The Cavaliers made it 1-0 without their effervescent big man last night, embarrassing the Knicks 124-93. The final score wasn’t even indicative of the hideousness of the New York effort. If the teams were wearing generic jerseys and I said that it was the ’92 Dream Team against Liechtenstein, it would have been believable.
Earlier in the year, I predicted that Boston would squeak by the Cavs on its way to the NBA Finals. With Shaq out for the rest of the regular season and hopefully limited in the playoffs I can again root for Cleveland to go the distance. And go the distance it will with the rugged Anderson Varejao (14 pts, 10 reb, 2 bk, 16 min last night) and the young and improving J.J. Hickson (17 pts, 9 reb, 6-7 fg, 2 bk) sharing the pivot. They remind me of the Davis boys in Indiana in the mid-90s and are both worthy of being picked up in fantasy leagues… Hickson and Varejao that is as the Davises are probably in their mid-40s.
Why this organization thought Shaq was the answer in the offseason is beyond me. This team is winning with chemistry and defense, and they happen to be very well-coached by their 25-year old small forward.
I, for one, will be pulling for the Cadavers to win the whole enchilada. Though as a Knicks fan I know it will take every ounce of restraint from LeBron to not tell a throng of 1.5 million at their victory parade that they will be back next season to repeat.
Lately, I’ve been singing the praises of the upstart Milwaukee Bucks to anyone within earshot. This team has about as much talent as the Pittsburgh Pythons, but they are getting it done with toughness and defense and won’t be an easy out in the playoffs. Andrew Bogut has been a top 5 center both in fantasy and real-life this season and he is being supported by defensive stalwarts Luc Richard-whatever and Ersan Ilyasova. This team has not felt the effects of the crooked-shooting Brandon Jennings, nor the loss of the chucking Michael Redd.
Ok, enough preaching. On to the Damn performances:
Bill Walker (21 pts, 5 reb, 9-14 fg, 2-5 3-pt fg) – I just love this guy’s name. There were 37 Bills in the league in the 80s, but since Medical Bill Cartwright announced his retirement from swinging ‘bows, I believe Mr. Walker is the first to carry the Bill torch. Regardless, he’s got pretty good skills and could see a decent amount of run the rest of the way. An injury to, let’s say Damn Lies favorite Tracy McGrady, could open the door for Walker to help steal a few championships for his owners.
Jrue Holiday (23 pts, 6 ast, 9-13 fg, 5-6 3-pt fg, 2 st) – The intriguing Holiday has shared the spotlight with the equally intriguing Lou Wiliams (13 pts, 5 reb, 7 ast) of late and could be a fine addition for the final six weeks of the season. Holiday is more of a true point guard and should put up some decent assist numbers. With Allen Iverson done for the year, don’t forget about the Philly backcourt.
George Hill (23 pts, 9-13 fg, 3-4 3-pt fg, 2 bk) – Even with Tony Parker‘s perpetual day-to-day status, this blogger has been pushing owners to nab the talented Hill for weeks. Over his last five contests, he has averaged 18.2 points and 1.8 threes in nearly 40 minutes per game. He can play both the one and the two and Parker’s return shouldn’t affect him too much.
Marcus Thornton (30 pts, 7 reb, 12-19 fg, 6-7 3-pt fg) – I debated picking up Thornton or C.J. Watson yesterday and decided on the guy who didn’t erupt for 30 points and six threes. Thornton has been silly of late, averaging 26.2 points and 2.8 threes over his last five. He still comes off the bench but plays starter’s minutes. He should no longer be available.
Taj Gibson (11 pts, 13 reb, 3 ast, 1 bk) – Here’s another young player who should have been scooped up a few weeks ago. Gibson is as tough as they come and has made the most of Joakim Noah‘s absence. Noah will remain out or at least limited for a while, but regardless, Gibson seems to have solidified his position in the Bulls frontcourt. Solid rebounding and blocks digits await.
Nicolas Batum (21 pts, 7-11 fg, 4-7 3-pt fg, 1 bk) – Dare I even say that we have to keep a good eye on Batum? He tallied 31 points with five threes on Saturday and followed it up with a 21-point, four 3-pointer effort in last night’s win over the fading Grizzlies. He has stolen all of Martell Webster‘s minutes and may be worth a flyer.
Rasual Butler (13 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast) – Butler stunk up the clip joint last night, but he is starting and for some unknown reason is playing big minutes for the Clips, while the more talented Travis Outlaw languishes on the bench. For the time being, Butler is worth a look, but he should peak in the rearview mirror.
Drew Gooden (19 pts, 11 reb, 6-9 fg, 1 bk) – Gooden’s city-to-city tour can rival Madonna’s as he continues to get it done on the glass, regardless of his situation. He has found his way into the starting unit and will continue to post decent scoring and blocks totals along with big-time boards.
Only four games on the board tonight, including Warriors at Heat. These are two teams heading nowhere, but I’m excited to see what the combination of Stephen Curry and Watson will accomplish with four games this week. Considering the fact that I have Watson and Jeff has Curry, probably very little.