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Of Nike, LeBron and the Reality of Business

By George Thomas Published: March 31, 2010

According to a report in the Plain Dealer, LeBron James inked a deal with Nike that will cover at least another seven years.
James will obviously receive tens of millions of dollars, but what's more important is what's not contained in the contract:  no location bonuses.
James won't receive any extra cash for going to New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago for that matter.  That means stuff like this musing from Mike Lupica, published in the New York Daily News, has even less luster:

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Gameblog No. 75: Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

By George Thomas Published: March 31, 2010


Cavs 101, Bucks 98
The Cavs eke one out in a game that was a lot closer than it should have been and needed to be.  The primary reason:  the Cavs got to the free throw line 45 and missed 16 of those shots. 
‘’I’m not going to overkill.  I feel we have pretty good free throw shooters, but we do have to do a better job of knocking those down,’’ Brown said.  ‘’If we’re going to earn that right to go to the free throw line we’re going to have to capitalize (on it).’’
Mike Brown doesn't sound too concerned about it, but the reality is that the Bucks are a playoff caliber team and clubs such as those will eventually make you pay if you don't connect on free throws.  The Cavs have been lucky in that they've not been negatively impacted by rancid free throw shooting in recent games.  It ultimately could cost them in the playoffs.
The other problem with tonight's game?  The Cavs got beat in the paint, something that rarely happens.  It wasn't by a great margin 42-36, but nonetheless it happened.  It points to the fact that they miss two players - Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao.  My money says they miss the latter more the former, however.
O'Neal's an imposing presence in the paint and the Bucks got a lot of drives in the middle leading to easy scores.  
Despite the problems tonight, the game, which had a playoff atmosphere at some points, could end up helping the Cavs.
‘’Tonight I thought was good for us…Milwaukee did a nice job against us tonight,’’  Brown said.  ‘’Our guys had to fight, stay focused and trust one another down the stretch in order to get the win and they did it.’’
Game:   Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Broadcast:
TV: FSOhio Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Bucks:  John Salmons (G); Luc Mbah a Moute (F); Andrew Bogut (C); Charlie Bell (G); Brandon Jennings (G).
Injured:
Cavs: Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb), Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin); Anderson Varejao (sore left hamstring) - OUT.
Bucks:   Carlos Delfino (neck and jaw soreness) - DAY-TO-DAY; Michael Redd (tore ACL and MCL) - OUT.
Officials:  Eddie Rush, Tony Brothers and Leroy Richardson.
The Milwaukee Bucks won't be a pushover as the Cavs begin a seven-day stretch when they face four possible playoff foes.  The Bucks beat the Cavs the last time they met in Milwaukee as point guard Brandon Jennings and Andrew inflicted damage on the Cavs who played without LeBron James.
Bogut joins Dwight Howard as the only center in the league averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.   With the Cavs not starting a center and Zydrunas Ilgauskas still getting his legs back, he could be difficult to handle - even for the athletic J.J. Hickson who has played well filling in.
But the Bucks, which is a team with substantial depth, has been playing as a cohesive unit since February.  The Bucks are 21-7 since then, third best in the Eastern Conference and fifth best in the NBA.  Defensively they've stepped it up as well.  
The Cavs will be without Anderson Varejao, their spark plug off the bench while the Bucks will have theirs in Luke Ridnour, who is averaging 12 points in his last six games.  At this point, the Bucks own the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but still haven't clinched. They are looking to wrap that up.  While the Cavs have their magic number for the league's best record down to four.

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Cavs Welcome Ilgauskas Back (VIDEO)

By George Thomas Published: March 28, 2010

Spurs Stick Cavaliers 102-97.

