I'm a stats guy. On Firefox, 82games.com is on my favorite website toolbar so I can obsessively check it. So I'm used to thinking about basketball differently than other people.
For example, forget the matchups and Fisher's tying 3, I still think Shannon Brown should have been starting or at least getting 20 minutes a game for the 09 Lakers.
Shane Battier kills Kobe's stats. Eric Gordon? He's not that great and is going to become, at best, a poor man's Larry Hughes. The 2010 Clippers, where the fans wish they had the Browns' staph infection problems.
But with the Shaq trade, I don't need them. I can use them, and I will, but common sense should prevail.
What you've seen should prevail. And, as much as this kills me, no one watches more sports than the guys over at ESPN. I mean it's their job.
It's the same argument my friend Ian and I had about why PTI was surrounded by such crap. These people watch sports all day long.
They can't figure out something funny to say? I'm looking at you, Around the Horn, even though I'd prefer not to ever again.
So I couldn't help but be baffled during the NBA Draft, when my profane, screaming commentary at the TV scared the crap out of my family. Vince Carter went to the Eastern Conference champions four hours earlier.
Richard Jefferson went to the dynasty Spurs a day or two earlier. And yet Shaq was getting all the coverage. You can't even make the media market argument, since that's the one of the reasons LeBron's bolting there next year to get his $50 million Nike bonus.
Did I miss something? Did the Cavs lose to Orlando for a different reason than I thought? I had to sit down and look at this more.
Lets start with the obvious. The media gravitates towards superstars, and Dwight, being the first pick and a comical big man, was going to get more coverage.
But was it deserved? Coming into the ECF, he had come off a terrible Philly series. I mean terrible.
You remember when they lost Game 1 and the same ESPN that I'm angry for touting Shaq were telling us 6 Cold Hard Facts about why the Magic could be the upset special of Round 1?
Samuel Dalembert, the Canadian National Treasure, was using his length to limit Dwight? The 76ers were pulling down 80 percent of the defensive rebounds against the most dominant big man in the league.
In the five games, Dwight cracked 20+ rebounds one time, and it was in a game where he was throwing elbows around so much he was suspended for the next game.
The game where the media said the Magic were doomed to a Game 7, only to have the Magic come out with there most dominating performance of the series and raise the question of, are the Magic better without Dwight?
Hop over to the Celtics series. Now we're seeing Dwight is a glorified Dikembe. Against Kendrick Perkins with Glen Davis, not Powe or KG, rotating over to help, if ever, Dwight cracks 20 twice in a seven-game series.
His rebounding totals are solid, but when Rashard Lewis is your power forward who else would grab them. Ask Doc Rivers who beat them and they'll tell you who. Fatigue.
Now we get to the Cavs. Fast start in Game 1, these guys are posing for fake pictures on the sideline between the first and second quarters. Then the Magic start to creep back. How? Not through feeding the post, that's not Orlando.
Nay, they're draining 3's like they found a clone army of Reggie Millers. 42% from 3 for the series.
During that time we 'Witness' one of the worst coaching performances in recent playoff history. The Cavs continue to double Dwight since he can out run Z down the court for prime position, something Pau NEVER let happen.
This leaves their already undersized guards to try and close out on the Magic shooters. How did that turn out?
Now I need to say something before I keep going. I'm biased against the Cavs front office, and I think you should be too.
As fans of sports, nothing is more frustrating than looking at a team and thinking, Christ I could run this team better than those guys. I mean seriously, it kills us. The Cavs take this to epic levels though.
The Wally contract was gold. As can be seen now in the number of salary dump trades, nothing is more valuable in this economy than expiring contracts.
No one has ever said, good thing our glue man was there even though he didn't contribute, during a playoff run. Shaq, Carter, Jamison.
All players who could have drastically improved the Cavs, all available, and they sat pat. Let's not even go back to the Hughes contract, never getting LeBron a true sidekick, passing on picking up Redd in the off-season, and picking up two of the starting five from a bottom three Celtics team, we don't need to. The results speak for themselves.
Enter the Shaq trade. Sigh. You judge your team by those around you, who you have to beat. Now Shaq can let the Cavs single team Dwight, and maybe not even have to foul him (predicated on Mike Brown being smart enough to do that).
He'll contribute more than Z on the offensive end, both with his stronger post moves, and by being the only man in the lane, getting Z and Varejao out and freeing up space for LeBron and the guards to drive (again, an awfully big if since Mike Brown would have to not play Varejao and Shaq at the same time. The silence you hear is Cavs fans holding their breath). And he can play better D than Big Z, as can most people reading this.
What doesn't he do? He doesn't help on D. He doesn't make the guards taller. He doesn't make Mo Williams and Delonte West make the wide-open shots their missed in the clutch, or Z for that matter.
He's not going to make the 15-foot wide open jumpers Z got when the Magic collapsed on LeBron when he drove to the basket.
He doesn't pull down rebounds like he used to, with DReb Rate of 20%. That would be impressive for a guy his age, except for he's 7'1" on one of the worst rebounding team in the league.
His numbers should be artificially elevated on a poor team. Which raises the question, are they?
And we haven't even gotten to my biggest complaint, the pick and roll. Now, being a Lakers fan, I intimately aware of Shaq's inability to defend the most basic play in basketball.
In his prime, during and right after the 3-peat, the Spurs executed the pick and roll against us to the point we were so bad at it, Phil wrote pages about it in his book.
Welcome to 2009. Against a subpar, by their standards, Spurs team, Shaq did nothing to keep the Spurs from exposing the Suns, didn't stop the series of end of game heroics from the Spurs, something the analysts unfairly blamed entirely on him.
Shaq's knees have worn down. He can't move like he used to, unless you count break dancing at the All-Star game. Which, sadly enough, was the video you saw the most during the NBA Draft. Scared yet, Cavs fans?
You judge your team by those around you. They didn't do anything to eliminate their biggest weakness against the Magic, guard play and stopping the three.
Against the Lakers, they still have no one to lockdown on Kobe without leaving Ariza and Odom matched up with subpar defenders.
And against the Spurs, the team that had a day earlier shown their hand and my pick to face the Cavs if they were to make it to the finals, they did nothing to improve against their go to move, the pick and roll.
So Stu Scott, quit with the hyperbole. Be an analyst. Throw some water on the fire.
Seriously, when you don't I want to punch you in the face, which as it turns out is not inside my TV.
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