Coach Mike Brown

Coach Mike Brown and the Cavaliers’ Un-Fired-Upness

If a seventh grade boys basketball team isn’t bringing the pain in the playoffs, parents will blame the coach.  (And the tall, lanky kid with no coordination who can’t play basketball . . . but is, as previously mentioned, tall.)

But if an elite NBA team isn’t bringing the pain in the playoffs, should fans blame the coach?

Every now and then, the tenuousness of Mike Brown’s job security comes up in Cleveland . . . generally after losses.  Bad losses.  And sadly, but not surprisingly, it’s being talked about again now.

The Cavaliers second round series against the Boston Celtics is tied-up at 2-2.  That isn’t necessarily unexpected (although, I did have Cleveland in five, which, obviously, is no longer mathematically possible) . . . but the Cavs’ lackluster effort has been surprising.  And alarming.  And confusing.

It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

So last night, my friend Sam Greenspan and I had a conversation about Mike Brown and the Cavaliers’ energy, and I thought I’d share it.

Here it is in hopefully-easy-to-read interview format:

W&GR:  How much do you pin the Cavaliers’ apparent effort / intensity lapses on Coach Mike Brown?  Some say it’s his job to make sure the team is in peak form mentally, physically, and strategically for the games, yet others say that there is only so much a coach can do when his team is failing to bring it for a playoff game.

J.D.:  Rather than wasting time trying to make sense of this, I’d rather just pin it on Coach Brown and hope that he can rally the team in time to ensure that the Cavs don’t accidentally boot this series.  But in order to do that, I have to consider what Brown could have done . . . that he didn’t.

 

And I don’t know.  I don’t know what you do or say to motivate a team for a playoff game against a supposed rival during a supposed title march.  Do you say “Let’s go, guys!  Let’s crush the Celtics!”  Or do you say “Let’s do it, guys!  Let’s destroy the Celtics!”  It’s Coach Brown’s responsibility to get the Cavs up for an away-away back-to-back game against a team like the Indiana Pacers in November.  It seems reasonable for him to leave the players to get fired up on their own in the playoffs, so that he can deal with more pressing matters . . . like what the hell to do with Rajon Rondo, so that he doesn’t look significantly better than the Cavs ordinarily make their opposing point guards look.

Feel free to roast Mike Brown for gameplan-oriented issues – and if we fall short of our goal, plenty of people will – but from what I’ve seen, the inconsistent effort is the #1 thing keeping us from beating the Celtics right now, and I’m not sure I can put that on Brown.

No matter what glasses / tie combination Brown utilizes, his work isn’t sexy.  If the team wins, LeBron and X and X role players get the credit.  If they lose, Brown takes the heat.

Sam:  I really don’t know how much to pin on Mike Brown, but I do think it’s do-or-die for his career right now.  My issue with Mike Brown centers far more on his ability to make in-game adjustments.  It’s seeming more and more like the Cavs come up with a pregame plan.  If they execute it properly and the opposition doesn’t throw anything in the mix to screw with it, they win.  As soon as something starts going wrong it takes Brown a half or a full game before he adjusts.  It’s painful to watch . . . you know that if the game starts going poorly, the only chance at a win is LeBron having a superhuman game.   That’s not going to win championships.

As for the lack of intensity, I just don’t know what to make of it.  No one in Cleveland can possibly understand it.  Did they become complacent because, since February, they’ve been able to play games where they slacked off for three quarters, turning the ball over, missing free throws, watching passes
bounce off J.J.’s hands, and then been able to win by turning it on in the fourth quarter?  Did the habits they developed become more overwhelming than we thought?  I just don’t know.  We’re nine playoff games in.  They’ve had their proverbial “punch in the mouth” — an epic blowout loss at home.  They responded great for one game, then went right back to dogging it the next game.  Can anything light a sustained fire under them?  I have no idea.

What I do know is that I’ve found myself in “tempering expectations” mode.  Orlando is playing some of the best basketball in history.  The Cavs are letting Rajon Rondo put up numbers that Jordan wasn’t putting up in his prime.  Other than Game Three of this Boston series, has there been a single sign that the Cavs should truly be considered contenders at this point?  If they do win this series — which is REALLY no guarantee — will anyone in the world pick them to get past Orlando?

