- Jan 29, 2005
Come Tuesday for Game 1 of round two, it will have been 8 days since the Wine and Gold have seen the court, so I figure I'd drop some articles and stuff tokeep everyone up to date. Hope the team isn't rusty, but I know the big guys could use the time off.
Can't wait until Tuesday
Can't wait until Tuesday
CLE vs. ???
Tue., May 5
CLE vs. ???
Thu., May 7
CLE at ???
Sat., May 9
CLE at ???
Mon., May 11
Game 5 (if necessary)
CLE vs. ???
Wed., May 13
Game 6 (if necessary)
CLE at ???
Fri., May 15
Game 7 (if necessary)
CLE vs. ???
Mon., May 18
Big Ben update
If nothing else, the rest has helped mend the few nicks and bruises that the Cavs had going into the playoffs. That's especially true in the case of forward Ben Wallace.
''The more rest he can get, the better, obviously, because he's an older guy,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ''Any time guys like him who rely on that athleticism, agility and quickness can get some time off, it's just a benefit for them. It's going to help them out.''
Wallace went into the postseason recovering from a strained left knee and was on a limited number of minutes in games. That restriction has been lifted, Brown said.
Well-rested Cleveland Cavaliers have history on their side
by Mary Schmitt Boyer/Plain Dealer Reporter
Friday May 01, 2009, 10:41 PM
LeBron James and Mo Williams should be all smiles. Recent NBA playoff history favors well-rested teams.
How much rest is enough?
How much is good and how much is too much?
If recent history is any indication, seven days off is better than six and eight, but not as good as 10, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Cavs will have an eight-day rest, playing the winner of the Atlanta-Miami game on Tuesday.
In the past five NBA seasons, the seven teams that had six days off between playoff series have gone 3-4 in the next series. Last season, Detroit had six days off after the Eastern Conference semifinals and lost to Boston in the conference finals, 4-2. Similarly, the Los Angeles Lakes had six days off before the NBA Finals last season and lost to the Celtics, 4-2.
In the past five seasons, teams with seven days off have gone 3-1. Teams with eight days off have gone 0-1, while teams with 10 days off are 1-0.
Of course, the Cavaliers really can't do anything about how many days off they got after sweeping Detroit out of the playoffs last Sunday.
"We knew what we did in that series was going to allow us some time off, but we didn't know it would be this much time," Cavs forward Joe Smith said after practice Friday. "We're waiting patiently, but at the same time, we're ready to get back in action."
Added Mo Williams, "We're trying to find that line between staying healthy, staying rested and staying sharp. It's a fine line, but I think the coaching staff has done a great job of giving us a day off and then working us. I think we've used our time wisely."
The Cavs did do a little preparation for Atlanta on Friday but continued to play a waiting game until the Atlanta-Miami series was decided. Coach Mike Brown said Friday's practice wasn't the sharpest.
"I didn't think today was that sharp, but that's to be expected having the day off Thursday," Brown said. "I thought the guys tried. They gave decent effort. But obviously we can do better than what we did today."
Playoff fans: The Cavs are intrigued by the thrilling Boston-Chicago first-round series that returns to Boston for Game 7 tonight.
"It's an exciting series to watch. NBA fans are getting a good taste of what playoff basketball is about by watching that series," Smith said.
Said Williams, "You've got to take your hat off to those guys."
Hair-raising: Anderson Varejao surprised onlookers by showing up for practice Friday with his hair in braids.
"I thought it was Josh Boone," Smith teased.
Williams said Varejao can do whatever he wants for practice. "But he's got to go to the Wild Thing when the game starts," Williams said.
Familiar face: Smith had kind words for Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia, who has been playing well for the Hawks.
"I played with Zaza in Milwaukee," Smith said. "It has been a joy for me to watch him develop throughout the years. He's always been a tough, physical banger inside. Anytime he got the ball around the basket, he's a pretty good finisher as well. I give a lot of credit to how hard he's worked over the years. He's always ready when his number's called. That's the good thing about him. That's what I enjoyed about playing with him in Milwaukee."