By George Thomas Published: March 27, 2010

SAN ANTONIO – Coach Mike Brown copied a lot of what he knows from the San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. It should be of little surprise then that Friday night’s game between the Cavaliers and Spurs turned into a gritty, grind-it-out affair that didn’t lack for excitement. In the process the Cavs lost the game 102-97, their eight-game win streak and forward Anderson Varejao with a sore left hamstring. Led by the play of guard Manu Ginobili, who scored 30 points and dished out six assists, the Spurs put together enough of a run toward the end of the game to pull out the narrow win. ‘’Manu has played very well against this season,’’ Brown said.  ‘’Not only was he scoring, but he was making the right plays for his team.’’ Ginobili scored 15 of his points in the third quarter to take over the game. ‘’I just tried to be aggressive.  I made a couple of three-pointers and I went to find open teammates,’’ Ginobili said. ‘’I think the big key were those three-pointers that really got me going in the fourth quarter.’’ LeBron James led the Cavs with 27 points, five rebounds and 10 assists while Antawn Jamison added 24 points, nine rebounds. J.J. Hickson continued to point to himself and make Brown’s decisions regarding the playoff rotation difficult with 20 points and eight rebounds. Possessing the intensity of a playoff game, the Spurs were able to take things over at the end of the game with impressive defense. With a minute left in the game the Cavs found themselves down by six and staring a loss squarely in the face.  By the time Ginobili sank two free throws with 44.9 second left to put the Spurs up 94-86, the Cavs’ fate was inevitable. Though coach Brown did what he had to, making the game longer to get that one opportunity to tie it up it never happened.  In one respect the Cavs beat themselves as they shot just 65 percent from the line (15-of-23).  The loss reversed what could have easily been a win after the first half. ‘’They executed great,’’ James said.  ‘’When they shoot the ball well, they’re very tough to beat because we already know they’re going to play defense.’’ The Cavs looked as if they were going to take things in hand in the second quarter when the hit on 9-of-13 of their shots including five three-pointers. That’s when Jamison began to assert himself.  He went into the second scoreless, but soon found his rhythm offensively, hitting 6-of-9 shots and connecting on three treys in the period.  When he couldn’t keep things going, James picked them up.  He scored 17 of his points in the second half, only to watch as they came up short against a motivated San Antonio team. The Cavs also slowed the Spurs offensively allowing them to take a 50-45 lead into the half. In a game that went back-and-forth, one constant existed, suspect officiating as referees missed calls on both sides of the court.  Some were more blatant than others, however leading players to voice their concerns more than normal.  There was a certain almost white haired coach named Popovich doing the same. In fact a key charging call on Hickson gave the Spurs a chance to nail things down. The Spurs had everything to play for as they continue to scrounge for playoff positioning in the NBA’s Western Conference. But the Cavs blew a big opportunity as well, as the Oklahoma City Thunder blew out the Los Angeles Lakers.  Had the Cavs won they would have inched closer to the clinching the best record in the league. Instead they will toil on, looking to put space between themselves and the Lakers.

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Gameblog: Cavs at San Antonio Spurs

By George Thomas Published: March 26, 2010

Game: Cavs (57-15) at San Antonio Spurs (42-28).
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Spurs: Richard Jefferson (F): Tim Duncan (F); Antonio McDyess (C); Manu Ginobili (G); George Hill (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb); Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin) - OUT.
Spurs:  Tony Parker (fractured fouth metacarpal) - OUT.
Officials: Mike Callahan, Mark Lindsay and Jason Phillips.
The Spurs come into tonight's game having won just 2-of-5 of their last games, including a massive implosion against the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday where Tim Duncan - 2-of-11 shooting - was ineffective.  They're in an unfamiliar spot fighting for playoff positioning while the Cavs can cruise.
That, however, would be mistake as the Los Angeles Lakers are just 3.5 games back of the Cavs for best record in the NBA.  Additionally coach Mike Brown will still be working on on his playoff rotation.  Look for Antawn Jamison to play a little more at the three spot as he works to find a lineup where J.J. Hickson can still get minutes after the inevitable return of center Shaquille O'Neal.
Parker remains out for the Spurs, but guard Manu Ginobili remains on a tear offensively.

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Z on Returning to the Cavaliers (VIDEO)

