Monday, June 1st, 2009 at 4:17 pm  |  62 responses

Links: Finals Thoughts

Plus, bacon shoes…

by Lang Whitaker

Monday. Spent most of the morning/early afternoon at the vet with Starbury the Wonder Dog, who had a few bouts this weekend struggling with the same problem that afflicted most of the Cavs the last two weeks: Choking. I think Starbury’s going to be fine. As for Cleveland…we’ll get to that shortly.

• Congrats to the Orlando Magic for making all us NBA “experts” look like dummies. Actually, I guess that thanks should be going out to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before the season began, I picked a Lakers/Celtics Finals. Once it became apparent that KG was injured, I switched my pick to Cleveland, because the Cavs had been awesome all season.

Hey, I was a believer. Watching LeBron dominate in the first two rounds of the Playoffs, I was convinced that the same Cavs who won 81 percent(!) of their games in the regular season would pick right up where they left off when the season ended. During the regular season, they were so good defensively that I thought it would just translate right over to the postseason. But it didn’t. Orlando basically exposed Cleveland as being too unathletic to win a title.

Now, answering some questions…

• Was Orlando’s advancing thanks to Dwight suddenly becoming a great free throw shooter? I know Dwight was a better free throw shooter in the Playoffs, but let’s not pretend he morphed into Micheal Williams out there. Dwight shot 59 percent from the line during the regular season, but in these Playoffs he’s only at 64 percent, which is about one more made free throw per game.

• Did LeBron fail? Yes and no. His team didn’t make the Finals, so I guess they (and he) failed in that sense. But at the same time, I don’t really think he failed. The kid—and yes, he’s still just 24 years old—just averaged 35.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 7.3 apg in the postseason. No matter how I look at it, I can’t fault LeBron for the Cavs failing. To me, the failure with Cleveland rests with Danny Ferry and the Cavs’ front office for failing to construct a championship roster.

• Will the Lakers double Dwight? They say they won’t, which makes sense to me, because doubling Dwight is what allows all the other dudes so many open looks from the perimeter. More importantly, the Lakers have guys (like Ariza, Shannon Brown, even Kobe) who can guard Orlando’s bevy of athletic wing players. Cleveland had no answers for those guys, mostly because the Cavs had such an odd roster. Other than LeBron, Mo Williams and Delonte West, nobody on Cleveland could create their own shot, and the Cavs didn’t have the size to deal with Orlando, either inside or on the perimeter. LA is much tougher math-up for Orlando.

• How do you fix the Cavs? If I was running Cleveland, I’d be open to trading any player but LeBron. Really. Delonte West is a two guard in a point guard’s body, and I’m not sure Mo Williams or Sasha Pavlovic could guard me. Wally Sexyback hasn’t been able to run for two years, but the Cavs still refused to trade him for Shaq. Ilgauskas became an almost entirely perimeter player, which is odd for a guy who’s about 7-9. And Cleveland’s best back-up center (Ben Wallace) was suddenly  smaller than LeBron.

When you think about, it’s kind of amazing that Cleveland was able to win 66 games with this roster. (Which explains all the votes for Mike Brown as coach of the year.) Without adding some depth on the wings and figuring out some way to get low-post offense, this team will not win a title.

• Will LeBron leave in the summer of 2010? People have been asking me that for two years now, and my answer has always been the same: I don’t think so. I think LeBron’s continual reluctance to talk about signing an extension with Cleveland has more to do with sustaining the only bargaining power he has. I’ve said all along that the only way to ensure LeBron doesn’t leave is to build a Championship contender around him. And Danny Ferry doesn’t seem to be able to do that.

• Who will win the NBA title? I’ll say either L.A. or Orlando.

• OK, seriously, I’m thinking this is L.A.’s to lose. They’ve got big men who can kinda sorta keep up with Dwight, they’ve can match-up with pretty much everyone Orlando uses, and offensively, the Triangle is going to present Orlando with something they haven’t faced yet in the postseason. So I’m picking L.A. in 5.

