Lebron to be named the MVP

Lebron James will be named the MVP player this afternoon, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

James has chosen to have the announcement at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. All his Cavs teammates are expected to be there as well as representatives from Kia, which will give him a new car as part of the honor. The Cavaliers called a news conference for 4 p.m. ET but didn’t specify the nature of the event.

Lebron will be the first Cavaliers to win this honor. Lebron averaged 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists during the regular season and the Cavaliers won a team-record 66 games and earned the top overall seed in the playoffs. Two weeks ago, Mike Brown was named the NBA coach of the year.

“Having the honor given to him in the gym at SVSM was James’ personal choice. It is a special place for him. His retired No. 23 jersey is on the wall and three state championship banners he won with the Fighting Irish hang in the rafters. When he made the annoucement he was turning pro it was in the gym and he’s had many photo shoots and filmed many commercials there as well. His first Sports Illustrated cover was shot there and he recently filmed a “60 Minutes” interview there. Still a resident of Akron, it is another sign of how loyal James is to his Akron roots.” Brian Windhorst said.

Watch ESPN interview with Brian Windhorst who broke the story.

Cavs’ Defense and Depth Will be Too Much for Hawks

Sweeping the Detroit Pistons earned the Cleveland Cavaliers more than a week to rest their bodies and prepare their minds for the second round. The Atlanta Hawks beat the visiting Miami Heat 91-78 in game seven on Sunday and will face the Cavs in the Eastern Conference semifinals, which will start Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The Hawks have steadily improved from 13 wins in Coach Mike Woodson’s first season (2004-05) to 26, 30, 37 and 47 wins in the past four years. Uninformed fans (and media members) often urged the Hawks to fire Woodson early during his tenure in Atlanta but the Hawks stayed the course and Woodson has done an excellent job of developing his young roster. Last year, they pushed the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round and this year they made it out of the first round for the first time since 1999, when former Cavs Coach Lenny Wilkens guided Steve Smith, Mookie Blaylock, Dikembe Mutombo and company to the Eastern Conference semifinals in the lockout shortened season.

The Hawks’ success in the past two seasons has surely made them a more confident team and it is also evident that they have increased their poise and defensive intensity, though they still are prone to having lapses in both of those areas from time to time, especially on the road. Atlanta’s best player is three-time All-Star Joe Johnson, a versatile shooting guard who led the Hawks with 21.4 ppg and 5.8 apg this season. Johnson is very durable, playing in all 82 games in five of his eight seasons and leading the NBA in total minutes played in 2003-04; he has logged more than 3000 minutes in five seasons, including 2008-09. However, contrary to what you may have read in the Plain Dealer, Johnson neither played for Team USA last summer nor did he lead the NBA in minutes played this season (he ranked second in total minutes with 3124 and third in minutes played per game with 39.5). The Heat focused a lot of their defensive effort on slowing Johnson down and he only averaged 17.1 ppg and 3.1 apg in the first round, though he outplayed 2009 NBA scoring champion Dwyane Wade in game seven, producing 27 points on 10-19 shooting and contributing five rebounds, four assists and five steals while committing just one turnover (Wade scored 31 points but shot just 10-25 and only had three rebounds, four assists and one steal while committing four turnovers).

Clearly, containing Johnson will be a focal point for the Cavs but the Cavs are very well equipped to do so: Delonte West is an underrated defender who will draw the primary assignment versus Johnson, while LeBron James will likely be called upon to match up with Johnson in certain situations. Johnson averaged just 16.5 ppg versus Cleveland as the Cavs won three of four regular season games versus Atlanta.

Veteran point guard Mike Bibby and athletic forward Josh Smith are the Hawks’ next two most valuable players. Bibby is very similar to Mo Williams, though Williams is younger and quicker; both players nominally play the point guard position and are capable of creating plays for others but primarily serve as shooters/scorers. Bibby was Atlanta’s most consistent performer in the first round, averaging 14.9 ppg while shooting .473 from the field, .533 from three point range and .947 from the free throw line, much better than Johnson performed in all three categories (.415, .435 and .629 respectively). Smith is a 6-9 pogo stick who blocked at least 200 shots for three straight seasons, though he only had 111 rejections in 2008-09; he can score, rebound, defend and even pass a little but he has no outside shot and is prone to bouts of immaturity, both in terms of his shot selection and his overall game to game focus. Some people use the excuse that Smith is young but Smith is only one year younger and one year less experienced than LeBron James. As Cavs fans well know, James has improved his defense, free throw shooting, three point shooting and overall game—but Smith’s game has changed very little since he entered the league and in some ways he actually has regressed in the past couple years. Smith will have a few fast break dunks and weakside blocked shots in this series but overall he will be very frustrated playing against a tough, defensive-minded Cavs team that held him to 9.7 ppg in three games this season, his second lowest scoring average against any NBA team in 2009.

