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Windhorst: Top-10 Cavs Notes

Feb 27, 2015 -- 8:43pm

By ESPNCleveland Staff | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND -- ESPN’s Brian Windhorst joins ESPN Cleveland multiple times per week to discuss the latest insider information surrounding LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Every Friday morning, Windhorst hosts #HeyWindy on ESPN 1540 KNR2 and ESPNCleveland.com to react to the week that was and look ahead as the Cavaliers face the second toughest schedule for the remainder of the season (BPI rating) and lobby for playoff positioning.

Here are Windy's top-10 notes from a week that saw injuries to prominent stars, such as Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Miami’s Chris Bosh, to the Cavs signing Kendrick Perkins. Most importantly, the Wine and Gold also won a few games here and there, four to be exact.
 
DaDaDa – DaDaDa
 
 
10. David Blatt loves him some J.R. Smith
 
I still hope he feels that way at the end of the season. I will say J.R. has been more interested and active on defense than I remember him being. Remember, two-years ago J.R. Smith won the Sixth Man of The Year Award in the NBA, so, it’s not like this guy was a complete non-player, he’s just a guy who occasionally goes off on his own. 
 
9. Cavs’ Upcoming Schedule
 
The game at Toronto is important. If the Cavs win that game, I believe thy clinch the tiebreaker, and that game could be relevant in who gets the number two seed in the playoffs. Also the Cavs start a streak where they play seven-games in 10-days, and I have advocated that the Cavs should not play LeBron in all those games. I’m sure that he will, because Blatt has shown no enthusiasm in knocking and keeping minuets down for him. 
 
8. Playoff Picture Starting to Form
 
To me the door is so wide open for the Cavs. Derrick Rose is down, the Bulls are still formidable, but they’re banged up. Chris Bosh has eliminated the Heat from I think really being a powerful contender that you wouldn’t want to see in the playoffs. Paul George, broken leg has been out all year for Indiana. The top teams in the league have never really done it before, it’s not like you’re facing the Heat who have gone to four straight finals. In the West the Warriors and Grizzlies are dangerous teams, but they’ve never climbed the mountain before. This is an absolute bright flashing green light for the Cavs to go get it. 
 
7. Cavs Starting Five
 
Their starting lineup has been the best five-man unit in the league far and away in the last six weeks. They are playing the best basketball in the league right now, so lets see it and take advantage of what’s in front of you.
 
6. LeBron and his Numbers
 
Being dead honest, LeBron is having statistically his worst season since his rookie year. His scoring is down, some of that is his minuets’ being a little down, some of it is his teammates, he’s never turned the ball over more. He’s having his worst shooting year since I think his third or fourth year in the league. The turnovers are at an all-time high. While he’s playing great on the standard of your average player in the league, he’s not playing at the highest level he usually plays at.
 
5. Could Ray Allen join the Cavs?
 
Ray Allen is not going to sign with the Cavs. I don’t think he’s going to play this season. If he decides he wants to, I don’t think it will be with the Cavs. 
 
4. Acquiring Kendrick Perkins
 
There are two big over arching things with this signing. One is that Perkins could have gone anywhere and he picked Cleveland. He’s articulated that, he’s felt that Cavs are on the path of doing something. From what I understand, after he let everyone know that he was going to be signing with the Cavs, Doc called him on the phone and worked on him for a good 45-minutes trying to convince him to change his mind, but Perkins basically said ‘Thanks Doc, but no thanks’. 
 
Secondly, when it came to the Cavs getting a back up center, it’s not like there was a lot of guys out there that you could choose from. Perkins was it. The big man market in the buy out season was non-existent. The only two big men available were Perkins and Thomas Robinson. 
 
3. LeBron and MVP discussion
 
I know it’s tempting to say ‘well since he was hurt and since January 13, but those other games count’. LeBron isn’t just competing against Steph Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, he’s competing against himself from the past, and it’s completely unfair. You look at LeBron’s number, and they’re full season numbers, but his scoring is down, his shooting is down and his PER is the lowest since the 2003-04 season. He’s fighting against that, and as an MVP voter myself that’s a factor.
 
