao to work with Mike Brown actually slid Lebron down to the power forward spot for parts of the second half. It worked pretty well. Lebron even did a respectable job on Lamarcus Aldridge at times.
Now it's relatively pointless to advocate playing Lebron at the PF spot more since it's been done a thousand times now by everyone from Charles Barkley to myself, and because it's my impression that Lebron simply doesn't want to play anything other than a wing position. This is where the coach is supposed to come in. Now it's not a good idea for Mike Brown to tell Lebron "tough, you're playing the 4 until Z's back," and I'm not sure there's a single NBA coach that it would be a good idea for.
So why not put in a four guard set? The offense isn't sacrificed like it is now with the now famed Ben Wallace / Anderson Varejao frontcourt. Defensively any of the Smith / Wallace / Varejao's paired with James can rebound at a high enough rate to keep it from becoming a liability. The rebounding is further eased with Devin Brown and Delonte West on the floor, who both rebound very well for smaller players.
Actually, that Delonte West guy might remember a thing or two about an offense like this. He was on that St. Joe's team that did pretty well running one. Unfortunately it's something that I think has to be integrated to survive this stretch without Ilgauskas. It might not be a bad idea to start working on it for life after Z too.
My final point: If someone who has never seen an NBA game saw Lebron James and Amare Stoudemire standing next to eachother, how would they tell which one was the top flight power forward and which one was the top flight point-forward-shooting-guard thing?
Friday, March 14, 2008
The Cavs aren't playing very good basketball right now.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Knee's are jerking for NBA fans everywhere today. The Suns beat the Spurs. In the regular season.
It's easy to write this off as just another fluky NBA game. The Spurs weren't very sharp. This is game three of a four games in five nights stretch for them, so the loss could be pinned on fatigue and whatnot. It wouldn't be shocking to see San Antonio drop their third straight tonight against Denver.
For some reason San Antonio is favored by 7 points tonight against Denver. I don't feel confident enough to take the Nuggets winning outright. Especially considering their road record (12-18) against the Spurs home record (26-5), but Denver just scores too many points to get beat handily tonight. I would really have no interest in this game if it were Spurs -3.5, but -7 seems like quite a reach for a team that looked tired last night.
I didn't want to just write about gambling and tonights lines, but I see another one now that I can't pass up. Houston and New Jersey. The over on 192 seems extremely favorable. Houston's been putting up about 110 a game since Yao got hurt.
I wanted to write about the Suns and the Spurs, but I'll get to that tomorrow. Gambling is more important today.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I've been dedicating a lot of space to this Jason Kidd thing and made it clear that I wasn't a huge fan of the trade for Dallas. So far Dallas has lost to teams it probably should have lost to, and beat teams it probably should have beat. So it looks like a lateral move so far. I wanted to take a look at what's been hurting Dallas since the trade.
So here's a look at what opposing guards have done against Dallas since the trade.
Chris Paul - 31 pts (11-20), 5 reb, 11 ast
Mike Conley / Javaris Crittenton /Kyle Lowry - 33 pts (12-30), 7 reb, 7 ast
Rashad Mccants - 17 pts (8-15), nothing else worth mentioning.
Ben Gordon - 25 pts (9-20), 2 reb, 4 ast
Manu Ginobli /Tony Parker - 27 (11-33), 10 reb, 9 ast
Beno Udrih - 25 pts (10-16), 5 reb, 5 ast
Kobe Bryant - 52 pts (15-27), 11 reb, 4 asst
Deron Williams - 17 pts (7-17), 5 reb, 20 ast
That's 227 points on ~47% shooting. Over 28 points a game. Compare this against Dallas having held opponents to 44.84% shooting on the season and it becomes clear why they're struggling against elite competition. Since Kidd's arrived Dallas has kept up it's overall defense keeping opponents at 44.48% shooting. So it looks like the interior defense has held up after losing Diop, which is somewhat surprising.
I'm clearly no John Hollinger, but you get the point.
Of course it's not fair to pin the recent outbursts from opposition guards solely on Jason Kidd. If you look at this list of players who (mostly) excelled against Dallas you see the majority of these guys are quicker guards who would have been covered by Harris on the defensive end.
There's some truly elite players in there, but for every Kobe on that list there's a Beno. It's not exactly uncommon for NBA teams, but Dallas now looks helpless against guard penetration. It's going to be difficult to find an answer for this problem between now and the playoffs with Jason Terry as probably the quickest guy on the roster, but also a guy who's best described as "kind of okay" defensively.
Then again Dallas offense has looked majestic for stretches since Kidd arrived, so they may be able to overcome their defensive shortcomings.
Also worth noting, Erick Dampier is playing like a guy who's worth almost two thirds of his contract now.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Duke pretty much dismantled Georgia Tech last night and did so without even playing particularly well. I can't claim to be even remotely objective when it comes to Duke (or anything else, really). I hate the team. I hate the school. I still watch though because it's basketball. I wish they were more known for something like water polo so I could tune them out of my collective universe.