W&GR:  One of the problems with the Cavs’ offense appears to be a lack of premeditation.  Typically, the Cavs have (mostly) lived and (rarely) died under LeBron James’ freelancing hand at the reins of the offense . . . but in times like these, should Mike Brown assert himself and attempt to overrule LeBron on the running of the offense?  He may not be an offensive-minded coach, but with input from his staff, they could draw up an actual play for each possession.  Or, do you think this would upset the apple cart even more?

J.D.:  It’s unclear just how much freedom Mo Williams and Delonte West have to call their own plays, but it seems like they have too much.  Mo looks great when he cuts with the ball – baseline or through the paint – because it’s a more defense-disrupting way of getting the ball to Shaq, another big, or even an on-the-move LeBron James.  But it doesn’t happen enough.

Mo runs a lot of simple plays . . . soft lobs inside, or two-man pick-and-rolls . . . without much movement on the weakside or through the paint.  That, and/or he gives the ball up to LeBron too quickly.  He needs to push the ball more, and look for opportunities to get the defense on their heels.

Delonte, however, used to be great at mixing things up by denying LeBron the ball when LBJ was 26-feet from the basket, and pushed the offense ahead, until LeBron and/or the other gears were in better position.  But Delonte wasn’t good in Game Four.  He did a lot of dribbling, didn’t seem to have any idea what to do with the ball, and ended up taking some bad shots.  He had one assist in 20 minutes.

So yes, I think more calls from the bench – if they aren’t already coming regularly – would instill some creativity in the offense, and remind the Cavs of plays that have been successful in the past.

As for LeBron, I don’t know, man.  There are so many possessions where he creates a sweet shot for a teammate.  Sometimes they finish, sometimes they don’t.  There are also a lot of frustrating, aimless possessions where LeBron just does some stationary dribbling, and then takes a contested, unnecessary 20-footer.  Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn’t.  Those kinds of things need to be cut, but you do want LeBron looking out for opportunities.  Maybe there should just be more communication . . . so the rest of the guys on the floor can move off-the-ball to try to free themselves.

Sam:  I think Brown has to do something at this point.  It comes down to his inability to do in-game adjustments.  Sunday, it was clear LeBron wasn’t going to get any easy paths to the basket.  The Celtics were collapsing on him and causing either turnovers on bad interior passing, kick outs to the ice-cold jump shooters or, most frequently, LeBron complaining about not getting a call and failing to get back on defense.  In that case, something different needs to happen.  Send LeBron to the post.  Get Mo Williams the hell out of the game and put in Gibson — his defense can’t be any worse than Mo’s — and maybe he’ll make a shot.  Do anything.  Anything.

 

W&GR:  Considering the staleness of the Cavs’ offensive and (at times) defensive effort, should Mike Brown have a quicker trigger on bringing in some of his deeper bench depth?  Would utilizing Zydrunas
Ilguaskas, Leon Powe, Jamario Moon and Daniel Gibson more give the Cavs a spark and/or the potential for a successful new look, or again, would that just exacerbate the problems?

J.D.:  Jamario Moon feels like a no-brainer at this point.

I think I’d also like to see Z a little more.  Yes, he may be a liability on defense, but who hasn’t been?  It’s not like we’d ask him to guard Rondo or Garnett.  I think we could bring him in, and see if he can get his pick-and-pop shot going.  Maybe he could get some open looks against Boston’s defense.  If not, we can move on to the next thing.  Plus, it wouldn’t be horrible to have Z in the game to get a few offensive rebounds / tip-ins.  Also, he’d be another big obstacle Rondo would have to work around if he makes it to the rim or tries a floater.  I can’t believe I’m thinking like that, but oh well.  I’m not feeling Powe.  Like Z, Boobie’s shot would be so huge if we could get him going . . . without him being any more of a liability on defense than what we currently have.

Sam:  I don’t know that Powe has a place in this series but Moon’s lack of playing time is mind boggling.  He’s a long, athletic, motivated defender who’s actually been hitting his shots in the playoffs. Why not give him some of Mo’s minutes and put him on Rondo for a different look.  (As much as people are praising Anthony Parker, he’s getting murdered out there.  Make Rondo have to guess what’s going to happen.)  Mo Williams is giving the Cavs nothing at this point.  Nothing.  I’m not saying to bench him completely, I recognize how ridiculous that notion is and how he has potential to get hot and change a game like Game One, but at least throw Gibson out there to see what happens.  I don’t know about Ilguaskas.  I have a bad feeling about him being out there.  But why not?  Somebody has to do something.  Again, just do anything.  Somebody please.  Anything.

In Game Four the Celtics had Tony Allen step up.  Tony Allen!  It was a gift that he was on the floor and he ended up being one of the heroes.  Unbelievable.  A few games ago, it was Rasheed Wallace.  It’s one of those things that happens against Cleveland teams but never FOR Cleveland teams.  But Varejao hasn’t looked like himself all playoffs, joining the super erratic play of Mo, Delonte, and even Jamison.  I want to type “at some point, someone’s going to have to step up” — but we’re nine games in.  It’s just hard to look at this situation and see that happening.

This is all extraordinarily pessimistic, and I hate being that way.  But, at some point, you have to stop wondering when the Cavs are going to wake up and play like champions and switch that to IF the Cavs are going to wake up and play like champions.  It’s not a 2-2 series that has driven me and so many others to this extreme.  The Celtics are playing great and we didn’t expect the Cavs to sweep their way through a much more difficult bracket this year.  But, after watching nine games and seeing exactly ONE where the Cavs had a start-to-finish championship-caliber effort — versus, say, Orlando’s eight start-to-finish championship-caliber efforts — this 2-2 series sure doesn’t feel good.

I hope I’m wrong.  And deep down, I still have hope — the same hope that was there when the Cavs were getting murdered by the Spurs in the Finals, the same hope that was there when the Indians let the 3-1 lead slip away against the Red Sox but seemed to have a chance in Game 7.  But if the Cavs players can’t muster the energy to really care, I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t either.  We’re getting closer and closer to the most disappointing postseason in Cleveland history and not a single player — not even LeBron — really seems to have any sense of urgency when it comes to changing that.

 

Hey, Mike Brown: Free J.J. Hickson!

[This is a guest column written by our friend Amar Panchmatia.  You know him as the superstar behind the former (and greatly missed) MVN.com blog Cavalier Attitude.]

Monday night was the first time many NBA fans have seen the usually mild-mannered Mike Brown come out agitated and frustrated, so much so that he raised his voice while talking to reporters and, yes, was even bleeped out during his postgame press conference.

He had every reason to be. At this time a year ago, his Cleveland Cavaliers were well on their way to a ruthless, merciless four-game sweep of the overmatched Atlanta Hawks in this very round of the playoffs.

It may have been experiences like that very series that now have Brown’s Cavs feeling a little bit of a sense of entitlement after coming out with two lackluster performances to open their second-round bout against the Boston Celtics. And instead of being in firm control of the series, the Cavaliers—picked by many to capture their first-ever NBA title this spring—now head to Boston for Game Three tied at 1-1 in this best-of-seven.

Questioning his team’s energy and focus is fine, but if Brown wants to dig a little bit deeper to find answers as to why his team has struggled so much so far in these first two games against Boston, then he needs to take a look in the mirror.

In particular, Brown needs to ask himself why he is not finding more minutes for sophomore big man J.J. Hickson, who has been a heck of a spark for the Cavaliers this season whenever they have been matched up with Boston. In Game One of this series, Hickson only played 12 minutes, but he scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting while the Cavs were plus-five with him on the court.

In Game Two, Hickson played 19 minutes, but he still left an imprint on the game by attacking the rim hard and getting to the rack whenever he had the chance. He finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting while going 5-of-7 from the charity stripe. The Cavaliers, who were drubbed by 18, were only minus-seven as a unit when Hickson was on the floor.

 

Brown, however, has chosen to go more with Shaquille O’Neal over Hickson. Sure, if this was either a legends contest or a Shaq from 10 years ago, this would never be an argument. But Shaq is 38, the oldest player in the league, and simply has not meshed well with the Cavs in matchups with the Celtics this year.