2. Kyrie and his shoulder
 
I know one of the reasons the Cavs are concerned by it, is because a couple years ago he suffered an injury in that shoulder and he actually missed three weeks, so he has had an injury in that shoulder before. So because he’s had an injury in that shoulder before the Cavs are going to be a little more cautious. 
 
1. Golden State Game
 
The Cavs came in with full strength, the Warriors were full strength and both teams had a day off. It was even footing. Both teams understood the importance of the game. Both teams wanted to win. Both teams came out with a lot of energy. 
 
Download all of Windy's podcasts from ESPN Cleveland here. 
 
 

 

LeBron James: I Was Just Locked In

Feb 27, 2015 -- 7:52am

By Aaron Goldhammer | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPN

At 5:30pm, nearly three hours before tip-off of one of the most highly anticipated games of the NBA regular season, LeBron James was already lathered in sweat. His intense pre-game shooting session set the tone for the Cavs, as they punished the team with the league’s best record, beating Golden State 110 to 99 on Thursday night.

“I just wanted to get in a rhythm and see the ball go through the rim,” James said after pouring in season-high 42 points. “I did. I didn’t miss many shots in the pre-game warm up. I was just locked in from the time I got to the arena.”

Playing against leading MVP candidate Stephen Curry, James scored 13 points in the first quarter and had 22 on his first nine shots. “The match-ups are always great when you’re going against a team that’s playing well,” James added. “Golden State has been playing great ball all year. You get excited to see how you match-up with them.”

Aside from James’ best performance of the year, Cleveland was clearly the more aggressive team. They made 29 of their 35 free throws and out-rebounded Golden State 51 to 44. Curry and fellow all-star Kay Thompson finished just 10 for 30 from the field.

Guard Kyrie Irving returned after a 3rd quarter shoulder injury, but he didn’t travel with the team to Indianapolis and is doubtful for Friday’s game against the Pacers.

Quote of the Night

Forward Kevin Love had 16 points and 8 rebounds on Thursday night. After the game, Cavs in-arena host Ahmad Crump asked Love for his reaction to James’ incredible night.

“It was alright,” Love said with a sarcastic smile.

Tweet of the Night

After his tremendous performance, some media members were starting to campaign for James to win his 5th MVP award. Others weren’t as impressed.

 

 

Video of the Night

Before the game, signer Brian McKnight brought the house down with an incredible version of the National Anthem.

 

 

 

Who is the real MVP?

Feb 25, 2015 -- 9:23pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty 

CLEVELAND – The media votes on it.

In only a way that he can, that is how Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar Kobe Bryant sharply responded, during the Grantland Basketball Hour, when Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose posed him with the question, “Why do you only have one MVP award?”

“It was never a mission of mine to win a lot of MVP’s. It was to win a lot of Championships,” the five-time NBA champion added. “With that being said, does it bother me? Yeah. It bothers me. Of course it bothers me.”

LeBron James – along with two titles – has won the award four times in 11 complete NBA seasons – twice as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers (2009-10) and two more times while playing for the Miami Heat (2012-13).

The 2014-15 season may lead James down a path that follows more in the footsteps of Bryant rather than his fifth MVP honor. A regular season award, numerous analysts, voters and leading polls have James on the outside looking in while younger talent is rising to the top of the most valuable list.

When the Golden State Warriors and Cavaliers square-off, the game could not only be an NBA Finals preview, but a display of a former MVP, James, against Steph Curry – the apparent heir to the throne.

Averaging 23.8 points, eight assists and nearly five rebounds per game, Curry has the Warriors sitting atop the Western Conference at 44-10. He plays 33 minutes a night, and although Curry has a history of injuries, he has only missed one game this season, a Warriors’ loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Widely considered the best pure shooter in the league, Curry shoots 40 percent from three-point range and 48 percent from the floor overall. He won the three-point shootout at NBA All-Star weekend in early February.

