Views From The 216 Part 2: Indians-Blue Jays ACLS Preview


Indians: ALDS: Swept Boston 3-0
Blue Jays: ALDS: Swept Texas 3-0

Season Series: Cleveland won 4-3
Game 1: Toronto at Cleveland Friday, October 14 at 8:00 p.m.
Game 2: Toronto at Cleveland Saturday, October 15 at 4:00 p.m.
Game 3: Cleveland at Toronto Monday, October 17 at 8:00 p.m.
Game 4: Cleveland at Toronto Tuesday, October 18 at 4:00 p.m.
Game 5: Cleveland at Toronto Wednesday, October 19 at 4:00 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6: Toronto at Cleveland Friday, October 21 at 8 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7: Toronto at Cleveland Saturday, October 22 (if necessary)

After a dominating sweep of the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians are back in the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2007. The Tribe open up the LCS against the hard hitting Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Progressive Field. Cleveland came into the American League Division Series as underdogs to a Boston team that led the league in runs scored during the regular season, but that didn’t seem to matter to the Indians. Cleveland’s pitching rotation shut down the explosive Red Sox allowing only 7 hits from Boston’s “Big 4,” (David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and Hanley Ramirez). Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin stepped up with big performances in Games 1 and 3, while Corey Kluber pitched like the ace he is after battling a mild quad strain during the final week of the regular season.

The crowd at Progressive Field stands for Game 1 of the ALDS on October 6. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

The crowd at Progressive Field stands for Game 1 of the ALDS on October 6. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

Cleveland’s bullpen proved to be crucial in Game 1 after manager Terry Francona made the brilliant decision to go to both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen early to carry the team to a win. The Tribe’s pen stepped up once again and weathered the storm of a late offensive attack by Boston in Game 3 to punch their ticket to the ALCS. On the offensive side of the diamond, the Indians were carried by the bottom half of their order throughout the series. Roberto Perez, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Coco Crisp all hit home runs while solidifying the theme of this year’s team: any player can step up on any given night. The Indians will once again have their hands full with another top offensive team in the Blue Jays. Toronto is peaking at the right time and if any pitching staff could answer the call it would be Cleveland’s dominate staff.

Key Matchup

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista takes a swing against the Baltimore Orioles on April 24, 2012. Photo Credit-Keith Allison

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista takes a swing against the Baltimore Orioles on April 24, 2012. Photo Credit-Keith Allison

The matchup to watch for in this series is between Cleveland’s bullpen and Toronto’s sluggers. The heart of the Blue Jays batting order features reigning American League MVP, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista. All three players have been on a tear so far this postseason and they look to keep their hot streak alive against the Indians. Encarnacion was the hero of Toronto’s Wild Card win against the Baltimore Orioles with a three-run walk off homer. He went on to hit two more home runs in the ALDS and has a .375 batting average through four postseason games. Donaldson leads Toronto with a .500 batting average and five doubles including the one that put him on base to scoring the series clinching run against the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the ALDS. Joey Bats rounds out Toronto’s powerful trio with two home runs and 5 RBI’s.

Cleveland has a tough challenge ahead, but they have the pitching staff to counter the Blue Jays potent offense. Indians relievers Andrew Miller, Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen allowed just 2 runs in 10 and 1/3 innings against the Red Sox in the ALDS. Pitching has been the Tribe’s greatest strength this season, but with the injuries of starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar the importance of the bullpen has never been bigger. Francona’s decision to go to Miller and Allen early in Game 1 against Boston set the tone for the series. The Indians know they can get seven plus innings from Corey Kluber, but when Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin are on the mound the goal is to get at least five solid innings of pitching before the bullpen can come in to finish the game. This is exactly what the Tribe got in the ALDS and the goal remains the same against the Blue Jays. Sometimes the only way to fight fire is with fire and that is what the Indians will do in this series with their bullpen. The acquisition of Andrew Miller at the trade deadline solidified the Indians as championship contenders and since his debut he has been their biggest weapon. Miller shut down Boston’s high powered offense allowing just two hits with seven strike outs in four innings. I expect Miller to be the neutralizer once again against another offensive juggernaut.

Lansky’s Crazy Stat

This year’s ALCS matchup marks the second time a Cleveland team and a Toronto team have faced off in a league semi-final this year. The Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals in May. This is the first time NBA and MLB teams from the same city will meet in a league semifinal in the same year since 1969 when the LCS was established in baseball.


Indians pitcher, Andrew Miller. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

Indians pitcher, Andrew Miller. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

The Cleveland Indians will win the ALCS in six games. There will be no sweep this time as the Indians have a large task at hand against the Blue Jays. The Indians have had no problem producing runs so far this postseason thanks to contributions from the bottom half of their order. I expect sluggers Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana to join in on the scoring this series. Toronto has great starting rotation with Marco Estrada, J.A. Haap, and Marcus Stroman, but they lack the bullpen depth that Cleveland has. With the uncertainty of reliever, Francisco Liriano’s avabaility for the ALCS, the Blue Jays may rely heavily Jason Grilli and closer, Roberto Osuna, which can work to the Indians advantage. To me this series comes down to Toronto’s offense against Cleveland’s bullpen. If the Tribe’s relievers can successfully shutdown and contain the Blue Jays sluggers the Indians will have a great shot at reaching their first World Series since 1997.

