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Cresendoing Back to First

First, I would like to welcome some of the other, new Cavaliers Mix writers. Some excellent articles and points have been made. Although I may not agree 100% with everything, I think we will all agree we're faithful Cavs fans and would like to see nothing more than a Cavs title in 2010. I have my Cavs 2010 license plate ready to go (Just need to hope none of our readers steal it).

Week 19 for the Cavs and Week 6 for the Cavs Optimist. This was an in-between week for our Cavs as they were riding the momentum from a couple big home wins and settling in. They had 2 more home games and 2 trap away games. The last game of the week started the longest home-stand of the season for the Cavs at 7 games. The Cavs have earned it by playing the most games in the NBA and the most road games. They find themselves with the best record in the NBA and have asserted themselves as the clear # 1 seed in the East. They have done this by playing as a team and showing their depth. They have also done this with 2nd year player J.J. Hickson starting and free-agent acquisition Leon Powe still not back yet. They have done this by learning how to play with the most dominant center in the game and recently without their All-Star point guard Moe Williams. Finally, their second most important spark off the bench and defensive stopper, Delonte West. Sure, the Cavs still have some things to work on but what a great job continuing the winning streak this week by going 4-0 and cresendoing back to first:

Cavs (34-11) vs. Miami Heat

Key Points:

  • Shaq returns to South Beach. Heat had won 5 out of last 7
  • LBJ vs. D-Wade. LeBron up 11-9 overall.
  • Which O'Neal will dominate - Jermaine or Shaquille?
  • Signing "Skip to my Lou" Rafer Alston - Cav Killer.

Key Player:

  • Shaq - He was big this game despite being out-played early. Being able to play through him vs. an under-sized athletic team was crucial. He came up big in the 4th and got the best of his former teammates.

Theme:

  • Blocks/wear the opponent down - The Cavs physical presence on defense was important is spurring the runs to take over this game. The Cavs are one of the top shot-blocking teams in the league and it helped them win this game. Shaq's at the end of the game was huge.

Summary:

The Cavs allowed 34 First Quarter points which wasn't a great way to begin this tough road game. I think they rested LeBron too much in the 2nd Quarter leading to the weakness that Mike Brown "Coach to the Competition." This can be good but I think mostly bad. We got back into it in the 2nd Quarter with Andy's hustle, great steals/blocks on defense, and the show that is LeBron James. It sure was fun to watch as LBJ had 20 in the 2nd and D-Wade had 30 first half points. It was highlighted by a Pay-Back facial on D-Wade by LBJ. The Cavs are 21-2 when leading at halftime which is a telling stat.

The Cavs started the 3rd like they started the 1st but got back into it late with a couple big 3s headlined by Boobie Gibson. However, this game came down to the 4th. Mike Brown did a couple smart things: 1) He played through Shaq who ended up dominating the other O'Neal and capitalized on it 2) Late in the game, he double-teamed D-Wade to get the ball out of his hands. Sure Haslem made a couple jumpers, but Wade was completely out of rythem after his unreal first half. Finally, with the crowd cheering MVP for LeBron, not Wade, the younger brother got the best again. With an unbelievable steal, drive, and 2 free throws LBJ put the Cavs up for good. The rythemless Wade was not able to score over the altering defensive of the NBA Devensive Player of the Year and MVP. Great, tough win for our Cavs.

Cavs (35-11) vs. NBDL's MinnesotaTimberwolves

Key Points:

  • Control Flynn and guards.
  • Limit Love and Jefferson.
  • Win the games you should and continue dominance vs. West at home (21-1) at the Q now over last 2 seasons.
  • Sasha Pavlovic’s return. Too inconsistent but played well. I’ll take Moon and Parker. And we got Shaq for him basically when you break the trade down.
  • Cavs won 6 in a row and 16 out of last 17 at home.

Key Player(s)

  • JJ Hickson - 15 first half points. He was very aggressive 21pts, 5/5 fts in 3rd. He still must work on outside game but very active and effective when he attacks. The Cavs are a better team when he plays like this.

Theme:

  • Winning the games you should win - This also helps us get rest. Boobie stepped up and hit some open 3s, taking charges, good all-around game.

Summary:

The theme for this game says it all. The Cavs started sluggish but poured out to a nice 2nd quarter lead and never looked back. This is exactly what the Cavs needed.

Cavs ( 36 - 11 ) vs. Indiana Pacers

Key Points:
  • Motivation for Cavs with no Moe Williams as an All-Star (I will get to this).
  • Won 11 of last 12.
  • Tough Road game as Indiana has beat a number of good teams at home with their up-and-down style.
  • Can JJ Hickson continue finishing strong and playing good defense? Yes.
  • Will Parker/Gibson/Jawad continue hitting open 3s from LBJ? And Yes.

Key Player:

  • Boobie Gibson - Daniel has done a great job stepping in and leading our team without its All-Star point guard, Moe Williams. It's an abosulte joke not having him on the team but I digress. Boobie has made his open looks, played great defense, and led our team seamlessly.

Theme:

  • Tempo - The Cavs can play up-tempo! You heard it hear first. Teams try to push it so they avoid our set defense. The Cavs took advantage of this multi-dimensional ability. I'd also like a second mention to defensive blocks. LBJ was spectacular on defense, intimidating, even blocking 7 footer Roy Hibbert. This game proved the Cavs can play a slow-down game like vs. the Lakers or up-and-down like vs. these Pacers.