• Then again, I’ve been wrong before.

• The new PSP has leaked. Kinda like a Sidekick but better.

• I think Khalid would refuse to wear these. But I might have to cop a pair.

• Jimmy Fallon isn’t doing it for me at 12:30 a.m., so I’m excited about Conan returning tonight (with Andy!) at 11:30 p.m. Here’s a bunch of Conan’s best moments.

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Glad Starbury is OK. I was afraid Starbury jinxed him, know what I’m saying?

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Did you guys see Bruno attack Eminem last night? Classic!

  • Diesel

    Orlando has a chance if Bynum keeps playing the way he has been – you know, not actually moving his feet on defense. Once he fouls out in the second quarter, LA has no one who can hang with Dwight. And Turk will still be able to shoot over the top of Ariza. Pau won’t be able to handle the speed of Lewis.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    The reason the Cavs lost was Mike Brown’s inhability to switch defensive sets from a zone to a man-to-man of some form.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    And Lang, you realize the Bacon shoes are womens?

  • http://slamonlin.com tina

    I want to know how come the format for the finals is 2-3-2? Cause if the visiting team wins 1 of the first 2 games i can’t really see the home team with an advantage. Even though the logical answer would be that the better team “should” win, the format still bothers me.

  • http://www.manutd.com/ Z

    what is it with americans and their god awful sidekicks? it’s not a phone, it’s a toy. and a bulky one at that. lang, get a bb bold or something. some grown a$$ man sh!t.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Ha! Didn’t realize the bacon shoes for women. I still might get a pair.
    And @tina: The Finals are 2-3-2 because of the enormity of the media involved. With so many people covering the series the NBA makes it 2-3-2 to reduce the travel (and money needed to cover the Finals).

  • Young C

    Would Shaq really have helped Cleveland that much? I mean he is a better post scorer than anyone on that team, but he wouldnt have helped make their bench any deeper,or make their mini-gaurds(Williams,West,Gibson) any bigger, or played defense against Lewis and Turk. If anything they should have traded Wally for Mike Miller, Vince Carter or anyone whos not completely washed up like Sexyback.

  • http://www.manutd.com/ Z

    tina, no home team has ever won the middle 3 games, so there’s that.

  • http://www.manutd.com/ Z

    young c, with shaq everyone could have stayed on their shooters and let him duke it out with dwight. also the cavs would have had a legitimate post presence to ease the slack on bron (who is essentially their best slasher, setup guy and low post scorer)

  • http://slamonlin.com tina

    hopefully that holds true to this series Z

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Uhm…..the Heat did. Thanks.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    And if Kenny Smith or one of the cats from Inside The NBA don’t hook Charles up with the bacon shoe, something is seriously wrong.

  • http://slamonlin.com tina

    oh, then nevermind hahahaha

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Sorry tina.

  • Young C

    Umm….the Refs did. Thanks.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah. Young C is one of those guys.

  • http://slamonlin.com tina

    No problem E, did James take you up on your bet?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    When Zo was swatting all that garbage the Mavs were putting up in the lane in Game 6, no refs were helping the Mavs change their tampons, so yeah you must be right.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Not yet, tina.

  • Young C

    Nah…Im just sayin the man took more free throws than anybody EVER!!! in a playoffs series including His Airness. And thats was in his third year without the superstar rep he has now. Thats all Im sayin…

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Bastard…..making me feel belittled. No prob, Young C.

  • http://www.manutd.com/ Z

    i stand corrected.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    who the hell allows eboy to make all these rif-raf comments?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    The Pistons won the middle 3 games as well in ’04.

  • IHeartCoffee

    Cleveland’s loss should be placed on Mike Brown and Mike Brown alone. That roster is so deep and talented that there should be no excuses for losing. To have LeBron play 1 on 5 for the 4th quarter of Game 5 is inexcuseable strategy for a team.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Has a current COY ever been fired?

