Admit it, Cavs fans. In the hours leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. trading deadline, all you thought about were lineups featuring Shaq and LeBron. It didn’t happen. The Cavs didn’t pull the trigger on a trade for Shaquille O’Neal or anyone else. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Admit it, Cavs fans.
In the hours leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. trading deadline, all you thought about were lineups featuring Shaq and LeBron.
It didn’t happen. The Cavs didn’t pull the trigger on a trade for Shaquille O’Neal or anyone else. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The Cavs of today, at 42-11, still have enough firepower to claim the top seed in the East and win an NBA title. Why? Here are three reasons.
It’s been talked about a lot this season. And it can be overstated on some teams, especially if it becomes a code word for “we don’t have a lot of talent, but we sure do play hard together.” That type of chemistry leads to a second-round exit in the playoffs.
But the Cavs’ chemistry has been developed among a talented, veteran team that has created a unified will to win games, usually on the defensive end.
And that’s how NBA titles are won.
2. Balanced roster
Injuries have created problems for the Cavs this season. But as long as they get healthy soon, those injuries could benefit this team. A lot of guys have been thrown out there in a lot of different situations in some creative lineups.
The result is a team filled with guys capable of comfortably playing two, three and four positions on either end of the floor. That versatility combined with mental toughness makes a good postseason formula.
3. The King
The Cavs have LeBron James and that one fact alone makes them a threat to beat any team in a seven-game series. Arguably the world’s most talented all-around player, James is locked in on leading his team to a championship.
Houston we have a (communication) problem
Tracy McGrady’s disappointing run in Houston continued with this week’s announcement that he’ll have season-ending microfracture surgery on his left knee.
Anyone who saw him play in Cleveland in December could tell something was not right with the seven-time All-Star forward, who has had persistent pain in the knee and had missed 18 games throughout the season.
But what was bizarre about this situation is he announced he would have the surgery on his Web site. Houston coach Rick Adelman found out about McGrady’s surgery by reading a newspaper.
“There should be a protocol, there should be a procedure where we have a chance to sit down and talk about the situation and not be announced in the press,” Adelman told Houston media. “I don't know why that happened, why he did that. Certainly, that is not the way things should be handled.”
McGrady was shooting a career-low 38.8 percent from the field and averaging 15.6 points. His five seasons in Houston have been marred by injuries while his scoring numbers have declined. He’s now missed 86 games since arriving there. McGrady has one year left on his contract that’s worth $23 million next season.
The Rockets, who are fifth in the West, have won their last three games without McGrady and 14 of 20 without him this season.
McGrady is one of several All-Stars shut down for at least the rest of the regular season. That got us thinking about creating a 2009 All-Injury All-NBA Team.
How’s this for a lineup?
Guards: Michael Redd and Jameer Nelson
Forwards: Amare Stoudemire and Elton Brand
Center: Andrew Bynum
Off the bench: Tracy McGrady, Al Jefferson
If that’s not enough talent to build around, here’s an additional group of guys who are out now but should be back on the floor within the next eight weeks:
Guards: Gilbert Arenas and Manu Ginobili
Forwards: Kevin Garnett and Carlos Boozer
Center: Andrew Bogut
Off the bench: Greg Oden, Delonte West, Tyson Chandler, Mike Dunleavy
- LeBron James said this week he doesn’t have to think about going after triple-doubles. “My game thinks about it, and that’s how I go out there and it happens. It sounds a little crazy, but that’s just how my game is built. My game is built to play an all-around game.”
- Welcome back run-and-gun Phoenix Suns. We missed you. Of course, it helped that they were playing the Clippers both times when they rung up 140 and 142 points on consecutive nights before hanging 140 on the Thunder even without the injured Amare Stoudemire. The 1990 Blazers were the last NBA team to score 140 or more in three straight games.
- ESPN.com reported that the Suns might have dealt Shaquille O’Neal to the Cavs for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic had Phoenix known that Stoudemire was going to be out for the rest of the season. The Suns learned that Friday, a day after the trading deadline.
- With Kevin Garnett out a couple weeks because of a strained right knee, it will be interesting to see if the Celtics act quickly in finding a veteran big man. Mikki Moore is available. But Boston and Cleveland are both interested in seeing if Joe Smith gets bought out in Oklahoma City. But that could require some patience, and the Celtics might not have the luxury of waiting around too long.
Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org