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Mike Brown statement

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 26, 2010

Mike Brown released the following statement today following five years as coach of the Cavaliers:
“The past 5 years have been an exceptional experience.  I have been very fortunate to lead a group of men who I respect and thoroughly enjoyed coaching on a daily basis.  At the same time, I was able to work alongside a terrific coaching staff and with Danny Ferry and a basketball operations team, all of whom I have a profound respect for. We partnered in creating a culture and a standard that I am, and will continue to be, very proud of.  None of which would be possible without the dedication and support of Dan Gilbert.  I am thankful for the opportunity that he gave to me and my family.  We have a deep appreciation for Northeast Ohio, the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, and the people in this community, and have enjoyed making this our home."

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LeBron links

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 26, 2010

If Phil Jackson leaves the Lakers, and that's a BIG if, how much money would Dan Gilbert have to throw at him for Jackson to truly consider the Cavs? Will $15 million do it? More? The list of landing spots dwindled by one when Jackson said Tuesday night he has no desire to return to Chicago.
You might be able to scratch one name off the Cavs' coaching list. The Hornets have reportedly offered Boston assistant coach Tom Thibodeau their head coaching position.
Esquire's Scott Raab spent a good portion of this season following the Cavaliers for a profile on Shaquille O'Neal. Now he is taking LeBron to task for getting Mike Brown fired.
John Calipari is still trying to convince people he doesn't want to leave Kentucky. Only no one seems to believe him.
William Wesley, the close tie to LeBron known affectionately as "Worldwide Wes" will become an agent for coaches and general managers on June 1, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman. His first client? Calipari. Stay tuned.

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Around the league

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 24, 2010

 
Two teams with interest and cap space for LeBron James also have head coaching positions open. Could a team trying to sign James actually hire Mike Brown first? The Star-Ledger is reporting that Brown could be on the Nets' short list of candidates, while the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson doesn't think the Bulls will have much interest.

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Candidates list

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 24, 2010

LeBron James has already played for three head coaches in his first seven years. Regardless where he ends up next season, he'll play for No. 4.
As the Cavaliers begin another coaching search, the list of candidates varies from the glamorous (Phil Jackson) to no-name assistants looking for their first big break (Tom Thibodeau).
The Cavaliers will essentially be working off two separate coaching lists — one if James remains in Cleveland and one if he does not. For that reason, don't expect the new coach to be hired anytime soon.
If LeBron stays: Phil Jackson The current Lakers coach and owner of 10 championship rings could be closing in on his 11th in a few weeks. But Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss is tired of paying Jackson in excess of $10 million per season and would like to slice his salary considerably. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has never let money stop him before and would provide whatever Jackson needed to come to Cleveland. But Gilbert can't make it sunny and warm in January.
Jackson's chronic back condition has deteriorated to where he struggles walking and must sit in an elevated chair courtside. His health, and cold Cleveland winters, may prohibit him from leaving sunny L.A. — even if James remains a Cavalier.
Mike Krzyzewski The Duke legend has been courted by NBA teams in the past, but always refused to leave Durham. If there is a combination that could change his mind, it might be LeBron James and Danny Ferry. Krzyzewski and James formed a bond during Team USA's gold medal performance two years ago, while Ferry was a key figure in guiding Krzyzewski's Blue Devils to the Final Four three times in the late 1980s.
Krzyzewski, 63,  is coming off his fourth national championship. With 11 Final Four appearances (second-most all time) and his college coaching legacy secure, this could be his last chance to give the NBA a shot.
John Calipari Despite denials he is leaving Kentucky, Calipari has to be considered a strong candidate for whichever team lands James. The two share the same agent and have an extremely close relationship — James considers Cal to be part of his inner circle "family." Therefore, James spends a lot of time on UK's campus. Maverick Carter, one of the most powerful voices of James' inner circle, refuted last week that James is looking for a package deal somewhere alongside Calipari. But now Cleveland just happens to have an opening, and Calipari just might get a call.
Calipari went 72-112 in parts of three seasons with the New Jersey Nets in the late '90s. The Nets squeezed into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed under Calipari in 1998, but were swept out of the playoffs in three games by the Bulls. He was fired the following season following a 3-17 start.
Byron Scott Scott boasts the best NBA resume of all available candidates, leading the Nets to consecutive Finals  appearances in '02 and '03. He was fired by the New Orleans Hornets this season after a 3-6 start and has a 352-355 career record over parts of 10 seasons.
He won three NBA championships as a player with the Lakers during the '80s.
Others of note: Avery Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy, Lenny Wilkens
If LeBron leaves: Tom Thibodeau Before the start of the Cavs-Celtics series, Boston coach Doc Rivers was perplexed at how Thibodeau hadn't been snatched up yet as a head coach. With six vacancies now, his time is likely here. The Celtics are making Orlando look just as foolish and lazy as the Cavaliers looked, and Thibodeau is a defensive whiz much like Brown.
Dean Demopoulos The top assistant to Nate McMillan in Portland, Demopoulos filled in admirably this year while McMillan was recovering from surgery on his torn Achilles. Demopoulos was expected to have a phone interview last week with the Hawks, who are also searching for a new coach.
Bill Laimbeer Former Pistons "Bad Boy" won three WNBA titles in Detroit. Now he's an assistant on the Timberwolves' staff still looking for his first NBA job. Laimbeer was originally drafted by the Cavaliers in 1979.
Others of note: Mike Malone (current Cavs assistant), Mike Budenholzer, Dwayne Casey

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Brown fired by Cavaliers

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 24, 2010

Mike Brown has been fired by the Cavaliers despite consecutive seasons of 60-plus victories and the best winning percentage of any coach in franchise history.
Brown was 272-138 (.663) in five seasons, but couldn't get the Cavaliers out of the Eastern Conference in either of the last two postseasons despite boasting the league's best regular season record both years. The Cavs were eliminated in six games by Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals this month and criticized nationally for their lethargic play following a 61-21 regular season. They were eliminated by Orlando in six games last year in the Eastern Conference finals after winning a franchise-record 66 games during the season.
“After a long and deep analysis of all of the factors that led to the disappointing early ends to our playoff runs over the past two seasons, we concluded that it was time for the Cavaliers to move in a different direction," owner Dan Gilbert said in a statement. "The expectations of this organization are very high and, although change always carries an element of risk, there are times when that risk must be taken in an attempt to break through to new, higher levels of accomplishment. This is one of those times.”
The Cavaliers were never able to recapture their success of 2007, when Brown took a patchwork rotation to the NBA finals, but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. The Cavaliers' talent and payroll have increased dramatically in each of the last two years. The payroll neared $100 million this year, among the highest in the league, following the acquisitions of Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison. But postseason success never followed.
Brown's firing is the first step in what could be a tumultous summer as the franchise braces for LeBron James' pending free agency. James is expected to opt out of his contract on July 1, although the Cavs are still hopeful of retaining the league's MVP from each of the last two seasons. According to reports, the Cavaliers had to fire Brown by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday in order to avoid paying him his full salary for next season. Brown will instead earn about half of his $4 million. James' relationship with Brown seemed to deteriorate this season, leaving many to speculate that Brown would have to go in order for James to consider returning.
James was critical of Brown's decision to bench Zydrunas Ilgauskas on the November night when Ilgauskas was to become the franchise leader in games played.
When Brown tore into his players publicly following a loss to Boston in Game 2 of the conference semifinals, James dismissed Brown's anger by saying "I've been here before. Now's not the time to panic." It cast Brown as panicked and insecure, even though Brown had "been there before" right alongside James. Then with the series against Boston tied at 2, James seemed to speak for Brown when he offered to defend Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo for an entire game.
"I would love to," James said. "Maybe it's something we should explore."
Brown was hired — and ultimately fired — by good friend and team General Manager Danny Ferry. The pair came from the Spurs during the same offseason. Brown was Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's top assistant and prided himself on defense. The Cavs ranked in the top 10 in fewest points allowed per game in each of Brown's five seasons. They led the league in fewest points allowed last season, but their defense collapsed amid surprisingly sloppy performances in the series loss to the Celtics. Brown directed the Cavaliers to their first Eastern Conference championship in history and an NBA finals appearance against Popovich and the Spurs in 2007, but San Antonio swept the series in four games. The Cavaliers only made it to the conference finals once over the next three seasons.
“I have truly enjoyed working with Mike Brown.  Mike has played a huge role in turning around the Cavs organization,” Ferry said. “Over the past five years, Mike established a work ethic, defensive identity and culture of winning that was not here previously.”
Brown was the 17th coach in franchise history. An 18th likely won't be named for awhile, since owner Dan Gilbert is expected to give James input into the hiring of the next coach — should James choose to remain with his hometown team. James spokesman Maverick Carter said last week James has no interest in hiring his next head coach, but the Cavaliers surely wouldn't make a hire without the superstar's approval.
If James stays, the list of candidates would have to include Kentucky coach John Calipari, a known James confidant, and perhaps Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who coached James and the rest of Team USA to a gold medal two years ago.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson might be another possibility, depending on how their season ends. Owner Jerry Buss is tired of paying $10 million for a coach, but Gilbert has never let money stop him before. If Jackson became available, Gilbert would pay $10 million — and more — to secure the coach who has won championships with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and O'Neal.
Should James sign elsewhere, the Cavaliers' job suddenly becomes much less appealing. By extension, so would the interested coaching candidates.
Brown's firing was first reported by ESPN.com.

