The Cleveland LeBrons Are Here

The King is in the building.

LeBron James is the only player in the NBA who makes his team a title contender all by himself. Before I get emails from the Kobe defenders, I agree that Bean24 is probably the most talented individual player in the world. But we already know that Kobe needs a supporting cast to get in to the playoffs, let alone win a title. With LeBron, up 'til now, we assume he's been carrying the Cavs, with a little help from Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and everyone else has been a mishmash of mediocre journeymen (Larry Hughes), competence (Anderson Varejao), and flashes in the pan (Daniel Gibson).

I suspect LeBron is this way because of his defense. Kobe is the best on-ball defender in the game, but only when he wants to be, and he simply doesn't bring it on every possession, preferring to save energy for that part of his game for crunch time. LeBron, though, plays defense the whole game. For the first few years of his career, he wasn't anything special on D, but now he plays with defensive effort for the whole game and puts his superior athleticism to use on both ends of the floor.

Moment to moment, Kobe is the best player in the world. Game to game, LeBron is the best player in the world.

===

Facial Hair

No, I don't have an oral fixation. There's a story behind this one. Ugly "goatee" not related to the story.

The Bobcats were outrebounded and they didn't get to the line like the Bucks did, leading to the loss.

Emeka continued his excellent play, with 19 points and 8 boards, 6 of them offensive. 3 turnovers is 3 too many, but he's quickly getting back to the 14/11 averages that have defined his career.

Gerald did what he could on defense, but I suspect he simply doesn't co-exist harmoniously with Richardson on offense. When Jason was out, Crash could be Crash. With Jason back, G-G-G-G-Gerald has to change his game attitude to accommodate the guy everyone else thinks has the role of primary offensive option. That means not as much slashing to the hoop, because the offense is designed to have the swingmen come off screens just beyond the elbow for open midrange jumpers. But Gerald wants to fly.

Jared Dudley deserves special mention for making the most of his playing time. 3 steals jumps out, but he was also 3-4 from the field and had 3 assists. Zero boards is odd, but nobody was rebounding for the Cats last night.

===

Tonight, the game hinges on whether or not the Bobcats' bench can step up and play with the Cavaliers' bench, and whether Larry Brown understands that putting Felton and Augustin out there at the same time will be disastrous against a team with shooters like Wally, Boobie, and Delonte (Note to self: FANTASTIC band name).

As the second half of a back to back, the Bobcats will be tired, and their bench has to play superior ball just to keep up with the more talented Cavs. Brown has kept Alexis Ajinca on the active roster the past few games, even though he's gotten DNP-CD the past three games. It would be best to send him to the D-League, but barring that he should be made inactive and Ryan Hollins activated for the Cavaliers game. Big Z, Ben Wallace, Varejao, and JJ Hickson make for an excellent rebounding front court, and that's before considering LeBron's role as a sometime power forward. Since Gerald and Jared will be matched up on LBJ the whole game, the Bobcats need as many bodies as they can get to play up front with Emeka. Sean May has been playing better of late, but can't be trusted for more than 15 minutes against Wallace. That means Dwayne Jones, Nazr Mohammed, and Hollins should be coming off the bench to do battle.

All that maneuvering will be for naught, though, if Augustin and Felton share the backcourt again. Wally is about Richardson's height. West is a little shorter, but at least 6-3. Either of those guys can shoot over Felton, and especially Augustin, with virtually no problem. We can't give the Cavaliers that kind of edge and expect to win.

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