By George Thomas Published: March 24, 2010

Gameblog: Cavs at New Orleans Hornets

By George Thomas Published: March 24, 2010

Cavs 105,  Hornets 92.
Difficult to argue with results in this case. For the Cavs it's a win and at times they looked impressive doing it.  The defense got a little skunky in spots, but it showed up in the third quarter when the Cavs held the Hornets to 39 percent shooting in the quarter while the Cavs shot well over 60 percent in the same span.
While the win kept the Cavs win-streak rolling to eight, the longest current one in the NBA, that's not the most important thing to come out of it.
You saw some signs of what Mike Brown intends to do with the rotation come playoff time.  he used just eight guys total and the three to come off the bench were Anderson Varejao, Delonte West and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.  Yes, others showed up when the game was decided, but it was that core group he utilized. 
Will it change? Probably given that Shaquille O'Neal is still out and is expected to return in time for the playoffs.  That makes life difficult for Brown - albeit in a good way - because he's going to have to try to decide what to do with J.J. Hickson's playing time. Hickson didn't make the decision easier with his 20-point, nine-rebound performance. That's the for Brown to make.
With 10 games left, stay tuned.
Game: Cavs (56-15) vs.  New Orleans Hornets (34-38)
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Hornets:  David West (F); Emeka Okafor (F/C); Morris Peterson (G); Marcus Thornton (G); Chris Paul (G)
Injured:
Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb); Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin) - OUT.
Hornets:  Sean Marks (strained right shoulder); Peja Stojakovic (lower abdominal strain); and Ike Kiogu (left knee surgery) - OUT.
Inactives:  TBD
Officials: Ron Garretson, Eric Dalen, Michael Smith.
With Zydrunas Ilgauskas' return it's time for the meshing to begin.  The final 12 games of the season are going to be less about winning - yes, the emphasis will be there - but more about getting coach Mike Brown's playoff rotation in order.  That begins tonight.
Expect Ilgauskas to get 20-25 minutes off the bench against the Hornets in an effort to get his rhthym back.
''We don’t have many games left before the playoffs.  I’ve never been in this position before, but I think there are enough games for me to play in and get my timing back coming off the bench,'' Ilgauskas said after Wednesday's shootaround.
By the same token, the Cavs will have to stay sharp offensively and defensively.  Last time out, although they beat the Hornets, rooking guard Marcus Thornton torched them for 37 points. Perhaps they'll actually guard him this time.
Point guard Chris Paul recently returned from knee surgery and has only one game under his belt since and scored 11 points and dished out three assists in it.
Buzzer beaters:  Tonight is Mike Brown's 400th game as coach of the Cavaliers.  He currently holds a 67 percent winning percentage, the second best among active coaches behind the Los Angeles Lakers' Phil Jackson.

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Agent: Z, Cavs have deal

By George Thomas Published: March 23, 2010

The Cleveland Cavaliers completed a deal with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to bring him back to the team for the remainder of the season.
The deal is just for the rest of the year and uses a pro-rated portion of the bi-annual exception. Ilgauskas will be able to test the free agent market next season.
‘’He came back to win a championship,’’ agent Herb Rudoy said.

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Z Close to Returning to the Cavaliers

By George Thomas Published: March 22, 2010

INDEPENDENCE – The agent for former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas expects to have a deal with the Cavaliers by the end of they day. Herb Rudoy, Ilgauskas’ agent, said that he expects things to go very smoothly and just had to iron out a couple of minor things with Cavs general manager Danny Ferry. The Cavs have two contract options for signing the team’s all-time leading rebounder – the veterans minimum worth about $1.3 million and the bi-annual exception worth $1.99 million.  Ilgauskas is expected to sign for the latter at a pro-rated amount for the rest of the season. He could have easily asked for a multi-year deal that would cover next season.  After murmuring about potential retirement near the beginning of the season, Ilgauskas reversed course and stated that he would welcome the chance to come back for at least one more season, but decided against asking for that with this deal. ‘’He wants to see what happens this year,’’ Rudoy said. Ilgauskas’ return complicates the Cavs roster situation, leaving them to ponder who to get release to reach the league maximum of 15 team members. Ilgauskas left the Cavs in the three-team trade that brought Antawn Jamison and Sebastian Telfair to the Cavs near the trade deadline last month.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Chicago Bulls (Green Mascot and All)

By George Thomas Published: March 19, 2010

Cavs (55-15) 92, Bulls (31-37) 85
The Cavs' defense won this game for them, but it continues a recent trend as they once again played to the level of their competition.
The Bulls came into the game without three starters and hung with the Cavaliers until six minutes left in the game when LeBron James exerted his will and shook off his own anemic start to close the game.
‘’(The Bulls) had a chance to win, but obviously the last few minutes of the ballgame our focus was there and our energy was there,’’ Brown said.
He sparked a 12-2 run to give the Cavs enough separation to gut out a win, their sixth consecutive and 12th in 13th.  Coach Mike Brown correctly praised the Bulls for the way they played, which considering the fact they had no Derrick Rose, Luol Deng or Joakim Noah, which was earned. 
As the rest of the season plays out, we really have to concentrate on – no matter who’s in front of us – trying to step on the floor and get better, hopefully, every possession. 
However, with the team preparing for a playoff run, they continue to look remarkably unfocused in the process.  Boredom?  Possibly.  Lack of focus? Definitely.  But what happens if Zydrunas Ilgauskas and he cannot mesh with the way the team is playing?  Ditto Shaquille O'Neal when he comes back from his injury.
Game: Cavs at the Chicago Bulls
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Bulls: Taj Gibson (F); James Johnson (F); Brad Miller (C); Jannero Pargo (G); Kirk Hinrich (G)
Injured: 
Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb); Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin).
Bulls:  Derrick Rose (left wrist); Luol Deng (right calf strain); Joakim Noah (left foot) and Jerome James (right achilles) - OUT.
What do you say about a game where the opposing team is missing three starters?  Looking at the starting lineup reminded me of that scene in Major League when fans are looking over the roster and asking "Who's this (bleeping) guy?
With who the Bulls are starting this should be an easy win, but after their last two performances against the Pistons and Pacers, I'll pass on that 
Of note:  Lebron James goes for career point 15,000 which would make him the youngest player in NBA history reach that plateau. Officials:

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Cavs Shift Start Time for Sunday Pistons Game

By George Thomas Published: March 16, 2010

Apparently the suits at the worldwide leader, ESPN had enough of Detroit Pistons basketball Monday night. That’s when the Pistons got decimated on national television by the Boston Celtics oh the cable channel Monday night. A game between the Pistons and Cavs was taken off the network and the time shifted from an 8 p.m. to 6 p.m. start.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Detroit Pistons

By George Thomas Published: March 16, 2010


Cavs 113, Pistons 101
Don't fool yourself, the game wasn't that much of a blowout.  The Cavs padded the lead toward the end.  For much of the game, it looked as if they were taking the Pistons lightly as they let them hang around.   It was as if one team were still playing a rivalry and the other wasn't. 
LeBron James notched his fourth triple double (29 points, 12 rebounds, 12 points) on the season and point guard Mo Williams hit on 5-of-8 three point shots, including three in the fourth quarter, to score 20 points, but still the victory didn't come until coach Mike Brown challenged his team.
The problem:  the refs.   And the Cavs were letting it be known that they didn't appreciate the calls, lack thereof or both.  Eventually Brown had enough of it.
''We were starting to complain too much.  I think we’re good enough to win despite any obstacles in front of us.  I just wanted our guys to know and understand we can go  win no matter what’s going on out on the floor,'' he said. '' We’re good enough to go win a ballgame. 
''I was complaining.  Some other guys were complaining, so I wanted to put an end to it and LeBron did.  I was complaining a little later in the game and he turned to me and said: ‘’I don’t want no call, Mike! Don’t say nothing.  I don’t want no call.’  And I said: ‘OK, I wont’ say anything.’’’
It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter when they put this one away.  With as little as 4:28 left on the clock, the Pistons had tied the game on three Charlie Villaneuva free throws.  A couple of stops, including a quasi-controversial non-call, helped the Cavs gain some momentum.  The play:  LeBron James laying in wait to chase down a Will Bynum shot with 1:35 to go and the Cavs up by just three points. 
The crowd thought it was goaltending.  The Pistons Jonas Jerebko thought it was goaltending, but the refs did not.
''That was definitely goaltending, but the refs said it was still going up, so it didn't (get called),'' he Jerebko said.
And James?
''I did sense I got it before it hit the glass…but it could have gone the other way,'' he said.
The team's bench players came through in a big one once again, scoring 34 points.  This time with Jawad Williams contributing 10 points and Daniel Gibson coming out of mothballs to knock in a couple of valuable three-point shots.
Game: Cavs (53-15) vs.  Detroit Pistons (23-45)
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs:  LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Injured: 
Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (thumb surgery), Sebastian Telfair (groin), Delonte West (sprained knee) - OUT.
Pistons:  Ben Wallace (right patella tendon strain), Rodney Stuckey - OUT.  Tayshaun Prince is a game-time decision.
Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Matt Boland and Kane Fitzgerald.
The Pistons are missing two key elements of their team tonight and they may be without a third.  Ben Wallace and Rodney Stuckey are definitely out.  Stuckey is still recovering from the incident that took place on March 5th at Quicken Loans Arena.  Pistons coach John Kuester said that they hope to get medical clearance on Stuckey this week and they'd want to see him in practice a couple times before he returns to the court.   Tayshaun Pricne will be a game-time decision.
The Cavs will be without Delonte West, who apparently sprained a knee against the Boston Celtics. Given the role he's had recently it's significant, but I suspect it won't be that great of an impact on the game.