Also on the MVP radar, the Houston Rockets’ James Harden is the “leader in the clubhouse,” TNT analyst and voter Charles Barkley said in an interview with Mike & Mike this past week. He is averaging 27.3 points and seven assists per game while keeping the short-handed Rockets in playoff contention against a tough Western Conference field.

Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder has garnished MVP attention as of late – filling in for injured reining MVP Kevin Durant and keeping the Thunder afloat for the final playoff spot in the West. At 26 points, eight assists and nearly seven rebounds per game, Westbrook has recorded three triple-double performances this season. His biggest detriment is that he missed time earlier in the season and has only played in 43 games.

Westbrook was the MVP of the NBA All-Star game after scoring 41 points – one shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time record.

So where does James fit in this field?

The Cavs are just 2-7 without James in the lineup. They endured a six-game losing streak during a difficult January – and James didn’t play in five of those games. His numbers compare to those of Curry, Harden and Westbrook – 25.7 points, seven assists and 5.6 assists.

“I think another guy no one is talking about is LeBron James.” Jeff Van Gundy said also on Mike & Mike this week. “I think it is absurd that he’s not in the conversation as well. Cleveland is playing as well as any team in the NBA right now. LeBron James is playing as well as any player. But I think we have voter fatigue when it comes to James for MVP. To me, I think James is the guy who is being over looked the most.”

In a poll amongst ESPN Cleveland radio personalities and reporters, James didn’t receive a single MVP vote. Curry was almost a unanimous selection with Westbrook getting one vote.

Following a game this season where James scored 22 points in a Cavaliers win, a teammate joked with him in the locker room about not getting any love in the MVP race. James, as one not concerned with personal accolades or awards, shrugged it off and alluded that the Cavs, “hadn’t done anything yet.”

“Magic (Johnson) didn’t win it every year,” Barkley continued. “Larry Bird didn’t win it every year. Michael Jordan didn’t win it every year. It goes to the guy who is having the best regular season.”

Depending on where he leads the Cavaliers to finish in the Eastern Conference standings, James could finish with the best individual season in the league. The best individual season by a wily old veteran who apparently people are tired of voting for.
 

 

 

Kendrick Perkins joining Cavs

Feb 21, 2015 -- 8:17pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty 

CLEVELAND – When his playing days are over, LeBron James may want to consider a career in recruiting.

Days after the Cleveland Cavaliers stood silently as the NBA’s trade deadline passed, it appears they are making a much needed addition to their front-court as Kendrick Perkins has decided to sign with the Cavs, multiple media outlets report.

The former member of the Oklahoma City Thunder was traded to the Utah Jazz on Thursday’s deadline, but negotiated a contract buyout and is able to sign with the team of his choosing after clearing waivers this coming Monday at 5 pm.

Royce Young of ESPN.com reported that James influenced much of Perkins’ decision – stating that Perkins “drew heavy interest from the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs.” After being directly recruited by James and having the "chance to win a championship along with playing time pushed Perking to choose Cleveland.”

Although the team will not officially announce the deal until Monday, Perkins took to twitter and changed his biography to “The Land!!!!!!, #Cavs” and posted the following tweets shortly after the report was released by White. 

His future teammate, and lead recruiter, James responded with a welcome tweet of his own. 

As a former Boston Celtic, the Clippers appeared to be a desirable destination for Perkins to reunite with former head coach Doc Rivers – Los Angeles is also thin in the paint while Blake Griffin is sidelined for an extended period of time with a staph infection in his elbow.

Originally from Nederland, TX, the Dallas Mavericks were thought to be an attractive suitor as well. Not only would he play in his home state, but the Mavericks offered the chance to suit up with Rajon Rondo yet again – one of Perkins’ best friends and former teammate from his days in Boston. The two, coached by Rivers, won the 2008 NBA championship together.

The on-the-court relationship between James and Perkins is extremely rivaled. The two were both top rated Rivals.com prospects in 2003 high school class – and selected in the first round of the 2003 NBA draft, James No.1 overall to Cleveland and Perkins No. 27 by the Memphis Grizzlies.