Cavs fan: Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis walked into the locker room Friday carrying a bag containing a blue No. 23 Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, signed by LeBron James with the inscription:
"To Alexander the Great: Keep up the good work. King James."
The jersey was a reciprocal gift for the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, who gave James a No. 8 Capitals jersey when the Cavaliers played at Washington last month.
LeBron James driven to win it all
May 1, 2009
By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio(AP) -- Nobody will be there, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown thought as he left the house early one morning last May.
It was a few days after Cleveland's disappointing season ended with a bitter Game 7 loss on Boston's famed parquet floor and it was down time. The Cavs had dispersed to Cancun, the French Riviera and other vacation spots for rejuvenation and reflection.
Brown was headed to the team's plush training compound with his son, Elijah. Time for some father-son bonding with nobody around but security guards.
But as the Browns walked in the door, the lights were on in the gym. And as they neared the courts, they heard the thump, thump, thump of a basketball kissing hardwood.
One Cavalier stayed home.
LeBron James was already back at work.
A life lesson diagrammed like an inbounds play in front of him, Brown turned to his impressionable boy.
"I said, 'See, LeBron doesn't just show up at the games with his Superman outfit on,"' Brown recalled. "He works harder than anyone. That's why he's LeBron."
And since that spring day, James, the NBA's most unstoppable force, hasn't ceased working.
The likely MVP is beyond driven, more like obsessed.
"I have never seen LeBron more focused and more determined," said Maverick Carter, James' business partner and lifelong friend.
Motivated to win his first title and deliver one to a sports
-obsessed region - his home - that has waited 45 years to sip championship champagne in any major sport, the 24-year-old superstar has the Cavaliers on the cusp of greatness.
This could be his year. Their year. Cleveland's year.
"The goal since day one has been a championship," James said. "Nothing less."
And if his play in Cleveland's first-round playoff obliteration of Detroit is any indication - he almost averaged a triple-double in the four-game sweep - James will settle for nothing less than winning everything.
Get out of his way.
Head down, eyes trained on his Nikes, James stormed off the court in Boston last year. No congratulatory handshakes or good-luck hugs. No words.
He was disgusted. Never again, James promised himself.
His 45-point performance in Game 7, overshadowed by Paul Pierce's 41 in the Celtics' triumph, wasn't enough to get the Cavaliers back to the finals. The team had underachieved and never gelled following general manager Danny Ferry's massive roster overhaul at the trading deadline.
James needed help, and at the postgame news conference he indirectly ordered Ferry to get him some.
"We need to continue to get better," James said as Ferry stood in the back of the room. "If that means some personnel changes that need to happen, then so be it."
James then set out to change himself.
He took two days off and then was right back at Cleveland's opulent, 50,000-square foot facility, located a short drive from James' almost-as-big mansion. The Beijing Olympics were looming, and if a championship ring wasn't in his cards, well, he was getting that gold medal.
Cavaliers assistant coach Chris Jent remembers a more determined look in James' eyes during those pre-Summer Games workouts.
"He was so locked in," Jent said. "His concentration was different than anything I had ever seen before. He was just, I don't know, different."
For the first time in his career, James got serious about weightlifting and developed a program he has stuck to this season. He lifts for up to 30 minutes before each game and has added at least 10 pounds of muscle. He also added yoga to his routine.
With Jent's help, James began reconstructing his jumper. He spent five days a week, two hours per session, refining his outside shot, still the weakest area of his immaculate game. James finished the regular season shooting a career-high 49 percent.
Like Tiger Woods teeing off balls for hours on the driving range, James took thousands of shots in practice.
Fans "just see the fantastic plays and his God-given ability," Jent said. "They don't understand that there were kinks in the armor and he wanted to figure them out. He wanted to straighten them out and he wanted to be better and the only way to do it is by working.
"When things are going good he works, and when things are bad, he works harder."
