Cavs' center Zydrunas Ilgauskas is willing to make a trade.
A Plain Dealer report revealed this morning that the ball that Z used to enter the Cavs' 10,000 point club walked out of The Quicken Loans Arena after the Atlanta Hawks game. The ball was tossed in the crowd and the individual who caught it, never returned it.
If you've been following the NBA playoff race at the bottom rung of the Eastern Conference, you'll notice a small, albeit significant chance to standings. The Chicago Bulls, by virtue of a win last night over the Miami Heat, have inched into the seventh seed. And Detroit, currently on a three-game losing skid, has slipped into that eighth spot.
And I do not want to see them there for reasons both personal and professional.
Let's deal with the latter first. Despite the fact that the Pistons have a losing record at 34-37 and despite the fact that there appears to be a quiet protest going on with Allen Iverson regarding his playing situation , the Pistons will be dangerous for the Cavaliers. There's just too much intensity in the rivalry for them not to be.
Nevermind that the situations have changed over the course of just a season with the Cavs running away with the division, they still have Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and, according to reports, Iverson, who always has fun at the Cavs' expense, will return next Tuesday for the final push.
Yes, there are no guarantees should they play the Bulls given that the Cavs finished their season series against them before they completed trades that brought Brad Miller and John Salmons to the team. There, however, hasn't been much of a rivarly there since Michael Jordan frustrated the Cavs years ago.
Detroit? Different story.
As for why I don't want to see it? The Palace at Auburn Hills is a great facility, but it reminds me of the Richfield Coliseum in that it sits almost in the middle of nowhere.
Secondly, driving I-75 as repairs continue to be made would test the patience of a Bhuddist monk.
Wally Szczerbiak's left knee strain that will keep him out for much of the rest of the regular season will require Mike Brown to shift his rotation once again. In Szczerbiak the team lost some flexibility.
Brown said after Thursday's morning shootaround that Sasha Pavlovic, because of his size, will see his minutes increase. Some may view that as a good thing, others a bad. What is known about Pavlovic is that when he gets extended minutes, he usually produces.
It also represents another oppportunity for Daniel Gibson to try to get untracked. Gibson, who has received DNP-CDs (did not play - coach's decision) the past two games, has been inconsistent all season. In fairness, part of that has been due to a toe injury, but he said recently that it's 100 percent. In short: there should be no excuses for a lack of production now.
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Darnell Jackson returned to the Erie Bayhawks, the Cavs’ affiliate in the NBA D-League, for a game last night against the Austin Toros. It was his second trip to Northwestern Pennsylvania for the minor league team. In his first appearance, he scored 24 points and grabbed six rebounds.To read more or comment...
Add Wally Szczerbiak to this list of Cavaliers wounded. The guard-foward left the game against the Orlando Magic with 3:33 left in the third with a left knee sprain.
The team had an MRI performed on Szczerbiak today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
At the half: Cavs 50, Knicks 43
Are the Cavs still on the West Coast?
A couple of observations: They are getting no calls in the first half, only going to the line four times in that span.
The Knicks are shooting just XX percent in the first half yet only have a seven-point edge. The calls have certainly gone the Knicks way.
Part of the problem is nine turnovers that have killed the Cavs' offensive flow. The Knicks have scored 10 points off Cleveland turnovers.
Game: Cavs (52-13) vs. Knicks (28-37)
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio; Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Wilson Chandler (F); Al Harrington (F); David Lee (C); Larry Hughes (G); Nate Robinson (G).
Injured-inactive: Cavs: Eric Snow (knee); Ben Wallace (right fibula). Knicks: Eddy Curry (knee); Chris Duhon (back).
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won four in a row overall and five consecutive at Quicken Loans Arena; the Knicks have won three straight.
This year: The Cavs lead the season series 3-0. The Cavaliers have beat the Knicks by an average of 19.7 points in those three games. Last time out against New York, LeBron James scored 52 points.
Officials: Bob Delaney, Eric Dalen and Gary Zielinski.
What to watch:
Post mortem: Cavs 99, Heat 89
Coming on the tailend of a brutal portion of the schedule this is a victory that you do not over analyze. You take it. Leave the building rest and get ready for the upcoming three-game road trip that begins Tuesday.
That being said, if the Cavs give a team MVP this year, it had best go to Mo Williams because he is the reason they won that game.
In the locker room you could tell that LeBron James was more tired than a hounddog in Alabama summer heat. Saggy eyed, the usual charm was missing in interviews. It's impressive that he tallied a triple double (14 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds), but in a way it was easy to see this wouldn't be a scoring night for him - even with Dwyane Wade in the building.
That left Williams to pick up any slack and he proved up to the task the way he has all season. He scored 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting and hit 6-of-7 treys. He was just what the doctor ordered.
He's not a luxury for the Cavaliers he's a necessity. In Zydrunas Ilgauskas' younger days he may have been an option down the stretch. That has fallen to Williams and it relieves a lot of pressure for LeBron James.
At the half: Cavs 50, Heat 36
The Cavs have lost two consecutive games once this season. It doesn't look at if it's going to happen here, primarily because they're back on their game defensively, something sorely missing against the Boston Celtics. At the half, they've given up just 10 points in the paint, have been aggressive going to the ball.
