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Cavs Thoughts

January 27, 2010

The Cavs wake up this morning in the middle of the season to find themselves with the best record in the NBA, a sizable lead for the number 1 seed in the East, owning the tiebreaker over the Lakers for number 1 overall seed, and preparing to host a tired Minnesota Timberwolves NBDL squad. Meanwhile, LeBron James is jaw-dropping his way to a 2nd of many MVP Awards.

Yet all is not rosy.

Cleveland is without starting point guard, All-Star, and all around drink-stirring-straw Mo Williams until late-February/early-March. Reserved back-up combo guard extraordinaire Delonte West has a broken finger and is still facing a suspension when his gun case is resolved. 3-point-specialist-masquerading-as-a-point-guard Boobie Gibson can't seem to get an assist or score inside the arc, proving his value as a 3-point specialist and nothing else. Shaq turns 38 in 5 weeks. The Cavs still need a stretch-4, or whatever. There are problems.

Allow me to throw out some solutions.

Point Guard: This is no time to make a panic trade. Mo Williams will be 100% long before the play-offs begin. Unless the Cavs are acquiring someone better than Mo (a short list and an unlikely proposition) they will be giving someone away for grab a player who will only impact the team for a few weeks in February. Kind of seems like a waste. Meanwhile, why not let Cedric Jackson play a little. Tonight is a good opportunity. LeBron could probably beat Minnesota by 15 by himself. Gibson really doesn't facilitate. Give Jackson 10-15 minutes to run the offense and see what he can do. He may not be physically gifted, but he is a natural point guard. He has the right mindset to set up his teammates and will work hard on defense. You have him for 10 days, may as well see what he can do. Otherwise, if Gibson continues to fail to facilitate, may I suggest free agent Brevin Knight? Not a bad stop-gap for three weeks.

Shaq: He may be turning 38, but he isn't about to shrink. He's also playing really well as of late. Keep giving him the basketball when he is in, but monitor his minutes. Without Mo Williams, Shaq is the number 2 scoring option on the team behind some dude from Akron. He should be scoring 16-20 points in that role, in only 25-28 minutes. This portion of the schedule is a little softer with the All-Star break coming up and the lack of back-to-backs. You can get away with playing the big fella a little longer right now, but he's got to be fresh come play-offs. Look at the potential round-by-round center match-ups for Cleveland in the play-offs.

  • 1st round: Andrew Bogut (7' 260 lbs., 16 ppg 10 rpg)
  • 2nd round: Dwight Howard (6'11" 265 lbs., 17-13)
  • Conf. Finals: Kendrick Perkins (6'10" 280 lbs., 12-8.5)
  • Finals: Andrew Bynum (7' 285 lbs., 15.5-8)
That could actually happen. The Bucks are in the 9 spot right now, so they would have to move into the 8 seed. Orlando is the current 4, Boston the current 2, and the Lakers are 1 in the West. That's a lot of center to face for four rounds. Cleveland is going to need that behemoth in the middle for two months of battling. Keep him rested.

Acquiring a stretch 4: The logical move seems to be trading Zydrunas Ilgauskas for a stretch 4. The potential trade partners have been discussed ad nauseum so I won't go into that. I will stress that whatever the Cavs do, if Z is traded he needs to be bought out and return to Cleveland. I doubt the second part will be an issue. If Z is traded, he may just not leave his house for 30 days. Seriously, he is a real homebody. He might actually just sit at home for 30 days and relax. Then he will return to the Cavs for the veteran minimum. The problem is making sure he gets bought out. It shouldn't be much of a problem. It is still important. Look again at that list of centers the Cavs may have to face in the play-offs. Remember that the Lakers also start a 7' power forward from Spain. Hey, I want to add Antawn Jamison (or someone of that ilk) too. I just won't lose sight of how important size may be in the play-offs, especially if the Cavs face the Lakers in the finals. If the Cavs go into the play-offs with Shaq, Z, Andy, J.J., and Powe as their bigs it's not the end of the world. The Cavs handled the Lakers with those guys, minus Powe. A stretch 4 would be a nice luxury, but I don't see it as a necessity.

Jack Bacevice


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