Monday, November 22, 2004

My NY State of Mind

New York -- May I say, with apologies to Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel and the like, that I really don't care for NYC. Somewhere between paying an international-level tariff to cross the Hudson and having my cabbie stop and sell a cell phone left his his cab to some wacko on the street, I was in my usual NY bad mood Sunday. And that was before by $20 roast beef sandwich for lunch.

It seemed it carried over to the Cavaliers, too, as they were lethargic in losing to the Knicks, 98-88. It broke the club's six-game winning streak. There's no real harm in such a loss, going on the road on the second game of a back-to-back is going to produce such results.

However, this is the type of game the Cavaliers are eventually going to have to win. They've already made great strides this season in beating the teams they need to beat. Getting victories over Golden State. Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington may seem routine because the Cavaliers are better, but they lost to a whole bunch of teams they were better than at the start of last season. That overtime victory over Phoenix also showed they could finish what they'd started in the late comeback.

These are growth points for this still young team. Another level -- the level of being not just a winning team but a dominant one -- is to find a way to gut out wins when things aren't going your way or you're tired. The Cavs were down just two points going into the fourth quarter Sunday night but couldn't get the job done.

Not the end of the world, no, but far from the end of this team's maturation.

--I attended the David Stern press conference at Madison Square Garden before the game. Never have I seen the man more serious. The player's association can fight these suspensions, but I don't see Stern budging an inch.
--For more on the brawl as I saw it, check out my Sunday column.
--Like the Miami Heat before them, the Knicks used sagging zones and extra man-to-man defenders to deny LeBron James Sunday and it worked. Look for this strategy to be employed again and see how James handles it.