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LeBron Makes NBA's Top 10 Plays Twice

By George Thomas Published: March 13, 2010

Leon Powe on Starting Against the 76ers

By George Thomas Published: March 12, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – Leon Powe found himself in an unfamiliar spot Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers – in the starting lineup.
Antawn Jamison’s knee issue kept him at home in Cleveland and thrust Powe into his role, the first time he’s started since his first major knee injury in the NBA.
‘’I’ve been through the fire.  It’s nothing unusual for me,’’ Powe said. ‘’I don’t start, but I’ve been through finals playoff games and just all types of hostile environments.’’
The starting nod can be considered unusual because Powe didn’t get any minutes in the team’s prior two games – even with injuries to key players.
Starting Powe Friday was a way not to interrupt the rest of the team’s flow.
It keeps Andy coming off the bench and keep the other guys coming off the bench with them,’’ Brown said.
Varejao’s energy in a sixth-man role has always been coveted by Brown.   It also gives Powe more chance to shake off the rust.
‘’Right now I’m just trying to give him minutes to let him get a taste of game action this season to see if we can get him up to speed for possibly the playoffs,’’ he said.
But the reality is that the forward acquired during free agency last summer, doesn’t possess a lot of athletic prowess just yet.  Powe knows it.
‘’I’m not going to go out there and try to a 360 Alley-Oop.  I know I can’t do that,’’ he said. ‘’I’m confident in my defense where I can hold guys up and push off on my leg and jump for rebounds and stuff, so that’s what I need.’’
Brown values his willingness to go out there and bang around and essentially do the dirty work on the court, he said and knows that the knee isn’t the problem.
‘’In terms of him being hurt? No.  In terms of him getting used to the speed of the game and trusting that knee? Probably.  Only on-court time will help out,’’ he said.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Philadelphia 76ers

By George Thomas Published: March 12, 2010

Post mortem:  Cavs 100, Sixers 95
Talk about a gift.  The Cavs give up 66 points in the paint on so many dunks that a supercomputer would be required to count them all and they pull out a victory.
No, they didn't deserve to win this one.  They played crappy defense for much of the game and were only bailed out when they played some D in the fourth quarter and because their bench stepped up.
First some props to LeBron James and Mo Williams who played well together.  Williams has been struggling, but dropped in 21 on 8-of-13 shooting.  James deserved credit for coming in off of a week's rest and an ankle injury. 
But defensively, they didn't ratchet things up until the fourth quarter when they held the 76ers to 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting.  And they finally clamped down on Andre Iguodala, who burned them for 30 points, and Elton Brand, who knocked in 24. 
The bench, led by Delonte West's 17 points came up huge with 44 points.  Anderson Varejao added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Jamario Moon dropped in nine points on a night when it was really needed.
With Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O'Neal out with injuries, this kind of effort was needed.  It's the type of effort they gave Monday against the Spurs and in the home stretch and upcoming playoffs, who knows when it will be needed again?
Game: Cavs at Philadelphia 76ers
Broadcast:
TV: FSOhio, 7 p.m. Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Leon Powe (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
76ers: Elton Brand (F); Andre Iguodala (F); Samuel Dalembert (C); Jrue Holiday (G); Lou Williams (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb); Sebastian Telfair (ruptured groin).
76ers:  Francisco Elson (hernia surgery); Allen Iverson (personal reasons); Marreese Speights (knee sprain) - OUT.  Jason Kapono (sinus infection) - game time decision.
Officials: Ron Garretson, Brian Forte, Ed Malloy.
If the Cavs are looking for a chance to perhaps pick off a stress-free victory, Philly may indeed be the place right now.  Although on paper it's not a bad team, it is one in a quasi-state of disarray right now.  Rumors are swirling around first-year coach Eddie Jordan and the fact that he will be fired at the end of the season.  How do I get a gig like that?  Work for a year, get fired and still collect a fat, seven-figure paycheck? 
The Cavs have won six consecutive in Philly and there's little reason to think that won't continue tonight.  They'll be missing Antawn Jamison, with Leon Powe getting his first start as a Cavalier.  He may be healthy, but he' s still not as athletic as a Jamison.  But Powe knows who he is:  he's a banger and a rebounder, and coach Mike Brown loves that in his players.
But the key reason they should win this one:  LeBron James is back and rested.  He's had a week off to recover from a twisted ankle and assorted bumps and bruises.  He's averaged 34 points per game against Philly so far this season.  But he will need help. He doesn't have Shaquille O'Neal or Jamison or Z, so it's up to Mo Williams.  He's had several weeks back on the active roster and with 17 games left in the season as of today, he needs to put up.  The Cavs need him to start playing consistent hoops. 
From the bench:  Anderson Varejao always comes to play, whirling dervish that he is.  But it's Delonte West who needs to shine in the area where he's made his name.  West has averaged 17 points per in the past five games.  They will need that kind of production once again.

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MRI Shows Jamison Is Fine

By George Thomas Published: March 9, 2010

Antawn Jamison had follow-up exam and an MRI Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health.  The result was negative.  He will receive treatment and will be listed as day-to-day and his status will be updated as appropriate.
Jamison left Monday night's game against the San Antonio Spurs at 8:02 of the third quarter with stiffness at the back of his left knee and did not return.  After the game he said that he experienced the tightness during the first month of the season, but was nothing to worry about.

