Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Saturday, December 29, 2007

An agonizing wait

So I did not watch the Browns loss to the Bengals. After performing my duties as Godfather at the baptism of my nephew Marcus- I was offered the choice of sitting on the couch with a bunch of little kids who were watching a new version of Frosty the Snowman where apparently the message is now strict parents who make rules are bad and stoned magic people who cover little kids in snow and shove them down mountains are good or sit in the kitchen and listen to neighbor women complain.

Making matters worse is the Dad from across the street would occasionally pop in his head with score updates. His six-year old son decided that day he was a Lions fan, a Bears fan and a Bengal fan. With every update he would shriek and scream and run around the house. Man I hated that kid.

So in the midst of a second viewing of Frosty, I asked my five-year old niece if Uncle could check the scores really quick. She agreed and we watched the final four or five plays of the Lions game- hoping it would end and they would switch to the final minute of the Browns game. When the Lions held on and won- the punk six year old screamed like he won the lottery and the network flipped just in time for us to see Kelly Holcomb... err ... Derek Anderson loft the ball in the end zone for the final play and the little kid who can't spell Cincinnati let alone name a Bengal jumps on the couch and gets in my face yelling how his team beat my team. I have never hated a six-year old more in my entire life. Here my heart is breaking and I have to take crap from a little kid. I wanted to punt him through the window. Disappointment never gets easier but why does it always seemed to get more and more humiliating.

And now to prolong my agony, NBC has decided to move the Colts-Titans game to prime time. Those bastards. I don't want to watch the game. I just wanted to know at 4:15 p.m. whether to to start drinking victory style with friends or locking myself in a room for the start of a long, slow private bender. If the game was at the same time as the Browns, I could peek at a score I could not control and prepare to accept our fate. Now I have to wait all day and inevitably find myself watching every play of a game as a faux Colt fan. Seriously in every possible scenario only Cleveland could find itself playing a meaningless game yet be forced to wait to watch Jim Sorge hold its fate on his shoulders.

I make no prediction but the pit in my stomach has remained since Sunday. I just want to know since as Tom Petty sang- the waiting is the hardest part.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cavs not as bad off as it seems

Before the Cavs/Mavs game, Charles Barkley reaffirmed his opinion that the Cavs would not make the playoffs. He said that the Cavs were lucky that Miami and Chicago were a mess and reminded everyone that the Cavs making the finals last year was the luckiest playoff run of all- time.

I am not here to hate on Charles Barkley. He knows the game of basketball and he is paid to say whatever pops in his head but not think long and hard about anything. Charles is there to entertain and he does that well.

But he is missing one aspect that I think is very important. LeBron is a huge factor in helping the Cavs compile luck.

Granted the Cavs right now are a mess. After all this time, Larry Hughes still has not figured out how to fit in. Now that Sasha Pavolvic has his contract, he can't seem to find the rim. With Donyell Marshall's injury and Anderson Varejo's holdout the front-line rotation has been a mess and Z and Drew Gooden have had to play bigger minutes than desired. The veteran guards are all upset with a lack of playing time and the team has been in turmoil.

As Barkley pointed out they are below .500 but you take away the losing streak that occurred when LeBron was injured- the Cavs are slightly over .500. And frankly just over .500 is not only enough to make the playoffs -- it is also enough to win an NBA championship.

Before you accuse me of getting all Pollyanna, the simple truth is that it is no easy task to defeat a LeBron James team four out of seven games. The Cavs did not match up well against the Spurs last season and San Antonio used their championship experience to sweep. But as I said all during the playoffs last season, if the Cavs are within five with five minutes to go - I will take my chances with LeBron on the floor.

Now that I am not saying that LeBron is all you need to compete for a championship. But the sky is not falling as much as many would have you believe. The biggest difference between last season and now is the defense. The Cavs have no chance unless they can find the defensive intensity they had last spring. And there are signs that can happen. And just the fact it will be the playoffs will help the cause. The NBA season is a grind and truthfully many regular season games lack meaning. You just can't play with powerful intensity every night. The Cavs led by LeBron almost always play better against the best teams. Sure they have lost to teams like the Knicks but they Knicks will not be in the post season. The magnitude of the games allow will help the Cavs.

Now I am not saying that the Cavs can just turn on a switch and win. They have to find a rotation that works. But I believe the roster is better suited for a seven game series than a 82 game regular season. And while the need to bolster the roster is there- I do not believe the Cavs really need a superstar point guard. I want no part of Mike Bibbey- I am a firm believer that if the Cavs had made that trade last season- they would not have beaten the Pistons. Gooden is one of the more valuable members of the team combined with Z and LeBron- the Cavs have an advantage on the boards against just about every team. I would like to see the Cavs trade Larry Hughes. He just doesn't fit in. He has flashes of solid play but he belongs on a team like Washington, Golden State or Phoenix. He needs a team that runs and guns. If Sasha could snap out of it- trading Larry would be easier. I am just not sure anyone wants Hughes at the cost of his contract. While I would love point guard like Andre Miller, I just don't buy it is life or death for this team. I know Snow is frustrated and Damon Jones is trying to talk his way off the team but both have more value in the playoffs than the regular season. Snow won the Detroit series with his defense in the fourth quarter just as much as LeBron willed the team with his offense. I know Jones wants more than five minutes, but he is a shooter that could and has come up big. If there is a trade out there to be made, personally I would want a another shooter that could come off the bench. If there is a Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson type player out there on the market, we need him.

In short, I see light at the end of the tunnel. The Cavs may not look very good more often than not right now but I am still willing to take my chances in a seven game series against any team in the East.