Saturday, October 27, 2007

There's Weak, and Then There's the Cavs Preseason

Not like preseason NBA means anything, or is even worth discussing 99.9% of the time, but the 2007-08 Cleveland Cavaliers are looking like a disaster. Now I never watch preseason sporting events (other than KU games), but tonight's Cavs/Celtics game was on ESPN and with my lame life thanks to my eight month old son, I was home tonight and wanted to see if everything I've read about this preseason was true. Judging by what I saw tonight, its all true, and maybe even worse than I imagined.

Last night, The Cavs were disgraced by Toronto 111-78 after trailing at half by only five. No big deal right? Well when you follow it up with a 114-89 loss to Boston to finish your preseason at 1-6, its a concern. Especially when said team is coming off an Eastern Conference Championship. Lets start with the fact that Boobie Gibson is out with a hamstring injury. Eric Snow is out with his injured knee, and the much publicized pair of holdouts Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varajao are still MIA overseas with no return date in sight. That leaves Lebron without little talent beside him and essentially no depth.

What I watched tonight was pathetic. Dwayne Jones, Ira Newble and Devin Brown are playing the roles of The Wild Thing and Sasha? Ugh. Damon Jones in the starting lineup and being counted on for a large role? Scary. Newble hit 4-5 shots for 10 points and DJ buried all three of his triples, but Newble is supposed to be helping in the post - he had as many rebounds as I did tonight. Amon Jones once again lived up to his nickname - "No D." While he admired his jumpers on one end, C's point guard Rajon Rondo was busy running circles around him, penetrating and dishing to KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Eddie House, and even Big Baby Davis. The Cavs double teams were as slow as the security line at O'Hare on a Friday afternoon. Last year, Newble was inactive at least 50% of the season and when he was active, he was the 12th man. DJ was the 11th man. Devin Brown - what did he have to offer? A suspect J, four turnovers, and five fouls in 18 minutes.

The "new" offense looks like the same old Cavs, four guys standing and watching while Lebron dribbles around and tries to make something happen. Drew Gooden had one of his in and out games, scoring just six points with six rebounds in 32 minutes. Without Andy backing him up, he cannot take nights off the way he seemed to do tonight. Z was Z. Larry Hughes actually looked decent, hitting 7-17 shots for 18 points, but running the team is still not his forte. Jason Kidd, he ain't - four assists and five turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Celtics looked revitalized with The Big Three. Experts say they don't have enough surrounding them, but Rondo is a keeper at the point as long as he keeps defending the way he does and can limit his turnovers. Twinsburg native James Posey is a solid role player off the bench who can do a little of everything. Kendrick Perkins is still a work on progress in the middle, but I think Cavs GM Danny Ferry would be delighted to have him over Jones and Cedric Simmons any day of the week. Big Baby Davis was a steal in the second round and will be a solid 10 year pro - mark it down.

I know, this is a typical Cleveland "the sky is falling after the preseason" view, but you can't argue the fact that the Cavs stood pat this offseason, got a year older, and are sitting idly by while two of its key cogs are holding out for money they will never see. To me, getting out of the first round in the East will be a chore, even with Lebron James on the squad. Boston is better. Toronto is better. Orlando is better. The Bulls are better. The Pistons still have Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and company. Yet the Cavs seem worse. It's not just me. I linked this article yesterday, but it bears another look. Other than former Clevelander (and Cavs honk) Chris Broussard, nobody at ESPN is picking the Cavs to repeat or even come close.
The average consensus is between 4th and 5th.

I can't say I disagree. Make sure you read
this Brian Windhorst piece about the Varajao contract dispute and his agent, Dan Fegan. Windhorst, of the Akron Beacon-Journal, is the only source for Cavaliers inside scoop. Here's another solid piece by Windhorst about the alleged Cavaliers "new offense." Windhorst makes the PD's Branson Wright look like an amateur (well, lets call it what it is).


1. Big Ohio State/Penn State game tomorrow night on ABC in primetime. People here are really jocking this team, but I ain't buying it. Their defense is National title caliber, but they have yet to play real competition (sorry, winning at Purdue and at Washington - the 8th best team in the PAC-10 doesn't count). I don't know if Penn State is real competition either. Their best win was over perhaps the biggest fraud in the country, Wisconsin. The Buckeyes next four games will show who they really are: at Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and at Michigan. If they win Saturday, I bet they go to Ann Arbor undefeated for another shot at the BCS title game in what will most likely be Lloyd Carr's swan song. Can you imagine that drama?

2. Red Sox manager Terry Francona has decided to go with David Ortiz over Kevin Youkilis at first base in game three in Colorado. Youkilis killed the Indians in the ALCS and is hitting .396 with 12 RBI this postseason and hasn't made an error at first in over a year. I don't care how clutch Big Papi is, this will prove to be a mistake when he butchers balls in the field tomorrow night. You know what, what do I care?

3. Kansas has been listed at #4 in ESPN/USA Today's preseason college basketball poll. Preseason polls mean as much to me as this year's World Series, but it's nice to see us back in the top five. I'll give you my top five without my research right now - this is subject to change:

1. Tennessee - Nobody believes, but I do. Bruce Pearl is my guy.
2. North Carolina - Roy's squad is loaded
3. Memphis - I'm drinking the Derrick Rose kool-aid
4. UCLA - They took us down last year and only lost the extremely overrated Arron Afflalo
5. Kansas - Memo to Bill Self: Final Four or bust. Your talent well dries up in 200 days.

4. Friday Night Lights - The best show on TV bar none.

5. The Red Sox nation has officially become insufferable. It was cute for years, the whole curse of the Bambino and all, but now, it's just tired. They have become what they despised all of those years; they are as arrogant as the Yankee fans (Seth, you aren't included). Jimmy Kimmel had a hilarious take on this. Peep it below.

6. You want to know why I love Jayhawk basketball? What this eight minute tribute. To quote my boy The Danimal after watching this: "One word - Chills." Fast forward to
the 2:29 mark.

No comments: