Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Tale of Two Larrys

Last night's loss to the Spurs was a rough one; and it shows how much this team depends on Anderson Varejao for defensive tenacity. He actually has the ability to bother Tim Duncan (which Drew Gooden does not) and helps free up other guys to rotate on the perimeter. But, when Manu gets hot, Manu gets hot.

What I really want to talk about is the resurgence of Larry Hughes in the last two games. I'm still skeptical, given that I was one of the fools who picked up Larry on my fantasy team after his 36 point game against Indiana earlier this year, only to have him go a dominant 4-15 in the next game. Larry is just in a zone right now where he's making some outside shots, and that's nice to see. It's always good to have someone besides LeBron shooting well. What I like about Larry's current resurgence, though, is that he's finally seemed to recognize what his game is: an inside-out game. Larry, to put it bluntly, is 100 times the player when he is using his inside game (namely his ability to get to the hoop and draw contact) to set up his outside game (mostly rhythm jumpers). He's not good when he plays outside-in because he's not normally a great shooter.

The thing that has always made Larry and the Cavs an odd fit is that Larry has of late (by which I mean post-injury in 2005) tried to model his game after Ray Allen and Michael Redd, the two players the Cavs were also looking at in the 2005 offseason. Which is not something I think the Cavs, or LeBron, really want him to do. One of the things that's quite striking about Larry is that he's actually better when LeBron is playing the point. If you look at his first 28 games as a Cav back in 2005, before the injury, LeBron was doing most of the ballhandling (occasionally Eric Snow did) and Larry was free to roam around and play off the ball. That's what happened the last few nights -- LeBron started taking over the point once Larry got hot and ultimately ended up distributing the ball to Larry.

What's the point? Well, for now, it may be that the Cavs are really best off with LeBron running the point and Larry playing off the ball (at least until Larry's current hot streak subsides). It's been fun to watch the last games and see what it's like when the Cavs have a legit second option. I'd still like to see us trade expirings for, say, Redd, a big man, or a PG this offseason (and figure that LeBron will start planning his exit strategy if Ferry messes this up) but for the time being, I think the Cavs need to do whatever they can to keep Larry in the zone (who ever thought I would say that?)

The other thing to note is probably my favorite thing about the Cavs: as Dan Labbe of the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out today, nobody gives them a chance except Cavs fans. When we get Andy and Boobie back, and if we can make one of these rumored Jarrett Jack or Kyle Lowry trades, that'll be, I think, enough for this postseason. Then, I think it's go time -- with 35 M in expirings, Ferry really will be under the gun to re-sign Andy and Boobie and then make a splash. I'll have my fingers crossed.

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