2016 NBA Finals Preview: Cavs-Warriors

nba finals 2016Cavs: Eastern Conference Finals: Beat Toronto 4-2
Warriors: Western Conference Finals: Beat Oklahoma City 4-3

Season Series: Golden State won 2-0
Game 1: Cleveland at Golden State Thursday, June 2 at 9:00 p.m.
Game 2: Cleveland at Golden State Sunday, June 5 at 8:00 p.m.
Game 3: Golden State at Cleveland Wednesday, June 8 at 9:00 p.m.
Game 4: Golden State at Cleveland Friday, June 10 at 9:00 p.m.
Game 5: Cleveland at Golden State Monday, June 13 (if necessary)
Game 6: Golden State at Cleveland Thursday, June 16 (if necessary)
Game 7: Cleveland at Golden State Sunday, June 19 (if necessary)

Cavaliers forward, LeBron James during a break in Game 5 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

Tonight the NBA Finals rematch that has been a year in the making tips off, as the defending champion, Golden State Warriors host the Cleveland Cavaliers. After beginning the playoffs with a 10-0 start, the Cavs faced a little adversity in the Eastern Conference Finals by dropping two in a row in Toronto. Cleveland responded with a 38 point drubbing of the Raptors in Game 5 at the Q and a close out win in Game 6. The Warriors rallied from a 3-1 deficit against the Oklahoma City Thunder to advance to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. Last year, the Warriors beat a depleted Cavaliers team in 6 games. LeBron James was without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, but he still managed to have one of the greatest NBA Finals performances of all-time averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. This time King James has help as both Love and Irving are healthy and the Cavs bench is deeper. The key for the Cavaliers in this series is to play their own game and try to not replicate the Warriors playing style. The Cavs have already shown that they can hit the three ball at historic levels, but Golden State is still an elite shooting team. I expect the Cavs to not only contend with the Warriors from beyond the arc, but to also show that they can be just as dangerous when they attack the paint. LeBron James is playing in his sixth straight NBA Finals and he knows what the outcome of this series could do to his legacy. LeBron has played well throughout the playoffs, but you can tell that he has been conserving energy for this moment. I expect King James to have another historic series as he attempts to lead the Cavaliers to their first championship in franchise history.

Key Matchup

Cavaliers point guard, Kyrie Irving drives to the basket in Game 5 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. Photo Credit-Jeff Lansky

The matchup to watch for in this series is between point guards, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry. The two-time reigning NBA MVP, Curry battled injuries during the first two rounds of the playoffs, but he has shown up when it has mattered the most. He scored 31 and 36 points respectively in games 6 and 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Despite putting up big numbers, Curry is taking a lot of shots to get those points. In Game 6, he shot 9-22 on field goals, but he hit crucial baskets in the finals minutes of the game to give Golden State the win. Steph is still making the jaw dropping contested three pointers that he has become known for, but he is also missing shots that he should make, which shows that his knee is not at 100%. Kyrie Irving has continued to shine during the playoffs averaging 24.3 points on 48% shooting. Last year, “Uncle Drew” fractured his kneecap in Game 1 of the Finals and was  sidelined until December 20. This year he is healthy and ready for redemption. There were times during this season where Irving was criticized for playing a one on one type game. This type of game was what Kyrie was focussed on early in his career, but over the last few months that has changed as he is focused on the bigger picture. You cannot beat Stephen Curry one on one and Kyrie knows that. Irving has shown some bright spots on defense and he will have to be on top of his game against Curry. Kyrie Irving’s success against Steph Curry will be crucial to the Cavs title hopes.

Lansky’s Crazy Stat

The previous three teams to make it to back to back NBA Finals after losing the previous year have won. Those teams were the San Antonio Spurs (2014), Miami Heat (2012), and the Los Angeles Lakers (2009).

Bonus Stat

LeBron James will be making his sixth straight NBA Finals appearance. James Jones has also made the Finals for the sixth straight season, but he did not play a minute in 2011 Finals with the Miami Heat.


The Cleveland Cavaliers will win the NBA Championship in 6 games. The Cavs have quite the challenge ahead of them as the 73 win Warriors have the momentum coming off a 3-1 comeback in the Western Conference Finals. However, this Cavaliers team has become an offensive juggernaut. The Cavs are 8-0 in both the regular season and playoffs when their Big 3 of James, Love and Irving have scored 20 plus points in a game. LeBron has delivered in the Finals before and he will need Love and Irving to be at the top of their game for this series. Cleveland will also need strong contributions from starters J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, as well as bench players Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert. The sharp shooting Warriors will go on many runs throughout the series, but the key for the Cavaliers will be to weather the storm and produce on the offensive end. The Warriors may be the popular favorite to win this series, but the Cavaliers are a team that is focussed and on a mission. LeBron said after Game 3 of the Conference Semi-Finals, “We’re a team that’s destined for greatness, and I really believe that.” King James just may be right as his Cavaliers are four wins away from delivering Cleveland its first professional sports championship in 52 years.