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    Tad: No, but mike brown should be. How do you keep the same defensive set the entire series, if it was working from the get go? And this is unrelated, but has anyone seen the video of the cops pulling over the ambulance?

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    funny how before and during the season everyone said the cavs supporting cast was championship caliber, now all of a sudden theyre not and its ferry’s fault. hmmmm, maybe the players didnt get it done. the same writers, im sure a few at slam, said the lebronites were a great team, etc. now, they suck, hmmm, funny

  • Ken

    When you wrote that “the Cavs had such an odd roster”, was “odd” supposed to be “old?”

  • Stan

    New PSP sucks. i like the slim one better. I think all the series should be 2-3-2, considering the travel time and cost.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    yes on the ambo ? bet, thats some bs, its happening more and more, cops kicking dudes in the face who are lying down and not moving. these roid rage cops are out of control.

  • Stan

    And if they really want to make it benefit the team with the better win ratio it should be 2-2-3.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    heres the thing on the cavs. They never were championship caliber this year. The media just decided to hype the team up while ignoring the elephant in the room- 3-6 against the Celtics, Lakers and Magic. That doesn’t bode well. The media just did what happens often in sports- they overhyped a team, and now they’re back pedaling.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    tarzan: yeah, it is.

  • http://www.manutd.com/ Z

    cavs’ issues in no particular order (bron excluded): undersized wings, undersized bigs, no low post threat, athleticism, low post 1vs1 d, terrible and unimaginative coaching.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    Z, the cavs issues include lebron. as in how to keep him in CLE.

  • http://slamonlin.com tina

    That would have been a better format 2-2-3 & it would still be the same $ wise. Can slam offer that suggestion to the nba in the future?

  • Orlando Woolridge

    Why is it ok to talk about how great Lebron’s stats were all of a sudden when I’ve read a thousand times on this site about how “stats aren’t everything”? Yes he played well…but not well enough.

  • http://fjsdklf.com Jukai

    You guys are nuts. The Cavaliers had championship written all over them. The MAGIC are the ones undersized, playing their four out on the three like that.
    Besides OBVIOUS mismatches, there is really only one person to blame for the loss: Mike Brown.
    There were so many horrible GAPING defensive flaws that LITERALLY WERE NEVER CORRECTED THE ENTIRE SERIES!
    Lebron still played Rafer Alston throughout the series. Sure, he only spotted the dude around ten minutes in game six, but that’s TOO much. The cavaliers, throughout the entire series, kept their quasi-zone defense, which obliterated them in transition, as they ran straight down the middle of the floor instead of being on their man.
    Delonte still played Hedo, which should have been James’ assignment. James did not ONCE grab Turk outside of a mismatch: James played Rafer Alston, then Lee, then Rashard Lewis…. instead of playing the natural three. What a joke.
    They should have played hack-a-Dwight with Ben Wallace and Joe Smith WAY more. Dwight shot 64%… that’s a vast improvement, but not great. Stop swatting the ball in his hands, just wrap his arms up! Christ!
    And while a lot of this is team stupidity and hard to properly coach in only a couple of days, -A VAST CHANGE IN HOW THE CAVALIERS RAN A DOUBLE TEAM SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE FOCUS IN EVERY PRACTICE-
    AKA there is NO NEED to double team Dwight outside of the paint area, especially when Dwight is on the left side of the basket outside of the paint, and you’re on the right side of the basket outside of the paint supposedly guarding a three-point shooter…. ANDERSON!
    Not to mention, during key time-outs, Mike Brown barely said a word. The offensive and defensive coordinators did most of the talking.
    Biggest sham Coach of the Year ever.
    If I was the Cavaliers, I’d change coaches, and change NOTHING else. Nothing. Also, I’d hope I didn’t get the Magic in the Finals.

  • http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/.a/6a00d83451c3cb69e201156fbef83c970c-pi ENDS

    What is the Actual Bet E?

  • http://lacuevacrosscountry.com Slick Nick Da Ruler

    Lang, I’ll holla at Conan tonight. And yeah, those bacon shoes are greasy.