The Hawks thrive in the open court but despite the skills of Johnson and Bibby their half court offense is erratic and rightly received heavy condemnation during the first round from TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. The Hawks’ athleticism gave the Celtics problems in the first round in 2008—at least in Atlanta—but with LeBron James, Delonte West, Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao the Cavs not only have no reason to fear playing in the open court but they also have the ability to execute very effectively in the half court, thus limiting Atlanta’s opportunities to get out and run. The Hawks have a solid eight man playoff rotation when they are healthy but Al Horford is banged up and Marvin Williams missed four games in the first round and his status is uncertain.

LeBron James’ greatness is so obvious at this point that even the most casual observer—other than maybe Skip Bayless—recognizes how special he is, even if it takes an educated eye to fully appreciate some of the subtle ways in which he has improved, particularly in the past year. The Cavs are finally getting some recognition for their great defense, although most commentators are about two years behind in figuring out just how good of a job Coach Mike Brown has done in transforming the Cavs into a defensive-minded team; I had to laugh when I heard Mike Wilbon say to James during ESPN’s Sunday Conversation that no one thought that the Cavs were going to make it to the 2007 Finals: at least one writer understood the value of defense and predicted before the 2007 playoffs that the Spurs would beat the Cavs in the Finals. The aspect of this year’s Cleveland team that has yet to be fully appreciated in many quarters is just how balanced and deep the Cavs’ roster is. The Cavs legitimately have at least 10 players who could competently play 15 minutes in a game if necessary and, just as importantly, that depth is well distributed at most positions: the frontcourt rotation of bigs includes Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Ben Wallace, Joe Smith and Darnell Jackson, while the backcourt rotation has Mo Williams, Delonte West, Daniel Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic. Wally Szczerbiak can play shooting guard or small forward depending on matchups. With the obvious exception of James, the Cavs can withstand an injury to virtually any other player; Williams’ shooting/speed and Varejao’s mobility/toughness/screen setting would probably be the toughest commodities to replace but the Cavs could plug in other players, adjust the game plan to fit their skill sets and still be very, very tough. I have mentioned this in a few recent articles but it bears repeating here: the Lakers are the number one seeded team in the West and many people (erroneously) call them the deepest team in the NBA but their sixth man—based on minutes played in the first round—is Shannon Brown, who was 13th in playoff minutes played on the Cavs team that made it to the Finals in 2007. If Brown were currently a Cav he likely would not be getting any playing time at all, which is after all why the Cavs were willing to part ways with him in the first place.

James’ brilliance plus Cleveland’s defense, rebounding and depth will be far too much for the Hawks to handle in this series.

Playoffs roundup: Another Classic Night

Bulls force game 7 with triple over
Celtics 127 at Bulls 128
One more overtime thriller has the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics headed for a Game 7 (Saturday 8pm on TNT). Derrick Rose scored 28 points and blocked Rajon Rondo’s potential game-winner, John Salmons scored 35, and the Bulls beat the defending champions 128-127 in triple overtime Thursday night to even the first-round series. Ray Allen scored a career playoff-high 51 points for the Celtics, but it’s back to Boston for Game 7 on Saturday night after another instant classic in a series that had already seen its share of drama.

“I don’t know if this is the greatest NBA series of all time, but it’s the greatest something. At what point do you bronze these games and put them on eBay? Thursday night it was a 128-127 Bulls win in triple overtime at the United Center. Game 6 was so intense, so compelling and so exhausting that the crowd of 23,430 needed a post-victory IV transfusion — and they only watched.”  Gene Wojciechowski said on ESPN Daily Dime

Rockets finish off Blazers, reach second round
Trail Blazers 76 at Rockets 92
The Houston Rockets finally advanced in the NBA playoffs. Ron Artest scored 27 points, Yao Ming had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Houston reached the second round for the first time since 1997, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 92-76 in Game 6 on Thursday night. The Rockets drafted Yao with the top overall pick in 2002, and he’s played on three of the teams that lost in the opening round. He broke his foot late last season and watched from the bench as the Rockets lost again.

Magic didn’t need Superman to finish off Sixers in Game 6
Magic 114 at 76ers 89
On a night the suspended Howard recorded a double-double in blog and Twitter posts from his hotel room, the Magic advanced to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 114-89 in Game 6 on Thursday. He wrote on a postgame blog, “im soo proud man. yall have no clue.

Playoff roundup: Celtics overcome Bulls in another OT thriller

Celtics overcome Bulls in another OT thriller
Bulls 104 at Celtics 106

Kevin Garnett was in street clothes. Ray Allen fouled out. The Boston Celtics’ Big Three was down to one, and Paul Pierce was ready. The MVP of last year’s NBA finals scored 26 points, hitting one jumper to tie the game at the end of regulation and three more in the final 77 seconds of overtime on Tuesday night to help the Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 106-104 and take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series. “I just thought when Ray fouled out it was time for me to really step up,” said Pierce, who scored 12 points in the 10 minutes after Allen left the game.

Howard, Magic outmuscle Sixers in Game 5
76ers 78 at Magic 91
Dwight Howard did so much damage to the Philadelphia 76ers he set off a coaching feud. Howard had 24 points and a career playoff-high 24 rebounds, a dominating performance that powered the Magic to a 91-78 victory over the Sixers on Tuesday night and gave Orlando a 3-2 series lead. Afterward, Philadelphia coach Tony DiLeo said Howard should have been called for 3 seconds in the lane several times and asked the league to look into an elbow from Howard on Samuel Dalembert.

Mavericks finish off Spurs in Game 5
Mavericks 106 at Spurs 93

Jason Terry galloped down court after one big shot and Josh Howard skipped along the sideline after another. For what the Dallas Mavericks were about to pull off, they might as well have danced. For the first time since 2006, the Mavericks are moving past the first round. And for the first time since 2000, the San Antonio Spurs are not. Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points in his first breakout game of a lopsided series, and the Mavericks won a playoff series for the first time in three years by eliminating the Spurs in five games with a 106-93 victory on Tuesday night.

Top NBA Apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch

While waiting for Atlanta and Miami to finish their business, and watching the never ending Chicago-Celtics games, I thought this is a good time to stop at the Apple App store in iTunes and see what type of basketball related apps are worth downloading.

A quick basketball search in iTunes returned more Apps than I expected. In this post, I am only going to talk about Apps that I tried in my iPhone.

NBA Game Time (Free): This is a must have app for NBA fans. It is the official live app from the NBA. Right before the playoffs started, they released an update geared toward the playoffs. The App is simple and direct. It provides scores, standing, schedule includes TV schedule for each game, regular season standing, and playoffs brackets. The app lacks news, stats (other than current game box score) and schedule by team.


NBA Mini-Bobble ($.99): If you love bobbleheads then you might like this app. You can have your favorite player in the palm of your hand. You can shake, tilt, or rotate your iPhone and watch your favorite player go. It can get boring very fast and not sure if it is worth the $.99. However, as an added bonus, anyone who buys a bobblehead can click on a link and get 10 percent off merchandise of that player from NBAStore.com. The NBA says that sales of LeBron’s virtual bobblehead are slightly outpacing the virtual bobblehead of Kobe Bryant.NBA Bobble head iPhone App

Flick NBA Basketball ($4.99): This app was just released by Freeverse Software. The app features five individual events starring real NBA players, one from each of the league’s 30 teams: everyone from the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and many others.

The five events include Three Point Shootout, Hotshot Arcade, Long Shot Challenge, H.O.R.S.E. and a “Ball Spin” mini-game in which you swipe and keep the ball going while tilting to maintain balance.


sportacularSportacular (Free): This is probably one of the best sports app out there. The app provides up-to-the-minute scores, standing, stats, news for pro and college sports. Sports include: NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, MLS, NCAAFB, NCAABB (men and women). This application is a must have for the sports fan.

The information is simple to access and it’s a very easy transition from one sport to another. You can also customize your settings a number of ways. You may wish to follow a single player or a team. By personalizing your settings you can quickly pull up information on your favorites.

Fantasy sports junkies can follow the stats of their favorite athlete. You can also find the line on every game as well as the over/under for those of you who like to place a wager.


originaliSports (Free): iSports delivers near real-time sports scores and news, the best graphical sports experience in mobile. The application covers all major sports in the U.S. The interface is smooth and easy to use, and the score ticker at the bottom is nice for quick reference. The whole application has a nice gloss, but at times is a little overwhelming. It was my favorite until the company released its version 2 update which seems to be slow and crash often.

Did you try any of these apps? Do you know of an app that I didn’t cover here and is worth the try? Please let us know your experience iPhone sports apps.

Playoffs roundup: Lakers finish off Jazz

Hawks take down Heat to even series 2-2
Hawks 81 at Heat 71

That notion suggesting the Atlanta Hawks cannot win on the road at playoff time? Forget it. var pollWidth=250; The Hawks put that one to rest – saving their season as well. Zaza Pachulia – with a black right eye for his trouble – finished with 12 points and 18 rebounds, and Atlanta raced out to a huge first-half lead and frustrated Dwyane Wade endlessly in beating the Miami Heat 81-71 Monday night, tying the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at two games apiece.