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LeBron links

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 21, 2010

Buzz Bissinger, who co-wrote Shooting Stars with LeBron, believes it's time for him to leave home.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban fired the first salvo over the bow this week. Now the NBA is investigating for tampering.
Browns legend Jim Brown is irate at how James has been treated since the season ended and believes it will ultimately force him to leave town.
Forbes' Michael Ozanian is convinced LeBron is headed to the Knicks because he can buy stock in television station MSG and then cash in on the higher ratings his presence will provide the network.  
Bears LB Brian Urlacher is joining the campaign to get LeBron to the Bulls: "He would own Chicago."

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Who is Worldwide Wes?

By Dan Published: May 19, 2010

From ESPN:

Worldwide Wes (real name: William Wesley) is the Bigfoot of basketball. He is an ever-present enigma who doesn't do interviews. He was in Chicago with a young Michael Jordan. He befriended the Fab Five when they were freshmen at Michigan. He was on the court during the brawl between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers.
He is the man who could direct LeBron James to his next location.

The New York Times profiled Wesley in 2008. He's been linked to not only basketball players like James, Jordan, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans but entertainment stars like Jay-Z.
In 2007, GQ said all roads in the NBA lead to Wesley. They may have been right. Rumors of James' connection to coach John Calipari were reportedly sparked by Wesley. James reportedly first met Jay-Z, a partial owner of the New Jersey Nets, through Wesley.
No matter what LeBron James does this offseason, Worlwide Wes will likely be involved.

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43 days and counting

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 19, 2010

A links roundup of all things LeBron.
Pat Riley is trying to build a dynasty in Miami. With a little help, the Heat could keep Wade and add two max contracts this summer.
L.A. Clippers fans are throwing a parade to grab LeBron James' attention. It's the first parade in Clippers history to celebrate anything, and you can be sure owner Donald Sterling isn't picking up the bill.
Forbes speculates that James is crushing the Browns and Indians, and that both franchises are rooting for him to leave.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mark Bradley believes ultimately, James isn't going anywhere.

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A Wall in Washington

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 18, 2010

 
The Cavaliers' first big break in luring LeBron James back to Cleveland came on Tuesday, when the Washington Wizards -- not the New Jersey Nets -- won the NBA draft lottery.
The Nets had a 25 percent chance to win the No. 1 pick, and by extension Kentucky's John Wall, who is widely considered the best player available. But the Wizards' 10 percent chance at the top pick came through. Had the Nets won the right to draft Wall, it would've served as an added enticement to James to join his buddy Jay-Z in New Jersey. James is close to Wall based on the King's relationship with the Kentucky program and coach John Calipari.
Of course, James could wind up in New Jersey, anyhow. But the fact Wall won't be there at least helps a little bit.

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Votes are in

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 18, 2010

According to the text answering service kgb.com, the majority of people still believe LeBron James will return to Cleveland.
* 47 percent say he'll re-sign with the Cavaliers
* 24 percent say he'll sign with the Knicks
* 29 percent say he'll sign with another team.
The percentages are based on 750 total votes.

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LeBron James: And This is Where the Fun Begins...Yeah, Right

By George Thomas Published: May 17, 2010

Welcome to Day Four of rampant speculation and LeBron James.  The latest:  more theories about a package deal involving LeBron James and University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
ESPN picks up the story here:

More from the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson.  The money quote:
"But the question — as crazy as it sounds — that Bulls management has to ask itself is if it already has its alpha male superstar to build around in All-Star Rose."
And, yes, after four days New York City still plans to show it ain' t too proud to beg.  Courtesy of the New York Daily News' Frank Isola.

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About Those Fighting Irish from Boston

By George Thomas Published: May 16, 2010

I've taken a couple of days to decompress.  I didn't even watch Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in its entirety, preferrring to get some things done around my place for a few hours.
After two days of enduring "What happened to the Cavs?" and having people ask me about unsavory rumors that, to my knowledge have no basis in fact, I didn't want to go anywhere near hoops or sports for that matter.
The rumors thing confirmed some stuff for me.  The first one being that Northeast Ohio has lost its mind, all in the attempt to validate and make sense about what happend to the Cavaliers.  Here's what happened:  they lost.  Plain and simple.  They lost. 
They forgot their identity in the playoffs - defense first - and they were out of sync offensively - primarily because of injuries to LeBron James, Anderson Varejao and Shaquille O'Neal missing from the final weeks of the season.  That's it, Northeast Ohio.
The other observation:  after learning that the Celtics basically ran up in the Magic today, you have to wonder if after being cast off as irrelevant because of their players' ages and after the performance against the Cavs, you just have to wonder if they are at bare minimum this year's Cinderella team or, dare I say it for fear being hunted down by angry fans, a team of destiny.

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Sudden thought...

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 16, 2010

The Eastern Conference finals have a long way to go, but if Boston knocks off Orlando and advances, does that change your feelings on the Cavaliers' collapse? Does that take some of the heat off the Cavs and force LeBron James to rethink his future? Just wondering...

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LeBron's elbow

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 14, 2010

Danny Ferry doesn't believe LeBron James will need surgery on his elbow, but conceded that if it had happened during the regular season, the Cavaliers would've shut him down for a few weeks.
Ferry said the injury first started bothering James before the April 8 game at Chicago, when James was a late scratch. He sat out the final four regular season games to rest the elbow -- not his body -- but it did little to solve the problem. Ferry said ideally he would've liked the starters to have played the final four regular season games, but Shaquille O'Neal had not been cleared and James' elbow was bothering him too much to risk it.

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And now the autopsy

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 14, 2010

Now that the Cavaliers' frustrating collapse is complete, it's time to look back and ahead with the Cavaliers.
President Obama is back on the campaign trail. Not for himself, but to get LeBron James in a Bulls uniform.
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski says LeBron James will hold the league hostage from now until he chooses his next destination.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has joined in the recruitment of James, saying on his weekly radio show today that James "would love living in New York."
USA Today's Mike Lopresti kept a running diary of what could've been James' final night as a Cavalier.
Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post trashes the Cavs' supporting cast and doesn't think it's so silly to image him in New York now.

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Brown still in Cleveland

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 14, 2010

Dan Gilbert says no decision has been made on Mike Brown. Wouldn't say for sure Brown will be back, but a decision likely in the next 10 days or so.

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Cavaliers press conferences

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 14, 2010

Dan Gilbert expected to meet the media momentarily. Danny Ferry at 4 p.m. Check back here for updates on what comes out of it.
George Thomas
Dan Gilbert: I feel sorry for the fans more than anybody.  We're going to dig deep and try to improve this franchise - improve it for the playoffs.
GT:  Gilbert says they are going through the evaluation process.  Said he wants to make a level-headed decision.
Disappointment:  It's a lot of factors that add up to the ultimate disappointment.
Roster talent:  There's a lot of factors in play other than talent.  We're going to look at talent, motivation and everything that matters in team sports.
Knicks a threat:  I would think Mayor Bloomberg has better things to do than that.  I think we have to ignore the noise.
Gilbert on Brown:  Gilbert won't commit to Brown.  Expect an answer on his status after 7-10 days.  We'll have decisions on everything we evaluate.
Gilbert on LeBron's free agency:  We were all focused on trying to deliver a championship.
Did team quit:  Says he doesn't think the team quit, but questions were raised.
Can he imagine team without LeBron: I haven't thought of it, so I can't imagine it.
Team meshing:  We didn't see the same team in the playoffs that we saw in the regular season.
This is about delivery to the fans, to the kids and corporate sponsors and everybody else.
Clearly there's a gap and something we need to address.
On the franchise moving:  That's absurd.  Cleveland deserves more than any town to have a winner here.
Danny Ferry:
"We couldn't play the way we needed to play to be a champion."
"At the end of the year we juts weren't playing well. ... We couldn't find ourselves and you're not going to find yourselves against the Boston Celtics the way they were playing. What did we learn from that? That's what we're about to sit down and talk about over the next few days."