  • http://mindyourbusiness@nosybutt.com Allenp

    Gotta agree that Mike Brown did some George Karl level coaching in that series.
    However, everybody is killing Mike Brown, rightfully so, but George Karl is not getting the same treatment by the press.
    I guess it pays to be a funny quote.

  • Michael

    Lang is the first person to look at the Orlando/Lakers series Logically. Lakers in 5

  • Tommy Patron

    Maybe Karl is not getting the same treatment because he’s not C.O.Y., doesn’t have the “King” on his team and also because everyone has already written about Karl from this angle (probably more than once).

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    or maybe Mike Brown is in the hot seat because he shows no coaching nuance. It’s always a Bron verses five.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    Allen: who won coach of the year this year?

  • Asanto

    I gotta agree with Jukai. Everybody was on the Cav’s d%#k until they finally lost the series. It looks bad for them now and they need to regroup but if they had somehow managed to play through the series with that swagger they had when they were cruisin through the season and the first two playoff rounds I’m sure they would have had an edge over the magic. But when everybody besides LeBron started to choke they had no idea how to fix it and they lost their momentum. Defense was horrible and so was the coaching. Mo Williams should have spent hours in the gym to get his shot back instead of runnin his mouth. I think Bron was pi$$ed at Mo and everybody else for lettin him down and that’s also the reason why he ran out of the stadium after it was over. He was probably about to kill half of his teammates. And btw it’s ridiculous how people keep sayin’ that Pietrus was the LeBron stopper with LJ havin’ 42 PPG and 0.53 shooting before game 5. If Kobe manages to put up the same numbers the Magic are done. But anything can happen in the finals. I think the Lakers will take it in 6.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    “FOR ME TO POOP ON!” so, that was
    my euphoric reaction to Conan for today. Yo go…..freckles!

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    loving this new subplot that’s been simmering for 2 days now on Slamonline. Will James the B, Lakeraddict extraordinaire take on the ultimate Commenter’s (ahem, Eboy) bet? The suspense is… Well it’s doing something to me. The NBA: where having 4 days to wait before the Finals, makes Slam readers find new ways to pass the time….happens.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Double R

    Is it a space issue that they can’t add a second analog stick to the PSP?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Pretty sure Bulls/Celtics Game 63 is on tonight. That series is still going, right?

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    yes Russ, it’s quadruple Overtime as we speak.

  • Miguel Garcia (Mexico)


    You´re so dissapointing with your playoff projections, its not even funny. I expected so much more from you than being an ass kisser for lebron and kobe. Such a shame…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    I hope that one guy around here, “The baconator” sees this Links. PSP, new or not, can’t be better than a Sidekick with its non-ability to load any pages on the internet, especially not something moderately intensive like a sports.yahoo.com boxscore. And you know, no qwerty keyboard. They probably fixed the internal memory thing for internet browsing, but no KB as its a game console device at heart. And Sidekicks have fallen the wayside of iPhones and all those “apps.”


    Magic 4 a sweep or in 5
    Mike Brown should keep his job so that LeBron comes 2 NY in 10/11

  • madamerica

    I agree with Miguel. Lang’s “Cavs in 5″ after Game 2 was the silliest thing I’ve ever read on this website. And then I saw “Lakers in 5″. Wow, just wow.

  • madamerica

    Magic will expose the Lakers inside and outside, like they did in 2 games this year, and they will win it in 5 or 6. If it weren’t for Ariza I’d call a sweep.

  • http://myspace.com/2grownup2beshownup Jack

    I think it’s Magic in 7, for the obvious reasons. Dwight’s too much to handle for Bynum and Gasol. Maybe we see DJ Mbenga become the REAL Kryptonite? But anyway, I’m telling you all that Game is a prophet. Does this ring a bell? “Got a million dollars say that LeBron don’t win a ring” – Bulletproof Diaries off LAX. It’s gonna happen.

  • Nosebleed Seats

    New PSP = Orgasm

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