In 2008, the Celtics topped the Cavs in a seven game semifinal playoff round before eventually winning the title.

2010 brought déjà vu as it was the Celtics that beat James and the Cavs yet again in the semifinals – in what would be James' last season with Cleveland before leaving for South Beach.

James ran into Perkins one more time in the post season – the 2012 NBA Finals – both now playing for different teams. Perkins was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in February of the previous season and fell to the Miami Heat in a five-game series where James won his first title and Finals MVP award.

Off-the-court James and Perkins exchanged words over a tweet sent by James referencing a highlight dunk by Blake Griffin that posterized the center.
 

“Dunk of the Year!” James tweeted. “Blake Griffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!!!”

A 2012 report by Yahoo Sports showed that Perkins was unhappy about the tweet. “You don’t see Kobe tweeting,” he said. “You don’t see Michael Jordan tweeting.

“If you’re an elite player, plays like that don’t excite you. At the end of the day, the guys who are playing for the right reason who are trying to win championships don’t worry about one play.”

The original tweet by James finished with “I guess I’m No.2 now. Move over #6,” a reference to a dunk that James had earlier in the week that claimed the top spot on SportsCenter’s top-10 countdown.

“They also are not tweeting about themselves talking about going down to No. 2,” Perkins continued to Yahoo Sports. “I just feel like (James) is always looking for attention and wants the world to like him.”

The same report stated that James would not issue an apology.

Clearly water under-the-bridge and James is obviously excited to have Perkins in agreement to join the team. The Cavs were looking to add depth behind center Timofey Mozgov and power forward Tristan Thompson.

Cleveland plays the New York Knicks on Sunday followed by a road game against the Detroit Pistons. Perkins could join the team as early Tuesday in Detroit or when the Cavs come home to play the Golden State Warriors on Thursday Feb. 26.
 

 

 

LeBron: Heavy Heart for Bosh

Feb 20, 2015 -- 2:42pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty 

CLEVELAND – Basketball, for Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, is a brotherhood.

A brotherhood that lasts much longer than 48-minutes.

The game is bigger than contracts, rivalries, statistics, shoe deals and even the name you wear on the front of your uniform. Basketball is about banding together with the ones who have spent their lives making equal sacrifices on and off the court, while committing to a friendship that extends far beyond some hardwood and bleachers.

When James got word that his former teammate – and friend – Chris Bosh has been hospitalized with possible blood clots in his lungs – James tweeted his concerns and heartfelt thoughts to nearly 19 million of his online followers.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst reported the possible diagnosis early Friday morning, stating that the rest of his season could be in jeopardy. 

David McMenamin – also of ESPN – reported James’ initial comments on the transpiring situation.

“Kersey,” James mentions in his tweet, is a reference to former Portland Trail Blazers small forward Jerome Kersey who passed away earlier this week. Reports are citing a blood clot travelled from Kersey’s left leg into his lung causing a fatal pulmonary thromboembolism.

Mirza Teletovic of the Brooklyn Nets was hospitalized with a similar diagnosis earlier this year and has been ruled out for the rest of the season. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Bosh and James won four Eastern Conference Championships and two NBA titles during their time together as members of the Miami Heat. James concluded his series of openly emotional tweets.
 

Also a member of those championship teams, Mario Chalmers posted his thoughts for Bosh. 

There has been no official condition announced by the team and Bosh is expected to undergo further testing at a Miami area hospital. 

 

 

Windhorst: Top-10 Cavs notes

Feb 20, 2015 -- 11:41am

By ESPNCleveland Staff | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND -- ESPN’s Brian Windhorst joins ESPN Cleveland multiple times per week to discuss the latest insider information surrounding LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Every Friday morning, Windhorst hosts #HeyWindy on ESPN 1540 KNR2 and ESPNCleveland.com to react to the week that was and look ahead as the Cavaliers face the second toughest schedule for the remainder of the season (BPI rating) and lobby for playoff positioning.