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Cavs owner shoots down rumor of head coach being fired

By Dan Published: May 14, 2010

Speaking to the media, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert denied reports that head coach Mike Brown has been fired.
"We are right now going through the evaluation process," Gilbert said. "I don't think it's a secret coaching is one of the things we'll look at."
Gilbert said he will consult with Brown and general manager Danny Ferry in the coming days. The evaluation process will last a week to 10 days.
Brown has been the head coach of the Cavs since the 2005-06 season. His career regular season record is 272-138. He was named NBA coach of the year following the 2008--09 season. The Cavs made the NBA Finals in 2007.
A press conference with Ferry is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

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Final Cavs vs. Celtics Game Story for Early Morning Eyes

By George Thomas Published: May 14, 2010

BOSTON – It was win or go home for the Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the Boston Celtics holding a 3-2 lead in the series.
They packed it up and will get the summer to ponder where and how things went wrong and worry about the franchise’s future after the Boston Celtics beat them 94-85 to take the series 4-2.
Kevin Garnett led the way for Boston with 22 points and Rajon Rondo followed him with 21 points and 12 assists. LeBron James after, spending a few days being criticized for his lack of effort and heart, recorded his sixth career post-season triple double with 27 points, 19 rebounds (a post-season high) and 10 assists. Point guard Mo Williams had 22 rebounds, seven rebounds and four assists.
‘’They’re battled tested and they came out and did a heck of a job against us,’’ coach Mike Brown said. ‘’You have to give them credit.’’
There is a lot that can be said about his performance in this game, but ‘’quit’’ isn’t one of them.  He played aggressively and tried to perform virtual CPR on his out-of-sync team in the fourth quarter, only to have things come up short.  He refused to blame his injured elbow for what happened, however.
‘’ I had opportunities to do things that I wanted to do, it just didn’t fall for me.  I’m not using the elbow as an excuse.  It limited me some.  You hope to be 100 percent going into any series but at this point of the season I don’t know if there is anybody on both teams that’s 100 percent.”
James struggled for much of the game, looking more for his shot inside than out, something that the Celtics planned.  He had little in the way of the way of a jumpshot, but somehow managed to eke out two three-point shots that cut the Celtics lead to 78-74 with 9:34 left in the game.
Boston rebounded, taking control of the game from that point on, going on a 10-0 run as they worked as a team to take turns hammering nails into the Cavs post-season coffin.  A lay-up, by Rondo?  No problem.   Rasheed Wallace taking his youth elixir and hitting a three? Done.  Rondo leading a fastbreak for an easy basket? It was there.
With 5:50 left in the fourth quarter the Cavs season officially ended with a Garnett slam dunk on a fastbreak courtesy of Rondo’s 12th assists of the game.  They led the Cavs by 14 points and it was over.  There was no turning it on, because they couldn’t.
The Celtics played defense so furiously that James found it difficult to drive to the lane to score, his only option on a night when his shot had little in the way of lift.
They held the Cavs to a mere 38 percent shooting in the game – 27 percent in the pivotal fourth quarter -  and forced many of the 24 turnovers that the team committed that led to 27 Boston points. 
But there were others to step up, right?  Wrong.  Williams looked as if he was heading for one of those redemption games that he was known.  He had 20 points in the first half, but showed up with just two points in the second.
And while the Celtics deserve a lot of credit for just taking it to the Cavs, there were some curious moves that came from the coaching staff.
The most glaring one?  Putting center Shaquille O’Neal on Garnett.  Many have said that Garnett’s best years remain behind him?  He found one more night in his old legs as he scored on O’Neal early and often.  The move was made to minimize the defensive liability caused by Antawn Jamison.  It didn’t work.  And when Jamison went back on Garnett it still didn’t work.
‘’It was a tough match-up for us,’’ Brown said.  It was also one that Celtics coach Doc Rivers understood the importance.
‘’He was key,’’ Rivers said.  ‘’I thought he was going into the series.  I didn’t know if he could do it.’’
Garnett’s success might have been easier to take had Jamison stepped up on the offensive side of the floor, but he didn’t.  In fact with just five points, Jamison was virtually invisible.
The loss will leave Northeast Ohioans with another bad taste in their mouths, but it also leaves a cloud of doubt hanging over the franchise’s head.
James is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agent waters  and it would be ludicrous to suggest that Brown’s job will be secure after this one.

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James Remains Mum on His Future in Press Conference

By George Thomas Published: May 14, 2010

BOSTON – This year’s Cavaliers season ended the same as last year’s – just sooner.
The Cavs walked off the court at the TD Garden losers to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, beaten by a team they were heavy favorites to beat.
It’s the kind of thing that could live an acidic taste in a person’s mouth.
Two years in a row.  Two years the best team in the league two years exiting early by most people’s estimation. The lone difference: LeBron James shook hands with his opponents, wished them well and spoke to the media. ‘’They played an unbelievable series and they had a great game plan and they executed their game plan. I gave them good luck in the next series and congratulations on winning this one,’’ James said.
But it’s what he said in the post-game press conference that was more telling.  No, don’t expect any grand revelation about his future.  There’s only one sure bet:  opting out of free agency.  After that the future clouds up like a flash storm on a hot summer day.
James isn’t about to tip his hand regarding what he’s going to do next in his career once he makes that move.  His actions have been well planned and deliberate throughout his career; expect it to stay that way.  He remained vague during his press conference.
‘’I'll approach this summer with the right mindset and my team will approach it the right way. I haven't really thought about it just now,’’ he said.
James said that his goal continues to be just one thing – winning.  That’s something all of the marketing deals and individual accolades can’t give him.
Kevin Garnett toiled for more than a decade for the Minnesota Timberwolves before he was finally traded to the Celtics and offered some advice.
‘’Loyalty is something that hurts you at times because you can’t get youth back,’’ he said.
But there’s little doubt that James cherishes loyalty to his home town, but ultimately he should and will do what is best for him.
 ‘’(I’m) kinda still trying to figure out what went wrong in this series and things we did right. We'll see what happens.’’
Here’s guessing that the ‘’see what happens’’ involves changes to the coaching staff, meaning the exit of coach Mike Brown. Internal strife in recent days has been well documented and confirmed and James’ statements can be read as a quasi-critique of his current coach.
‘’A friend of mine told me today after the game, 'I guess you have to go through a lot of nightmares before you finally accomplish your dream and that's what's going on individually with myself,’’ he said.
But is Brown the equivalent of a nightmare?   James didn’t exactly provide a ringing endorsement for him after the game.
‘’We had good game plans going into the game. Sometimes we could have made some better adjustments throughout the course of the game,’’ he said. ‘’ But for the most part we had a game plan and we tried to go out and execute it. Did it always work? No. Did it work sometimes? Yes.’’
Ultimately, coaches develop game plans and players carry them out.  There’s no doubt that the players didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
Still the major knock on Brown, who deserves heaping praise for getting an offensive stud to think defense first, has been that when it comes to in-game adjustments, he’s lacking.
James validated that perception with that statement. That is a message to owner Dan Gilbert, who had his own words for his team after Game 5. He wasn’t pleased with the effort or the intensity.
That starts at the top.  Brown would not address his future in his post-game press conference.
 “Dan Gilbert has been terrific to me from day 1 and I understand what my job is.  I’m not thinking about that right now,’’ he said. ‘’What I’m concerned about and what I’m thinking about is how we lost the game.  That’s my biggest worry right now.’’
Here’s guessing that list of priorities changes first thing this morning.   And they will also change for the team and Gilbert.  Because as long as James isn’t saying I’m getting out of here, the Cavs have a chance to sign him.
‘’It's all about winning for me. The Cavs are committed to doing that. But at the same time, I've given myself options to this point,’’ he said. ‘’Me and my team we have a game plan we're going to execute and we'll see where we're going to be at.’’

