Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Friday, May 16, 2008

All tied up

Now that was an MVP effort. Full of energy, precise and exactly what the doctor ordered. I am not talking about LeBron and the Cavs but Austin Carr. Good ole AC was on the top of his game tonight. He called out the Cavs when the offense wasn't working and he took delightful glee when they stepped things up.

I stayed at home tonight and I am glad I did. Austin Carr knew what the Cavs needed to do and begged for them to do it. He was on point about the team letting Garnett getting free after he picks. He was right about criticizing the Cavs big men doubling too high. He let Andy have it after taking a long jump shot. And then praised him with enthusiasm when Varejao stayed near the basket and put in an offensive rebound. Actual analysis during a playoff game, what a novel concept.

And I am sucker for when Austin starts laughing. The man loves basketball and he loves the Cavs. No one wants the team to win more. I bet if they let him suit up, he could still drain a few shots and give one hard foul.

On the court, it was the defense that won the game. They held the Celtics under 20 points in each quarter and the 69 points set a team record for points allowed in the playoffs. The offense did just enough. It still wasn't pretty. And it was the runs at the end of second and third quarter that was the difference. Early on it was particularly frustrating watching LeBron either dribble or stand alone above the three-point line. The Cavs were at their best when West had the ball and let LeBron move without it. The few times LeBron posted, the Cavs would score. The Cavs posts played well and controlled the boards. For them to win a game seven that has to happen again.

I will say this about Wally. That man is one confident SOB. He lays bricks all game and then doesn't hesitate from hoisting a deep three with the game in the balance. I wish I had that kind of confidence.

Before the series all of local big newspaper "experts" all agreed there was no way the Cavs could win a game seven in Boston. All the national media guys seem on board with that as well. I like those odds and I will take my chances. I can't see this team folding under pressure. They have been inconsistent all year. But I don't see that happening on Sunday. The pressure is all on Boston. No expects Cleveland to win but LeBron and his teammates. It should be fun.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


That was frustrating.

Before the season started, I had my doubts about Boston. They surprised me with a great regular season. They were able to build a bench because the NBA waiver rules are unfair but still I was not impressed. I believed they were built for one game at a time and a not series. I still believe that. Boston is not a good basketball team. The Cavs are also a very flawed team and yet despite LeBron struggling mightily, they still had a chance to win in the final minutes.

Wait, you might be thinking LeBron scored 35 points how is that struggling? Points are only one facet of the game and in my opinion, LeBron had his worst game of the series. He had just three rebounds and five assists. He was an anchor on offense and did not get his teammates involved in the second half. It was frustrating to watch.

The Cavs can still win this series. They should be able to win at home and if they can kept game seven close sooner, the Celtics may fold. Kevin Garnett may be the best front running basketball player in the league. The tighter the game gets, the more he will disappear. The Celtics won tonight because Paul Pierce stepped up and made free throws. But if the Cavs lose, I will be surprised if the Pistons don't win in six or less.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cavs turn the heat on

I go to one basketball game and the Indians turned an unassisted triple play.

At least it was a great game, I sat so high the flames from the scoreboard scorched my eyebrows. But the one good thing about sitting that high is you can see plays develop that you can't on TV or even much lower in the arena.

LeBron has worked hard to become a better defender but his help defense still leaves something to be desired. Often when the Cavs defense does break down, it is because LeBron doesn't switch or he starts watching the ball and leaves his defender. But James closes better than most anyone and his talent overcomes a lot of that.

I have been critical of Cleveland crowds before but last night the crowd was ahead of the scoreboard operator. I found it interesting that the crowd started chanting for Wally not after one of his threes but after his foul while the Celtics were shooting free throws. On that play, Allen got a double pick and Wally pleaded for LeBron to go chase Allen for him, but LeBron stayed. That decision created the foul Wally had to take. And Wally went and talked to him. I am sure it has happened before but I can't recall a teammate taking LeBron to task for a play. It warmed my heart, Jordan always need players like Steve Kerr who were willing to stand up to him. It made the whole team better. It validates the whole trade.

The entire four has played outstanding defense in this series. Sure they have brought some offense but defense is the key.

I have watched LeBron's dunk over and over and over. It is a classic. But that dunk happened because Joe Smith took out Paul Pierce with a nice pick.

It is hard not to get excited after these two home games. Anderson appears to be back to form. The rotation seems solid. LeBron has to start shooting better. All the pressure is on the Celtics. I can't wait until Wednesday night.