On Tap: The Cleveland Cavaliers

Kurt —  January 12, 2006

Record: 20-12 (Pythagorean 21-11), 4th seed in the East
Record last 10 games: 7-3
Offensive Rating: 111.9 (2nd in league)
Defensive Rating: 105.8 (13th in league)

The Lakers coming in: I’d love to provide some brilliant, subtle insight into last night’s loss in Portland, but what went wrong was painfully obvious — even Joel Meyers figured it out and didn’t blame it on the refs. How do you let a team that shoots 46.5% (eFG%) for the season shoot 55.5%?

In the big picture, this is what you get with a young team, a lack of focus from game to game, sometimes from quarter to quarter. For whatever reason, this Laker team showed no intensity on defense last night, it manifested itself in slow rotations and guys getting beat one-on-one. And the Lakers get crushed by a bad team.

Phil needs to walk into the team shower, call them all a bunch of lollygaggers, and scare the kids a little. It will work for a while, they’ll bounce back with energy for a few games, then out of the blue there will be another unfocused game. I don’t expect mature play from this team.

One thing I have to get to:
Bill Simmons took a riding crop to Secretariat in his latest ESPN the magazine piece.

And what disappoints me is that I like Simmons and he usually gets it, but here he misses the big point — Kobe couldn’t win. Exit that Mav’s game with 62 points and don’t play the fourth quarter and Simmons, along with other media members, jump on him for not going for 80. Play the fourth, go for some records and he gets ripped up and down on talk radio and in the papers for being selfish.

We could get into more detail about the article— like why comparing the classic Jordan teams to this Laker team as he wants to do is idiotic because of the talent level of the surrounding cast, a better comparison is the early Jordan years, when everyone called Jordan selfish — but instead, I’m going to say he had a bad column and just let it go. Everyone’s entitled to a mulligan.

About the Cavaliers: We’re going to talk about LeBron, but the big news in Cavs land is that Larry Hughes is out with a broken finger. He was an athletic player to put out on the perimeter with LeBron, and gave them 17.3 points and 4.1 assists per 40 minutes, while shooting 44.6% (eFG%). Without Hughes, it appears to be the LeBron show with little else (sound familiar?).

The other night against the Knicks, LeBron had 36 points, 7 boards and 7 assists — with just one turnover. In just his third year in the league, LeBron is in the middle of the MVP mix, he has the highest PER in the league, 29.2. He leads the team as a +12.3. LeBron James has an incredible true shooting percentage of 59.2%, scoring 29.3 points, grabbing 6.5 rebounds and dishing out 5.6 assists per 40 minutes. He leads the league in the number of “and one” attempts and conversions — he’s so strong that the fouls don’t seem to affect his shot. LeBron James lost his virginity before his father did. LeBron James does not sleep — he waits. LeBron James’ tears cure cancer — too bad he has never cried.

Another guy to watch for on the Cavs — although he is no LeBron James — is Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He has a true shooting percentage of 56.5% and is pulling down 15.1% of the available rebounds while on the floor, leding to a +7.3. Donyell Marshall has fallen in love with the three ball, but if the Lakers don’t get out in his face he’ll hit a lot of them. Marshall is also +7.3.

Key’s to a Laker win: Defensive effort. They didn’t expend a lot of energy last night so they should have plenty left. That said, the Cavs have LeBron James so do the Lakers really stand a chance? (In all seriousness, the Cavs are damn good; the Lakers are going to need one of their best efforts.)

to On Tap: The Cleveland Cavaliers

  1. It was the sight of LeBron’s naked body that drove Brian Wilson insane. LeBron once showed me a video of him making love to my wife, and it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. The James’ family crest is a picture of a baracudda eating Neil Armstrong.


  2. LeBron James is three feet taller than Chuck Norris…

    Losing to the lowly Blazers, whose team commercials show their coach D’ing his players upin practice causing one of them to quip, “Damn, coach!”, shows that last night the Lakers weren’t “cursed with self-awareness.”


  3. Lebron is rich, 21, has a great game, but not a great team. As long as Detroit and San Antonio remain a cohesive group he may be 27 before he sees anything past the Eastern Conf finals.