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What James said afterward

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 14, 2010

LeBron James' press conference after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals:
(What did you say to the Celtics) I told 'em congratulations. They played an unbelieveable series and they had a great game plan and they executed their game plan. I gave them good luck in the next series and congratulations on winning this one.
(How much will what Cavs did this year factor into your decision) I didn't play this season wondering about what I was going to do in the off-season. I approached every game, every practice, every day like it was my last. And I wanted to continue to get better as a leader and as a player every day. (Not) at any point did it factor in what I'm going to do this summer.
(It didn't look like you out there, you didn't go hard to basket, were you limited by the elbow) Uh, I made no excuses. I had opportunities to do things I wanted to do. It just didn't fall for me. I'm not using the elbow as an excuse. It limited me some. You hope to be 100 percent going into any series. At this point in the season, I don't think there's anybody on both teams who are 100 percent.
(It seemed like a large part of your game was missing) Uh, have a lot of time to think about it now.
(When you walked off court in Orlando last year you were emotional, how do you feel now) I feel the same way. I have no plans at this point. I've made no plans. You want to continue to win throughout the post-season, that's what I geared myself towards. The fact that it's over is definitely a surprise to myself, but it is what it is.
A friend of mine told me today after the game, 'I guess you have to go through a lot of nightmares before you finally accomplish your dream and that's what's going on individually with myself.
(Free agency this summer, what does it feel like to know it's that time) I'll approach this summer with the right mindset and my (management) team will approach it the right way. I haven't really thought about it just now. Kinda still trying to figure out what went wrong in this series and things we did right. We'll see what happens.
(Is there anything more wrong with elbow than we know) Nope. (Shakes head)
(What can you say to the panicked fans in Cleveland) I'm going to approach this summer with the right mindset. Me and my team are going to figure out what's the best possibility for me. I love the city of Cleveland, of course. Another disappointing season, to say the least, but at the same time we have a great time together. We'll see what happens.
(Do you see your team as a contender) I don't know. I really don't know everyone's contract situations as far as years and things like that. We're a great team, a really good team, and we played hard all year. We just didn't figure it out through the whole post-season and didn't play consistent basketball. At this point, Boston's moving on. For the most part as a team we all get along, we had a great year.
(Why did this happen) The only thing I can think about right now is the season being over. When you have high expectations going into the post-season, you never can predict the future, but at the same time you hope for things that are much brighter than what's going on right now. As an individual I'm going to continue to get better throughout the off-season like I always do and I'll come back a better player next season and still have the same goals.
(What did the celtics do to you and the team, what was missing) Boston had a great game plan. They tried to keep us on the perimeter as much as possible. They've got a lot of veteran players who have been in post-season games and they all just bought into their system and it worked for them. We had opportunities to win the game, to win the series, but we didn't execute for 48 minutes every game. You don't do that against a very experienced team, against a team that has been around this block more than once, you can definitely end up on the losing side.
 (How did you feel about your team's game plans and rotations and defensive matchups) We had good game plans going into the game. Sometimes we could have made some better adjustments throughout the course of the game. But for the most part we had a game plan and we tried to go out and execute it. Did it always work? No. Did it work sometimes? Yes.
 Tonight was a game we fought hard, but when you turn the ball over as much as we did, when you give up 27 points off turnovers it's very difficult. I think tonight we left it on the court. We have nothing to hang our heads low  about tonight's performance.
(What do you mean by the right mindset in free agency) First of all I want to win. That's my only thing, that's my only concern. I've always prided myself on becoming better at basketball individually, then taking that onto the court. It's all about winning for me. The Cavs are committed to doing that. But at the same time, I've given myself options to this point. Me and my team we have a game plan we're going to execute and we'll see where we're going to be at.

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Mo Williams post-game quotes

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 13, 2010

(Courtesy Boston Celtics public relations)
(Reaction) “Disappointed, in one word.”
(Taking the three ball away from you) “They just came in with a game plan and they executed it.  That’s why I turned the corner a lot.  Just about being aggressive and trying to get to the rim, making plays for guys.  They just wouldn’t let me get my normal spot-up, but playoff basketball, that’s what teams are gonna do.  They’re gonna take away strengths and we did also. 
''I chased Ray and make him take tough shots and I think he might have had one good game in the series as far as shooting the basketball.  We did a good job of that.  It comes down to executing and making plays and adjustments.”
 (What was said in the locker room) “Basically we gave effort, nobody can question the effort we had today.  They executed down the stretch.  We got it to four, and they did a good job of making shots.  You have to give them credit at the same time.”
 (One things wish could have back) “You can go back and look at every game and pick out all the stuff, but in the heat of the moment you just gotta make a rash decision with it.”
 (Most disappointing aspect of loss) “The fact that it was our goal to win a championship and we came up short.  It’s definitely heart-wrenching, it definitely hurts, but it’s over.  I think the city of Cleveland feel the same way we feel so. It’s disappointing.”
 (LeBron’s injury affecting his game) “I don’t know, I think that’s a personal question that you’d have to ask him.  I mean, I don’t know.  He’s a competitor just like anybody else so he goes out and plays basketball.  He has his jersey on and he’s gonna give 110%, he’s gonna be effective doing it.”
 (Tipping your cap to Celtics) “You have to.  They did a good job of getting the job done, no matter how they did it.”

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Now what?

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 13, 2010

The stunning and premature exit from the postseason has left the entire Cavaliers roster in flux. The GM is in the final year of his contract, the coach is almost assuredly out, not to mention the uncertainty surrounding the King and his court. Here is a look at the franchise's key figures and the likelihood they are still on the roster when training camp starts in the fall.
GM Danny Ferry Outlook: With little cap space, Ferry has overhauled the Cavaliers' roster the last two seasons with creative trades. He has given coach Mike Brown all the pieces he needed for a championship, but obviously it didn't work. Dan Gilbert gave his blessing for Ferry to continue adding payroll to win this season, knowing he might be stuck with a few bad contracts in a couple of years. Based on his recent comments, Gilbert might be upset enough to clear the deck of everyone -- including Ferry. Stay or go? Stay
Coach Mike Brown Whispers started after last season that Brown was in trouble after the Cavs lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals. After the team regressed this season, Brown is assuredly out. He has been given every piece he could've asked for, yet still couldn't even deliver an NBA finals appearance, let alone a championship. His obsession with defense left the offense clumsy too many times. His rotations were inconsistent and left reserves unsure when -- or if -- they'd enter the game. LeBron James always seemed to merely tolerate his head coach, but their relationship appeared to deteriorate as the postseason progressed. Including the postseason, Brown is 314-167 in five years in Cleveland. He could very well be coaching in the NBA next season, but it won't be here. Stay or go? Go
Shaquille O'Neal He hinted earlier this season he'd like to return, but right now that's all in flux. The broken thumb came at the worst possible time, since he never seemed to find his rhythm in the playoffs following a fairly productive regular season. The most disappointing aspect is O'Neal never even got to do what he was brought here to do: match up with Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference finals. O'Neal felt like a mercenary this season. He was reclusive, kept to himself and was nowhere to be found while rehabbing the thumb. The last two teams O'Neal has played for, the Cavs and the Phoenix Suns, both underachieved badly with him on the roster. Is it a coincidence? Hard to tell, but the Suns are back in the Western Conference finals without him. Stay or go? Go
Zydrunas Ilgauskas He'll never admit it publicly, but Ilgauskas was stung by how he was treated this season. He became a bench player for the first time in his career, he was stung by how Mike Brown handled the night he was supposed to become the franchise leader in games played and finally he was traded midseason for Antawn Jamison. Ilgauskas swallowed all those feelings and returned anyhow for a chance at a championship. He didn't get it and now will become a highly sought-after free agent, even though he turns 35 next month. Ilgauskas hinted at retirement before this season began, but his agent, Herb Rudoy, told me he was so overwhelmed by the interest around the league after he was released by Washington that he will almost assuredly play next season. Don't be surprised if he even receives a multiyear deal. It just won't come in Cleveland. Stay or go? Go
Mo Williams Drew the ire of fans and coaches for his erratic play the last two postseasons. Despite his scoring outburst in Game 6, Williams was awful offensively and even worse defensively. His liabilities are a big reason the Cavs struggled defending Rajon Rondo. The problem is his contract. Williams is signed through 2012, with a player option through 2013, worth $26 million. In order for the Cavs to move him, they'd have to take back a bad contract. Stay or go? Stay
Delonte West West lost his starting job to Anthony Parker because of off-court problems and was never able to regain it. Now he has a pending court case in Maryland on felony weapons charges and could be looking at jail time this summer. His attorney has done a masterful job of delaying the trial so West could play this season, but now it's time to face the judge. He is entering the final year of his deal next season and probably isn't a candidate to get traded. It's just a matter of how much jail time, if any, he'll receive and if he'll be out in time for training camp. Stay or go? Stay
LeBron James The summer Cavaliers fans have dreaded has officially started. No one has any idea what James is thinking right now, perhaps not even James himself. It won't be a surprise if James lands on an operating table to repair his elbow next week. He'll take the next seven weeks to recover and clear his head while weighing his options. Remember, he could still simply exercise the option on his current contract and go through all of this again next year. But the looming cuts in a new labor deal with the league will likely prevent that from happening. Despite New Yorkers' passionate pleas, the Knicks just aren't a viable option if James truly wants to win a championship. Even if he joined Chris Bosh in New York, the Knicks would still be at least a year or two away from being legitimate title contenders. If James is to leave, the team that gives him the best team to win now is Chicago. James called Derrick Rose one of the top three point guards in the league during their first-round playoff series, when he got an up-close look at just how close the Bulls are to contention. With Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, the addition of James would immediately make the Bulls the best team in the East. Not to mention, James could follow Michael Jordan's path and restore the glory to Bulls basketball. Knowing LeBron, he's going to draw this out and soak in the attention. At some point, Ferry -- provided he's still the GM -- will call James and ask him who he wants to be the coach. The answer likely isn't going to be Mike Brown. If James can hand-pick the next coach, if he wants Shaq back and believes they can win a championship together and if he feels any remorse for getting injured at the worst possible time, James just might be back after all. Then again, he's 25. If he signs another three-year deal and fails again with the Cavaliers, he's 28 and suddenly becoming Alex Rodriguez, who was the best player in baseball with no championships for much of his career. James may decide he's given Cleveland seven years and done all he can do. It just might be time to start over elsewhere. Stay or go? Go

