Tuesday, May 29, 2007


alright, well, halftime of pistons-cavs game 4. if the cavs win tonight, there will presumably be a lot of blogging about the rest of the series. but first, do any cleveland fans hold any rational insight into the travesty that is the back of drew gooden's head? it looks like an on/off switch. or maybe he just grows it to keep his head band from slipping off of his bald head? someone explain the astroturf ponytail patch. it hurts me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

State of the Playoffs

The Jazz look out of their element. I think it's funny that the Spurs have somehow become villains this year, but the way they are gleefully shredding whatever the Jazz throw at them kind of supports that idea. I mean, they should be happy to be playing on a quality basketball team, but players such as Parker and Ginobili seem to be openly derisive of the competition. I find it kind of offensive to deliver a pass between a defender's legs unless said defender is a Washington General. I'm going to go ahead and call a sweep (probably to be proven wrong tonight, all my sports predictions of late have been horrible, whatever) but I attribute it more to Carlos Boozer's continued karmic punishment for dicking over Gordon Gund rather than a superior opponent.

What would the Cavs look like right now if Jim Paxon wasn't a complete idiot? I really despise being a Cleveland sports fan sometimes. All the times.

Anyhow, our Chevaliers. I'm not going to be a naysayer. Yet. Should we have won Game 2? Yes. Because of a non-call on a heavy contact play, that I can't bring myself to outright call a foul? (Unless it had been Dwayne Wade driving the lane. He's a prince among men! Did he set up a scholarship fund for the children of referees?) No. Because they were up 12 at the half! I won't go into it yet again, even though I love to bring it up, but when the Mike Brown era is over I believe my "told you so" will be implied at this point. Not that the hole Paxon dug prevents any kind of reasonable development for the remainder of LeBron's contract...I'm digressing.

Ok, I was supposed to be talking about why the Cavs are not yet done for. Because last year in the same position we ran off three straight W's, and I'm weirdly confident that if we manage that feat again we will succeed in closing out wily Detroit. I think this will be a series yet. Tomorrow's game I predict Cavs 91, Pistons 84. Oh, and if we were to make the Finals obviously the Cavs would top the Spurs, we went 2-0 against them this season! We've definitely have their number. Ahem.

As for the Tribe, another solid performance from Paul "Frasier" Byrd last night. (Dan, I'm now going to say it would be foolish to trade the Cobra) With CC on the mound today I'd call a sweep, if the Tigers weren't sending out Mike Maroth on Sunday, seemingly the biggest Indians killer since late 90's Garciaparra. Can my boy Fausto "Miles from Ordinary" Carmona break the trend? I think these next 10 days will prove how far this team has come. I'm already planning my late-October visit to Ohio...

Friday, May 25, 2007

2nd half adjustment statistics

An interesting stat from the game last night was that in the past four games, the Cavs were outscored by an average of 10 points in the third quarter. WOW!

This is completely in line with something that Dan was saying earlier in the week:
"Mike Brown's inability to make halftime adjusts is legendary in these parts and it could very well be the team's downfall."

I wanted to come with a statistic which I think captures that inability to make 2nd half adjustments. The logic is as follows, which I think follows some of the logic JDanziger proposed after my up-at-half analysis earlier:

(1) A good 2nd half adjustment is marked by a shift in the score in the second half. If you are losing at halftime, and you make a good 2nd half adjustment then you should be more likely to win the game then if you did not make a 2nd half adjustment.

(2) Therefore, if you are GOOD at making 2nd half adjustments, then the proportion of games you win when you are down at half should be closer to the proportion of games that you win when you are up at the half (proportional, because it is feasible that a team could make good 2nd half adjustments, but win very few games overall). There is a confound with teams that just blow leads - which I will address below.

If you didn't follow my logic above, these are the teams who FAIL TO MAKE 2ND HALF CORRECTIONS WHEN THEY ARE LOSING.

(2) SUNS
(4) CAVS

Something seems right about these teams - esp. KNICKS, SUNS and CAVS. This seems to support Dan's point, the CAVS are 40-9 when winning at the half, 10-23 (or ~30%) otherwise. However, it is not the worst company to be in.

Top 8 teams for whom it matters least if they are up at the half;
I am saying these are the teams who, when they are losing adjust and come back to win or teams who BLOW LEADS. In brackets is the winning % when up at the half. Teams with a LOW % probably blow leads (think about it - the CELTICS LOSE AS MANY GAMES THEY LEAD AT HALF TIME AS THEY WIN).

(1) MAVS (91%)
(2) T-WOLVES (55%)
(3) BUCKS (51%)
(4) CELTICS (50%)
(5) NUGGETS (68%)
(6) JAZZ (74%)
(7) PACERS (63%)
(8) NETS (65%)

I am tossing the T-Wolves, Bucks and Celts whose winning % on these games is significantly below the league average, leaving my FINAL FIVE GOOD ADJUSTERS


This resolves some of my questions on whether the MAVS or SUNS were a better team this year. The SUNS were up at HALF 8 more times than the MAVS and their records were virtually indistiguishable. But the MAVS managed to win 2/3 of the games that they were losing at half, while the SUNS only won 1/3 of the games. That is awesome (They are the only team who wins the majority of the games they are losing at half - the next best team is the JAZZ who win 2/5). Their winning % when they WERE LOSING AT HALFTIME was better than ALL BUT THREE TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE OVERALL WINNING %.

The SPURS were up at HALF more than any other team in the league, with a shocking 68 games (7 more than the suns, 15 more than the jazz and mavs who were tied). However, when they were losing at the half - the only won 4/14 games. BAD AND BORING!

The PISTONS to finish up the remaining playoff teams are pretty middling. They do well when they at winning - they don't do horribly when they are not - but I was expecting that defensive tenacity to reflect more than it does in this statistic.

Also - I agree with Oh my. I didn't see anything that was an obvious foul.

Lucky Chances

So I did not get to watch Game 2.
But I have watched a lot of replays.
There is on-and-off contact on the drive,
and the shot seems to be released awkwardly,
but I'm not seeing a huge foul on the actual shot.

And here's some things I saw today:

" Here's my question for Cavs fans: down by one in the final minute of an away game in a hostile arena, would you rather have (A) LeBron shooting two free throws, or (B) three players take shots within 10 feet? "

" When he stood up from the podium after his sit-down with the media, Rasheed Wallace asked the media if anyone knew what the lottery jackpot currently was worth. What numbers might he play? Why 7-9-7-6, of course. He walked off saying, "I'm definitely playing that tonight. "

Also -- Chris Sheridan on espn today is way out of control. That guy is still apparently still mad at SHEED for throwing a can of orange soda at him. Who would bother to write that it was "orange" soda? That's excessive. Plus, he mentions that rip "cackles" twice, as if that proves that there was a foul.

He's going to have a big game in game 3 or game 4.
They're calling him the Witness Protection Program
for shutting down Jesus, I mean, He Who Is Witnessed.

An Egregious Error

I don't have much to say about last night's bitter defeat. It speaks for itself. To leave Detroit without a split is beyond disappointing. Much will be made about the non-call on LeBron's final drive and the team's subsequent silence in the locker room afterwards. Ignore it all. You only need to read ESPN's Chris Sheridan, who put it perfectly:

"The Cavs had a right to be angry, and I felt Brown had an obligation to at least show a little emotion. If he wanted to go ballistic and spend $50,000 getting it off his chest, that would have been acceptable, too. I just didn't like the whole specter of the Cavs slinking off into the night looking like they were almost afraid to stand up for themselves. They got robbed, and either their coach or their superstar should have found a way to say so."

After that non-call and Mike Brown's quiet acceptance, there is no way to not feel like Cleveland is a second-rate sports town undeserving of a voice or a fair shake. At least that's the way it plays in my opinion.


More than other people who play in the NBA.

