The Potential Impact of Big Z’s Injury

Zydrunas Ilgauskas injured his left ankleThe left ankle injury that Zydrunas Ilgauskas suffered versus Philadelphia on December 10 when he landed on former Cav Donyell Marshall’s foot was originally diagnosed as a sprain but further tests have revealed that he actually has a small fracture in the talus bone. The good news is that overall his foot—which had to be reconstructed with pins and screws earlier in his career—is solid structurally but the bad news is that he is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks.

Assuming that the Cavs will be conservative in light of his previous injury history and that they most likely would bring him back in a home game, if there are not further complications then perhaps Ilgauskas will return versus Toronto on February 3. If that is the case, then he will miss 14 games (in addition to the four games that he has already sat out, three right after the injury happened plus Friday’s 117-92 win over Chicago). What impact will this have on the Cavaliers?

Don’t be misled by Cleveland’s 3-1 record without Ilgauskas this season; all three of those victories came against sub-.500 teams and, in any case, it is much more difficult to survive without a key rotation player for several weeks than it is to do so for a handful of games. Also, do not be fooled by the fact that the Cavs went 5-1 from December 19-30 while playing with a clearly hobbled Ilgauskas; not only were two of those wins versus Oklahoma City and Washington but even though Ilgauskas was obviously struggling he still played his regular minutes, which meant that there were no disruptions to the normal player rotation.

Anderson VarejaoNow, Anderson Varejao will move to the starting lineup and the Cavs will either have to increase the minutes played by Varejao and/or Ben Wallace or else rely more heavily on players who have been playing fewer than 10 mpg (J.J. Hickson, Darnell Jackson and Lorenzen Wright). It is also possible that in certain matchups Coach Mike Brown will go “small” and put LeBron James at power forward, though I use the term “small” advisedly since James is essentially the same size that Karl Malone was during his prime.

When a starting player for a good team goes down in the NBA the problem is not just with replacing him but also with replacing his replacement; Varejao can be an effective starting center in a pinch but who among the bench players will fill Varejao’s old role? Prior to Ilgauskas’ injury, the Cavs employed one of the best rotations of three “bigs” in the NBA; fans—and even some commentators—do not seem to fully appreciate just how effective Ilgauskas, Varejao and Wallace have been this season, particularly in terms of defense and rebounding.

They each average between 25 and 26 mpg and they each average exactly 7.1 rpg. The individual numbers are not eye-popping only because of how evenly the minutes are distributed; each of the big men is averaging around 10 rpg per 36 minutes and that is why Cleveland ranks third in the NBA in rebounding differential.

Wallace (1.7 bpg) and Ilgauskas (1.3 bpg) are Cleveland’s primary shotblockers, while Varejao is a tenacious and versatile defender who draws charges and frustrates opponents with his physicality and high energy.

With those three players shutting down the paint, the Cavs rank first in point differential, first in points allowed, second in defensive field goal percentage and fourth in blocked shots. Having three big guys who are so good at protecting the paint enables the perimeter defenders to aggressively go for steals because they know that the help defense behind them is so solid; the Cavs rank seventh in steals.

The long armed, 7-3 Ilgauskas is the only legit seven footer on the roster and the Cavs will miss that size and length at both ends of the court; in addition to his defensive contributions, Ilgauskas is a very good offensive rebounder and he is the team’s best low post scoring threat.

Unlike Varejao and Wallace, Ilgauskas is also a deadly outside shooter who can spread the court after running a screen/roll action with LeBron James or Mo Williams.

Ilgauskas’ absence during the next month or so could have critical playoff implications because the Cavs are not only battling the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference but they also only have a slim lead over the Orlando Magic for the third seed.

Last season, the Celtics demonstrated the value of home court advantage during their title run; the L.A. Lakers have openly spoken about wanting to have the best record in the league this season and that is also a goal that the Cavs should have in mind.

Nine of Cleveland’s next 14 games are on the road—including visits to the Magic and the West-leading Lakers—so this promised to be a tough stretch for the Cavs even if they had been at full strength. The Cavs only lost five of their first 32 games but it is very possible that they will add five more losses to that total before Ilgauskas returns.

One possible silver lining in this situation is that if the Cavs manage to stay ahead of Orlando and in contact with Boston then the extra minutes played by young Hickson could help prepare him to be a contributor down the stretch of the season and during the playoffs. On the other hand, an injury now to Varejao or Wallace would really be damaging to the Cavs.

Cavaliers make it 17 at Home with win over Bulls

James’ triple-double leads Cavs in rout of Bulls

LeBron James notched a triple-double with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, as the Cleveland Cavaliers clobbered the Chicago Bulls, 117-92.

Anderson Varejao totaled a career-high 26 points and eight boards for the Cavaliers, who are 17-0 this season at Quicken Loans Arena, the only unbeaten team in the NBA at home. Delonte West chipped in 14 points, while Ben Wallace, Aleksandar Pavlovic and J.J. Hickson each scored 13.