The Duke men's basketball team seems to be quite good. From what I understand this wasn't supposed to be a very good year for the team, unfortunately the team itself hasn't fulfilled this prophecy.
What's so unsettling is not the fact that Duke is a good team, but that the team they have is good (yes, that's the sentence I meant to type). They don't have any really good players on the team, the only one who stands out as a guy who could have a prominent career playing basketball (on US soil) is Nelson, and his height makes that a bit of a question.
It's a team that spreads the floor and shares the ball. They have five guys averaging over 10 ppg and none averaging over 16 ppg. It's team first basketball, it works, and I hate watching it.
Clearly there is something unnatural at work here: Communism.
This team first attitude is NOT what basketball or America is all about.
Some of these players on Duke might be starring elsewhere. They could be rising up the draft boards. Instead they're part of a "team," potentially costing themselves personal fortunes down the road to advance their "team." Don't be fooled by the blue uniforms, this team is red through and through.
Would Kobe average 14 a game if it meant playing along other good players just to make the team better? Go ask Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Shaq, Gary Payton and Karl Malone. They'll tell you that no, he won't. That's because Kobe Bryant is an American. Kobe Bryant is a patriot!
These Duke players may not even go on to playing for exorbitant contracts in the NBA. These all seem like the type who would end up coaching alongside their dictator, Coach K. Committed company men. Disgusting.
Come tournament time someone is going to have to step up and defend our soil. It appears to be time to turn attention away from radical fundamentalist Islam and towards communist insurgence.
Scarier still, Coach K. will be on the sidelines for Team USA! No matter the outcome of the Summer Olympics, the Chinese have won.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Everyone should have seen this from a mile away.
Yao plays alongside Dikembe Mutombo, who has inflicted more personal injury than base jumping throughout his career, and Tracy Mcgrady, who doesn't smash skulls quite like Dikembe, but possesses the rare superpower of drawing freak injuries to his teammates.
I don't think Cal Ripken Jr. would have ever made it out of AA ball if he were coming up alongside McGrady, that's how powerful a force of injury this guy is.
The good news is that we may not have to suffer through seven grueling first round games with the Rockets just to see inevitable failure.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
14 points on 4 of 11 shooting.
5 Rebounds. 3 Assists. 3 Personals. 3 Turnovers.
He did go 5 of 5 from the free throw line, but aside from that it looks like Larry Hughes may have come back down to earth. Which is unfortunate for Chicago, because I think they need the 40 point Larry Hughes.
Monday, February 25, 2008
I can't stop watching basketball. In the past weeks it's become a gripping addiction.
I found myself watching the Houston Chicago game last night, two teams that I almost despise watching. I think there are even some fans of the two who would agree that neither team plays a particularly exciting brand of basketball. But I had to watch.
How were Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden going to fit in Chicago? Can the Rockets keep their remarkable play going (no matter how many games they win, it's still not all that exciting to watch)? I was amazed by how quickly easily I could get sucked into this game, and a testament to just how good this NBA season is. To answer my previous questions, the Bulls new players fit in fairly well, and the Bulls as a team continued to play fairly not quite good (that's the only way I can describe it). Houston on the other hand is continuing it's streak of brilliant play by being the most boring western conference team to watch. I can't wait for the Rockets to drag out the first round to seven excruciating games so they can lose again. By game 5 every NBA fan in the country (outside of Houston) will be hoping for the series to just be over already. I can't wait!
I had to watch the Cavs play a mostly terrible Memphis team to find out how the new players would fit together and to begin to answer the burning question in Cleveland and Chicago, was Ben Wallace cartering it with the Bulls? (For those unfamiliar with the verb "cartering" it is defined as; losing interest, giving up, forfeiting effort, turning cities and countries against you. That's right ladies and gentlemen, Vince Carter is now a verb!)
The answer was a resounding "maybe."
I even had to watch the entirety of the blowout that was the Suns - Pistons game. Mostly to watch the results of this Shaq experiment unfold. Something that I'm slowly drawing conclusions upon that I'll touch on after I've watched a few more games. Partly to find out exactly how the Pistons are good. Everyone I ask about this looks at me like I'm crazy. Like it's just a given that the Detroit Pistons are a good basketball team. For some reason I'm still not sold, record, statistics and other objective measures be damned!
Then there was the Lakers - Sonics game. I don't care how loathed the Lakers may around many parts of the country. Any basketball fan should be watching them every chance they get because they are simply playing an exceedingly beautiful brand of basketball right now.
Jason Kidd has 32 assists in his last two games, grabbing 17 of them last night. To say that my interest has been piqued would be putting it mildly, even though I really didn't like the trade for Dallas, and still don't.
None of this even takes into account that the pre-trade deadline media darling, the Boston Celtics, were in action against an intriguing Portland team.
Just another night in the 2007-08 NBA regular season.