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Poll: Was this LeBron James' last game with the Cavaliers?

By Dan Published: May 13, 2010

Readers react: We want to hear from you when you vote!
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Pregame thoughts

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 13, 2010

GEARING UP FOR LBJ
` While James managed just 15 points on 3 of 14 shooting in Game 5, Celtics coach Doc Rivers was preparing for an explosion by James with the season on the line.
‘‘We expect it,’’ Rivers said. ‘‘I said going into Game 1, we're going to have to win a game eventually, and maybe tonight, when he has a big game. It's what type of big game he has. If it's all points, I think we can live through that. If it's points and assists, I don't think we can live through that.’’
But the Celtics' defensive strategy for James hasn't changed.
‘‘We have to let him see as many bodies in front of him as possible, five at times,’’ Rivers said. ‘‘One guy's not going to stop LeBron.’’
Getting easier? ` Rivers' approach to the playoffs doesn't reflect well on Cavs' coach Mike Brown, whose team has been wildly erratic in this series.
Asked if he sensed consistency returning after two straight Boston victories, Rivers said, ''I don't know if I ever sensed it. We've turned into a 'One game at a time' team. During the regular season you play in patches, 'Let's get through this stretch.' In the playoffs we only talk about one game. I think it's easier to be consistent, it's easier to get the best out of your guys because it's one team, it's one focus.''
OUTTA MY WAY ` Celtics' 13-year veteran guard Ray Allen arrived at TD Garden before 4 p.m. to shoot. But that routine was disrupted at Quicken Loans Arena because he had to fight for space on the court.
''In Cleveland the whole dance squad was out there on my side,'' Allen said. ''They had the music faced in my direction. The dance squad, the energy squad, the fire squad. All the squads were right there on my side.''
But crowding Allen may not have had the desired effect.
''I had to focus more,'' he said.
READY FOR ANYTHING ` After surprise appearances by Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Daniel Gibson in Game 5, Allen and Rivers expect more of the same.
''We wouldn't be shocked to see (Anderson) Varejao in the starting lineup or him going with size early,'' Rivers said of Brown. ''But they didn't get this record by doing a lot of changing. So we have to prepare for everything, small lineup, big lineup. They have the ability to do a lot of things because of their personnel.''
Allen said, ''When Gibson and Ilgauskas came in, everybody's antennas did go up because when knew what they're capable of. They're good offensive players. You know what their tendencies are.''

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Gameblog: Cavs at Boston Celtics Eastern Conf. Semis - Game 6 (Put Up or Shut Up Edition)

By George Thomas Published: May 13, 2010

Game: Cavs vs.  Boston Celtics
Broadcast:
TV:  TNT
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O’Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Celtics:  Paul Pierce (F); Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  NONE.
Celtics:  NONE.
Officials:  Monty McCutcheon, Bob Delaney and Eddie F. Rush.
Quoth Shaquille O'Neal:  There's nothing wrong with our offense.  We need to work on our defense.
The dilemma with the Cavs is that their offensive success is intricately tied to their defensive success - rebounding, getting into their offense quickly and fighting for loose balls.
Their transition defense has been garbage with the Celtics taking a decided advantage in that area.  Prior to shootaround coach Mike Brown intimated that there might be a couple of changes in the rotation tonight.  What that tells me:  less Mo Williams and more Delonte West to deal with Rajon Rondo - or let's be realistic - try to deal with Rajon Rondo.
But then there's that three-headed monster to contend - Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - that has come to life.  The Cavs caught a break before in that Pierce had been having a crappy series until Game 5.  With all three clicking, the Cavs will need their defense, offensive contributions from everyone and, oh yea, an outstanding performance by LeBron James.
The reality is that without James, the Cavs don't win.  And that would be the James of the MVP variety, the one that scores, rebounds and distributes.  There's no doubt that his elbow is bothering him, but if he's well enough to be on the court, he has to be well enough to do all fo those things.

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Don't Worry, All is Well Say the Cavaliers

By George Thomas Published: May 12, 2010


All is well.
That's what the Cavs want to believe with respect to their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Boston Celtics that they now trail 3-2 with Boston having the opportunity to close things out at the TD Garden Thursday.
LeBron James isn't worried about past games and welcomes the challenge of Game 6:
''That was last night. Last night was a bad night, shooting the ball-wise. I think I played well. When you go out and you have a bar set so high for yourself and you don't do that every single night, they can have a bad one, they can talk about you and say, 'The elbow' and 'He wasn't this' or 'He wasn't that.' I'm OK with accepting it. But I don't get involved in it. I've got to understand tomorrow is a huge game, not only for myself but for our whole team,'' he said.
Ahh, the elbow. There's nothing wrong with that part of his body, so says The King. And his teammates back him up on that.
''Nothing's wrong with him. It's our job as others to make him look good. We have to hit shots when he gets off the ball and we've got to play defense and open up the floor for him. When he's coming off the ball and kicking it, guys have to hit shots,'' center Shaquille O'Neal said.
For the record, point guard Mo Williams agrees that there's little wrong with James.
But here's an analysis courtesy of BasketballBreakdowns from YouTube:

Right now Cavs fans are in a panic over the possibility that a team that they have invested almost 10 months - one that had the best record for two consecutive seasons - are close to being eliminated from the playoffs far too soon.
When asked why they shouldn't be worried, James said: ''They've got me.''
The problem with that? James has had two consecutive games that he'd probably like to forget, avergaing 18.5 points per game in those two losses.
Right now, the team's post-season future hinges on which James shows: the one from Game 3 or his evil twin from the past two.  And it's not inconceivable that the organization's future hangs in the balance as well.

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Elbow or attitude?

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 12, 2010

There are only two explanations for LeBron James' play in this series against the Celtics: It's either his elbow or his attitude. Either the King is more injured than anyone is admitting, or his bags are already packed and the moving van is on its way.
Given James' team-first mentality throughout his career, it's hard to believe he'd quit on his teammates now.
That leaves the elbow.
He is tired of talking about it. We're tired of asking about it. Fans are sick of hearing about it. But when he had four full days to rest his ailing arm, James responded with his best performance of the series: 38 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a vintage James performance in Game 3. He scored 21 in the first quarter and looked unstoppable as the Cavs took what seemed to be command of the series.
James also had about four full days of rest and treatment between the end of the Bulls series -- when all of this elbow talk surfaced with his left-handed free throw -- and Game 1 against Boston, when James opened the series with 35 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
That's two games on four days' rest with averages of 36.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists.
James has played the other three games of this series with just one day of rest in between. In those games, he has averaged 20.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists.
The elbow doesn't affect his rebounds and assists, but it certainly seems to be affecting his shot. James is shooting 36 percent from the floor (17 of 47) in the three games with short rest. He shot 57 percent (26 of 46) in Games 1 and 3 combined, when he had four days off in between.
The bad news is that Game 6 comes after one day of rest. The worse news is it might be James' final game in a Cavaliers uniform.
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Basketball Hall of Fame Honors Tait, MacMullan

By George Thomas Published: May 11, 2010

Jackie MacMullan, a highly respected pro basketball reporter who worked for The Boston Globe for three decades and recently collaborated on a best selling book with Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and Joe Tait, a popular radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Cleveland Cavaliers for 38 years, have been selected to receive the 2010 Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during Enshrinement festivities scheduled on August 12-13, 2010 in Springfield, Massachusetts. MacMullan is the first female reporter to receive the honor in its 21-year history.
Joe Tait, the 2010 Gowdy Award winner representing the Electronic Media, is currently in his 38th season covering NBA basketball as the voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  He began as Cleveland’s play-by-play announcer eight games into the club’s inaugural season of 1970, and during his first 11 years with the team, Tait earned his reputation as one of the nation’s top sportscasters.
Tait is joining some illustrious company representing the electronic media.  Among recipients of the award:  Marv Albert, Dick Vitale and Bob Costas.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Celtics - Game 5 Eastern Conference Semis

By George Thomas Published: May 11, 2010

Celtics 120, Cavs 88.
Debacle?  Disaster?  Disastrous debacle?    Ultimately, it doesn't matter because it equals a big fat loss.
So what's going on?  A lack of fire, no aggression and no energy.  It wasn't difficult to see that.  It's as if the team knows that there is something more serious with LeBron James' elbow and that their chances to win this thing are greatly diminished.  For most people, that means going out and trying to prove that you have what it takes without your superstar player. 
They, however, are not playing that way. The Celtics once again dominated every aspect of the game - including coach Mike Brown's hustle categories.
But here's what everyone should have been worried about while Rajon Rond was roaming virtually free in those first four games - the Boston Three Party had yet to work in sympatico. Until tonight, Paul Pierce had been sucking wind. 
Tonight the Celtics didn't need Rondo because Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Pierce combined for 64 points on 25-of-38 shooting.  When Rondo did finally show, after a scoreless first half, it was only because Brown had to stick Anthony Parker on Ray Allen after he connected on two consecutive three-point shots to open the second half.
Rondo took it right to Williams for eight consecutive points - boom, game.
So what to do about it?  How about the Cavs playing as if they want to win for starters?  That would help.  The lack of energy and intensity were plainly evident for a second consecutive game.
How about moving the ball to try to break down the defense for better looks? 
Game: Cavs vs.  Boston Celtics
Broadcast:
TV:  TNT
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O’Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Celtics:  Paul Pierce (F); Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  NONE.
Celtics:  NONE.
Officials: Joe Crawford, Marc Davis, Greg Willard.
What to expect:  This is probably the most important game of the Cavs' season.  They missed a golden opportunity to put their collective heel on Boston's throat and smash it on Sunday.  Listening to the Celtics in shootaround, they're confident and ready to go.
The buzz has been about LeBron James guarding Rajon Rondo.  The problem is he cannot guard Rondo for the entire game and expect to be effective on both ends of the court.  It could cause problems elsewhere, also depending on who is on the floor.  If it's Mo Williams and Delonte West and James ends up on Rondo, that leaves a mismatch (height wise)  with Paul Pierce, more than likely.
The Cavs are a good offensive game by Pierce away from being down 1-3 in this series and looking at elimination.  Don't think Boston Coach Doc Rivers realizes that.

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New York: Calling or Begging?

By Jason Lloyd Published: May 11, 2010

The buzzards are beginning to circle over Cleveland. New York Magazine's newest issue has LeBron James on the cover with the headline, "Hey LeBron, welcome to New York." Inside is a picture of James in a No. 6 Knicks jersey and 16 vignettes on why he would be foolish to do anything but pack his bags this week and head immediately to Manhattan.
Topping it off:  an article in the New York Daily News and a full page editorial from the NYDN doing everything but begging James to come to the Big Apple.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Celtics - Eastern Semis Game 4

By George Thomas Published: May 9, 2010

HALF:  Celtics 54, Cavs 45
If the Cavs are planning to flip the switch, I suggest it begin now.  They are getting outplayed across the board with the Celtics killing them shooting, as they hunker down on defense. But it's the points in the paint, second chance points and fastbreak points that are killing the Cavs.  This isn't a lack of intensity thing, it's a being-outplayed-thing.
LeBron James, despite his 13 points, is playing passively and didn't start to drive the ball until late in the second quarter.
And Rajon Rondo has already matched Game 3's output already as the Cavs seem to have NO answer for him at this point.
Game: Cavs at Boston Celtics
Broadcast:
TV:  ABC (WEWS Channel 5)
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O’Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Celtics:  Paul Pierce (F); Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  LeBron James (elbow) and Anderson Varejao (back spasms) are probable.
Celtics:  Kevin Garnett (mid-foot sprain), Kendrick Perkins (hyperextended knee) are probable.
Officials:  Joe DeRosa, Mike Callahan, Michael Smith.
Coach Mike Brown listened to some advice from an advance scout and his team members and picked Rajon Rondo up at full court.  That along with Anthony Parker's defense helped to slow the Boston guard down.  In two games Rondo averaged 15.5 assists, in the third he got just eight. 
Obviously Boston coach Doc Rivers will look to nullify that.  Look for the Celtics to try to get into their offense faster.   Without Rondo to kick the ball out after penetrating, Ray Allen isn't as successful getting off those lightning quick shots.  Yes, for the the Cavs, that's a good thing.
But Rondo isn't the sole important piece to this puzzle. The Celtics will likely try to get forward Paul Pierce going.  Pierced averaged 19.7 points in the opening round of the playoffs, but is averaging seven points less in this series.  Last game he got his shots, but went just 4-of-15. 
The Cavs have to continue what they started Friday night.  That game represented their best effort in the playoffs to date.  Brown has looked for 48 consistent minutes of play, he probably got 45 Friday night. He'll take it.
LeBron James had his best outing in that game, but two things happened in Game 3, that hadn't before - forward Antawn Jamison got things going with 20 points and 12 rebounds and center Shaquille O'Neal (12 points) found some semblence of rhythm in the game.

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LeBron after Game 3: 'Aggression was my mindset'