    As for Simmons article, he’s a very hateful man bordering on Enquirer type reporting. I’m surprised ESPN represents such a biased story on their site. It was all Kobe’s fault for Shaq not being in shape, for blasting the owner for a contract, for prolonging his toe surgery, for his demand for a trade. Kobe works hard at the game of basketball period. Kobe still has a lot to prove on a team aspect but that’s why the owner is preparing for another superstar to come join this team. I wonder how Simmons feels about the 60’s-70’s Lakers when Wilt, Elgin, and Jerry went to the finals 9 times and only won 1 time. Is he crackin on West for scoring too much not allowing Wilt to be the scoring leader of the team. What awards as Simmons received to legitimize his comments and conclusions. I know that in the streets he wouldn’t be preaching this in LA so whose he addressing. The all-star voting doesn’t feel what he’s feeling. If it wasn’t for China he would have the most votes of all players. So Simmons must be a hater that most people have for people who make mistakes. Even Jordan made mistakes but Simmons doesn’t go there. The press never went there with Jordan. But Jordan ripped the owner. Had gambling issues, infidelity issues, abandoned his teammates to pursue baseball. How selfish is that. But the press of course provided sympathy concerning the well being of Jordan. So I say Simmons needs to turn over a new leaf and unload all the hate before he ends up with an ulcer. Peace


  4. Simmons is a commedy writer doing sports, and he’s a good one. But part of his “I live in LA but am not part of it” shtick (if it is shtick) is that he hates the Lakers and gets Clippers season tickets. Simmons is taking the easy road, kicking the Lakers when they are down and bashing their star. It’s fine, it’s his column and opinion, even if I’d like him to be smarter than that.

    The thing is, I really think Kobe’s reputation has bottomed out and has started to climb back up, that in a few years (if Mitch and the front office give him some help) it will be a VH1 Behind the Music story arc, with people loving Kobe again. And Simmons will be right there, writing the “look how much Kobe has changed” columns, when he really won’t have changed much at all.

    Simmons also blasts Phil Jackson today, but the fact is Jackson was hired for a couple reasons: 1) to pacify season ticket holders; 2) to give the organization direction and lay a foundation. He may at the end of the cotract turn the team over to Brian Shaw, he may stick around, but he will have laid the groundwork for the 2008-10 Lakers.


  5. And wilzuvsteel, I said Cleveland was a damn good team, not great. I think they are the second best team in the East when healthy, but they will get Detroit in the second round and fall there. They are big step behind Detroit, but I think the Cavs are building something that can challenge Detroit in a year or two.


  6. now that was a game where the lakers’ point totals look something close to what i believe should be the goal. maybe subtract a little scoring [and more rebounding] from chris, add a few more points for kobe to satisfy his scoring lust. add some cookie in there.

    another delightful night turned in by kwame. and best of all, ZERO TURNOVERS! great to see him getting more and more comfortable, and looking like his game is on the upswing.


  7. They beat them from the free throw line…


  8. odds n’ ends– jesus, what kind of curse did the cavs put on kobe? it’s like he’s paying the price for being jordan’s heir, getting injured everytime they play them at home at all.

    i need to voice a complaint about a commercial that annoys me more than the lebron trying to be eddie murphy ads… if i see that fat bastard singing along to his goddamn dukes of hazzard ringtone one more time during a game, i think i’m going to lose it.


  9. The Lakers rolled up in Portland? Oh yeah. Gotta love Jackson’s throne. The Blazers did ya? I live in Portland and one funny here is everyone calling Ruben Patterson “Kobe Killer”. Kobe still had 41 so thats killer dee? Oy vey.


  10. Simmons thinks he’s a sports writer, when he’s obviously not, and he tires in vein to be taken seriously, and then jokinly he’ll say something that will wash that seriousness away. He’s an idiot.

    I think his hatred for Kobe is based solely on his love for Celtics, and being from Boston he has to be bitter/hate on the Lakers, since it has been 20 long years since the Celtics were relevant. Even in Bird’s heyday, they still couldn’t handle the Lakers.


  11. Oh, and I love his bit that Pierce is a top 12 player in the league. Now that is comedy.


  12. Lucky win. I wonder if Hollinger would still take LeBron over Kobe today as he did yesterday.