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Cleveland Cavaliers

Newbies have their day, Cavs crush Grizz

By admin Published: February 24, 2008

Cavs 109, Grizzlies 89
--This game was almost like a feel-good practice. The new guys all played well in their own way and the fans were able to greet them. The Grizzlies didn't put up much of a fight at the start. It reminded me of the game against the Pacers in December when Anderson Varejao played his first game and LeBron James came back from his injury and Larry Hughes made like every shot. --The biggest thing you can take from this was how well the front line looked. LeBron, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace and Joe Smith combined for 73 points and 36 rebounds. Wallace was able to get plenty of open looks for dunks, which is all you want him to take, and they dominated around the glass. Then again, you aren't going to be facing the likes of Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic every night. But, Anderson Varejao isn't in the picture either. The Cavs are banking on that front line to be a massive strength and it showed promise out of the gate. --Wally Szczberiak wasn't always in the right place, but he hit a couple 3s. If this is an average game for him, he's an addition. When he gets going he may have a 30-point night. --Delonte West missed a lot of shots, he went 2-of-12. He's having a terrible shooting year, which is one of the reasons the Sonics chose to move him of their point guards. However, he did have six assists and three steals. Want to know what Larry Hughes' season-high in assists was? Six. --We will know more about this team after Wednesday when they play in Boston. There are signs there that this could really work out, but I need to see so much more. So this was an easy first step, let's see what happens next. --Dan Gilbert spoke to the media before the game. Here's the best of what he had to say: “I thought it was pretty important to do something. We got to the Finals with this team, but the competition got harder and it was going to be a bigger challenge than last year. We are trying to build something here. You pay $375 million for a franchise and then break even for a couple years, you can’t start getting cheap now. It’s a big commitment, but before we even look at money we look at what is right basketball wise first. If you do it money first, you may start getting (the front office) gun shy even thinking of ideas.
Starting lineups
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick, Kwame Brown Cavs: Delonte West, Devin Brown, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
--West and Brown in the backcourt does NOT give the Cavs a lot of shooting in the backcourt. Not too far off from the Eric Snow/Larry Hughes days if you ask me. But this is just a trial. Wally Szczerbiak will get major minutes off the bench. The problem I see is that if you play Wally with Damon Jones you are going to have some defensive issues. We'll see, lots to learn over the next few games. --Mike Miller and Anderson Varejao are out tonight. --Let's see how Mike Brown uses his frontcourt rotation. How much he plays Big Ben and Z together and how many minutes Joe Smith gets. I for one think there's going to be some playing time issues with the bigs when Andy gets back. Someone's minutes are getting slashed a bit. --Overall, there's a lot of excitement here. I expect the performance to be uneven, which is why it is fortunate the Cavs are playing one of the worst teams in the league.
Halftime -- Cavs 59, Grizzlies 38
--I am tempted to throw out much of what you see tonight because the Cavs are sort of playing on emotion and the Grizzlies are so horrible. --However, there are some things you can tell that will last past tonight. Opposing teams are going to pull their 4s out and force Ben Wallace away from the basket when they can. To me, this transition will be interesting for him. But Wallace is so much better defending the high pick-and-roll than Ilgauskas because he's so much quicker. He's trying pretty hard tonight, too. He had a steal on the first play of the game and made some othe defensive plays. --West is very active on defense and he pushes the ball big time. This could be a major upgrade. I have said for some time that they Cavs would benefit from just having a point guard who has good instincts in setting up easy offense. That was not a strongsuit of anyone before, even when LeBron did it he looked to score first, which is what you want. But you want someone running and setting stuff up, which West is showing a little bit tonight. --Wally Szczerbiak looks like he's not comfortable with wear his shots are coming from just yet. That'll take a bit. Joe Smith was very solid in the first half, he was 4-of-4 and had a couple rebounds. --No one is paying attention, but Devin Brown and Damon Jones are really playing well. Devin had six assists in the half and Damon's hot shooting is continuing. --It won't matter tonight, but man the Grizz are stubborn in how they guard LeBron. They played him 1-on-1 last month and he lit them up for 51. They are doing it again tonight.
Stars LeBron, 25 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists Ilgauskas, 22 points, 13 rebounds Wallace, 12 points, 10 rebounds Hakim Warrick, 21 points, nine rebounds
Quotes: LeBron: “Ben's ability to get up and rebound and throw down dunks (showed his potential),” James said. “He’s rejuvenated.” Joe Smith: “This might have been the first time in a long time I got chills when I took the court. When we ran out on the court for warm-ups the crowd reaction and how they accepted us, I kind of got goose bumps.”

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