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 7, 2010

LeBron James post-game press conference (Courtesy Celtics P.R. department) 
(Necessity of focus and the feeling of the elbow) “My focus was on game 3.  It was a really important game for us.  Aggression was my mindset.  It was my mindset to come out really aggressive and just dictate tempo from the start of the jump and I was able to do that.  I think rest helped me. Rest helped all of us and we was able to put a complete game for the first time in these playoffs.”
 (Tired of hearing about MRIs and elbow) “I think it was much bigger than what it was, but I think that’s what happens sometimes in the whole media circuit.  But it didn’t bother me at all.  I wasn’t tired of hearing about it, I didn’t really focus in on it that much.  My only focus was on game 3, just having a whole 360 of what we did in game 2.”
 (Coming out aggressively) “I think one thing we did tonight was we moved the ball from one side to another, and we didn’t turn the ball over as much.  I think we had five turnovers in the first 6 minutes but they were all, if you ever heard of good turnovers, the first six minutes we got good turnovers.  We was trying to get guys open, we was looking for guys.  We turned the ball over being aggressive.  After that point we only had seven for the rest of the game.  I think the mark is defensively to hold this team, especially at home, to 42 % shooting was a tribute to our intensity and us focusing in on what the game plan was going to be tonight defensively.”
(Key to achieve consistency) “Well that’s one thing we do want to try to do.  We haven’t had consistent play all playoffs, but we’ve played well enough to win.  We don’t just want to play well enough to win.  Like you said, we know we’re not going to blow teams out every night, we don’t look to blow teams out every night, but if it happens throughout the course of the game we’ll take it.  We just need to understand that we have to play with a little more sense of urgency from the start.  We did tonight.  We didn’t wait to be down, we didn’t wait til we got up.  Once we got up we just kept the pedal down.”
 (Who does the consistency fall upon) “Well I think it starts with me, but I think it trickles down to everyone else.  We understand that this is the playoffs and every game counts, every possession counts.  But everyone playing with a little bit more sense of urgency to start the game will help us.”
 “Well being on the road, mindsets change, personnel change.  I think you can afford, saying myself can afford, to play the back role a little bit at home.  Guys are more confident at home, guys shoot the ball sometimes better at home.  You can feed off the crowd.  It enable to not do as much offensively and then wait til the second half, wait til the fourth quarter and then close games out.  On the road you can’t do that as much because honestly it’s just you and your teammates, the coaching staff and friends and family that has come here for the game.  So it started with me tonight and then everyone seen my aggression and just took advantage of it.”
 (Sense of tension of game) “Well I sensed guys was ready to get Game 2 past us and move on to Game 3.  There was definitely discussion.  That’s what you’re gonna have in the middle of a loss or a win.  We just look back and see the mistakes that we had, where we went bad.  We had an awful third quarter, we played an awful Game in game 2 and we knew we couldn’t repeat that performance.  We would have gotten beat up again.  It was a lot.  We had three days to just sit and feel the pressure of Game 2 if you wanted to make it pressure.  If not you just bounce back.”
 (Defense on Paul Pierce) “For me, I take the challenge defensively if there’s anybody.  Paul is one of the great players we have in this league, one of the best three’s we have in this league.  I just try to take the pressure off other guys wanting to guard them.  I take pride in my defense and when you have guys behind you that communicate with you it definitely helps.  It’s hard to stop a guy like Paul because he has so much to his game.  You just want to try to keep a body in front of him.  If he goes up and shoot it just try to contest.  Stay down on a lot of his pump fakes, but he’s a really good player.”
 (Feeding off Mike Brown’s displeasure after Game 2) “I remember you guys talking about Mike coming in real angry, but if you remember me I was real calm.  There was no reason for me as a leader to be very angry or feel like it was pressure time for us.  I understood we played awful in Game 2 and I came in that press conference and you guys were like ‘Why do you seem so calm and Mike seems so um…’.  It’s just I knew how important the next game was and I knew how important the whole series is.  We know defensively we always made our mark in the post season and we’ve always been the top tier of teams in the post season out of 16 teams.  In order for us to be really good we have to continue to get stops and that’s what we did tonight.”
 (Playing at the end of the game despite being up by 25 points) “It wasn’t something I discussed with Mike and it wasn’t sending a message.  It was just me seeing the game, how the game is played, making in-game adjustments.  I had it going, we had it going, and I wasn’t tired at that point.  I think I came out 6:15 in the second quarter and I was able to check back in with like 3 minutes left to go and we was able to close the quarter out.  I didn’t come back out til the fourth quarter til we had the game.  It’s just in-game, knowing the game and how it’s flowing.  Me being on the court being a threat.”

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Hickson not optimistic about more time

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 7, 2010

Some have suggested that Cavs coach Mike Brown should consider starting second-year man J.J. Hickson in tonight's Game 3 against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. That strategy would include going with a small lineup to try to run the aging Celtics early.
If that's in the plan, Hickson hasn't gotten any hint of it, or cleverly kept it under wraps.
''Naw. I didn't get any sense like that,'' Hickson said before Friday's shootaround. ''If I play 11 minutes or 19 minutes or no minutes, I'm going to do whatever it takes for us to win.
'' It's coach's decision. That's what he gets paid to do. Whatever he says, it's up to me to trust him. I've been trusting him the whole season, so why stop?''
In a 104-86 loss to Boston in Game 2 at Quicken Loans Arena, Hickson scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half, seven in the fourth quarter as the Cavs tried to rally from a 25-point deficit. But Hickson took no personal encouragement from what he might have shown the coaches in that stretch.
''Naw. It was more of a team effort,'' he said. ''We wanted to finish the game right, finish the game on a good note going into Game 3 and I think we did a good job of that.''
As for tonight, he said, ''We've got to come out with intensity from the get-go. We can't have defensive lapses and times where we're not focused.''

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Practicing underground

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 7, 2010

Because Northeastern University's graduation was being held at the TD Garden Friday morning (causing gridlock around the arena), the Cavs held shootaround at Suffolk University's Regan Gymnasium in the heart of Boston.
The gym, home of the school's Division III basketball team, was dug in the basement of a building, with the floor installed below ground. That gave it a claustrophobic feel. Several Cavs player had to duck through the doorway as they entered via the stairs.
All were greeted by director of athletics Jim Nelson, a former Boston College player under coach Bob Cousy. Suffolk men's basketball coach Adam Nelson was also there to assist.
Folding chairs were set up in a corner around a flat screen for film study and there were more chairs along the wall for players. Coaches operated from a folding table at mid-court.
 ''We've done it before where we've shot at awkward places,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ''It's not that big of a deal. It's a gym, it's warm. We don't go long during shootaround. We don't do a ton. It's just good to get out of the hotel a little bit, get on the same page.''

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Gameblog: Cavs at Boston Celtics - Game 3 Eastern Conf. Semis

By George Thomas Published: May 7, 2010

Cavs 124, Celtics 95
The Cavs didn't stop Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, but they did just enough to irritate him and ensure that he didn't get his teammates involved very much in Friday night's game.
Rondo had 18 points and eight assists, but worked for each and every one of them and didn't play much of the fourth quarter.
Coach Mike Brown said that Anthony Parker came up with the idea of parking himself on the Boston guard.  It worked well enough that only Kevin Garnett (19 points) was able to get untracked.
But the big reason the Cavs won the game:  LeBron James wailed on the Celtics at will notching 38 points on 14-of-22 shooting for the night.
The Cavs dominated all aspects of the game, but the big difference is the effort was there for 48 minutes and it was clear from when James started the second quarter - a time he normally rests - that the Cavs were going for the jugular.
Game: Cavs at Boston Celtics
Broadcast:
TV:  ESPN
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O’Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Celtics:  Paul Pierce (F); Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  LeBron James (elbow) and Anderson Varejao (back spasms) are probable.
Celtics:  Kevin Garnett (mid-foot sprain), Kendrick Perkins (hyperextended knee) are probable.
Officials:  Bennett Salvatore, Ken Mauer, Zach Zarba.
Do I have to write that the key to stopping the Celtics lies in stopping Rajon Rondo one more time?  He's averaging 20 points and 15.5 rebounds in two contests and continues to break the Cavs' defense down.
Break down the Cavs defense and they have numerous problems, including a tendency to leave the weak side of the floor vulnerable to the likes of Boston guard Ray Allen, who is currently feasting on the Cavs' defense, hitting open jump shots as he did in Game 2 when he scored 22 points.
Expect the Cavs to put LeBron James on Rajon Rondo part of the time as part of the strategy they used on Chicago's Derrick Rose.  A different face with a long, athletic body at every chance possible helping out Mo Williams who cannot seem to hang with Rondo.
Speaking of Williams, coach Mike Brown called him out in post-game comments recently.  Williams needs to have a strong game and expect him to do so.  His modus operandi is to come back with a strong game after being made note of.  He's done it with news stories and the same will happen or the Cavs will be in trouble.
As for the ''most important elbow in the world'',  LeBron James is just going to have to continue to adjust to an injury that is only relieved by rest because if he truly wants to attain his goal, rest won't be coming until the third week of June.

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LeBron James and Anderson Varejao Get Defensive

By George Thomas Published: May 5, 2010

NEW YORK, May 5, 2010 – Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, winner of the 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Kia Motors, and guard Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today. By totaling 57 points overall, including 28 First Team votes, Howard edged Rondo (50 points overall and 23 First Team votes) as the leading vote-getter.
Also selected to the All-Defensive First Team are forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (45 points), Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant  (34 points) and Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace (30 points).
The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of center Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, guards Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Thabo Sefolosha of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and forwards Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks and Anderson Varejao of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Duncan has been selected to the NBA All-Defensive team 13 consecutive seasons.
The fact that Varejao received recognition is notable.  It means that he's finally getting some respect around the league after years of hearing the word ''flopper'' associated with his name.  Detroit coach John Kuester told me in an interview that Varejao is the type of player you love to have  hate to coach against.

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Danny Ainge: Some People Just Never Grow Up

By George Thomas Published: May 4, 2010


I confess. I managed to harbor an intense dislike for Danny Ainge when he played for the Boston Celtics.
Why? Whiney. Crybaby-like. Occasionally dirty. No small things.
And you know what happened when he quit playing ball? I forgot about him. Like most fans do with players who've had good, but not great professional careers.
Then every so often said player will creep back into your conscious. Witness the above. Danny Ainge, now the general manager for the Boston Celtics throwing a towel in the air as Cavs forward J.J. Hickson shoots the second of two free throws when Boston had a lead in the 20s.
I could comment, but it pretty much speaks for itself.

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LeBron's Elbow: Is There Something Else Happening?