This game seems like it was played to answer Dan's last post. Same exact situation as last game (lead at half, third quarter flop, even down 79-76 with seconds on the clock) AND as if listening to ALL OF THE CRITIQUES, LEBRON SHOT IT. And missed. And sportswriters may WANT TO WRITE ABOUT HOW HE SHOULD HAVE PASSED. But they can't, because they can't have it both ways. So instead they have to write about how the CAVS blew it again, and how the "grizzled" (which, by the way, I don't really understand as an adjective) Pistons can reveal weaknesses which we never would have seen in this team.

Unless you watched the regular season games.
Or half of the NETS series for that matter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Typical Cavaliers

I've decided to boycott sports talk shows and television today because I can't stand to hear another minute about how LeBron passed up a game-tying layup for a game-winning three. Sports pundits, both local and national, who obsess about the final shot are missing the bigger picture. The game was not decided when Dinosaur Marshall bricked another shot, but when the Cavs emerged from the locker room for the third quarter thinking the game over. Mike Brown's inability to make halftime adjusts is legendary in these parts and it could very well be the team's downfall. Only Lloyd Carr is a worse halftime tactician, but that's a different issue. Props to Flippard Saunders and the Pistons for adjusting to the Cavs first half successes. You deserve Game One more than Cleveland. I'm not going to call Game Two a must-win, but it's close.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Everybody Must Go Through Detroit

Have people seen the Nike commerical where old, wise LeBron describes the many NBA greats who had to beat the Pistons to reach the pinnacle? He might as well be talking about Cleveland sports in general. The Cavs have reached the Eastern finals for the first time in 15 years and the energy in NE Ohio for our team is electric. I always judge the magnitude of a sporting event by whether or not I hear individuals I know not to be sports fans talking about said event. In the case of the Cavs/Pistons series, I certainly do.

But back to the rivalry. I'm so happy the Cavs are playing Detroit with a chance to reach the finals. No other opponent is more appropriate. Should Cleveland prevail, we will know the club truly deserves their spot as the Eastern Conference's finals representative. I believe the league and the viewing public at-large are rooting for LeBron and the Cavaliers. The Pistons are a highly respected team and their five consecutive trips to the conference finals are amazing. However, it is time for LeBron to beat Detroit and bring the city some sort of title, if only an Eastern Conference one. For everything James is, a champion he is not yet. The Cavs haven't won a single division, conference, or league title since his anointment as our king. We've lived on his potential long enough. Bring us a banner.

Let me be clear: The Cavaliers aren't better than the Pistons. If basketball ability were the only factor in the series, the Pistons would win handily. But I'm banking on James and the rest of the Cavs to will their way past Detroit and give us something more then next year to talk about. I predict the Cavs will win in seven ugly games. What do you think Pistons fans?

Not only is Detroit in the way for the Cavs, but also the Indians. Somehow the MLB season is almost two months old and the Tigers and Indians have yet to play. That changes this weekend in Detroit. Between Memorial Day weekend and the end of September, the two clubs play sixteen times. Once again, a very talented, balanced Detroit team stands in the way of an up-and-coming Cleveland franchise. I can't wait to see these two teams slug it out for months. And though I think both teams will make the playoffs as a division winner and wild card, they will be playing for playoff seeding and home field advantage. If the Indians have shown anything this season, it's that they desperately need as many games at Jacobs Field as possible.

I only wish the Browns and Lions would both come out of nowhere this season and meet in the Super Bowl. That would be the only true capper to this great budding rivalry between Cleveland and Detroit.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

no NBA basketball on tv today, fellas.

the grim reapers host the jazz tomorrow afternoon,
and i will be looking forward to the utah jazz
being completely obliterated by game 5.

donyell marshall and daniel gibson's great playing
in game 6 somehow only made it more clear
how random and inconsistent LBJ's supporting cast is.
It's kind of like a great pitcher with no run support.
The CAVS are the OAKLAND A's.

here's a random piece of contract trivia.
Jason Richardson made $10,000,000 this year.
Fair enough. Not bad! Next year, he's slated to earn
$11,111,111. Okay. Sure. A little bit silly to throw in that
last 11 bucks, but, uh, whatever. cool. 2009?
Yup. $12,222,222. Wait a minute.
2010? $13,333,333. 2011? $14,444,444.
2012? Thankfully, this ridiculous contract will be OVER.

