Monday, April 19, 2010

All together?

Once again, it's been way too long since I've posted here. But it's playoff time now and that needs to change. After Saturday's relatively easy Game 1 win over the Bulls, it's "All Together" as we march towards 15 more wins and that elusive Cleveland championship. I can't say I'm crazy about this year's playoff slogan... but then again, "Rise Up" and "One Goal" didn't work, so maybe this third one is the charm. We can only hope.

Some questions were answered on Saturday, and I filed away the following mental notes (Terry Pluto-style) as I watched the proceedings in the friendly confines of the Q:

  • I was fairly concerned with how Shaq would be able to fit back into the plans after all the time off with the thumb injury. And I was more than pleasantly surprised by how active he was on both ends of the court. Highlight of the game for me was his spin move and dunk on Joakim Noah, followed by the old-school sprint back down the court on defense. Absolutely loved that.
  • I fully expected "Playoff LeBron" to make a screaming appearance into Game 1. I've maintained that he's coasted through much of this season, smartly conserving himself for the next two months of work. And he's done so while still easily rolling to his 2nd consecutive league MVP award. In Game 1 he still appeared to be holding back a bit, almost pacing himself. Easy for me to say from the seats, but his numbers weren't eye-popping... until you look at his staggering +19 in 40 minutes of action. Or his 4 blocked shots - many of the demoralizing "chasedown" variety. Even when LBJ "only" gets 24 points, he still finds so many other ways to alter a game. In this one he was content to spread the wealth among Shaq, Antawn, and Mo. But you just know he has a huge game waiting for when this team needs it.
  • How about Mo Williams? We've been concerned about his shoulder for much of the season. He hasn't looked like himself for spurts throughout the year since that injury. And on the heels of last year's playoff misfortunes I was really keying on how he would look under the playoff microscope. He has the unenviable task of staying in front of Derrick Rose this series, something that even Delonte West had trouble with on Saturday. But more important than what Mo did or didn't do on defense, he showed up on offense. 19 points, 10 assists is something that all Cavs fans should be thrilled with from Mo in this one. He was 8-of-14 from the field, including 3-for-7 from long-range. And I think my favorite Mo-related moment was when he emphatically waved off LeBron late in the fourth quarter and demanded that he himself bring up the ball to set up the offense. I like aggressive Mo so much more than tentative/passive Mo.
  • You could tell Antawn Jamison was having fun playing for a team like the Cavs on this stage. A couple of occasions you could see him imploring the crowd to get louder while walking to the huddle at the start of a timeout. And his array of flip-shots and quick moves (the ones that used to annoy the shit out of me when he was wearing a Wizards jersey) were on full display again. It's going to be something to have him as an option on offense over the next two months. He has been everything we reasonably could have expected since joining the Cavs.
  • This Joakim Noah character needs to stop. I understand he's an energy guy that feeds off emotion and hustle. But he's quickly digging himself a hole he can't escape by continuing to rip the city of Cleveland - unless his idea of escaping is a Cavalier sweep and an earlier summer vacation. There's a reason the quote "let sleeping dogs lie" came into popularity. Why give LBJ and the Cavs any further motivation for this series? Wouldn't it be better to take the low road and hope that maybe the Cavs would take you lightly? Ain't gonna happen now thanks to Mr. Noah's big mouth.
  • The Bulls basically have to play a perfect game on both ends of the court to get a win in this series... I'm not saying it won't happen. I can easily envision them riding some crowd energy at home in either Game 3 or Game 4 and winning a close one. But to think that this series could go past five games seems completely out-of-the-question to this Cavs homer. Not quite as one-sided a matchup as last year's first round series against the Pistons, but close... at least in my eyes.
  • If you didn't already know it, Dan Gilbert is one hell of an owner. All Cleveland fans need to just stop for a second and thank the sports gods that he fell into our laps. In yet another example of his awesomeness, he stepped in during the 11th hour of the LeBron 2010 banner saga (a grassroots effort by many of us from and and made it happen. The quick version of the story: 1) Money was raised over the last couple years to construct and erect a banner in downtown Cleveland right before the 2010 playoffs to show LeBron our support and appreciation before he enters free agency, 2) The banner was created with the amazing artwork of Glen Infante and all the generous donations from loyal everyday hard-working Cavs fans, 3) The great people at Nick's Sports Corner (612 Prospect Avenue) allowed the banner to be put up on the side of their building, and 4) The city of Cleveland squashed the idea late Friday night... just a few hours before said banner was supposed to be raised into place. Of course they did. Why allow the fans of this city to express love and support for LeBron? Another tremendous airball of a blunder by the powers-that-be in this town. Thankfully Gilbert used his influence to right this wrong and the banner went up on Saturday afternoon shortly before tipoff. Can't wait to get downtown tonight and take another look at this beauty. Here's a shot I took as installation was just finishing up. Go Cavs.

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