How Shaq will ruin Lebron/Cavs and why it doesn’t matter for the Celtics.
I’m back from the dead. Not literally, but close enough.
Sorry about the non-posts for the last three weeks.
I’ve been wrestling with what to write about in my next post. Here is what I knew I was going to stay away from:
- No KG knee talk (he might find out and rip my liver and kidneys out with his teeth).
- No Rondo extension talk (I’ve already made my plea in 5 for $55m)
- No back-up point guard in question talk (ugh).
- No Rasheed v. Perk in the closing 6 minutes talk (what?).
- No Pierce re-working his contract talk (hmmm).
- No Tony Allen talk (as tempting as it is…).
- No minutes talk (been there, done that).
- No Lester Hudson v. JR Giddens for the last roster spot talk (whoops).
None of it. No. I was going to stay away from those topics. But by telling what I thought I was going to write, did I somehow talk about them?
Those were all pre-season talks and pre-season is done. I am moving on, and because you are reading this, you are too moving on.
Looking ahead, the Celts visit Cleveland for their season opener. On Tuesday, we’ll see a likely preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. For those of you who think by stating this that I’m jinxing it, GET REAL! I accept no blame if this matchup doesn’t come to fruition. Like my words mean anything. But of course, I’ll take all of the credit if it happens (called it). We all know this is what we want to see and we all know it is what we want.
I saw Cleveland play against San Antonio and Dallas thanks to Justin TV. I know it’s preseason. I know I know I know it’s preseason… but the Cavs were so sloppy. There were so many chemistry issues that I can see eventually getting worked out, but that isn’t even the biggest of their problems. The issues became clearer when we matched up with them this past week.
Before I talk about the Cavs and Celts pre-season game, just let me make a proclamation: I am beginning to hate Lebron James as much as I hate Kobe. Last year, it felt great to root for Lebron to have that sickening season. Lebron’s 2009 season was the type of year, statistically and empirically, that was going to instantly catapult him past Kobe as the league’s premier player– in statistics, statue, and image. Every bit of the NBA was going to start shifting its marketing limelight toward King James. Then he couldn’t bring his team out of the East. Then he cried about it. Then he’s been threatening to run away from the very city that has gone all in for him. He’s threatening to abandon a city that needs him more than anything else. And worst of all? Lebron’s beginning to whine excessively and really say all of the wrong things. The days of haphazardly rooting for Lebron because it meant Kobe was getting less attention are over. Hey world: I’m throwing my love toward the KiD that I’ve been dreaming to play in green for the last couple of seasons: Kevin Durant.
Back to Lebron.
I lied, actually. Worst than all of that: Lebron thought bringing in Shaq was going to really help him win a title. If we are realistic, we know that there is no way management (read: Danny Ferry) would have brought Shaq in without Lebron’s seal of approval. So Lebron… get ready to sleep in the bed that you’ve made.
Shaq is going to single-handedly ruin the Cavs.
During their last pre-season game:
- When Shaq received the ball on the post and he started to make his moves, the entire Cavs team stood around watching him. Including Lebron. Look, I hate Shaq, but if he causes the most dynamic basketball player in the league to idle while on the floor then I am all in for that. It was shocking to see the team look like they were taking advantage of the best seats in the house. Expect Mike Brown to fix this? Hmmm…
- The Cavs can’t space the floor at all with Shaq in. Their bigs have no range, meaning defenders aren’t going to bite their bluff when they float around the 15-18’ range. Varejao and Shaq have no mid-range J. The Cavs big have a bigger issue: Shaq and Varejao clog up the middle. Not allowing to space the floor means less room for Lebron to work his magic. There used to be a big man that in Cleveland that could help space out the floor by the name of Zydrroiuoieuiouaioudiosnnss Iglaosaauuuauaslkskskaas, but big Z has been relegated to the bench in favor of the fatty Shaq.
- The Cavs are not a passing team. I’m actually trying to think, besides Lebron, was this team that good at moving the ball last year? My unfavorable memory wants to say no? Big Z was a decent passing big man, but again, big guy is on the bench. The Cavs have further exposed what they lacked last year: an in-and-out presence from the post to the perimeter. As this team develops their chemistry, I can see the passing improving… but it’s not going to be anything drastically different than what they have right now. The players inherently and genetically are not made to pass. Anthony Parker gives them some good flexibility on the wing, but besides him and Lebron, what do the Cavs have?
What else irked me the other night?
- Mo Williams getting in Shelden William’s face after he got tossed to the ground. Hey Mo: what do you expect when you are six feet nothing and you’re up against a true big? I’ve said this over and over again and tweeted it last night, too: Mo is just the little guy that runs his mouth because he hangs around the tough bully. Remove the bully and what do you have? A little pip-squeak that chokes in big games and can’t play defense. And he can’t pass. Choke on that, Mo.
- Shaq receiving his official license to do whatever he likes on both ends of the floor. Apparently the new traveling rules were designed with Shaq in mind: take as many steps from here to Pap New Guinea. It’s fine… the refs might charge you a fee for for your second bag that you’d like to check, but the traveling is free of charge. On the defensive end, there were at least 3 occasions where Shaq put a forearm into the back of a Celtic big (mainly Perk) in order to get a rebound. You know what they say: “When you get old and fat and slow just cheat your way to convince others you’re worth $20 million”. As a result of his inability to box people out of the paint, he’ll just push and get away with it. What?
The Cavs are throwing a lot of stock into their new star player.
Silly things to notice:
- This week’s cover of SI? Shaq and Lebron. Take a look at Shaq’s body language: holding Lebron back and pointing at his audience as to step forward and steal the limelight. What a donkey.
- Shaq looks fat. Simple as that. All of his “off-season” training to be “Lebron’s bodyguard” for “Lebron’s team” didn’t so much work. He is heavier and he is slower. His body is going to breakdown and we will see it happen.
- When has Shaq ever accepted a backseat role to anyone? D-Wade in Miami? Nope. Amare in Phoenix? Nope. Now Lebron? No way. He wants the ball and he wants to look good. This marriage is doomed.
- Cleveland celebrates its 40th year as a franchise. Coincidently the Roman numerals for 40? XL… as in Extra Large. As in Shaq. Ok. That may be a stretch, but you get where I’m going.
There is too much attention for Shaq and for all of the wrong reasons. This one will play out like a soap opera, which will make real contending teams like LA, San Antonio, and Boston chuckle while Lebron ponders where he can move to next and make bank.
Why does this not matter at all?
The chemistry on the Celtics is far better than anything we’ve seen in pre-season. Tommy said it. Gorman said. Sean Grandy said it. Cedric said it. You’ve said. I’ve said it. This team wants to win. They’re playing smart, unselfish ball and they’re executing well. The shots aren’t necessarily falling and the team’s defensive rotations could be more efficient, but everything will be tight in a matter of weeks when the team have more games underneath them. As long as the team stays… let’s not even say it.
This is going to be one of the most competitive seasons in the NBA in years. You have five teams that have said “we want to win NOW” and all have a realistic chance of at least reaching the Finals (LA, SA in the West; BOS, CLV, ORL in the East). You have sleeper teams that could creep up in the rankings (Washington and maybe even OKC if everyone has breakout seasons). You have teams that we expect a lot out of that may not be able to deliver (Chicago, Denver, Dallas). And then you have everyone else.
Can we start today?