shoot the moon

Today's Red Sox / Braves doubleheader was interesting -- it seems that by sending Smoltz and Daisuke to the mound in opposite games, and starting a call-up pitcher in the off-game, each manager was saying: "we're going for the split" . . . why not go for broke and try to win both games? if we assume that the offense would have done the same thing against each pitcher in each game, then instead of a 1W/1L split, atlanta would have beat daisuke, 3-0, and in the battle of the AAA-men, would have edged the sox 14-13. this would, at the very least, make for two thrilling games instead of two suck-fests. And remember, you (almost) can't spell Daisuke without "suck" . . . this is the opposite of the question I asked Greg in last year's ALDS -- why not hold Zito for game 2 if you're going to "waste" his start against Santana, when the A's have no chance to win? The outcome of that game proved why you should always go for the sweep.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


ugh. up by 5 with 52 seconds to go, and no ice can be found for the free throws. warriors down 2-0. just like the jazz down were 2-0 against houston. only, when the jazz were down 2-0 against houston they looked horrible. also, the warriors proved that they don't suffer any kind of emotional problems following games that they GIVE away (see game 6 after a similar ending to game 5 against dallas) . . . take this to oracle arena, even it up, 2-2, and then play game 5 at the fucking energy solutions arena. if the jazz win a single game at oracle i will get a tattoo of gordon giricek. what a fucking loser. we might lose game 7 in utah. but nothing else will end our season. major ugh. also -- you heard it here first - MONTA is ready to contribute in game 3. he proved it tonight by sort of flagellating himself on the bench. the dude is ready for it now.
pietrus, on the other hand. FREE THROW, MY MAN. BARON, YOU TOO.


Reverse the Curse

I fear for Grady Sizemore's life. He adorns this week's cover of Sports Illustrated and we all know his chances of a season-ending injury just skyrocketed. Ben and Ted, please bestow your Sizemore bobbleheads with extra gifts this week to fend off this jinx. I will give my bobblehead more kisses then usual. The fate of the 2007 Indians may rest in the voodoo that we do.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Nets v. Cavs Game 2

Notes from the first half:

I really miss Joe Tait's play-by-play, particularly his description of how a Digiorno pizza can go straight from your oven to your tummy.

The Cavs should be leading by more than 3, they've pretty much outplayed the Nets in nearly every significant category, other than capitalizing on opportunities, ie points from turnovers, which is exactly what is required to beat a team like the Pistons. This is not a new problem unfortunately. I think it's what stands in the way of the Cavaliers becoming a great, rather than good, team.

Sasha Pavlovic is really good at basketball. And a total dreamboat. The more defined his role becomes the better.

Defensively this game is strange, I kind of expect the Nets to get shut down in the sceond half. Carter is 2-11, but NJ is shooting 55%. I seriously doubt Mikki Moore will continue shooting 100% from the field.

LeBron, you need to make your free throws, even if you've just taken a shot to the junk. That's bush league. Oh, halftime's over...

After 3:

The Cavs are lucky right now, Kidd and Jefferson are putting up really solid performances, and Carter is starting to look good in the 2nd half. The foul shooting is awful, no one has been very effective offensively.

LeBron can win this game for us if he just takes over in the 4th, which he obviously could do right now. If he doesn't, it's a toss-up. Z and Gooden are rebounding, but not much else, and Hughes is putting together a classic 3-12 performance. It's all about King James.


Well, they pulled it out. Although the Nets collapsed in the last minutes as much as the Cavs took over. I'd really like to see us take one in NJ, and I think that will require a dominating performance. The Cavs are matching up against the Nets even better than I thought they would, so I'm not too concerned about the series, but I have yet to be instilled with any confidence for the finals. I'm not even talking about winning, I just mean making a series of it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Andrei Kirilenko predicts...something???