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Jamison, Shaq Celebrate NBA's 2 Millionth Facebook Fan

By George Thomas Published: March 8, 2010



The NBA hit its 2 millionth fan on Facebook Monday. Overall, the official NBA page, all 30 NBA team pages, and NBA player pages have accumulated more than 16.5 million fans across Facebook.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. San Antonio Spurs

By George Thomas Published: March 8, 2010


Game: Cavs vs.  San Antonio Spurs
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  Jawad Williams (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Spurs:  Manu Ginobili (G); Tim Duncan (F); Antonio McDyess (C); Keith Bogans (G);  George Hill (G).  The Spurs lineup is icomplete primarily because Greg Popovich has to face a decision about what to do in light of a missing Tony Parker.
Injured:
Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (right thumb); Sebastian Telfair (groin).
Spurs:  Tony Parker (broken hand).
Officials: Joe Crawford, Olandis Poole, Zach Zarba.
The Cavaliers will likely be missing the services of LeBron James again against the Spurs.  Coach Mike Brown views it as the perfect time to get him some rest considering the number of minutes he's played in recent weeks.  James was walking reasonably well Monday, but against the Bucks in the video above, a limp is definitely there. On the other hand, there were some good things seen in Milwaukee once the Cavs got their act together, primarily on defense.
If they are indeed without James, the game playing without him should help them on the offensive side of the court. But they have to get another starter to step up.  Antawn Jamison impressed with his performance against the Bucks, but the rest of the starting lineup was M.I.A.  They were probably out of sync because of the amount of time James handles the ball.
But the reality is that when James is out, Mo Williams has to show up.  In three of his last four games, Williams has scored under 10 points.  he may be still be rusty and those back-to-back games where he averaged 20.5 points couldn't have hurt, but he hasn't been nearly as effective since.
Don't be surprised if Delonte West, who had 27 points against the Bucks, comes off the bench looking to score.  He played aggressively on the offensive side of the floor Saturday.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Milwaukee Bucks

By George Thomas Published: March 6, 2010

Bucks 92,  Cavs 85
Take a look at who led the Cavs in scoring tonight and you see a common denominator - both can create their own shot.
Stagnant, super stangnant smelly offense lost the game as Antawn Jamison (30 points, a Cavs high) and Delonte West (27 points, his season high) showed up big in the boxscore.   Yes, they were without LeBron James, but when you hold an opponent to 41 percent shooting you should win.  
There was little in the way of ball movement and the Cavs didn't give themselves enough space to operate offensively. Jamison was the only one the offensive side of the floor to show up among starters.  Ditto West for the bench players.
Game: Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio
Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  Jawad Williams (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson  (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Bucks:  Carlos Delfino (F); Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (F); Andrew Bogut (C); John Salmons (G); Brandon Jennings (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Saquille O'Neal (right thumb surgery); Sebastian Telfair (groin) - OUT.  LeBron James will not play due to coach's decision. Officials: Marc Davis, Matt Boland, Scott Wall.
The Bucks have lost six consecutive to the Cavaliers.  If they're going to break taht streak, tonight's the night with no LeBron James playing.  They could pull it off having won their last three home games.  They've been led by John Salmons and Andrew Bogut.
The Cavs will need other players to fill that void.  Here's where Mo Williams  and Antawn Jamsion have to fill up some of hte scoring hole that James leaves. 
J.J. Hickson didn't have a great game agaisnt the Pistons Friday night, he will have to do better against Bogut.  Apparently, Hickson had problems boxing out and getting his offensive game going.

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Cavs-Pistons fast facts

By George Thomas Published: March 5, 2010

The Cavs' comeback from 21 points down was their largest since they rallied from a 25-point deficit against Boston on Nov. 11, 2006. The Cavs won that game, 94-93.
With the Cavs trailing 63-48 with 7:35 left in the third quarter, they went on a 33-10 run to take an 81-73 lead with 8:49 to go in the fourth period.
The Cavs held the Pistons to 15 points in the third quarter and 22 in the fourth and outscored them 53-37 in the second half.
James' 40 point night was the 41st of his career and his eight of the season.
Antawn Jamison is averaging 18.8 points, 9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals in the past four games and shooting 50 percent from the field.
Anderson Varejao hit 8 of 10 from the field for 16 points and added 10 rebounds and three assists.
Cleveland has won five in a row against Detroit, three of those at Quicken Loans Arena.

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Pistons' Stuckey stricken

By George Thomas Published: March 5, 2010

 Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey fell ill and may have passed out after he walked off the court for a timeout with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter of Friday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
 Stuckey, 23, was taken from the bench on a stretcher and transported to the Cleveland Clinic, where he will remain overnight. Stuckey also suffered a dizzy spell last season in a game against the Boston Celtics.
During the fourth quarter, the Cavs announced that Stuckey was conscious and breathing on his own and his vital signs were stable.
The game was delayed 12 minutes for the medical emergency. After the Cavs' 99-92 victory, the two teams huddled at mid-court and prayed together, their arms draped around each other.
 ''Yesterday at practice ESPN's ''30 for 30'' about Hank Gathers was on,'' Cavs' star LeBron James said of Gathers, a senior at Loyola Marymount who died of sudden cardiac arrest at age 23. ''That was the first thing that came to my mind. I was hoping what wasn't the case.
''We are one family. When something happens to a player in our league, it affects all of us. It was kind of hard to go back to our bench in that instance.''
Pistons coach John Kuester, a former Cavs assistant, said as he was meeting with the coaches during the timeout, he saw Stuckey leaning over with Arnie Kander, the Pistons' strength and conditioning coach.
''Before I knew it, he was on the ground,'' Kuester said. ''I think he is going to be OK. The people at the Cleveland Clinic do a pretty good job.''
Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva said Stuckey passed out on the bench.
''He came over and told Arnie he was feeling a little dizzy,'' Villanueva said. ''He drank some water and the next thing you know, he passed out.''
Asked if Stuckey had been feeling ill the past few days, Villanueva said, ''No, no, this just came out of the blue. No bug, nothing.''
The Pistons led 67-61 at the time, but Cavs coach Mike Brown felt his team had already started its comeback. But Kuester said the Pistons ''wanted to rally for (Stuckey) and play with the same type of intensity that they basically did the entire night. I was very pleased with our effort.''
 But the incident affected everyone.
''We tried to get it back as soon as he left,'' Villanueva said. ''But it's tough in that situation because you are definitely thinking about him. We definitely had him on our minds, so it was a tough game for us. I've never witnessed anything like that in my career. It's scary.''
Brown said, ''These guys are big-time athletes and you don't expect anything like that to happen to them because their bodies are like machines. Unfortunately things happen. All you can do is hope and pray for the best and leave it in God's hands and the doctors' hands. Hopefully he'll be OK.''
The Cavs' Antawn Jamison said of Stuckey, ''We compete against each other, but we're all friends. The most important thing is his health. He has a family, friends and he's a good guy as well. I just pray that he has a speedy recovery and that it's nothing serious.''
Of the post-game huddle, Jamison said, ''It shows you the camraderie that we have with one another even though we are on different teams.''

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Detroit Pistons

By George Thomas Published: March 5, 2010

Game: Cavs (48-14) vs.  Detroit Pistons (21-40)
Broadcast: 
TV: ESPN
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Pistons:  Tayshaun (F); Jonas Jerebko (F); Jason Maxiell (C); Richard Hamilon (G); Rodney Stuckey (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (thumb), Sebastian Telfair (groin) - OUT.
Pistons: Ben Wallace (sore right knee); Chris Wilcox (sore back) - QUESTIONABLE.
Officials: Dick Bavetta, Mark Lindsay, Michael Smith.
This isn't the Pistons team of old, but they won't be pushovers either, despite coming in on a five-game losing streak.  Richard ''Rip'' Hamilton (18.7 points) and Rodney Stuckey (17.3 points) are still dangerous at the guard positions and they are playing the Cavs a reason in itself to get up for the game, considering the two teams' history with one another.  Despite the fact that their head coach, John Kuester, came from Cleveland (he was also in Detroit previously), there's still bad blood.
But the one position that could prove interesting to watch is at the center - a position where the Cavs are youngest as J.J. Hickson makes his third start.  He goes up against Jason Maxiell and is coming off two games where he averages close to 20 points and 11 rebounds per game.  Hickson could use his ability to cut to the basket and overall athleticism to have yet another big night.

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Gameblog: Cavs at New Jersey Nets - Abridged Version

By George Thomas Published: March 3, 2010

Cavs 111, Nets 92
Mucho problems with a small thing like an Internet connection.  Second time in a week.  Joy.
Anyhoo...If anyone watched this game and felt a little underwhelmed - welcome to the club.  It was workmanlike and not even close to offering anything spectacular - except a Cavs win.
The Cavs continued to play decent defense as they held the Nets to just 39 percent shooting on the night.  The box score will read that Brook Lopez scored 21 points on J.J. Hickson.  That is indeed the case, but Lopez will be going to his domicile with more than his share of bruises.
Hickson held his own offensively, but got help defensively as he often found himself looking at multiple bodies on him. Offensively, the Cavs again played efficiently.  How efficient?  LeBron James got booed for not being stylish enough on two breakaway dunks.

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A Visit to the Izod Center - Home of the Nets

By George Thomas Published: March 3, 2010

You wonder why they have state tax preparation promotions:

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NBA Power Rankings from Around the 'Net

By George Thomas Published: March 3, 2010

Apologies for being a day late with this, but travel headaches arose yesterday as flights to Newark had to be reworked so I could arrive in time to cover the game.
No real surprises in this week's power rankings from those writers who relish delving into this type of minutae.  From ESPN's Marc Stein:

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. New York Knicks

By George Thomas Published: March 1, 2010

Post mortem:  Cavs 124, Knicks 93
Mike Brown has made two great coaching moves - both of which involved second-year man J.J. Hickson.  Back in November he decided to start Hickson at the four spot, a move that allowed him to keep bringing Anderson Varejao off the bench for boosts.
Tonight he did the same thing. Starting Hickson in Varejao's place giving the Cavs a faster more athletic look.  In the irony of ironies, both moves came against the Knicks.  The move gave the Cavs a boost offensively as scored 124 points,but more importantly, they continued to play defense, holding the Knicks to just 41 percent shooting.
LeBron James said it best:  the faster lineup made it easier to help one another out on defense as they were able to defend the pick-and-roll more efficiently.
They outscored the Knicks in the paint 66-32 and burned them on the fast break 22-9. 
Game: Cavs vs. New York Knicks
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Antawn (F); J.J. Hickson (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Knicks: Danilo Gallinari (F); Al Harrington (F); David Lee (C); Tracy McGrady (G); Stergion Rodriguez.
Injured and inactive:
 Cavs:  Shaquille O'Neal (hand surgery); Sebastian Telfair (groin) - OUT
Knicks: Wilson Chandler (personal reasons) - NWT; Eddy Curry (left knee surgery); J.R. Giddens (left knee surgery) - OUT.  Tracy McGrady (sore left knee) - PROBABLE.
Officials:  Bob Delaney, Tony Brown and Rodney Mott
Shaq's out and that leaves the Cavs to play faster and more athletic.  Against the Knicks that should be very doable because much like  the Cavs right now, they don't have a true center in David Lee (20.4 points, 11.5 rebounds). Anderson Varejao stands taller and has the defensive skills to keep Lee from getting ridiculous.
The Cavs will look to take advantage of that speed and athleticism as J.J. Hickson and Leon Powe will get extended playing time. 
The Knicks made a blockbuster trade to clear cap...ummm I mean get Tracy McGrady and although he started off for New York playing well, in the past few games that hasn't been the case.  He left Saturday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies after the first half because his left knee was bothering him.  He didn't return - never a good sign.  While all signs point to his playing tonight, you have to wonder just how effective he will be or if he will play at all.

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Shaq OK after surgery

By George Thomas Published: March 1, 2010

Shaquille O'Neal underwent successful surgery on his right thumb this morning. After a period of rest, he will rehab the injury, and at this point, he is expected to miss eight weeks.
That would be roughly around the second round of the NBA playoffs.
''The doctors were very pleased with the surgery this morning.  He will be in a splint for the next 2 weeks.  From there he starts the process of physical therapy so that he can be at full strength and back on the court during the playoffs,'' said Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry.
In the meantime, the Cavs will be forced to go with a smaller lineup in O'Neal's absence, with Anderson Varejao starting at center.
''Our guys have done a very good job of stepping up this season.  We are confident they will do the same in this situation.  Anderson has been terrific.  J.J. has been a contributor all season and continues to have solid growth.  Leon is returning and will now get a good window to contribute,'' Ferry said.  ''We are fortunate to have some depth in our front court that can keep us moving forward while Shaq recovers and returns to play for the post season."
O'Neal is fourth on the team averaging 12 points per game. He is also averaging 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, averaging just over 23 minutes a night.

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Z's return looks more likely

By George Thomas Published: March 1, 2010

Zydrunas Ilgauskas still hasn't made a decison regarding his future. He is expected to talk to his agent later today. However, the Shaquille O'Neal injury will impact his decision, according to Z's agent, Herb Rudoy.
Why would Z consider a return?
``Based on his loyalty and affection for his teammates,'' Rudoy said.

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