After a brief post ALCS meltdown hiatus, NFSE is back, and hopefully better than ever. There's much to discuss, some good, some bad, from the always colorful world of Cleveland sports.
The first thing that jumps out at me is the defense this team is playing. Basically, it sucks. Dribble penetration is killing us, to the point that I'm actually missing Eric Snow. Case in point, Deron Williams' barely contested game-winning layup with 2 seconds left on the clock. Devin Brown let that happen. Eric Snow wouldn't have. Let Williams beat you with a jumper, but under no circumstances should he be allowed to drive the length of the floor and lay it in.
Furthermore, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is slow footed and could not get in front of Williams. No other play has underlined how bad Anderson Varejao is screwing his team. He would have been right there between Williams and the basket. This team is much better when Anderson is playing in the fourth quarter and not Drew Gooden.
That said, the Cavs played Utah tough.
Other observations after 5 games:
LeBron is the best player in the NBA. His leadership skills are a match for his talent now, and he is going to keep his team competive. Put four dead slugs on the floor with him and the Cavs will make the playoffs.
LeBron's achilles heel is the free throw. I can live with that for the most part. Hell, it's not like he's Shaquille O'neal out there, but it can be awfully frustrating.
Larry Hughes apparently learned nothing from his sessions with Mark Price over the summer. Amazingly, he's been more valuable to us injured. I hate to say that because I really like the guy, but man, what happened to him?
Devin Brown is not the answer. He plays with a lot of energy, but he's no good.
Daniel Gibson is a keeper. A great shooter who electrifies the crowd. Let's hope he's a Cav for a very long time.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas is playing some of the best ball in his career. He's got new energy and he's rebounding like a 7 foot 3 guy should. I don't expect him to average 13 per game, especially after Anderson signs, but he's definitely justifying his big contract right now. Aside from LeBron, he's been the most consistant Cav.
If Shannon Brown ever makes a name for himself in this league, it will be in another uniform. Somehow he's found himself behind Ira Newble in the rotation.
Dwayne Jones may be a hard worker, but he can't play, not from what I've seen so far.
If Damon Jones is unhappy and wants to be traded, he's not playing like it. Nice to see him dealing some assists and even making a couple of nice drives to the hoop.
I want the Cavs to sign notorious chucker Earl Boykins. No, I don't. Yes, I do. Hell, I don't know. How much can he help?
I'm stunned, stunned that they are 5-3. Incredibly, the playoffs seem possible. This is very cautious optimism though, because...
The defense SUCKS. By some grace of god they have come up with some big stops late in games and they were clutch in keeping the Seahawks out of the end zone in the fourth quarter, but overall, yuck. They don't pressure the quarterback, can't stop the run and have absolutely no secondary. In other words, Phil Savage will be drafting for defense this offseason.
Thank the good lord that Ted Washington is gone. He had a very nice career, but at this point, he's an inanimate blob. Removing him from the d-line alone makes the team better defensively.
Derek Anderson is a pro-bowler a the midway point. No question about it.
The Browns have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. The size of the receivers make them impossible to defend.
I love how hard Jamal Lewis runs. He simply powered his way into the end zone against Seattle. Four times. Great stuff.
Braylon Edwards decided he wanted to be a great receiver, and that's exactly what he's been this season. Forget the drops. He is a big-time playmaker and seems to have found the maturity to match his talent. Watch out.
Team MVP after eight games? Hard to choose. The candidates are: Derek Anderson, Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Eric Steinbach, Josh Cribbs and, amazingly, Joe Thomas.
Ron Chudzinski could also be an MVP for this potent offense he's installed.
Joe Thomas was a genius draft pick by Savage. The rookie had one rookie like game in the opener against Pittsburgh. Since then, no one can get past him. The Thomas/Steinbach tandem is devastating, and Derek Anderson should buy them both a beer.
Romeo Crennel. Wow. I thought he should have been fired after the Pittsburgh debacle. In two years he went 5-11, 4-12 and all signs pointed to another steaming pile of a season. He has totally turned his team around. Chemistry is good and, for the first time since forever ago, the Browns are WINNING.
Nope. Still can't talk baseball. No way. Ugh.
Nate's unreasonable prediction of the week:
The Cavs will aquire a competent point guard.