"Golden State will run and we'll play catch the rabbit."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Dear Cavs:

Fellas, 81 points doesn't cut it. I know you hadn't played since the beginning of the week, but you guys have to score more. I know you won. If you score 81 again on Tuesday night, you'll lose. I guarantee it. Kidd won't turn the ball over as much and Carter will hit more shots. Don't rely on the Nets to make mistakes. Simply score. And do it in bunches. Want some more advice? If LeBron hits you in stride with a beautiful pass, don't let it bounce off you out-of-bounds. And free throws are called free throws because they're easy. So make more of them. Don't allow the Nets to hang around in Game 2. If you win, they have zero momentum going back to New Jersey. Doesn't that sound nice?


A very intriguing series. First, I give the Cavs the edge and expect them to win in 6 or 7.

This is the Cavs' series to take thanks to some fortunate matchups. The Nets are absurdly outmanned in the front court, with Jason Collins and Mikki Moore against Z and Gooden, plus Varejao hanging with Krstic as the big man off the bench. Overall, we have the size edge and the hustle edge. I expect Z to pour in some sweet sky hooks, and I expect Drew and Andy to pound the glass and take away any and all offensive rebounding opportunities the Nets might be thinking about. I want to see Z average 16 points and 10 rebounds; Drew 14 and 12; Varejao 10 and 8.

Lebron can neutralize Jefferson on defense, holding him to 14 points/game or something slightly below his average. I don't care if he has a big offensive series. In fact, this would be an excellent time to average 10 assists a game, with the big men towering above the opposition just waiting for a good feed.

But perhaps the biggest key of all will be the defense of Hughes and Pavlovic. Kidd to Carter will be a nonstop challenge. Can Hughes get in Kidd's face? Can he get a couple of steals per game, and stay with the Nets' best player? Again, Hughes' offense will not be critical. He must play rock solid defense and that's it. Pavlovic has really improved on D this year, and he has an enormous test in front of him guarding Carter. Regardless of what happens, Carter will score a lot. But will he average 32 points on 11 of 16 shooting, or 23 points on 7 of 16? The answer to that question will be the difference in the series.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Basketball is Easy

Ok. Now is as good a time as any to jump in here again. First, let's get a couple things straight about Golden State:

1. It sure is an exciting time for the Warriors right now, but the entire season has actually been fascinating and thrilling.

a. Monta Ellis and Biedrins both had breakout seasons, which is not something that was apparent during the Dallas series (although Monta did get the recognition with the most-improved award). I think it's interesting how little of a presence Monta had during this last series, I think there's a number of reasons why, but it's hard to describe how absolutely nuts he was during the regular season, simply careening to the basket with no regard for who might be in his way and floating to the finish. He also possesses a preternatural calmness and is, at the age of 21, destined to become the league's next Chauncey Billups.

b. Dunleavy and Troy Murphy (and McLeod and Diogu), who were simply deadweights here, were finally unloaded for SJax, Baby Al, the nonentity Josh Powell, and Sarunas, who pretty much doesn't play a minute but is the best cheerleader a team could have. Seriously, watch the Warriors bench during the next series. Sarunus is the one jumping and hopping and clapping and grinning in his warm-up suit the entire time. The Pacers unloaded their problems and got some nice boring white guys in exchange, but we got the better deal. We got tremendous players with tremendous hearts (see my most important point re: SJax below).

c. J-Rich was essentially out the entire season until February, and when he came back Baron was out pretty much for the entire month of February. Playoff pushes bring a sense of elevated purpose and determination, but the 21-5 record starting with the March 5 game against the Pistons, Baron's first game back and their first true game as a whole, uninjured team - that was no fluke. Next season they will be between 4th and 7th in the West, so squeaking in as the 8th seed was exciting but a bit misleading.

2. Stephen Jackson is not a madman. Come on, people! He is passionate, and he has quite a temper (and he knows it). That's about it. The brawl and the gun incident aren't even worth getting into. He is fiercely loyal, he has a hard time controlling his temper, he is so respectful and reverent of Baron (who he always calls "our franchise player") and his teammates, Tim Duncan has called him the best teammate he's ever had, etc. But the idea that he is a loose cannon is silly. Here is a nice article about him.

