Coast To Coast is your bi-weekly (as in, twice a week, not every other week…or does that mean it’s semi-weekly?) look at the NBA outside of Cleveland through the perspective of the Cavaliers. Because we are all witnesses.
The Cavaliers no longer have the best record in the Eastern Conference. But are they the best team? If not Cleveland, than it must be Boston, right? Not so, says one scout who talked to ESPN’s Marc Stein:
“I absolutely think they’re that good. They’ve got so much offensive firepower and they’ve improved so much defensively. Everybody on that team is a 3-point shooter spaced around the big monster [Dwight Howard] down low. How many teams have 6-9 guys [Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis] who can handle the ball in a pick-and-roll? Hedo’s game has just gone to another level. He’s making the game look easy.
“The East is going to hinge on who gets Orlando in the second round. And if it’s Cleveland, I’m going to pick Orlando in that series. I might be crazy, but Cleveland likes to go small when they really want to score. But Orlando has Hedo at the 3, Rashard at the 4 and Howard at the 5. I’m going to have to pick the Magic just because of their size.”
I just can’t wait to see how these two teams match up once the Cavaliers get healthy again. There’s no doubt the Magic’s size would allow them to abuse the Cavaliers right now just like the Lakers did. Plus, much like the Lakers, the Magic are an underrated defensive team. They are definitely not a team to be taken lightly whatsoever.
In case you forgot how insanely nuts Ricky Davis and his ego were, this should serve as a nice reminder. Lowposts, an NBA blog, compiled a fantastic list of some of the best quotes ever from NBA players. Amongst some beauties like Drew Gooden talking about how much “diversity” he’s had to overcome in his life and Bobby Simmons expressing his concern about playing in Japan because he doesn’t like Chinese food, this quote naturally caught my eye:
19. “I thought LeBron James was just going to be another addition to help me score.” — Ricky Davis. Yeah, the Cavs really blew that one, didn’t they?
That right there is pure Ricky Davis madness. Most of the quotes on that list where people accidently mis-quoting common phrases or having funny slips of the tongue, but you know Ricky meant every single word of that quote.
[You Can Quote Me On That]
The Jermaine O’Neal experiment sure didn’t last long. There were always people saying the Cavaliers should try to acquire the former All-Star center, but I was always staunchly opposed to it. I don’t often say ‘I told you so’ (no, really, I don’t), but I was never a huge fan of the Raptors move to get him. Granted, I thought the Raptors would be much better than they are, but I was never sold on O’Neal being the missing link in Toronto. Now, it sounds like he’s on his way out the door already:
So it’s agreed: unloading O’Neal before the trade deadline, which comes one month from today at 3 p.m., is a necessity. This club isn’t any good as constructed, after all, and its window to get better is rapidly closing. Bosh, of course, can become a free agent in the summer of 2010, when there is expected to be a glut of attractive-market teams wielding salary-cap space to woo high-profile free agents.
Moving O’Neal, whose mammoth contract doesn’t expire until 2010, moves up the timeline for a major shakeup. With Marion’s salary of about $17-some million (all figures U.S.) coming off the books after this season, the deal would help put Colangelo an estimated $14 million under the salary cap to make creative trades or sign free agents from a class that could include the substantial talents of Hedo Turkoglu, Ron Artest, Carlos Boozer and Lamar Odom.
Beating the Lakers is easy. You just have to follow the handbook. Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold put together an impressive rundown on the best ways to beat the Lakers, complete with input from ESPN.com’s David Thorpe. I’ve been praising the Lakers’ defense a lot lately, and so here’s how to beat their defense:
While you need to focus on defense, your team still needs to put up 90+, and the Lakers defense can make that hard some nights. That said, there are ways to attack the Lakers.
One good way is to have bigs that can shoot from 17-feet or more out. The Lakers struggle with Sacramento because their bigs can do just that, pulling our zone apart and our shotblockers away from the basket. Cleveland could not do this last night without Big Z in the lineup and the Laker bigs at home slowed LeBron James, maybe the best dribble-penetration guy in the league.
That says it all. Boy, it sure would have been nice to have had Z in that game. Regardless, this information would have been nice before the Lakers dismantled the Cavaliers.
[The Blueprint For Beating The Lakers]
A new era of Deeee-troit Basket-balllll is upon us. Richard Hamilton is no longer in the Pistons starting lineup. The Detroit News has the story:
Pistons coach Michael Curry announced Tuesday that he will begin using guard Rip Hamilton off the bench, with guard Allen Iverson and forward Amir Johnson starting.
Curry toyed with a smaller lineup, with guards Rodney Stuckey, Iverson and Hamilton as starters, joining front-court players Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace.
Curry said Hamilton, who has never come off the bench as a Piston, will start the second and fourth quarters.
Man is that going to look strange seeing Rip coming off the bench instead of starting. After facing a backcourt of Billups-Hamilton for so many years, now seeing Stuckey-Iverson just won’t feel quite the same. Desperate times –> desperate measures.
[Curry Says Hamilton Will Come Off Bench]
The Kobe vs LeBron debate asks the right questions the wrong way. Trevor Smith of Hoops Addict wrote a brilliant piece looking at Kobe and LeBron and what they both mean to the game of basketball. I particularly enjoyed this passage:
James’ rise came at a time when we wanted someone to make us reimagine what might be possible. Even when Bryant scored 50 points in umpteen straight games, or planted 81 in one night, he did so without the mystique of someone bigger than the game itself. Jordan had done that even if the individual feats he performed were actually less impressive than some of Bryant’s.
James’ genius is that he makes it appear as though his game has no ceiling, even though we know that is impossible. He is on par with Bryant as the game’s best player yet he still somehow has infinite potential to improve.
You’ve heard arguments similar to this one before, but Smith puts a lot of new spins on it. It’s a really long read, but you won’t be bored or disappointed with it. This article sums up a lot of what I love about the NBA.
[LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and the Power of Tomorrow]
I wonder if Mark Cuban voted for John McCain. I have no idea where Cuban’s political affiliations lie, but in the interest of self-preservation of the Dallas Mavericks, he might have been well served to be pulling for McCain. The Wages of Wins explains:
Let me close by noting that this trip to the lottery might be pre-ordained. Looking at the franchise index over at Basketball-Reference.com I noted an odd fact about the Mavericks. This team has never made the playoffs when a Democrat was President. With a Republican in the White House, though, they made the playoffs in fourteen out of twenty seasons. So if Obama manages to stay in office for eight years, fans of this team should expect a very long drought. That is, if we believe this last set of numbers.