Sunday, November 25, 2007

The King is Holding Court

Hey everyone! This is A.C. – what’s happening?

This is easily the best I’ve ever seen LeBron. At times in the past, he’s been at this level sporadically, but you knew that eventually, this was consistently going to come. But this is the first time I’ve seen him be this consistently great for this long a stretch. And he’s doing it against all sorts of opponents.

I have to look out there sometimes to see if he has a St. Vincent-St. Mary’s jersey on. Because he’s playing just like he did in high school – orchestrating the whole game and getting his teammates involved. And he knows where to interject himself. It’s really beautiful when you watch it. Now his teammates are starting to understand what he’s doing.

The way LeBron has improved, other than on his shooting, is that he’s playing more around the basket now. Everything he does now is directly related to PRODUCTION.

He makes a pass – it’s a shot. Everything is right at “production time.” When he goes inside and makes a pass – it’s an assist. When he goes inside and attacks the basket, it’s two points. When he gets a rebound, he’s looking to put it back. Everything is focused under the free throw line now. He gets some bangs and some bruises, but he’s a pretty tough guy and he doesn’t mind that.

Right now, the Cavaliers seem to have a good mix going. The chemistry is good. The spacing is good.

But really, the big difference with this team – at least offensively – is that they’re getting the ball up the floor. They want to get the ball to the furthest man up the floor and then attack from that point. What they’re doing as well is centering the ball on the fast break. That’s really been a healthy situation.

They look more fluid, offensively. And I realize that they’ve lost a little on the defensive end of the floor. But at the same time, now that I’ve been around Coach Brown and see how he coaches – Coach Brown is working towards a crescendo.

He wants the Cavaliers to be at their best when the Playoffs start – the same way San Antonio does it, and the way great teams do it. All the new things that they put in that take time to develop under game conditions. That’s why they don’t panic when things get a little negative. Because they know what their ultimate goal is: to build the team that it’s operating at maximum strength at Playoff time.

The Cavaliers are not going to be impatient, even when it comes to making a move.

They see what they have and what the situation is. The front office sees what we see. They may be working on something, but they’re not going to do anything stupid. That’s not the way Danny’s made. They’re not going to make a deal just to make a deal, especially when you know what kind of possibilities after next season. If you can’t get something that’s going to help you in the present and the future, then why make a deal?

You have to get along with what you have to eventually get what you want.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wine and Gold, Headed Home

Hey everyone! This is A.C., heading back to C-Town after the West Coast swing.

I really think that when we left town, nobody thought the team would gel like they have, especially with the question marks hanging over the team when we left town. There were people who were thinking that this trip could be disastrous. But it seems like the team has learned a lot from what they went through last season. Actually, over the last two years.

They’ve started to develop some toughness. And it seems like – taking as an example, Sunday night in L.A. – right when they needed it, they were able to turn it up a notch defensively and get the job done. They’re almost starting to play like they expect to win and when you get that feeling, man, that’s the kind of feeling you want. Because you always feel like you have control of the court.

And granted, you’re not going to win all the games. Monday night in Denver was a rough one, but that’s going to happen, especially on the tail end of a long trip. But if you have that toughness, you’ll be in all the games. And you’re starting to get the sense that the team is getting that feeling.

I think the surprise of the trip was that the Cavaliers are starting to get contributions from players that they maybe didn’t think they were going to get contributions from when we left home. And when you get performances from – like what Ira has done over the past two games – that’s just outstanding. He came in and didn’t miss a beat – got some key rebounds, scored some good baskets and played some good defense. When you start getting that, it tells me that the team is focused.

And again, a lot of this comes from their experiences over the last two years. They know, now, when to get it going because of what they’ve experienced going through the Playoffs. It’s a good sign that the coaches don’t always have to crack the whip for the team to get after it.

What a successful West Coast trip has done for them – (and you have to consider a 3-3 trip successful) – is give them a sense for what they have to do as they are currently constructed, and what they have to do to win. And the key to any season is for the players to understand what each player has to contribute to win ballgames. And I think they’re starting to find that formula here on the road – which is a really good sign.

Some of the veterans like Eric and Donyell are starting to get healthy and they should be coming back after the Cavaliers return home. It’ll be interesting to see what this does to the mix. Right now, it’s hard to say.

Those guys are going to have to practice their way back into the system. Right now, the system is starting to work without them. So in order for them to be incorporated back into the system, they have to get into practice and get into the flow – you can’t just throw them out there. When they get back, then the coaching staff is going to have to make some decisions.

One player who is already part of the system – (at times, he is the system) – is LeBron.

He is playing so confidently and relaxed right now. He knows his teammates and he knows what he has to do to make them successful. And he seems to have an uncanny ability to know when he needs to be aggressive offensively and when he needs to be aggressive defensively.

But more than anything, right now he always wants to guard the hot man at the end of the game. That’s starting to really be a pleasure to watch. And when you’re leader is playing that way – everybody follows.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wild, Wild West

Hey everybody back in Cleveland! This is A.C. – what’s happening?

I really thing the team has showed a lot of resiliency out here on this West Coast trip.

When we left town, there was a very big question mark as to how the Cavaliers would perform out here – being undermanned and having the youth that we have. I think they’ve weathered the storm, pretty much. Friday night’s win over the Kings was huge – I call it a “bridge” game, because it sets up the opportunity for us to split the last two games and go .500 on the West Coast trip. And that’s something we haven’t done in a long time.

The team is adjusting well to the new offensive changes. They had 30 assists on 41 shots the other day, and they’re starting to make that extra pass. And that’s the key – it breeds unselfishness. Once you start breeding unselfishness, it makes it real tough on the defensive team. The only thing that they have to do now is get back to their defensive principles. The Cavaliers hang their hat on the defensive end of the floor.

Right now, defensively, they’re still thinking. And it needs to be second nature. Their defense last year was reactionary. Now this year, their offense is slowly becoming reactionary. And when they both become reactionary, then you have a solid team.

And that’s why I think it’s not really fair for people to get upset that moves haven’t been made. You can’t have a system on both ends of the floor that you can get players to believe in without having guys who have been there for a while.

In other words, the first thing a team has to have is a “vision.” The next thing you have to do is to get the players that fit your vision. Then you have to get those players to buy into that vision. And you have to eliminate players that don’t. And bring in players that do. Only then can you move forward. You can’t do that by changing personnel every year. It just doesn’t happen.

Take the Pistons. Even though some of their players are starting to get a little long in the tooth, they continue to function because these guys know the philosophy and the system. Now all you need to do is find younger guys to give those starters a breather, and you can move ahead as a franchise. And that’s what the Cavaliers are working towards. You have to build it that way.

Our young guys are buying into the vision. The young guys are meshing.

Right now the team is understanding how to play with LeBron, and LeBron is understanding how to play with them. He knows where Boobie’s going to be when he penetrates – in that deep corner. He knows where Sasha’s going to be.

As a distributor, that makes it a lot easier, knowing there’s someone on the other end that’s capable of making the shot.

And with Larry out, tt’s a young backcourt right now – with Boobie and Sasha – and naturally they’re going to have some problems. But the key for them is to keep the turnovers down. If they keep the turnovers down, there won’t be any problems.