3. The Warriors aren't just running on emotion, and their style is not helter-skelter. They are tough and scrappy and smart. The fact that they are the Mavs' achilles heel is just funny and certainly does not mean that ultimately they are a better team than the Mavs. It's an interesting situation. It was too bad that they squandered the nine point lead they miraculously managed to get in game 5 after having played terribly the whole game, but it was the Mavs who were on borrowed time with that matchup, not the Warriors. I think that was clear (hello 2005-2006 Pistons). It was sweeter to win at home, anyway. The Warriors are not a well-oiled machine like Dallas or the Pistons, and they use that to their advantage. Don Nelson is really freaking smart. They are a tremendous team and they have such heart, and all of these people like Matt Barnes and Pietrus and SJax are finding their places at last. It's a great story, and they play great basketball. Also, Baron and Avery Johnson's press conferences after game 6 were so eloquent and touching. Seriously, public speaking in the best traditions of oration. In the absurd post-game glow I believe I even invoked Pericles. Things will even themselves out eventually (unless the Warriors careen into the finals!), but the energy and emotion and momentum and masterful fucking basketball - this is what sports fans live for!

Anyway. It's going to be a fun playoffs! After half of this first Pistons/Bulls game it seems safe to say that the Pistons will dominate but the young Bulls will take a game or even two. I feel confident about the next Warriors series, and I pray to God that the Suns will hold off the Spurs because we can run with the Suns!

Two great quotes from the Warriors/Dallas series:

Monta Ellis, on not being nervous before the first game: "Basketball is easy."

Avery Johnson in the press conference after game 6, on why the Warriors won the series: "They just did a good job, of having good offense and good defense."

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Rainy Night in Oakland

That was a tremendous series. I am so relieved that game 5 did not set into motion an unjust collapse. Baron's 1st half injury was so uncalled for, cosmically. BUT THE WARRIORS WIN. They were just a much tougher and better team. Dirk as MVP is really going to be embarassing for the league. MVP's don't shoot only 3 field goal attempts in the 2nd half of an elimination game. The Warriors will roll into the Western Conference Finals -- Houston or Utah will not be difficult, as long as the W's can maintain their mental identity as the underdogs, and can stay healthy. Steve Kerr said on the radio tonight, the Spurs are the only team in the West that are definitely better than the Warriors. Warriors/Suns could be a toss of the dice. Or, at least, like tossing the dice at a craps table, where you're probably going to lose but you feel like it's 50/50 anyway!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007



Talkin' baseball (Indians baseball)

The baseball season has gone so phantastically well for Cleveland. This should in no way be a taken as a prophesy for the future, or anything other than a 1/7th of the season assessment.

But it's been nice.

Fact 1: With tonight's win, the Indians have won 8 of 9 series so far. The only of those 8 that were sweeps were two-game series against Minnesota and Texas, but consistency is the most important thing, and winning 2 of 3 over and over speaks volumes.

Fact 2: The pitching has been sick. And I'm not referring to Westbrook, who I assume has some sort of injury after leaving tonight's game after one inning. The staff has not given up more than seven runs all year. Though the team era is 4.2, about average in this pitching-dominant year, the bullpen has been really tight, Borowski's doing his thing, and the starters have consistently kept the offense in the game.

Fact 3: Anecdotally, every close situation seems to be going Cleveland's way. Extra innings games, rallies - it's that bellwether, a spirit of intangibility, that I haven't felt since 1995 really. Perhaps I'm being premature but the team seems to be gelling. I just kind of knew Hafner would knock in the game winner tonight.

Fact 4: Sabathia is being remunerated for his efforts, finally, with the offensive cushioning he deserves. It would take a significant injury to keep him from 20 wins this season.

Fact 5: We've been tough in the Central in a short sample so far, proving ourselves against two good opponents in the Twins and White Sox. The first series against Detroit will be critical.