Point guard Mo Williams is on fire. The Heat is making the mistake of letting him drift out onto the left wing for wide-open threes and he's draining all net.
Game: Cavs (48-13) vs. Miami Heat (22-28)
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio; Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydruas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Heat: Jamario Moon (F); Udonis Haslem (F); Jermaine O’Neal (C); Dwyane Wade (G); Mario Chalmers.
Streaking: Both teams have won one. The Cavaliers have only lost two consecutive once this season.
Officials: Ken Mauer, David Guthrie and Eli Roe.
Previously this year: The Cavaliers lead the season series 2-1, but the game that everyone is still talking about is the show that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade put up 42 and 41 points respectively in a classic game of one-on-one within a team game. What to watch:
Post mortem: Celtics 105, Cavs 94
Tonight's post game analysis will be brought to you by Sherwin Williams.
All you need to know about tonight's game: Boston Celtics had 58 points in the paint. 'Nuff said.
Game: Cavaliers (47-12) vs. Boston Celtics (48-14)
Broadcast: TV: ESPN; Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Paul Pierce (G); Glen Davis (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured-inactive: Cavs: Eric Snow (knee); Ben Wallace (broken leg). Boston: Kevin Garnett (knee).
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won four in a row. Boston has won one.
This year: The series stands at 1-1. The Cavaliers won the last meeting at Quicken Loans Arena 98-83. In the game LeBron James scored 38 points and Anderson Varejao led the Cavs with nine rebounds. The Celtics won the season opener 90-85.
What to watch:
Some might wonder where the minutes that Joe Smith will play will come.
You won't hear Zydrunas Ilgauskas complain about losing a few. Ditto for Anderson Varejao. Coach Mike Brown said as much today when asked if Smith would see action tonight against the Celtics:
Post mortem: Cavs 91, Bucks 73
After a strenuous road trip that included four games in five days, the Cavaliers have to feel lucky to get out of what could have been a trap game.
While they didn't always look the best offensively - in fact, they often looked offensive - defensively they played like what they expect - ferociously.
Delonte West was the star on that end, racking up eight steals. Fans and observers - some of you will recognize of whom it is I speak - call West a marginal starter.
Ummm...yeah. That's it. Marginal. He's marginal if you look at one side of the ball. His defense it what makes him so complete a player. Forget about the fact that he can create his own shot, shoot off the dribble, drive to the hoop and hit the three consistently.
With this win the Cavs clinched the playoffs. They were remarkably blase about the fact after the game. Cleveland fans should like that; it shows they're hungry and ambitious.
Delonte West on his steals tonight:
According to reports coming out of Oklahoma City, the Thunder reached an agreement to buyout the contract of forward Joe Smith allowing him to become a free agent and thus sign with any team.
Smith would be a natural choice to fill the hole left due to Ben Wallace's injury, but things aren't quite that simple.
Smith and Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao share an agent in Dan Fegan. That in itself clouds the situation, according to a league source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
With Smith back on the team Varejao would certainly lose some playing time and given the fact that he can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, Fegan is unlikely to want to see the possibility of a big payday slip away.
Smith arrived in Cleveland just before the trading deadline last season. He quickly became a team favorite and the Cavs didn't want to part with him, but had to to get Mo Williams.
LeBron James said after Sunday's victory over the Hawks, that he would welcome Smith back.
The 6-10 Smith averaged 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds with the Thunder this season but has seen his playing time vanish after a trade with the New Orleans Hornets was rescinded last month.
UPDATE: Things grew complicated when the Sacramento Kings released former Cav Drew Gooden just before the deadline Sunday. The forward, who is currently has a groin injury, is another fan favorite. Could it be the Cavs will have a choice of big men should they be unable to sign Smith?
The Kings got him in a trade from the Chicago Bulls before the trading deadline. He spent almost four seasons here and averaged close to 12 points and more than eight rebounds. This season he is averaging 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Post mortem: Cavs 88, Hawks 87
In a playoff situation, this team scares me. Just like they scared the hell out of Boston last year, taking them to seven games before losing on the Celtics home court.
At one point, the Cavs enjoyed a 13-point lead and looked to be on their way to coasting. Not a chance, the Hawks pecked and clawed their way back to eventually take a seven-point lead. The Cavs cut that to four at 84-80 with 2:47 left in the game.
That's when the Cavs, by LeBron James' estimation, played some of their basketball of the year. They needed stops; they got them. They needed huge shots and got those as well with Mo Williams and James hitting the two biggest of the night.
With the Hawks up 87-84, James found Williams on the wing for a three-pointer to tie the game. The Hawks didn't score on the next possession and James drove to the hoop with 1.6 seconds left and drew the foul from Atlanta's Al Horford. He created some drama by missing the first free throw, but connected on the second.
Yes, it was a great end to the game, but the Cavs shouldn't have even been in that position.
They played sloppily for much of the second half to begin. And they didn't get any help from the official scorer who couldn't keep track of fouls on Delonte West.
With three minutes left in the third quarter, the scorer had West with four fouls when he actually only had three. Brown pulled him from the game tinkering with his rotation. During that span the Hawks went on an 8-0 run to take a 68-67 lead. Sloppy to say the least and had the Cavs lost, they may have had reason to protest.
It's not the first time it's happened.
Mike Brown on Delonte's foul situation: