Cavaliers Wary of Rest Turning to Rust
Posted May 2 2007 6:20PM
CLEVELAND, May 2 (AP) -- He won't bust out a bucket and hose to wash any of his fleet of vehicles and he doesn't mow the lawn, either. With no meaningful games to play for a few days, LeBron James will find other ways to pass his time.
Like walking his dog.
"His name is King,'' James said. "It's a Cane Corso, an Italian Mastiff. Big as you.''
Now there's a sight: King James walking the King.
Hey, a guy's gotta stay busy somehow.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in watch-and-wait mode. After an historic four-game sweep of the undermanned Washington Wizards in the opening round of the NBA playoffs, the Cavs don't know their next opponent.
They are certain it will be the winner of the New Jersey-Toronto series, which will resume Friday night with the Nets holding a 3-2 lead over the Raptors.
"Hopefully Toronto will win again,'' James said with a smile, "and we'll get a little bit more rest.''
If the Nets win Friday, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals will be played Sunday at Cleveland. If the Raptors win again and force Game 7 on Sunday, the Cavaliers most likely will host Game 1 at home next Tuesday.
Either way, Cleveland's next opponent will have a one-day turnaround and travel compared to the R&R the Cavs are currently enjoying.
In the interim, they're making the most of the down time. It's a chance to get their bodies healed and to refocus their minds as they continue a postseason run that is off to the best start possible. Before brooming the Wizards aside, Cleveland had never before swept a series in its 37-year history.
On Wednesday, coach Mike Brown ran the team through a light practice, which ended with shooting drills and free throws.
"You sit out too long there's a chance you can get some rust,'' Brown said. "That's part of the reason we brought them in today, just to smell the gym and get a taste of it. With time off, especially this time of year, you never really know where that fine line is.''
Before leaving the floor, James and Drew Gooden cleared the entire ball rack by heaving length-of-the-court shots. None went in, but James grazed the rim on two attempts and blasted a spotlight hanging from the bottom of the giant scoreboard with another.
They've got more days to kill before they have to get serious again. Rest is important, but does there come a point when too much is harmful?
"There's nothing like playing in games,'' guard Larry Hughes said. "At this point in the year, two, three, four days (off) is OK. But you get longer than four days and it becomes kind of tough.''
Cleveland won the season against both New Jersey (2-1) and Toronto (3-1). But with their Big 3 of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, the Nets are loaded with talent and playoff experience.
The Raptors, too, could be dangerous. Although not playoff-tested, they are talented and hungry - much like the Cavs were a year ago.
Perhaps the best thing to come out of the Washington series was that Cleveland didn't have to rely on James to carry them. Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (19 points, 11 rebounds per game) and Gooden (14.5 points, 10 rebounds) stepped up as the team embraced its "Rise Up'' postseason motto.
"By no means are we a one-man show,'' Hughes said.
James averaged 27.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the four games. He appears fully healed from a sprained left ankle in Game 1, and was grateful for all the help against the Wizards.
"Any time I can get some help from my teammates, which they've been doing all year, it's going to be very tough to beat us,'' he said.
Whenever. Against whomever.
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