Thursday, November 08, 2007


Just finished watching the end of the really fun Cleveland-Utah game. It had a playoff atmosphere and was one of those contests in which guys were jousting back and forth with winning plays rather than exchanges of futility. Love when that happens. And for it to end with LeBron hitting an impossible three with 7 seconds remaining, only for Deron Williams to go coast to coast and finish with a wrist roll in the lane (you read that right - it was just like a finger roll, except that he shot it off his wrist), well, it doesn't get much better for regular season hoops in November.

I was struck by three things in particular:

1. Boobie can still spin. If you were reading this blog during the playoffs last year, you know that I love Daniel Gibson. You also know that I REALLY love that his nickname is Boobie and that it opens the door for a million "if you wanna win, let Boobie spin" jokes (born out of the Friday Night Lights film. For some reason, despite Boobie's big time play in the postseason last year, people had him tabbed for a big letdown season. So far, he's proving people wrong again. He uses his quickness really well and has one of the purest and most confident deep strokes in the league. He's like a better, faster, younger Damon Jones. Which makes it all the more hilarious that the completely inept Mike Brown continues to play the actual Damon Jones. I know Pavlovic is getting his sea legs back, that Hughes is hurt, and that the Cavs front office didn't do themselves any favors in shoring up the backcourt. But do you really need Damon Jones playing big minutes?

2. Ronnie Brewer is legit. In my previous post I talked about how much better Francisco Garcia is than his stats and the entry might as well have been about Brewer. The former Razorback had a nice line tonight, but his performance went so far beyond the box score. His speed and athleticism at the 2 makes Utah a completely different team. They can throw different packages at people, use Brewer to guard an assortment of players, and they have the ability to challenge threes better than anyone in the league with Brewer and Kirilenko closing out on people. In fact, Brewer is so capable and so drastically changes the look of this Jazz team that I can't help but wonder what might have been in that Western Conference Finals last year if Sloan hadn't been too stubborn to play a rookie. I'm sure Brewer has grown from last year to this one, but a lot of what we are seeing was probably there all along. It has to kill Utah fans to know that they basically had Gerald Wallace sitting on the bench last May, while Manu Ginobili was torching them night in and night out. I know Houston is looking good, that the Nuggets have fire power, and that the Spurs, Suns, and Mavs aren't going anywhere, but I assure you that nobody is going to want to see Utah in the postseason. And if they manage to move AK47 for a shooter and a shot blocker? Look out.

3. LeBron's passing continues to be underrated. I've been saying this for the past year, but nobody gives James enough credit for his passing and it has everything to do with the fact that we use assists as the measure of passing ability. Tonight was one of those nights were he absolutely should have had 20 or more dimes, but his teammates (most notably Drew Gooden) continually blew easy plays at the rim. If you put LeBron on a team with some finishers (take Golden State, for instance), I promise he'd average 10 assists per game. It just blows my mind how crappy this Cavs offense is and how much he elevates them on that end of the floor. I'll concede that they still win in large part to cohesive play and defense, but the fact that they manage to score even 85 points a game is all LeBron James.

There are other things that could be said, including the fact that Big Z looks better with a shaved head, that it is kind of eerie watching Paul Milsap killing it next to fellow former second round draft pick Carlos Boozer, and that Mehmet Okur is playing every game these days like his wife is in labor (just check out his string of performances when that happened last year), but I need to get some sleep, so I'm out.

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