James doesn't slack - ever. Two summers ago, Jent accompanied the All-Star to New York for the week leading up to him hosting "Saturday Night Live." If James wasn't practicing his lines or rehearsing a skit, he was on a midtown Manhattan court making himself better.
"When you go on the road with him and you say, 'O.K. let's work out at 9 a.m.,' he's in the lobby at 8:50," Jent said. "There is never an issue. There is never a day when we walk in the gym that you're not going to get the same effort out of the man. He cuts no corners. There is no discussion with what we're going, we're doing it. There's no bull with 'Bron."
Mo Williams had his doubts.
Acquired in a trade last summer from Milwaukee, the point guard who has become James' long-sought sidekick, didn't know Cleveland's star very well before joining the Cavs. As an outsider, he appreciated James' awesome talents but wondered if there was substance behind the style.
He knows now.
"It surprised me," Williams said. "I knew he was good, but you always want to get around somebody who is great and see how they go about their business. I know how hard I work. His drive and work ethic are off the charts."
James has made his greatest strides on defense. Often guarding the other team's best player - something he rarely did in past years - he has become a ferocious stopper. His chase-down blocks now rival his dunks for air time on TV highlights, and he finished second to Orlando's Dwight Howard for defensive player of the year.
He improved his defense by making it a priority.
Ben Wallace, who came to Cleveland in a trade last season and was on the floor for those excruciating final seconds of last season, understood James' pain then and his desire never to feel it again.
"You can't appreciate winning a championship until you get your heart broken a couple times," Wallace said. "That's happened to him. He's got a gold medal, and now he wants to win a championship. You can tell. You can see it in everything he does and the way he's picking up the rest of his team and carrying us along with him."
James' passion to play has rubbed off on all the Cavaliers.
After practice, this tight-knit team of gym rats practices some more.
"We enjoy each other's company and it shows," James said. "Nobody wants to go home."
Once Brown is done with them, the Cavs often hang out and play shooting games, try to one-up each other with trick shots and horse around like a bunch of teenagers crashing a parent-less house after school.
Their ringleader and head clown, the one usually with his shirt off doubling over in laughter, is also their best player. He's also the one recently forced to do push-ups after badly losing a 3-point contest.
"I hate to lose in anything," James said. "I invented that game and I've lost one time - I was upset about it."
Recently named coach of the year, Brown feels blessed to coach the self-motivated James, whose selflessness has inspired teammates, coaches, front office personnel - everyone around him
- to do more.
"He sets the tone for the culture here," Brown said. "I could preach all day, 'Hey, get 1,000 extra shots and stay late and do this and that. Guys aren't going to do it unless it's required or they're faced with fines. We don't have anything like that here.
"Because with a guy like LeBron, everybody follows."
Kuester Cavs' secret to success on offense
By Patrick McManamon
Beacon Journal sports columnist
POSTED: 08:40 p.m. EDT, Apr 30, 2009
INDEPENDENCE: John Kuester does not want it to be known as his offense.
To him, it's the Cavs' offense, and he just happens to be the guy called on to run it and diagram it.
He distributes credit like a point guard, handing it to this guy and that guy.
Any offensive success or improvement this season - which concluded with the Cavs holding the best record in the NBA and continued with a first-round playoff sweep over the Detroit Pistons - is because of the players and assistant coaches and Mike Brown, he said.
He's right, of course.
But there's a little more to it.
It's part Kuester for the way he handled the ''offensive coordinator'' role given him prior to the season, part Brown for accepting the notion that he should name an offensive coordinator, and part the quiet but firm influence of General Manager Danny Ferry.
''Mike and John, working together, have done a great job of giving the group more clarity and focus on the system, and the principles that we want to build,'' Ferry said.
Those principles have been stated many times by Brown: Move bodies and the ball, reverse the ball and move it from one side of the floor to the other, push the ball up the floor.
The Cavs always will be a defense-first team.
But this season, the offense took great strides. The Cavs averaged 100 points per game, something they have not done since the Brad Daugherty-Mark Price days in 1993-94.