In Game One, Brown played O’Neal for 20 minutes, and although he didn’t put up gaudy numbers, Shaq did end up getting some key plays down the stretch to help the Cavs take the 101-93 victory. However, in Game Two, O’Neal played the same number of minutes as Hickson, but only put up nine points on 4-of-10 shooting. Cleveland was minus-18 with him on the floor.

 

What seems like simple logic would seem even simpler when you see that this is not some sort of breaking news for the Cavs. In a regular season game earlier this year in Boston, the Cavs struggled to a slow start against the Celtics in falling to a double-digit deficit. Then Celtics forward Glen Davis inadvertently hit Shaq’s right hand, leading to a sprained right thumb for the Cavs center.

In came Hickson following the injury, and the Cavaliers, who were trailing by double figures at the time of O’Neal’s injury, roared back to administer a back-alley whipping on the C’s, 108-88. The Cavs were minus-10 with Shaq on the floor but wound up plus-27 with the 6’9″, 242-pound Hickson.

Shaq’s size may come in handy later on in these playoffs against Orlando and the Los Angeles, but the Cavs have to dump the Celtics first to get that far. And O’Neal is every bit as detrimental against Boston as he would be advantageous against the Magic or Lakers.

Brown may or may not get a more focused and motivated team in Game Three. He does not control that as much as he would like. But one thing is for sure:  he would definitely have a better team if he played the 21-year-old Hickson far, far, more than the 38-year-old O’Neal.

And that much he does control.

Stage Completed . . . Even Though the Cavs Never Could Figure Out the Bulls

As much as I was dying to figure out the identity of the mysterious hold the Chicago Bulls had on the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s for the best that this series is over now.  Even if it’s before we had an opportunity for a “Scooby-Doo”-style reveal.

It was almost as if Chicago had the ability to put some sort of mystical spell on the Cavaliers, which would hypnotize them for roughly eight- to nine-minute periods (of gametime) . . . and only LeBron James had the strength to push through it.

Despite being the 8 seed, Chicago probably ended up being the strongest team in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference bracket.  And maybe that shouldn’t be all that surprising . . . with Miami being a team without a supporting cast, Charlotte being a team without a superstar, and Milwaukee being a team without a Bogut.

But on paper, at least to me, it still seems like the Cavs have advantages in almost every conceivable category over the Bulls . . . including all match-ups, with the obvious exception of Derrick Rose Vs. Mo Williams, or even Rose Vs. the Cleveland defense as a whole.

And yet, it felt like this was the Boston Celtics series . . . where, at least as I see it playing out, it doesn’t matter how dominant you are at certain points in the game . . . any letdown will make it a game.  And any time it’s a game, you do have a good chance of losing.

But Chicago?  Even in a worst case scenario that seemed unlikely.

You’d have to get up pretty early in the morning to stymie the Cavs in a First Round series this year . . . but, well, that’s exactly what the Bulls did.

It’s effort.  It’s drive.  It’s the present.  It’s staring “the end of the line” in the face, and mentally willing it on . . . not with sheer talent, or even execution, but with relentlessness.

 

The Cavs, on the other hand, fought through one eight-minute trance in the first game, but were otherwise cued up and ready to go.  The marquee was crowded;  Mo, Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison and Shaquillle O’Neal all had LeBron’s back and things were good in Cleveland.

Game Two was sort of a buzzkill, but the Cavs absorbed a strong effort from the Bulls . . . and Cleveland was able to put things together in the fourth quarter.  Thanks, unsurprisingly, to a superhuman LeBron effort.  The Bulls were outwardly daring him to take jump shots.  He did, and he made them.

Game Three was one of those games that we’ve seen often after games like Game Two.  It was like a reverse game of Chicken . . . where the Cavs try to figure out how much they can yield to an opponent and still win the game.  Or an EKG limbo.  “How low can we go?”

The result was one of the least interesting playoff games imaginable with LeBron James on your team.  The Cavs didn’t show any consistent signs of life, intensity or teamwork, until the fourth quarter . . . but by then it was too late – and a last ditch effort to eke out a win was thwarted.

That loss should’ve been a wake-up call.  But it wasn’t . . . for anyone other than LeBron.

The King had a monster game.  He finished with a wicked triple-double: 37 points (on 11-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, plus 9-of-10 from the stripe) plus 12 rebounds and 11 assists.  He also had two steals and a block.  It was amazing.

Antawn said he observed a “scary” LeBron James before that game . . . and added, “I haven’t seen [LeBron] in this mind-set since I’ve been here.”  He didn’t say if anyone else had noticeable, notable mind-set changes.  But I’d like to think that someone did.

Antawn had 24 points (on 9-of-16 shooting) and Mo had 19 points (on 6-of-10), but the Cavs were never able to get much going, consistently, as a team.  It was just an otherworldly performance by LeBron, who seemed to be directing the entire game.  Fortunately, some teammates stepped up and hit shots . . . and it turned out to be a solid win.  Totally awe-ful . . . definitely not dull, or exciting.

Everything could be made up in Game Five, a close-out game at the Q.  And it was!

At times.

Look, I tend to fall on the optimistic, glass half-full side of the Cuyahoga.  But the playoffs bring out some more real realities, and sweat from my palms.

There are too many possessions where the Cavs are playing a mid-December offense.  There are too many possessions where the Cavs are playing a mid-March defense.  There are too many possessions where the Cavs feel like they have all the possessions in the world to put away the Chicago Bulls . . . and opt to put it off until a future one.

After the lackluster effort throughout the past few games, I spent Game Five thinking about effort.  In the first quarter, it was there.  In the second quarter, it was there.  In the fourth quarter, it was there.  In the third quarter, it was still in the locker room, watching highlights from the second quarter.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Cavs played well in those quarters (although they did for most of them).  There was some pretty weak, unpolished-looking defense and offense mixed in there . . . but the effort and intensity were there, and at this point, that is what I’m asking for.

If we make it to an Orlando series in the Eastern Conference Finals, we can worry about finding perfection then.  For now, I just want to see playoff intensity . . . because it’s exciting that way.  And we have LeBron and a stacked stable of star role players, which should make it even more exciting.

And LeBron’s accomplices were back in action on Tuesday night.  Antawn had 25 points (on 8-of-14 shooting) and five rebounds.  Shaq had 14 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), eight rebounds, three assists, and knocked the Bulls’ bigs out of the game, literally, by drawing all kinds of fouls.

Delonte West covered up Mo’s off-night, with 16 points (on 6-of-11 shooting), two rebounds and four assists.  He also made some huge hustle-plays, including a few which led directly to fast-break points.

Jamario had seven points (including a 3 and an alley-oop) in 16 minutes . . . and Varejao had five points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.  He also brought his toughness back.

The Cavs only won by two points, 96-94 . . . but overall, it was a more comforting win than Game Four on Sunday.  (With all due respect to the more-than-satisfying efforts of LeBron on that night.)

So Cleveland dropped Chicago four-games-to-one, despite never really being able to zero in on them enough to really clamp them down.  It feels a little unfinished in that way;  the Cavs weren’t able to learn anything, or improve themselves . . . on their attack or on their defense.

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, from the Chicago series carries over to the Boston Celtics series, which will begin this Saturday in Cleveland.  The Celtics are a lot different than the Bulls . . . a lot older, and a lot more experienced . . . so Mike Brown will have to tweak his rotations.

Hopefully, there will be no looking back, effort-wise.

As for the other mysterious entity that kept Chicago in the thick of things with Cleveland . . . you can point to Chicago’s rebounding, or their lack of turnovers, or their playmaking abilities . . . but I have a hunch that if the culprit was unveiled, it might have been the ghost of B.J. Armstrong.

And he might have gotten away with it if it weren’t for the Cavs resurgent effort.

A Matter of (Playoff) Minutes

In Game One of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls, the Cavs implemented their “playoff rotation,” which basically consisted of seven players . . . with two others receiving less than ten minutes.

In previous playoff runs, the rotation-shrinking was essentially a no-brainer.  It was just up to Mike Brown to divvy up the minutes . . . based on tandems he wanted to utilize and match-ups he wanted to exploit.

But now that the Cavs have one of the deepest teams in the NBA . . . if not the deepest . . . Brown also must decide who to play, in addition to the minutes and the five-man units.

It’ll be a mildly interesting storyline to follow throughout the series.  For example, in Game One, Brown was using a pretty short rotation, with all the starters playing big minutes.