Here are Windy's top-10 notes from a very quiet week on the court with the players vacationing over the All-Star break, and although the Cavs remained quiet at the trade deadline, there is still some buzz surrounding the front office.

DaDaDa – DaDaDa

10. Before the trade deadline 

What they are looking to upgrade is their eighth, ninth and tenth guys in the rotation. That is a much better position to be in than if you are looking to replace a starter or the first or second guy off your bench. So even if they don’t do anything they’re doing just fine.

9. Cavs stay-put at the deadline

I could probably concoct a few things that they could have done but it would have been fantasy basketball. They made their moves a month and a half ago. 

8. Stumbled into the All-Star break

I was a little bit disappointed by the Cavs effort level in (the game vs. the Chicago Bulls). They pretty much punted on it. They didn’t play very hard and I think they were upset they had to play a back-to-back before the All-Star break and they were the only team in the league that had to play a road game on the last day of the first half of the season. That affected the way that they went into the game especially when Kevin Love was out (with an eye abrasion). Didn’t see much effort from them at all.

7. Where in the world is LeBron, somewhere hot?

I don’t know where he is (during the All-Star break) but I sure as heck hope that ‘s where he is. 

6. Going after Kendrick Perkins

They need a backup center and Kendrick Perkins is going to be on the market, he is going to get a buyout from the Utah Jazz. There is going to be some competition for him. The Clippers are definitely coming after him, the Clippers have maybe just as much or even more of a need with Blake Griffin out.

He would be really good for the Cavs as a backup to Mozgov but this is not going to be a game-changing player. 

5. Larry Sanders is not an option

I know that name is going to come up because fans are saying , that’s a center, a guy who defends the rim and a really good player, why don’t the Cavs go after him? The answer is that is not an option. Larry Sanders is having some personal problems, stuff that I am not comfortable talking about. I don’t know all of it. But he left $20 million on the table.

He took a buyout where he is going to get $2 million a year for the next seven years. He just wanted to get out of the NBA for right now.

4. Long road ahead

The schedule coming out of this All-Star break is brutal. Remaining on the schedule they have the second hardest remaining schedule in the NBA the rest of the season, based on this ESPN metric we call BPI. We measure not only the strength of schedule against the opponents record, but how many files you have to fly, how many days rest you have – it’s a complex measurement it’s not just who are you playing.

The Cavs are going to have a tough road and in comparison the Chicago Bulls have the second easiest schedule in the NBA. They are pretty tight in the standings right now and the Cavs have a dramatically road.

3. Rest LeBron

They have to be careful about wearing some of their guys out. When I look at the stretch of seven games in 10 days there is another stretch in there of five games in seven days to minimize it – LeBron shouldn’t be playing in all of those games.

2. Championship Caliber?

I question whether a team that has a whole bunch of players that never played in the playoffs before can go from zero wins to 16 wins in the playoffs.

1. Biggest trade that affects Cleveland

For the Cavs their big concern in what happened (at the trade deadline) is the (Miami) Heat. The Heat made themselves better, I don’t think they’re better than the Cavs but they made themselves better.

I don’t think LeBron fears anybody in a playoff series but I think the (Heat) are a lot more potent now. They’re eight games under .500. Even if they go off on a tear, and they have the second easiest schedule in the East, so they are primed to do so. Look at their lineup, they have Hassan Whiteside who is one of the enigmas in the NBA right now at center. Chris Bosh at power forward and they have Luol Deng at small forward. They now have (Goran) Dragic and Dwyane in their backcourt. If that team is together and healthy for most of the season that team is probably right there in the top-three or four in the league. With their schedule they could end up the sixth seed and the Cavs could end up playing them in the first round.

I do not want to see the Heat in the first round, not because I think they would win but it adds stress and if you have an injury or you bobble, I think you would like to avoid the Heat at this point.

Download all of Windy's podcasts from ESPN Cleveland here. 
 

 

 

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