Views From the 216: Cavs-Raptors Eastern Conference Finals Preview


Cavs Second Round: Swept Atlanta 4-0
Raptors Second Round: Beat Miami 4-3

Season Series: Toronto won 2-1
Game 1: Toronto at Cleveland, Tuesday, May 17 at 8:30 p.m.
Game 2: Toronto at Cleveland, Thursday, May 19 at 8:30 p.m.
Game 3: Cleveland at Toronto, Saturday, May 21 at 8:30 p.m.
Game 4: Cleveland at Toronto, Monday, May 23 at 8:30 p.m.
Game 5: Toronto at Cleveland, Wednesday, May 25 at 8:30 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6: Cleveland at Toronto, Friday, May 27 at 8:30 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7: Toronto at Cleveland, Sunday, May 29 at 8:30 p.m. (if necessary)

Cavaliers point guard, Kyrie Irving. Photo Credit: Erik Drost

After steamrolling through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Cavaliers are back in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year. The Cavs will open up the ECF tonight at the Q against the Toronto Raptors. Cleveland has dominated their opponents so far by averaging a postseason-leading 16.8 three-pointers made on 46.2% shooting. If the Cavs can keep up their impressive shooting, this could be an ugly series. Cleveland’s NBA record 25 three pointers in Game 2 against Atlanta was a thing of beauty and it shows just how dangerous this team can be. Toronto is playing in the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Raptors enter this series after winning their first two matchups in seven games and they are a little banged up. Toronto center, Jonas Valaciunas will not play in Game 1 and is doubtful for Game 2 with an ankle injury. Raptors forward, DeMarre Carroll also battled a wrist injury in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The depleted Raptors will need their two All-Stars, Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan (both have played with injuries of their own) to play at a high level to make this an interesting series. The duo combined for 63 of Toronto’s 116 points in Sunday’s game 7 win over Miami, but they are shooting a combined 36 percent after the first two rounds. If the Cavs can keep Lowry and DeRozan in check, this will be a quick series.

Key Matchup

Raptors point guard, Kyle Lowry. Photo Credit: Keith Allison

The matchup to watch for in this series is between point guards, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry. This year’s Eastern Conference Finals will feature a clash between two All-Star point guards and perhaps the two best guards in the Eastern Conference. Despite Lowry’s poor shooting percentage, he has shown up when it matters the most for Toronto this postseason. He struggled is a Game 1 loss to the Heat going 3-for-13, but on Sunday during Toronto’s second straight Game 7 this postseason, he was brilliant. Lowry scored 35 points on 11 of 20 shots and added 9 assists in the series clinching win. He has been battling a right elbow injury since January and he had it drained in late March, which may explain his recent troubles. Kyrie Irving has been terrific so far this postseason leading the Cavaliers in scoring, averaging 24.4 points in eight games. Kyrie has showed a strong defensive effort so far in the playoffs by handling Detroit’s Reggie Jackson and Atlanta’s duo of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder. Irving will have more of a challenge against Lowry as he is a tough defender, and he hit can hurt you from both inside and outside of the paint. This will be an entertaining matchup to watch and I give the advantage to Kyrie Irving. Kyrie has been on a roll so far this postseason and I think that will lead into success against Lowry.

Lansky’s Crazy Stat

The Cavaliers can become the first team in NBA history to go 12-0 on its way to the Finals with a sweep of Toronto.


The Cavs will knock off the Raptors in 5 games. The Cavaliers are coming off another week of rest and are ready to go. It has been a historic year for Canada’s only basketball franchise, but their magical run will come to an end in the Conference Finals. Unfortunately, Toronto is too injury plagued to make this the competitive series that it could be. The question for Cleveland is can they continue their historic three point shooting from the first two rounds. It’s hard for any team to shot like that, but this Cavaliers team is special and is poised for a monumental run in June. The Cavs have shown that they are a legitimate championship contender and they will prove that once again by advancing to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.

Cavs-Hawks Round 2 Preview


Cavs First Round: Swept Detroit 4-0
Hawks First Round: Beat Boston 4-2

Season Series: Cleveland won 3-0
Game 1: Atlanta at Cleveland, Monday, May 2 at 7 p.m.
Game 2: Atlanta at Cleveland, Wednesday, May 4 at 8 p.m.
Game 3: Cleveland at Atlanta, Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m.
Game 4: Cleveland at Atlanta, Sunday, May 8 at 3:30 p.m.
Game 5: Atlanta at Cleveland, Tuesday, May 10 (If Necessary)
Game 6: Cleveland at Atlanta, Thursday, May 12 (If Necessary)
Game 7: Atlanta at Cleveland, Sunday, May 15 (If Necessary)

Cavaliers power forward, Kevin Love. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

After a more than a week off, the Cavaliers begin the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals tonight against the Atlanta Hawks. The Cavs know the Hawks all too well as they swept Atlanta in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals and won all three regular season matchups this season. Cleveland has absolutely dominated the Hawks over the last year and this series could see more of the same. During last year’s conference finals, the Cavs were without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving was out for the majority of the series with knee tendonitis. Both players are healthy and they looked great during Cleveland’s first round sweep of the Pistons. The Hawks are a very good defensive team holding opponents to a league-low 43% field-goal percentage. Atlanta is led by the front court duo of Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Millsap had an impressive first round averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game against the Boston Celtics. Atlanta has struggled offensively at times this season, but Millsap and Horford have kept them in games with their rebounding. The Cavs have rebounding machines of their own in Love and Tristan Thompson. Cleveland’s big men must create as many second chance opportunities as possible to keep pressure on the Hawks, which will ultimately led them to victory.

Key Matchup

Atlanta Hawks small forward, Kent Bazemore. Photo Credit-Wikipedia

The matchup to watch for in this series is between LeBron James and Kent Bazemore. Cavalier fans remember Bazemore for his comments after the Hawks went down two games to none in last year’s conference finals. He said, “I still think we’re the better team. We just haven’t shown it yet.” Cavs fans responded accordingly as Bazemore was booed during the next two games at The Q. The Hawks will most likely throw Millsap and Thabo Sefolosha at LeBron during the series, but it will be Bazemore who will start off guarding King James. Bazemore and LeBron have a little bit of history as the young Hawks forward talked trash towards James on Twitter in 2012. One tweet read “LeBron is the equivalent to 7eleven, he doesn’t close.” Bazemore also shoved LeBron during game two of the conference finals. I think this will be a fun matchup to watch given Bazemore’s beef towards James. LeBron hasn’t responded to Bazemore and I doubt he will. King James is a man on a mission and it is pretty hard to get in his head, just ask Detroit’s Stanley Johnson.

Lansky’s Crazy Stat

LeBron James is on track to make some more history during this series. He will tie former Cavaliers coach, Byron Scott for 14th place all-time in playoff games tonight with 183. LeBron needs just three more treys to pass Robert Horry for 8th place in postseason three-pointers.

Bonus Stat

The Cavaliers are undefeated against the Hawks in the postseason. Cleveland swept Atlanta in the 2008-2009 Conference Semi-Finals and the 2014-2015 Eastern Conference Finals.


The Cavs will win this series in 5 games. Cleveland is well rested and will continue their dominance of Atlanta, but the Hawks are due to win at least one game. The Cavaliers are clicking at the right time and their strong play will propel them to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year.

Browns 2016 Draft Preview

The NFL Draft kicks off tomorrow night in Chicago and the Browns will be on the clock with the eighth overall pick. Cleveland traded out of the number two pick last week in exchange for the Philadelphia Eagles number 8, 77, and 100 overall picks this year as well as their 2017 first round-pick and 2018 second-round pick. The Browns decided against taking a potential franchise quarterback with the number two pick in either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. I thought it was a great move as Sashi Brown and Co. as they added to their already loaded arsenal of draft picks. Brown stated this week that he knows who he will pick tomorrow night and that he has a backup plan to trade down if his guy isn’t there. I will give you the players that I think the Browns will select in either situation, as well as my prediction for their second round pick.

Browns Stand Pat at Number Eight

Elliott was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week for his performance Saturday; his 274 rushing yards ranks second in Ohio State single-game history behind only Eddie George’s 314 (1995).
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

Sashi Brown said that the Browns are “locked in” on a player for the number eight pick. There a few options at this spot if some of the players fall, such as  defensive end, Joey Bosa of Ohio State, offensive tackle, Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss, and defensive end, DeForest Buckner of Oregon. Cleveland’s signing of Robert Griffin III was great, but they need to surround him with play makers. A great start to this approach would be running back, Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State. Zeke is the total package for a running back as he can run, catch, and block. He also has explosive speed and raw power that can change the game instantly. Elliott excelled at Ohio State rushing for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns in his sophomore season, while leading the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2014. Browns running backs, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson have shown some potential, but they don’t have the complete skill set that Elliott possesses. He is the three down back that Cleveland has needed for years. If Zeke is still on the board at number eight, I would be shocked if the Browns passed up on him.

Browns Trade Down Again

Ole Miss wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell. Photo Credit-Rogelio V. Solis

If Sashi Brown’s guy is gone by pick number eight, expect Cleveland to trade down between the 13 and 15 picks. One of the Browns biggest needs are wide receivers. Cleveland will most likely move on from Josh Gordon after his request for reinstatement was denied by the NFL earlier this month. New head coach, Hue Jackson, loves receivers and I expect the Browns to add a few in this years draft. If Cleveland trades down I think they will take Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss. Over the past few seasons the Browns have had mostly smaller receivers in the absence of Gordon. At 6’2″, Treadwell is not small by any means and he fits the mold of receiver that Jackson craves. He is known for his ability to go up and win contested catches. He is also very reliable when it comes to third down and red zone situations. The one area where Treadwell is weak is that he lacks the speed for deep routes. He often struggles to break past cornerbacks in those type of situations. Despite his lack of deep speed, I think Treadwell would be a great offensive weapon to add alongside RGIII.