They also were the league's fourth-best team in terms of offensive efficiency, and were the second-best 3-point shooting team in the league - a byproduct of ball movement and positioning.
Clearly the improvement is rooted in the maturation of LeBron James and the acquisition of point guard Mo Williams, but moves made behind the scenes also made a difference.
Those moves started after last season, when Ferry approached Brown and suggested naming one assistant coach to focus on the team's offense.
Ferry knew that the team's defensive emphasis was well-placed, but he thought it would help Brown be a better overall leader if he did not have to focus constantly on X's and O's.
Brown didn't take well to the idea at first, but after reflection saw its merits.
Advantages to team
Kuester, who has been with the Cavs for two seasons, had the experience and background the team liked.
He played at North Carolina under Dean Smith, he'd been a coach at Boston University (succeeding Rick Pitino) and at George Washington, he'd worked as an assistant under Larry Brown and won a title with the Pistons in 2004.
He also coached the Cavs' Summer League team, where Brown watched him work.
Kuester admits he's not an offensive specialist, but he was accomplished enough and a strong-enough voice that the players would listen to him. He now is responsible for offensive review and planning, from breaking down the offensive tape to preparing practice drills to focusing on the plays during and between games.
Mike Malone handles a similar role for the team's defense. Kuester took the offense.
''And it's been great,'' Brown said.
Because that allowed Brown to step back and take in the big picture. He'll involve himself when he needs to - which he did late in a win at Golden State - but he doesn't have to.
''I have the sign in my office, that Danny suggested to me,'' Brown said. ''Be a leader first and a coach second.
''I work better that way.''
He and Kuester meet every day to discuss the practice, the plays, the breakdowns. But Kuester carries out the detail work.
''For me to be able to sit back and observe the big picture is a lot better because I coach better that way,'' Brown said. ''That, to me, has helped tremendously.''
Kuester will not lay claim to any revolutionary innovations, saying he's only made adjustments. But his ego probably would not allow him to claim something.
Brown said Kuester helped greatly with the team's ''early offense'' - which involves getting into the offense quickly before the defense is set.
Kuester talks of the Cavs' offense in terms of having three starters - Williams, James and Delonte West - who have ''point-guard mentalities.'' He stressed any could be the catalyst - calling West a ''point-two'' guard.
He also candidly admits that when the team's best player is unselfish, it sets a standard for the rest of the team - and makes coaching easier.
But the influence Kuester carries with the players and during games has grown tremendously as the season has progressed. Brown originally planned to let Kuester handle practices.
''But I started to see that 'Que' [Kuester] is pretty good, and he could help if I gave him more freedom to help,'' Brown said. ''So I let go of the reins.''
The uniqueness of the situation can't be understated.
Observers have marveled at Brown's ability to step back during timeouts and let Kuester and Malone speak to the team.
Brown preached trust to his players from Day One, and he felt he had to show he trusted them and his coaches', as well.
''I have the utmost trust in 'Que,' '' he said.
Kuester almost seems embarrassed by the trust Brown shows, and by the way his role has grown.
''It's an unusual feeling,'' Kuester said.
But he stressed that it is not his offense, or team, but Brown's.
''We meet every day,'' Kuester said. ''We dialog every day. Every game day, we're preparing together. There's a ton of interaction and give and take.''
How to summarize Kuester's role? He ensures the team follows its basic principles on offense the way Malone ensures it follows its defensive principles.
But he wants nothing to do with publicity or credit - he said Ferry and Brown were responsible for him handling this role, and the players carry out what is drawn.
''It's funny,'' he said. ''In a way I guess I would get all the blame.''
Then he chuckled before quickly going back to his fundamental principle.
''The players, they do a great job. And the coaches do a great job.
''And then you've got me and you kind of say, 'What?' ''
Patrick McManamon can be reached at email@example.com. Read his blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/mcmanamon/. Follow Pat on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/patmcmanamon
Lets go Cavs
I see them being able to beat either Miami or Atlanta in 5 max.