There were two likely reasons for this:  With Shaquille O’Neal’s injury and all the time off the other starters were getting in the last two weeks, Brown wanted to give his main guys an opportunity to reconnect and work out any wrinkles.  Also, Brown was not taking any chances.  He was not about to let the Bulls come in to The Q and steal a game while the Cavs were still feeling things out.

Here’s how the minutes worked out, along with season averages for comparison.

  • LeBron James:  40 minutes . . . 39.0
  • Mo Williams:  39 minutes . . . 34.2
  • Antawn Jamison:  33 minutes . . . 32.4
  • Anderson Varejao:  32 minutes . . . 28.5
  • Anthony Parker:  31 minutes . . . 28.3
  • Shaquille O’Neal:  25 minutes . . . 23.4
  • Delonte West:  24 minutes . . . 25.0
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas:  9 minutes . . . 20.9
  • Jamario Moon:  7 minutes . . . 17.2
  • J.J. Hickson:  1 minute . . . 20.9
  • Daniel Gibson:  1 minute . . . 19.1
  • Jawad Williams:  1 minute . . . 13.7

While you don’t necessarily love to play your starters big minutes in the first round of the playoffs unless you have to . . .  it’s interesting to note that only Mo and (to a lesser extent) Andy and AP played significantly more than they averaged throughout the regular season.

The high regular season averages (including Leon Powe at 11.8 minutes) were inflated by all the injuries that the Cavs suffered to their core rotation players . . . along with Mike Brown’s tendency to give minutes (and DNP-CDs) in bunches.

And now, here are a few notes from the lineups in Game One:

#1.)  The most productive time in the game came in the first 9:30 minutes of the game, when the Cavaliers were +14 over the Bulls.  All the starters were in that whole time, with the exception of Andy subbing-in for Shaq 7:30 in.

Here’s how that breaks down:  The Cavs’ starters were +8 with Shaq and then went +6 with Andy.

That rotation was less successful after halftime, when the Cavs were +3 with all the starters . . . and -4 after Andy came in for Shaq.  (That happened in the heart of the Cavs’ seven-minute dead zone.)

#2.)  LeBron rested for 2:55 in the second quarter and 4:12 at the top of the fourth.

#3.)  Individually, the Cavs bench players had a few nice moments in the game . . . but Chicago was making up ground when they were in.  The Cavs were even with the Bulls when Z was in the game, -4 when Moon was in, and -1 with Delonte on the floor.

Andy had the only positive number.  He was +3.

Every series will be different, and every game will be a little different . . . but the lukewarm performance from the bench collectively could provide an opening for someone else to get some minutes.  (J.J., Boobie or Powe . . . depending on what they need.)

Naturally, there could also be more minutes for those players . . . although more garbage-y . . . if the current subs rebound (figuratively) in Game Two, and the Cavs are able to maintain bigger leads.

#4.)  In Game One, Z and Jamario basically split near-five-minute openings at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters, while LeBron was resting.  Z took the second quarter, and Moon took the fourth.

#5.)  Even though it seems like the Cavs relied a lot on their starters . . . at least, compared to what we’re used to . . . the Bulls were even tighter.  Like the Cavs, they essentially used a seven-man rotation, but their bench only played 48 total minutes, compared to the 75 minutes the Cavs’ bench played.

Also, the Bulls did not make a substitution during the third quarter . . . the one that included their 12-0 run while the Cavs’ offense fell off track.  Their starters also played the first 2:30 minutes in the fourth, meaning that Vinny Del Negro rode his starters for 14-and-a-half minutes to start the second half.

Those are just a few things to keep in mind if you’re interested in seeing how the Cavs’ rotations evolve throughout the series and the playoffs.

Request for Jamario: Wanna Help Me Develop the “Double Gooseneck”???

Jamario Moon has been reduced to a cheerleader.

A good one, but a cheerleader nonetheless.  And so has Daniel “Boobie” Gibson . . . and while he’s no cheerleading superstar like Jamario (and rookie Danny Green), he’s still pretty excitable.

Whenever there’s an above-average play . . . even if it’s only marginally above-average . . . Jamario is probably doing something ridiculous on the sideline in front of the Cleveland Cavaliers bench.  And if the team is playing flat, he can still be seen smiling, just waiting for the moment to explode.