Browns Second Round Pick

Photo Credit-Chris Howell | Herald-Times Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Michael Thomas (3) during the Indiana Ohio State football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio Saturday, November 22, 2014. Chris Howell

Cleveland holds the first pick of the second round (32 overall), a pick that was stripped from the New England Patriots as a result of the Deflategate scandal. Like the number eight pick, the Browns have plenty of options at number 32. Even though the Browns signed RGIII, they are still in the market for a quarterback. One option is Michigan State QB and Walsh Jesuit’s own Connor Cook. I think Cleveland is more likely to take him in the third round, but the second round is a possibility. Another option is an offesinve tackle. The Browns are in need of serious offensive line help after the departures of Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz. There are will many solid offensive lineman available, but I think Cleveland will hold off until the later rounds. I think the most likely option at number 32 would be a wide receiver. Like I mentioned earlier, Hue values his receivers and I would love to see the Browns take Michael Thomas from Ohio State. Thomas has great hands and a big frame at 6’3″ and 212 pounds. He has the speed and skill set to be Cleveland’s number one receiver, but he is more likely to start out as the team’s number two option.


Lansky’s Bold Prediction

I think the Browns will stay put tomorrow night and select Ezekiel Elliott with the eighth pick. Zeke is a beast and he is the game changing player that Cleveland needs. I also think that the Browns will go receiver with the 32 pick and select Elliott’s college teammate, Michael Thomas.

Cavs-Pistons Round 1 Preview


Season Series: Detroit won 3-1
Game 1: Detroit at Cleveland, Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m.
Game 2: Detroit at Cleveland, Wednesday, April 20 at 8 p.m.
Game 3: Cleveland at Detroit, Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m.
Game 4: Cleveland at Detroit, Sunday, April 24 at 8:30 p.m.
Game 5: Detroit at Cleveland, Tuesday, April 26 (if necessary)
Game 6: Cleveland at Detroit, Thursday, April 28 (if necessary)
Game 7: Detroit at Cleveland, Saturday, April 30 (if necessary)

Cavaliers forward, LeBron James. Photo Credit: Erik Drost

Cavaliers forward, LeBron James. Photo Credit: Erik Drost

For the second year in a row, the Cavaliers will open up the playoffs against an old foe. Last year it was the Boston Celtics and this year it is the Detroit Pistons. The Cavs and Pistons had some epic playoff matchups in 2006 and 2007 and now they will renew their rivalry once again. Pistons point guard, Reggie Jackson has already given the Cavaliers some motivation when he was asked about the series. He said “I don’t want to fight Goliath’s homeboy or little brother. I want to fight Goliath.” The Cavs struggled against the Pistons this season dropping 3 out of the four meetings. Despite that fact, Cleveland has playoff experience and this young Detroit team does not. The Pistons are making their first playoff appearance since 2009 when they were swept by LeBron James and the Cavs in the first round. The Cavaliers have gotten into a groove over the last month and are finally looking poised to make a deep postseason run. Cleveland is the better team in this series, but there is one area where Detroit has an advantage, which is rebounding. Andre Drummond is a monster on the boards for the Pistons and he will give Tristan Thompson a tough time. However, Drummond can’t do it all on his own and his teammates must step up if they want to make this series interesting

Key Matchup

Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson dribbles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The matchup to look for in this series is between point guards Kyrie Irving and Reggie Jackson. Irving has had an up and down season after returning from a knee injury in last year’s NBA Finals. Kyrie has struggled to find his form, but I think that will change now that the playoffs have arrived. He looked great in Monday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks scoring 35 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Kyrie was so encouraged by his performance that he told management that he wanted to play in Wednesday’s finale against the Pistons, but coach Tyronn Lue ultimately opted to rest him. Detroit point guard, Reggie Jackson, is the Pistons only starter that has playoff experience, appearing in 30 postseason games with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jackson missed Detroit’s final two games with an abdominal strain, but he will be ready for game one on Sunday. Jackson averaged 18,8 points and 6.2 assists per game this season. If Jackson stays healthy during the series, this matchup between the two young point guards will be a fun one.

Lansky’s Crazy Stat

LeBron James has never lost a first round playoff series in his career. The King has won 40 of 47 first round games as a member of the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.


The Cavs will win this series in 5 games. You could make the case that the Cavaliers sweep the Pistons, but Detroit is a scrappy team and I think they will win game 3 at home at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Cleveland’s playoff experience led by the Big 3 will guide them to victory over their division rivals.

So Long Johnny Football

Click to enlarge timeline

Click to enlarge timeline

The party is over for Johnny Manziel as the Cleveland Browns officially waived the struggling quarterback today. This move was a long time coming as it was reported that the Browns would wait to cut Manziel until the new league year opened this week to save salary cap space. New Browns coach, Hue Jackson, stated from the beginning that Manziel’s kind of behavior would not be tolerated and he has stuck to his word. Cleveland took a gamble in the 2014 NFL draft by selecting the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner with the 22nd overall pick. It appeared that the Browns finally had their man at QB, but a career that had such promise was quickly filled with turmoil.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel speaks with media members following the team's 30-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks n an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Seattle. Credit: AP Photo/Scott Eklund

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel speaks with media members following the team’s 30-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks n an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Seattle. Credit: AP Photo/Scott Eklund

During the 2014 draft, Manziel texted Browns officials to draft him so they could “wreck this league together.” Browns fans felt like they finally had a quarterback that was ready to buy in to what the team was doing. Manziel may have said that he was ready to make an impact in Cleveland, but his focus was clearly elsewhere during the summer before his rookie season. In the months following the draft, he partied the summer away in Las Vegas and Texas. The troubles continued for Manziel at training camp when he showed up late for a meeting because he “misread the schedule.” Johnny finally had the chance to prove himself on the field on December 1, 2014 against the Buffalo Bills. Manziel replaced Brian Hoyer and ran for a touchdown on his first drive. He would start his first game two weeks later, but it was hardly memorable. Johnny threw for 80 yards in a 30-0 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel scrambles against the Washington Redskins on August 13, 2015.

Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel scrambles against the Washington Redskins on August 13, 2015.

After a tough rookie season, it seemed like Manziel was finally on the right path when he entered a rehab facility on January 28, 2015. It was a decision that showed a lot of maturity from the former Heisman winner in the hope that it would carry over to a successful second season. Josh McCown won the starting role, but Johnny wouldn’t have to wait long for his chance to take the field. Manziel replaced McCown in the 2015 season opener against the New York Jets, throwing a long touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin. He would get another crack at starting in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. Johnny had a strong showing throwing two deep strikes to Benjamin in his first win as a starter. McCown returned to the lineup the following week, just as Johnny was starting to show some promise. Head coach, Mike Pettine named Manziel the starter for the remainder of the season on November 17. The following week, a video appeared online of Johnny dancing in a Texas club while holding a bottle of champagne. The video was filmed during the Browns bye week and it was revealed that Johnny lied to Pettine about when the video was taken. Two weeks later McCown suffered another injury and Johnny started the next three games. On December 31, the Browns ruled out Manziel for the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a concussion. He then failed to show up to the Browns practice facility in Berea on game day to undergo concussion protocol. This is where the Johnny Manziel saga reaches it’s most bizarre point. Manziel missed the season finale because he spent the weekend in Las Vegas in disguise as a man named “Billy” with a blonde wig and mustache. To leave your team during a game week to party in Las Vegas is not only unprofessional, but it is unacceptable.

Johnny Manziel’s time in Cleveland has come to an end. The Browns gave the young quarterback countless opportunities to fix his off the field issues and to focus on football. Instead, Manziel’s problems were more serious then they seemed and when it came down to it he had no interest in continuing his career in Cleveland. Johnny’s story took a dark turn last month when he was investigated by Dallas police for a domestic violence incident involving his ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley. Manziel reportedly threatened to kill both himself and Crowley. On February 28, Dallas police referred the case to a grand jury. He could face up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

So the question arises..what is next for Johnny Manziel? Manziel’s NFL future is now more unclear than ever with his ongoing investigation. If he ends up in jail for a year, I think it will be very difficult for him to get another chance in the NFL. However, if Johnny does not go to jail two teams come to mind that could make a move to sign him. The first is the Los Angeles Rams who already have a quarterback question with Nick Foles and Case Keenum. I think the idea of Manziel playing in the City of Angels could be a recipe for disaster with many temptations for his off the field lifestyle. The team that makes the most sense to me is the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is an obvious choice not only because it is close to Manziel’s home, but Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones may be the man that can help Johnny. Jones has had success with giving second chances to troubled played such as Dez Bryant and Greg Hardy. Jones coveted Manziel in the 2014 draft and he has the resources to help him.  It is not too late for Johnny to get help and one can only hope that he takes the necessary steps to get his life back on track.


Rapid Reaction: Cavs Add More Depth to Bench

The Cavaliers made a move before yesterday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline that will improve their bench by acquiring Channing Frye from the Orlando Magic. In a three team trade, the Cavs traded power forward, Anderson Varejao and a future first round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers as well as trading guard, Jared Cunningham and a future second round pick to Orlando.

New Cavaliers forward/center, Channing Frye

New Cavaliers forward/center, Channing Frye

I think that this was a good move for the Cavs to make because of Frye’s varied skill set. He is a versatile big man that can play both the forward and center positions. Frye will allow the Cavs to space the floor creating more open paths to the basket for LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. For a team that has struggled on defense this season, he is a solid low post defender and a good shot blocker. I think the best skill that Frye brings to the wine and gold is his three point stroke. Frye is shooting 39.7 percent from beyond the arc this season and he will prove to be another weapon off of the bench. Will this trade alone put the Cavs over the hump and knock off the Golden State Warriors in a potential NBA Finals rematch? No, that will all be determined if the Big 3 can play together as a unit as well as receiving contributions from role players like J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. This trade adds another solid rotation piece that will improve the bench with his wide range of skills.

Former Cavaliers power forward, Anderson Varejao. Photo credit-Keith Allison

Former Cavaliers power forward, Anderson Varejao. Photo credit-Keith Allison

This trade was bittersweet because it saw the Cavaliers part ways with longtime fan favorite Anderson Varejao. The Wild Thing played all twelve of his seasons with the Cavaliers always bringing a huge boost of energy whenever he stepped out on the floor. He remained loyal to the franchise even when LeBron left for Miami, vowing to stay here and help turn the team around. The one thing Varejao wanted most was to win a championship for the city he loved so much. Sadly, Andy’s days in Cleveland are done, but he will always be loved by Cavs fans. Thank you for all of the memories Wild Thing and good luck in the next chapter of your career.

