Orlando -- Elton Alexander, a college basketball writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is one of my mentors in this business. For three years, while I covered Kent State and the Mid-American Conference, I spent hours sitting next to him watching games and listening to his knowledge of the game.
He has several sayings that have always stuck with me that are apropos at every basketball level.
My favorite is "hold your water." This is in reference to how a team should behave when their opponent is on a crazy run, mostly due to just making lots of jumpers. Happens all the time, the inferior team knocking down eight or nine in a row or something and taking a big lead. The better team should not panic and "hold its water," stay solid and within your game and not get wild trying to match them. You should get the inference here. In poker, the advice would be to not "play on tilt."
But today, we're going to talk about another of his sayings..."handle your business." This means beat the teams you should beat. Sure, it sounds obvious, but frankly, it would be good advice to the Cavs. They haven't always done that. This year and let's not even talk about the last two seasons.
Heading into tonight's game in Orlando, the Cavs have re-built a four-game lead over the Pacers for the No. 4 seed. Actually, since they own the tiebreaker, it's like a five-game lead. The Pacers would have to pass the Cavs, not tie. So with 20 games left, if the Cavs "handle their business" they should finish this off.
It is fair guess to set a goal of going .500, 10-10, over the rest of the season. They are 18-16 over their last 34 games, FYI. That would put them at 46-36 for the season. May I point out that if they go 11-9, yours truly will nail his preseason prediction of 47 wins. Ahem.
If that is the case, Indiana will have to go 15-5 to pass them. Uh, not likely. The Wizards, currently five back of the Cavs, would have to do the same. By the way, 12 of the Wizards last 16 games are on the road.
By the end of the season, then the Cavs will have Hughes back and, theoretically, be full strength for the playoffs and also have homecourt advantage. So there it is. All together now...Handle your business.
Three more things:
1. Read about LeBron late here.
2. I went to Indians spring training yesterday in Winter Haven (thank you for canceling practice Mike Brown) and enjoyed a game in 77 degree weather. Other than Orlando/Disney traffic, life was grand. I can see why so many make it a vacation.
3. T-minus 3 days until Sopranos season six starts. Do not attempt to contact me between 9-10 Sunday night. Yes I will be in South Beach, yes I will be in front of the TV.