Cavsblogger of Fear the Sword and I were able to ask one another some questions regarding our respective teams. If you are interested in reading up on what Cavsblogger has to say about this series, and his Cavs in general, please read on. I think you'll enjoy it.
So you guys are up 2-0 (quit cheesing). How does it feel?
FTS -- It feels great, because winning in the NBA Playoffs always does. For
the Cavaliers, however, this is about more than winning this series. As a
Pistons fan, you know that as well as anyone. 2007 was the 'Feel-Good'
playoff run, when no one expected the Cavaliers to be there. This year, as
the #1 seed, anything less than a Finals appearance, at the least, would be
considered a disappointment. So, up 2-0 is great but there are 14 bug wins
Overall, could you be anymore satisfied with the way your team is playing?
FTS -- Save a 6 minute run in the 4th quarter of Game 2, the first two games
have gone exactly as planned. Cleveland has done a great job jumping on
Detroit, making the Pistons always feel as though they have to catch up,
even if the actual score on the scoreboard is close. Cleveland knows the
Pistons are still a very dangerous team when out front so the Cavaliers have
made it a priority to stay on top and not provide the Pistons the
opportunity to slow the game down.
What's the biggest change to this year's team, attitude wise, that is
different from the last couple years? Is it a matter of being more focused
or just flat out better?
FTS -- I think it has been the approach, from the top down. In prior years,
there were simply nights LeBron seemed to take the night off. It would
usually be against "weaker" opponents, and the Cavaliers would often lose
those games. It would cost them playoff positioning, and home court. Then,
a couple things happened. The Cavaliers lost to the Celtics last year, most
likely because the 7th Game was in Boston, and LeBron was on one of the
leaders of the Olympic Team. I think he learned a lot from playing with
Kobe Bryant. About competitiveness, hunger and wanting to win every game,
every night. I think it is a huge reason why the Cavaliers made it a goal
to get homecourt, and why the team executes so well late in games. LeBron
has learned how to finish.
There is also a trust factor now that didn't exist. Mike Brown has trusted
his coaches more, and that has filtered down to the players. I know a lot
is made about the antics the Cavaliers partake in before games, but it is
just a bunch of guys that genuinely like each other having fun. It is shy
they have been so good this year, because they care about each other and
don't want to let their teammates down.
Do you feel Mike Brown was deserving of Coach of the Year? I
obviously don't follow the Cavs as intently as the Pistons so what coaching
strategies helped get this team to where they are now and subsequently help
him win that award?
FTS -- I have been a critic of Brown in the past, but I think this year was
a huge step forward for him as a leader of men. There was little doubting
his ability to coach, especially on defense, but offense was not his strong
suit. The team would often struggle coming out of halftime, or after
timeouts. Now, with the trust I mentioned above, the team is much more
efficient on the offensive end, and it is a lot more creative than stand
around and watch LeBron.
I think Brown was deserving of the award because I think people overlook how
difficult it can be to coach a superstar, even one as open to learning as
LeBron. James trusts Brown, however, because he is a straight shooter. He
told LeBron from Day 1 that the only way he(Brown) would have success was if
LeBron bought in. James has, and the team follows his lead.
Can you shed some light on just how huge the Mo Williams acquisition has
been for you guys?
FTS -- It's been huge. LeBron James is the MVP of the NBA, but Mo Williams
might be the MVP of the Cavaliers. Not only does he take the weight of
being the primary ball handler off of LeBron, he provides the Cavaliers a
consistent scoring threat when James is on the bench. That is another
example of how Brown has done a great job this season. By taking Mo out of
the game at the 6 minute mark of the 1st quarter, Brown can have Williams
back in the game to start the 2nd. In the past, the Cavaliers would build
leads when James was on the floor, then lose them in the 2nd quarter because
there simply wasn't anyone that could create their own shot. With Williams,
that has changed.
Perhaps the biggest plus to adding Williams has been his attitude. It suits
him just fine to be the 'side-kick' to LeBron. That is critical, since
other 'candidates' in the past - Ricky Davis, Carlos Boozer and Larry Hughes
- couldn't handle being out of the spotlight.
Speaking of acquisitions, you have former Piston, Ben Wallace. Has he been
a disappointment in the opinion of Cavs fans or has he been as advertised
(from his stint with the Bulls)?
FTS -- The contract is ridiculous, no doubt, but Ben is doing exactly what
the Cavaliers brought him in to do. He's not the player that was winning
DPOY awards with Detroit, but he can still defend and no one 'back-taps' a
rebound like Wallace. When he was injured, the Cavaliers were getting
eaten up by inside scoring. With Ben patrolling the middle, it allows Z and
Anderson to chase rebounds. He may not be what he once was, but on this
team Ben Wallace is still a force.
Cleveland is thinking sweep. I think everyone including some of the Pistons
players are thinking about the possibility of a sweep. I know you guys have stressed focus
and one goal, but do you think there's any chance the Cavs will unconsciously let
their focus go and have it cost them at least one game in this lopsided
FTS -- I had Detroit winning a game before the series started, and I will
stick to it. As LA found out last night, it is hard to sweep anyone in the
NBA. Detroit is a proud group, and the Palace is still a tough place to
play. I do have to winder, however, whether or not LeBron and the Cavaliers
have gotten in the heads of the Pistons. After the tough series in 2006,
the upset in 2007, and they way the first two games of this series have
gone, along with 6 straight playoff wins against the Pistons, do they
believe they can beat Cleveland? That is the question.
If Detroit is going to win a game, it has to be Game 3 tonight. If they go
down 3-0, I think it is curtains on Sunday.
What will it take for Lebron to stay in 2010 or leave?
FTS -- The most important thing to LeBron is winning. He knows what his
legacy will be - Rings. If Cleveland gives him the best opportunity to win
multiple titles, he'll stay.
What many people don’t know about LeBron is his incredible sense of loyalty.
He is still with his high school girlfriend, he still goes to high school
football and basketball games. One of his first trips with the Gold Medal
he won in China was to his Akron St. Vincent St. Mary to show his old
teachers. He is close to the University of Akron basketball program as
well. LeBron surrounds himself with friends and family and in reality is a
homebody. He built this huge mansion just north of Akron because he enjoys
being home, enjoys hanging out with his kids.
New York needs LeBron James more than LBJ needs NY. New Yorkers will never
admit it, but it is true. Like Tiger, Like Jordan, like Magic, Lebron has
become bigger than the city, bigger than the game in a lot of ways. With
the internet, the 24-hour news cycle, viral marketing, LeBron can make his
billion and never play home games further than 30 miles from where he grew
up. I think that is important to him. Other people have won in New York.
He can be the first to do it in Cleveland, and I think LeBron knows that Dan
Gilbert, Danny Ferry and Mike Brown will do everything it takes to win.
Who's your favorite player outside of Lebron and why?
FTS -- I have always been a big fan of Z. He went through the lowest of
lows, both on the court playing on a horrible team, and off the court with
all the foot problems. He really is a medical marvel (in a road game this
season, Z twisted his ankle. The opposing team doctor x-rayed his foot and
couldn't believe all the screws and plates that were present.) No matter
what team you are a fan of, Z is one of the good guys of the NBA and I would
love to see him win a championship.
Have you ever stopped grinning during this Q & A?
FTS -- This season has been a lot of fun. I won't lie. But there is a long way to
go before the Cavaliers get to where they want to go. I'm just excited to
be going for the ride!
Thanks again to Cavsblogger for taking the time to answer my questions. For more on the Cavs, visit Fear the Sword for all the goods. Go Pistons.