Nuggets tie playoff mark in Game 4 rout of Hornets, take 3-1 lead
Nuggets 121 at Hornets 63

George Karl scanned two decades of NBA coaching memories and failed to find an instance when one of his teams played as well, from start to finish, as his Denver Nuggets did in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against New Orleans. But then, no one has seen a playoff whipping as bad as the Nuggets put on the Hornets in more than half a century. Carmelo Anthony scored all of his 26 points in the first three quarters, and Denver thoroughly dismantled New Orleans 121-63 on Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Lakers finish off Jazz in Game 5
Jazz 96 at Lakers 107

The 3-pointers, slam dunks and Kobe Bryant’s fadeaway jumper as he fell on his backside were all impressive. The Los Angeles Lakers letting the Utah Jazz shave a 22-point lead all the way down to six wasn’t quite as cool. Bryant and the Lakers are moving on in the NBA playoffs – as if that was really in doubt. It’s just that even as they ran away from the Jazz 107-96 on Monday night, they still left some questions about their defense. With Bryant scoring 31 points and Lamar Odom adding 26 points and 15 rebounds, the Lakers finished the opening-round series in five games to earn a few days rest.

Playoffs roundup: Cavaliers Sweep the Pistons

LeBron, Cavaliers complete sweep of Pistons
Cavaliers 99 at Pistons 78

LeBron James made 3-pointers from every angle, drove into the lane for dunks and leaned into low post moves. He was just getting warmed up – 2 hours before tipoff – and his regular routine provided another demonstration of greatness. James had 36 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 99-78 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, sweeping the Eastern Conference first-round series.

It was just the third time in NBA history a team has swept a first-round series by winning every game by double figures, the others being the 1980 Boston Celtics and 2004 Indiana Pacers.

The Cavaliers will now wait for the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-Miami Heat series, which the Heat lead, 2-1, heading into Monday night’s Game 4 in Miami.

Bulls beat Celtics to tie series in double OT
Celtics 118 at Bulls 121

Another playoff thriller between Chicago and Boston, and this one went to the Bulls. Ben Gordon scored 22 points, hitting the tying 3-pointer in the first overtime, and the Bulls beat the Celtics 121-118 in double overtime Sunday to tie their first-round series at two games apiece. The teams split two tight games in Boston, before the Celtics blew out the Bulls in Game 3. This time, they stretched the drama into a second overtime. Derrick Rose added 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

[youtube width=”400″ height=”243″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkyA-pUtnmA[/youtube]

Turkoglu’s three put Magic on top to tie series 2-2
Magic 84 at 76ers 81

Hedo Turkoglu answered the Philadelphia 76ers’ late-game heroics with a big shot of his own. Turkoglu nailed a 3-pointer over Thaddeus Young with 1.1 seconds to lift the Orlando Magic to an 84-81 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, evening their Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece. Dwight Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds, and every Magic starter scored in double figures. Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis each scored 17. Andre Miller led the Sixers with 17 and Young had 15.

Rockets down blazer to take 3-1 lead.
Trail Blazers 88 at Rockets 89

Yao Ming would rather not think about how close the Houston Rockets are to finally escaping the first round of the playoffs. Yao had 21 points and 12 rebounds and the Rockets took a 3-1 lead in their playoff series with Portland, beating the Trail Blazers 89-88 on Sunday night. Luis Scola scored 17 points and Shane Battier added 14 points and six assists for the Rockets, who snapped a six-game losing streak in Game 4s, coinciding with their 0-6 record in first-round series since 1998.

Bring out the brooms

Ok,so when your entire starting backcourt (Mo Williams, Delonte West) goes 1-18, scores 4 points combined and you still win by 11 points what do you think will happen when they pour in 36 (Mo 24, Delonte 12)? Answer- a 21 point 99-78 victory to complete the clean sweep of the Detroit Pistons. Yet another testament to coach Mike Brown and his diligent work because he had the Cavaliers fine tuned and ready to perform Sunday afternoon.

Though the box score shows an impressive 21 point margin of victory, the entire game had the feel of a 40 point beat down. Kobe Bryant should be watching his clock and counting down the seconds left because LeBron James is closing in on,if he’s not already there, the title of the NBA’s best player.

James torched Detroit with 36 points 13 rebounds and 8 assists. “You’re only born with a certain amount of gifts,” he said. “You have to take advantage of them, and put in the work. My work ethic has helped me be the player I am today.”

He was hitting 3’s from all over the floor, driving the lane for dunks, and barely missed hitting his head on the rim when he skied for a swat that sent the ball in the second row. Plus today it wasn’t only James making noise, the Cavalier starters went from 49 points last game to 86.

This win puts the Cavs in pretty good company being only the third team in NBA history to sweep a series and have double digit victories in all four games(1980 Celtics 2004 Pacers). Cleveland now gets to sit back and play spectator as they await their round two opponent in either Atlanta or Miami.