By George Thomas Published: May 4, 2010

The numbers say ''no'' but there's something not quite right about LeBron James' game.
But for those who watch on a day-to-day basis, something appears off.  His play in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals looks hestitant and tentative even.
When asked directly about whether the elbow still bothered him, James brushed off the talk.
''For me I’m going to continue to try to be the player I am and use this elbow not as an excuse.  Never use injury as an excuse.  Like I said before.  If I’m on the court I’m going to try to be productive,'' he said.
Coach Mike Brown said that he isn't aware of any problems that James is having either.
''His elbow is fine.  He has not said anything to me.  Our trainers have not said anything to me,'' Brown said. ''If it is bothering him it’s news to me. I’ve not heard anything about it.''
Ultimately James said the entire team was to blame for the loss.
''I feel like tonight I was OK, but as a team all of us were just OK that’s why we got an 'L' against Boston tonight on our court.''

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Rivers thinks Z belongs in Cleveland

By Marla Ridenour Published: May 3, 2010

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been a vocal opponent of the loophole that allowed the Cavaliers to trade Zydrunas Ilgauskas in February and re-sign him 30 days later. But Rivers said Monday that Ilgauskas deserved to return.
''When we got Gary Payton I thought it was an excellent rule,'' Rivers said.  ''I think it should be closed. But I don't know what you do. Z ... Gary Payton, the year we made it to the playoffs my first year. Those guys have paid their dues, they almost deserve it.
''Z deserves to be here. It wouldn't have been almost right if he had gone anywhere else, as long as he's put in his time here. But I do wish the loophole was not there. But there are guys like Z that you just feel like they deserve to be in a Cavs' uniform. He may be the captain of that.''
But NBA commissioner David Stern, on hand to present the MVP trophy to LeBron James before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, expects the 30 days to be lengthened in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
''It's not a loophole, it's a rule that allows it,'' Stern said. ''It's not a great idea. When we did it, 30 days seemed enough. It's not. There will be a longer period before a player is allowed to rejoin his old team.''
The current CBA expires a year from now.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Celtics - Game 2 Semifinals

By George Thomas Published: May 3, 2010

FINAL: 104, Cavs 86
Boston old?  Not by the look of the second half. 
Of course it could have had something to do with the Cavs taking the third quarter off.  That's not an exaggeration.  The Celtics outscored the Cavs 31-12 in the third quarter.  There was no defense, no offense and for some inexplicable reason the Cavs thought they could turn it up after being down by 25 points.
Coach Mike Brown said it's not realistic for his team to be perfect for 48 minutes.  How about being very good for about 40 without the drama?  The reality is you cannot talk like that about your team without it getting back to them. 
Sure Brown was irate during the post-game.  But at that point it was too little too late.
The Cavs mounted their customary comeback, but it wasn't near enough.  They shot 40 percent to Celtics 51 and shot a mere 19 percent from the three-point arc. 
HALFTIME:   Boston 52, Cavs 48.
Well it's not 11 points, but it's going to be interesting to see how the Cavs come out in this second half.  Whenever they've had a decent first half during the regular season, they tended to fall into a lull in the second half.   We will see if that trend holds.
There is, however, a distinctly different feeling possesses this game.  On more than one occasion it felt as if the Cavs were on the verge of breaking out for a significant run.  The fact that they beat back a 13-point Celtics lead says a lot.
One thing that's clear is that the Cavs are trying to focus on limiting Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo's scoring impact.  He has 12 assists, but just eight points.  In Game 1, he had a near double-double.
Secondly, Doc Rivers is keenly aware that he worked his starting line-up hard in the first game.  Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett played 39 minutes or more respectively in that game.  So far they're on pace to play far below that.   He challenged his bench and they're responding.
 Cavs vs. Boston Celtics
Broadcast:
TV: TNT
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Celtics:  Paul Pierce (F); Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  NONE.
Celtics:  NONE.
Officials:  Dan Crawford, Dick Bavetta and Ed Malloy.
Adjustments:  When asked what guard Mo Williams will do for an encore tonight, coach Mike Brown stated kiddingly but with a hint of seriousness, that he'd like for him to play more consistent defense.  That being said, he plans to stick with Williams on Rajon Rondo to open the game.  What the heck, as long as you have Shaquille O'Neal to dole out body shot...just kidding...  Although Brown would probably like that, the reality is that if Rondo gets off to the start he did in Game 1, the Cavs will have to go to Anthony Parker and off the bench Delonte West.  Of course, that in itself creates a matchup problem if Williams ends up on the Celtics' Ray Allen. 
The Boston Three Party shot a mere 20-of-51 Saturday night and for the Cavs to expect that to continue would be unrealistice, especially in the case of Pierce.   Whether he does depends on one thing - playing time.  Boston's bench played poorly the other night forcing Celtics coach Doc Rivers to wear down his starters.
Garnett and Pierce played close to 40 minutes and Ray Allen played close to 45.  That will eventually take its toll.

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LeBron's & the Elbow: Tentative Play Saturday

By George Thomas Published: May 2, 2010

CLEVELAND - LeBron James didn't dodge questions about his elbow Saturday night.
And had little problem confessing that his elbow dictated how he approached their first game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics.
The surprising thing:  James socred 35 points.  Or perhaps that shouldn't be so surprising.  He shut down his perimeter game for much of the night and concentrated on driving the ball to the hoop, going to the line 11 times in the process.
"I thought about it a little too much. I came out tentative. But if I’m out on the court, I have to be productive.  If I can’t be productive, I may as well be on the bench,'' James said.
When  asked whether James had been favoring the elbow throughout the game, coach Mike Brown said he didn't even know.
''He didn't complain about it to me, our trainer didn't say anything to me about it,'' he said.
Boston coach Doc Rivers still isn't buying that James is injured.
''I think his elbow is fine.  I'm pretty sure of it actually.  I really thought he was trying to get everybody involved,'' he said. ''That's what he does.  He eases into the game and he actually did a pretty good job, but he just didn't make some shots.  You knew it was coming.  Actually, I thought towards the end of the second quarter, he started his assault.  He started being really aggressive.''
Buzzer beaters:  The Cavs are 10-0 in playoff series in which they win the first game...They have won 4-of-5 of their last first games in playoff series...At one stretch in the third quarter, point guard Mo Williams scored 10 consecutive points...The Cavs reserves outscored Boston's 26-12.  Eleven of those points game from J.J. Hickson who came into the game after O'Neal got into foul trouble.

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Gameblog: Eastern Conference Semifinals - Game 1

By George Thomas Published: May 1, 2010

FINAL:  Cavs 101, Celtics 93
One of those typical regular season games that you folks out there saw this season, the difference being that this one was a bit saltier than usual.
The Celtics essentially were allowed to do anything they wanted in the first half.  That was especially true in the case of Boston point guard Rajon Rondo who went into the locker room having tallied a double-double with 19 points in eight assists.
Coach Mike Brown adjusted well to that after the intermission, however.  Anthony Parker went out on Rondo more and the result was he scored just eight points and had just four assists in the second half.  The Cavs sent several guys at Rondo in fact and at times, Shaquille O'Neal swithched out on him and Rondo was forced to endure a couple of hard fouls, including one that would have been a cause for a double-take on any other night.
With Rondo contained, the easy points quit coming and the Celtics were outscored in the paint 32-18 in the second half.  The Cavs held them to a mere 35 percent shooting in the second half as they were forced into primarily jump shot situations.
The difference for the Cavs offensively:  Mo Williams, scored 14 of his 20 in the third quarter including a posterizing dunk on the Celtics' Paul Pierce that will be running on SportsCenter well into Monday.
LeBron James who played tentatively for much of the first half (35 points) and Shaquille O'Neal with 10 points in the fourth quarter also stepped things up significantly.
HALF:  Celtics 54, Cavs 43.
Someone on press row already stated it.  This couldn't be more of a thorough 11-point ass kicking.
Everything that the Cavs needed to do right, they've done wrong as the Celtics have beat them scoring in the paint 34-22 as they have let Rajon Rondo dictate the pace and tone of the game.  Rondo has a near double-double  (19 points, eight assists).
They're getting whacked on defense as the Cavs are shooting just 42 percent to Bostons's 54 percent.  And to top it off they're shooting like garbage from the free throw line as well.
Cavs vs. Boston Celtics
Broadcast:
TV: TNT
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Celtics:  Paul Pierce (F); Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  NONE.
Celtics:  NONE. Officials: Eddie Rush, Jason Phillips and Bill Spooner.

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