Cavs All-Time All-Star Starting Five

The NBA All-Star game is tonight and in honor of the annual showcase of the league’s top talent, I present to you my Cleveland Cavaliers All-Time All-Star Starting Five. The selections for this roster were made based off of every Cavaliers player in franchise history to be selected to the All-Star team.

Point Guard-Kyrie Irving

3 All-Star Selections

Kyrie Irving soars for a layup in the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans.

Kyrie Irving soars for a layup in the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans.

Kyrie Irving’s first five NBA seasons have already seen many memories made at All-Star weekend. In his rookie season, Irving took home MVP honors in the Rising Stars Challenge. He put on a show scoring 34 points, including going 8-8 from three point range. The following season Kyrie was selected to play his first All-Star game where he scored 15 points. However, it was the night before that All-Star game that stood out for Irving. He competed in the Three-Point Shootout, scoring 23 points in the final round to win the contest. Irving’s third season featured arguably his best All-Star performance to date. He was voted by the fans to be the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference. Irving  took over scoring 31 points with 14 assists, capturing the All-Star game MVP. Last season, Kyrie joined LeBron James at Madison Square Garden for his third All-Star game. He scored 11 points in a losing effort for the Eastern Conference. Irving did not make the All-Star team this season due to missing the first two months of the season with a knee injury, but I think it is safe to say that Uncle Drew will be making more All-Star memories for years to come.


Shooting Guard-Mark Price

4 All-Star Selections

Mark Price celebrates winning the 1993 Three-Point Shootout in Salt Lake City.

Mark Price celebrates winning the 1993 Three-Point Shootout in Salt Lake City.

Cleveland’s original three-point specialist, Mark Price is the other guard on this list. Price made his first All-Star appearance in 1989, scoring 9 points off the bench. The 1992 game marked the first of three consecutive All-Star appearances for Price. In 1993, he took over scoring a record of 6 three pointers in the first half. His final All-Star appearance featured another strong performance with 20 points and 5 assists. Despite his success in the All-Star game itself, Price’s performances in the Three-Point Shootout are arguably his most memorable. In 1993, he became the first player in Cavs franchise history to win the contest dethroning reigning 3-time champion, Craig Hodges. Price followed this up with a repeat win in 1994, setting the record for most points in the final round with 24. One of basketball’s purest shooters is an easy decision for this list.


Small Forward-LeBron James

12 All-Star Selections

February 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Eastern Conference forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (23) shoots during the second half of the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

February 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Eastern Conference forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (23) shoots during the second half of the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest no brainer on this list is Northeast Ohio’s own, LeBron James. Eight of LeBron’s twelve All-Star appearances came as a member of the Cavaliers, a franchise record. He has also been voted to the starting lineup in each of his twelve apperances. The King’s first two years in the league saw appearances in the Rookie-Sophomore Game. He shined in both games scoring 33 points and 20 points respectively. LeBron followed up his second Rookie-Sophomore Game with his first All-Star Game appearance in 2005. The following year was perhaps his best All-Star game performance to date. The 21-year-old helped the Eastern Conference overcome a 21 point deficit, scoring 29 points with 6 rebounds. The stellar performance made him the youngest MVP in All-Star game history. LeBron won his second All-Star game MVP in three years in 2008. King James led the East to a 134-128 win with 27 points, 9 assists, and 8 boards. LeBron has partaken in many All-Star Weekend events including two Skills Challenge competitions failing to win either. He has many great All-Star moments, but the one thing that fans have been deprived of is seeing one of the game’s best dunkers participate in the Slam Dunk Contest. At last year’s All-Star Game he told the media that he is “over the hill now” to compete in the contest. Basketball fans around the world can only hope that the future Hall of Famer will change his mind before he ends his legendary career.

Power Forward-Larry Nance

 3 All-Star Selections

Former Cavaliers forward, Larry Nance.

Former Cavaliers forward, Larry Nance.

Larry Nance is a Cavaliers legend, but his most well known All-Star moment is when he won the first Slam Dunk Contest in 1984 as a member of the Phoenix Suns. He also made his first All-Star appearance with the Suns the following season. Nance was traded to the Cavs in 1988 and he made his first All-Star appearance with Cleveland the next year. He joined teammates Mark Price and Brad Daugherty in the 1989 game, scoring 10 points. This trio of Cavs players made a second appearance together in the 1993 All-Star Game. Nance scored 7 points off the bench in his final All-Star Appearance. This high flier is a fitting choice to be the power forward on this list.


Center-Zydrunas Ilgauskas

2 All-Star Selections

DENVER - FEBRUARY 20: Zydrunas Ilgauskas #11 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars drives against Kevin Garnett #21 the Western Conference All-Stars during the 2005 All-Star Game on February 20, 2005 at The Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

DENVER – FEBRUARY 20: Zydrunas Ilgauskas #11 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars drives against Kevin Garnett #21 the Western Conference All-Stars during the 2005 All-Star Game on February 20, 2005 at The Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Choosing a center was the toughest decision I had to make for this list. The decision came down to Brad Daugherty and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Daugherty made 5 All-Star appearances to Ilgauskas’ 2 appearances. In the end, I went with Big Z because even though he made less appearances than Daugherty I thought he was more impressive. Ilgauskas’ first taste of All-Star Weekend came at the 1998 Rookie Challenge at Madison Square Garden. He was one of three Cavs players selected for the game, but it was his night. Big Z won MVP honors scoring 18 points, adding 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. It is rare that big men take over in All-Star games and Ilgauskas is the only true center to win the MVP at the Rookie-Sophomore Game. His first All-Star appearance would come in 2003, where he failed to score in 4 minutes of action. Ilgauskas’ second appearance was much better as he joined his teammate LeBron James for the game in Denver. He scored 12 points off the bench with 2 blocks. The Cavs all-time leader in total rebounds and blocked shots is a great addition to this roster.