It’s that sort of energy, intensity and explosive tendency that’s hard to keep bottled on the sideline, especially when the team is sparklessly going through the motions.

(Which is why it would seem to make sense to move him onto the court in those situations, right?)

He’s basically this year’s Tarence Kinsey, only Jamario is a more talented player.  Not that it matters when you’re left to cheerlead on the bench.  (By the way, can anyone imagine if we had both Jamario and Tarence?  The NBA would have to allow the Cavaliers to expand their roster just so that there would be enough players to restrain them in the event that Delonte West dunks off a cut.)

Before the All-Star Break, Coach Mike Brown held Jamario out of one game that he was healthy for.  Since the All-Star Break, he’s been held out of seven games he could have played in.  In the Cavs’ last six games, Jamario has entered only one game . . . and that was for eight minutes in a 30-point blowout over Detroit.

If you dismiss Sebastian Telfair (which we’ve all already been doing for years now) and rookie Danny Green, is it possible that Jamario is fighting off Gibson to be the second-least valuable player on the Cavs’ roster?

Yes.  Apparently.

 

Boobie is in essentially the same position as Jamario.

Just three years ago, when the Cavs were entering their first-ever Finals series, Daniel appeared to be on the verge of emerging as one of the Cavs’ best players . . . and we’re talking between second- and fifth-best.  Now, only he, LeBron, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao remain from that team.

And now, Boobie can’t get into a game.

In the Cavs’ last 17 games, he’s only been in five.  And he played just one minute in two of the ones he did get into . . . and in another he just played eight minutes.  So Boobie has only received “substantial” minutes twice . . . 22 and 13, respectively . . . since February 21st.

This is for a dude that was having a pretty strong season . . . both offensively and defensively . . . at the beginning of the season, and for a guy who scored in double-figures in nine of ten games while Mo Williams was out with a sprained shoulder.

Not too long ago, it would’ve seemed crazy that Daniel could be the Cavs’ 13th best player.  In the recent past, the same could be said of Jamario.  Especially with neither of them playing themselves out of the rotation.

That’s depth.  Serious depth.

Since January, we’ve seen the improvement of Jawad Williams, the rise of J.J. Hickson, the trade for Antawn Jamison, the arrival of Leon Powe and the return of Z.  And soon, Shaq will be back in the mix, too.

Some Cleveland fans would like to see more Jamario, others would like to see more Boobie, and everyone would like to see something fresh when the Cavs fall into their bad habits of casually playing down to the level of their opponents.

But barring any further injuries, it’s unlikely that Coach Brown will expand his rotation in the run-up to the playoffs . . . at least for any real minutes.  His priorities are now on  setting the playoff rotations and getting those players going.  And Jamario and Boobie aren’t in line to play much in the playoffs.

The playoff rotation will be eight, or maybe nine players, max:  (1) LeBron, (2) Mo, (3) Jamison, (4) Varejao, (5) Delonte, (6) Anthony Parker, (7) Hickson, (8) Z, and (9) Shaq (and until Shaq is back, they might have Leon Powe in for his center-playing abilities).

So, that means the cheerleaders will be Jamario, Boobie, Jawad, Danny, and Sebastian.

OK.

Since that’s how it looks like it’s going to be, I have a special request for Jamario.  I’d like him to spend some of his time on the bench dreaming up more inside jokes and cheers for Cavs players and fans.

Everyone loves the overly complicated handshakes and the Gooseneck, which Jamario apparently started.  Now, let’s usher in something new for this year’s playoffs.  And as you may have guessed, I have a suggestion.  It needs a little work . . . hopefully by Jamario himself . . . but the framework is there.

I call it . . . the Double Gooseneck.  Or Goosey Times Two.  Or Goosey2x.

It’s like the Gooseneck, hence the similar name, only instead of a one-handed, cocked follow-through . . . it’s a two-handed Goosey follow-through.

Here are a few examples:

First, it looks like Barack Obama is doing a “Double Gooseneck,” here.

 

And here’s some cute little kid doing the “Goosey Times Two” to perfection!

 

 

 

And finally, here’s the hand signal for the “Double Gooseneck”:

 

Thoughts?

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