Cavs put perfect home record on the line vs. Bulls

The Cleveland Cavaliers are right where they want to be as they return home Friday with hopes of getting back on the winning track versus the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavaliers had a six-game winning streak come to an end with Tuesday’s 104-95 loss to the Miami Heat in the back end of a home-and-home series in South Beach. LeBron James had a 38-point effort on his 24th birthday for the Cavs, who got 20 points from Delonte West.

Mo Williams had 10 points and five assists in the loss.

Cleveland will now put its 16-0 home record on the line tonight against a Bulls team that has dropped seven of eight on the road. The Cavaliers are the only unbeaten team in the NBA at home.

Chicago has lost four of its last five games overall and suffered a 113-94 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic on Wednesday at the United Center. Joakim Noah had 19 points and 11 rebounds to pace Chicago. Ben Gordon was the highest scorer for the Bulls with 18 points, as Bulls watched their five-game home winning streak come to an end.


Ilgauskas likely out for Month

Ilgauskas originally hurt his ankle Dec. 10 in Philadelphia when he landed on former teammate Donyell Marshall’s foot attempting to block a shot. He missed three games and returned to score 23 points Dec. 19 in Denver, making it appear as if it wasn’t serious.

But the morning after the game, he started to feel soreness and his recovery soon stalled. It showed on the court as he struggled to rebound and move. The Cavs attempted to deal with the injury by holding him out of practices but it wasn’t healing as a normal sprain should.

It convinced him to get it rechecked and the bone chip was discovered. The positive news for the team was the injury does not affect his foot, which was rebuilt nearly eight years ago after multiple breaks.

“One thing we don’t want to do is rush it,” Ilgauskas said. “We’ll take it weekly and see how it goes. We really don’t know.”


Barkley arrested on suspicion of Drunken Driving

Charles Barkley was arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving early Wednesday morning.

An officer with a law enforcement task force that targets drunken driving saw the former NBA star run a stop sign around 1:30 a.m., said Gilbert police Lt. Eric Shuhandler.

Barkley declined to submit to a breath test but was given a blood test. The results weren’t immediately available.

West is Cavaliers Best

Delonte West CavaliersDelonte West might not be getting enough credit for the Cavaliers success. Other than Lebron James Mo Williams has been getting much of the attention to the Cavaliers amazing run so far this season. Not to take anything away from Mo, but Delonte West has been the Cavs’ best backcourt defender and has the team’s third-best plus/minus differential, according to

Mo Williams has been referred to as the “Robin” to “Batman”  but according to, Lebron James and Delonte West are the entire League’s best player pair.

West has been playing close to 34 min per game and averaging 12 points per games. He is averaging more steals than turnovers per game and is almost shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line.

In the last five games, West averaged 15.8 points and almost five assists. He committed only four turnovers and had eleven steals, four steals in the Cavs last win against Miami.

With these kind of numbers,  look for him to get plenty of looks with most defensives focusing on both Lebron James and Mo Williams.

Source: ESPN – Player Rater: Seth Landman discusses the emergence of Delonte West.

Lebron James was named ECF player of the week

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 22, through Sunday, Dec. 28.

Lebron led the Cavaliers to a 3-0 record with wins over the Rockets, Wizards, and Heat. He averaged 26.0 points on 53 percent shooting, while adding 6.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists, as Cleveland improved to 26-4, the best start in franchise history. He finished with 27 points, including 19 in the second half, as Cleveland rallied to defeat Houston. He tallied 11 fourth-quarter points and finished with 33 points and nine assists in a comeback win over Miami.

Where In The World is Damon Jones?

Damon JonesDamon Jones is expected to join the Bucks and help the team in their pursute for a Playoffs spot in the Eastern conference.

Damon Jones did not report to the team since the three-team trade that brought Mo Williams to Cleveland and sent point guard Luke Ridnour to Milwaukee from Oklahoma City.

Damon’s agent Mark Termini and Bucks management tried to find other trade possibilities and find another home for Damon.

“I know Damon is a high-level NBA shooter,” coach Scott Skiles said after his team’s practice at the Cousins Center. “That’s where he has kind of made his mark. We’ll see. I don’t have a closed mind about anything.

Damon Jones played for 10 National Basketball Association teams during his 11-year career. Jones played three seasons with the Cavaliers, his longest stop with any NBA team.

by mutual agreement while agent Mark Termini and Bucks management pursued other options.

With any trade possibilities limited at the moment, Jones will join the Bucks to see whether he can contribute to a team that is hoping to make a run at an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

“He’s a great teammate,” Redd said. “I played well with him. He knocked down threes with Cleveland and Miami, and with us when he was here.

“He helped me out tremendously when he was here. That was my first year starting. He helped me through the games and put me in positions to be successful. We talked a lot.

“We wanted to win so bad, and we played hard for coach (Terry) Porter. Desmond Mason was on that team; Joe Smith was on that team. Keith Van Horn was on that team, and we all got along.”