Summary:

The summary for this game is easy. Dominance. Start with this stat: The Cavs shot 44 free throws to the Pacers 5! They also had a total of 61 rebounds! Not to mention, per AC "The Cavs are going to shoot the lights out at Conseco!" LBJ had 9 first quarter assists and everyone was clicking on all cylinders. We also learned how to play through Shaq. We haven't had a dominate center like this since Brad Daugherty and we've learned how to use him. We still must get better but this was a great start. Per McLeod, We "Ram-Shaqed the Pacers!" A total team effort put the will of Indiana out holding them to 34% shooting and helped us to win our 7th in a row. This is also 21-4 in our last 25 games.

Cavs ( 37 - 11 ) vs. LA Clippers

Key Points:

  • Control players that hurt us in LA. Gordon, Butler, and Baron Davis.
  • Assert themselves early and take away Clippers will.
  • Begin longest homestand in many years history on the right foot.

Key Player:

  • LeBron James - I had to give him this one. Arena record 23 points in the first quarter! More to come on the first quarter but I’ve said this before, when he asserts himself and dominates, it becomes contagious. Especially at home, all the other players feed off of him as the leader and that should did happen here. The rest of the game, LBJ did what he normally does and got everyone else involved and closed out the game. When he leads like this, he's unquestionably the MVP and the Cavs are nearly impossible to defeat.

Theme:

  • Three Point FGs - I think this was fairly obvious. NBA record 11-3s in the first quarter and franchise tying 46 first quarter points! It started with LBJ but Gibson, Jawad Williams, and even Jamario Moon really stepped up. Shooting is a funny, contagious thing, and this was simply incredible. Per McLeod, "They're making 3s like lay-ups!" Per Austin, "Shoot it Cavs, shoot it!"

Summary:

Apart from the obvious unconscious and entertaining first quarter, analyzing this game on the whole I like a couple things. First, I like how everyone is stepping up and playing together. The Cavs were moving the ball, going inside through Shaq, and making the extra pass for a number of the open looks. They went away from this in the 3rd but had imposed enough will to take the life out of the Clippers. In the playoffs, are defense will be there. I am pleased that we really have learned how to play with Shaq better. We are proving we are a deep team and I can't wait until we get our full team back and hopefully playing strong right into our final playoff push. This even includes Leon Powe. The Cavs are doing exactly what they need to be doing and playing better each game. We are only 1 game off last season's record setting pace with a great 4-0 week!

Optimist Summary:

Overall, how can you not be please with how this team has played and continued to grow. One thing good I guess you can say about Mike Brown is that he still sees room for improvement. A big, big factor I see is that the Cavs have been able to learn how to play with Shaq. The ability to play through him at times and LeBron is crucial to our success in bringing home a championship. Before, we had to play entirely through LeBron if we wanted our role guys to get shots. Moe Williams was the only other player that consistently good create opportunities for himself. Now that we have Shaq and the perfect compliment in Z, the Cavs have that low-post presence we've always needed. Early in the season, you can tell the Cavs weren't used to having that as our offense had always been built on perimeter spacing, driving lanes, drive and kick.

Now, we can do that with LBJ or Moe creating OR through it in to the big Cuyahoga and play off of his double-teams. This all is predicated on Shaq being dominate and onverting. Special thanks to Coach Egan for helping his free throw shooting to near 60%. Remember, Shaq has size 22 shoes and his hands are too big for the NBA basketball. His effectiveness must be measured still by his ability to convert. That can be by scoring, converting free throws, or getting players in foul trouble. This +/- must be positive for the Cavs to win and make up for him on defense. Lately, however, the Cavs have learned to play with him on D also and his physical presence has been critical in helping our defensive toughness. It's nice with this part of the season to have a long home stand like this.

We must continue the momentum in locking up the #1 seed in the East (I’m not worried about # 1 overall) as quickly as possible to try to get as much rest in April as possible. We've earned this home-stand by doing so well on the road and playing more games than any NBA team. It's important to get some extra practice and rest. Also, players get to stay at home and build into the All-Star break from the travel stand-point. Most teams play better at home and, as I mentioned before, the role/bench players tend to play better at home too. With Moe and Delonte still resting and every game important, this couldn’t come at a better time. The only tragedy is that the Cavs only have 1 All-Star. I think the Cavs only having 1 All-Star is absolute garbage but it shows that we are a team. Moe Williams and Shaq should’ve been All-Stars over any gutless Celtic or Hawk player that got chosen, primarily Paul Pierce. That guy is a disgrace to the league with how we plays the game through the referees instead of playing the game. Rondo is no different. I can only wish they were dumb enough to pull an Arenas.

Regardless, the gutless coaches still would vote them into the All-Star game over the team-oriented Cavs. This says a lot. It's crap because again the Cavs must take the high road and I think they deserve some recognition. Naming Moe then a replacement would've been the correct thing to do. Nonetheless, the Cavs must rectify everything in the NBA by playing their best and winning a championship. I will forget all the gutlessness of NBA Coaches, Boston Celtics, LA Lakers, the league if no one holds the Cavs back from doing what they're proving to earn A Championship to the city of Cleveland. I'm sure Cleveland will forgive them too. Stay tuned to see if the Cavs can continue their 8 game winning streak and hold down the fort at home untilthe All-Star break. See you next week!


Cavs Optimist

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