Monday, May 3

The Downtown Report

Things are good in Cleveland, no? The weather is coming along quite nicely, and the Cavs are poised to advance to the Conference Finals for the third time in four years. The City stopped bugging me about taxes that I had already paid, Pearl Jam is coming here next Sunday, and our County government is about those CaVs!

I've probably spilled enough digital ink on the CaVs of late that you don't need any more analysis of our basketball club, but it's fun, isn't it? I saw cars parked places Downtown last night that I had never seen before. I actually went over to the East side for the game, because some friends were getting together for the game and wanted to see how small of a TV we could watch the contest on without audio.

Things didn't look so great in the first half for our heroes, as they took an 11-point defecit into the locker room against a tough-looking Celtics club. Two things bothered me: we were missing far too many layups and short shots, and the Celtics (especially Rajon Rondo) were getting to the basket with ease. I figured the first would even out, as it in fact did, but I wasn't sure if we'd slow down Boston's offensive attack.

The first happened - we scored just 43 points in the entire first half before exploding for 36 in the 3rd quarter alone. Those short shots found their way into the bottom of the net, as did everything Mo Williams tossed up. Mo Gotti was huge for the Cavalier comeback. The Cavs' offense always feeds from their defense, and once they ratcheted up the intensity on the defensive end of the floor (Boston scored 54 in the first half and just 39 in the second), their game flowed much more naturally.

As with the Bulls series, it's clear to me that Shaq and Z aren't what we need to be effective against the C's. I wrote it a while back, and Bill Simmons twittered it last night: "Hickson-Jamison-LBJ-Mo-West is his best lineup in this series." I omitted Simmons' needless potshot at Coach brown, and would add Varejao to the big man mix especially down the stretch, but generally speaking this was true months ago and remains so. That lineup, along with our deep bench is going to win us this series and hopefully two more.

Go Tribe! The Wahoos are, perhaps not surprisingly, muddling along at 10-13 right now. The culprit continues to be an anemic hitting attack, with the same usual suspects (Peralta, Sizemore, LaPorta) simply not supplying the firepower this club needs to score runs consistently. Couple that with the growing pains of a young pitching staff, and you get 10-13. This many games in, I'm starting to wonder if the offense will, in fact, come around.

But hey, Progressive Field is still lovely. Friday's game against the twinkies was the first home contest during which I was in the United States, and since it was 70 degrees out, I wandered down the street to catch a game. Even got a couple of PBR 24's at Panini's before reaching the ballyard. Sure, they got kicked around by Minnesota (thanks to yet another defensive boner that turned a 2-0 defecit into a 5-0 hole), but the nachos were solid.

Nick obviously provides much more timely and trenchant Draft coverage than I am either capable of or interested in producing, but perhaps I can offer a comment. As someone who didn't watch one single second of the Draft (I will not watch teams hold glorified off-season HR meetings while PLAYOFF hockey and basketball are being played), I of course read Nick's post-Draft coverage to see what we got.

I will say this compared to last year: there isn't a player there (like, say, either of our 2nd-round WR's) where I look and say, "why the hell did we pick that guy?" Looks to me like we had a lot of positions of need and picked highly-rated players who play those positions. So, from that perhaps-meaningless but perhaps-telling piece of insta-analysis, I'm optimistic that Cleveland's new hiring and staffing team has some real acumen. I will be ready for the 2010 campaign, that's for sure.

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