Coach-Mike Brown

Former Cavaliers coach, Mike Brown.

Former Cavaliers coach, Mike Brown.

The Cavaliers have had three head coaches in franchise history named the head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Lenny Wilkens coached the team in 1989 in a losing effort. Mike Brown coached the 2009 squad that featured Cleveland’s own LeBron James and Mo Williams. Brown also returned to Cleveland with an All-Star loss. Current Cavaliers head coach, Tyronn Lue is coaching this year’s team after former coach, David Blatt was fired last month. I chose Mike Brown because 2009 was a career year for him. In addition to earning All-Star head coaching honors, he guided the Cavs to a franchise-best 66-16 record. He also coached the Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference Finals and was named Coach of the Year for the 2008-2009 season. Only time will tell if Lue can replicate the success that Brown had during his time in Cleveland, but if I had to guess I would say a NBA Championship this season would be a pretty great start.


Blowup in Berea

“We’re not going to blow things up, okay? I think we’re on the right track so we’re not going to blow things up. I understand why people might ask that after a couple of bumps in the first couple of years, but we are not going to do that. I think we’re putting a good foundation in place.” Jimmy Haslam: August 1, 2015

Cleveland Browns Owner, Jimmy Haslam. Photo Credit-Erik Drost

After the Steelers squashed the Browns 28-12 on Sunday, Jimmy Haslam did exactly what he vowed he wouldn’t do in training camp: “he blew things up.” Haslam wasted no time in firing Head Coach, Mike Pettine and General Manager, Ray Farmer. He continued the Sunday night shakeup by announcing Sashi Brown as the new Executive Vice President of Football Operations. This isn’t the first time Haslam has made a change in Berea. His three year tenure as owner has seen three head coaches, five presidents and general managers, and 61 assistant coaches. These numbers are head scratching and unacceptable.

I expected the firings of Pettine and Farmer after an embarrassing 3-13 record. I was never a big fan of Farmer and thought that he made some questionable roster moves this season including the signings of regular healthy scratch, Dwayne Bowe and Robert Turbin. I think that Mike Pettine is a good coach, but at the end of the day he couldn’t get the job done in a city that is hungry for a winning football team.

As I watched Haslam’s press conference on Sunday night, I was pretty optimistic with his plan for this rebuild. He said that the Browns will hire a head coach first and then they will hire a general manager. This is a move that is not often seen, but it will allow the new head coach to potentially bring in his own gm. I really like that Haslam has hired Jed Hughes of the executive search firm, Korn Ferry, to lead the search for both the head coach and general manager. Korn Ferry helped place Pete Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks, Andy Reid with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Jim Harbaugh with the University of Michigan.

The part of Haslam’s plan that takes a new direction for the organization is the introduction of analytics. Sashi Brown, a Harvard grad and attorney, has been called a rising star in the sports world, but he has no football experience. In the past few years, he has overseen the Browns salary cap and negotiated player contracts. Haslam said that Brown will have final say over the 53 man roster, which is risky in my opinion for a guy with no football experience. I think Brown’s hiring will help the new coach and gm to work together, which was not always the case with Pettine and Farmer.

Cleveland Browns, Chief Strategy Officer, Paul DePodesta.

On Tuesday, Haslam shocked the world by hiring Paul DePodesta as the Browns Chief Strategy Officer.  DePodesta is a well respected baseball executive and he is known for his “moneyball” analytics with the Oakland Athletics. This was a fascinating hire because DePodesta has only been an executive in baseball and has no experience in football. Analytics has proven to be successful, but it has been rarely used on the gridiron. I actually think that DePodesta and Brown’s use of analytics could be successful as long as a “football guy” is leading the team on the field. DePodesta and Brown are not “football guys” which works for the analytics part, but as far as coaching and acquiring players, the Browns will need a pure “football guy.”

09 May 2015: Offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears Adam Gase in action during the Chicago Bears Rookie minicamp, at Halas Hall, in Lake Forest, IL. Photo Credit-Icon Sportswire

The Browns began their search for a head coach on Wednesday by interviewing Bears offensive coordinator, Adam Gase and Lions defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin. Gase and Austin are the two most sought after head coaching candidates this offseason. I also think that they both are the top two candidates for the Browns. Gase was the offensive coordinator during the Denver Broncos Super Bowl run in 2014. He then followed John Fox to Chicago this past season to take the offensive coordinator job. Austin’s defense was key part of the Lion’s playoff run in 2014 and he is known for having a good relationship with his players. Cleveland interviewed former Bills head coach and current Jaguars assistant head coach, Doug Marrone on Thursday. I am not big on Marrone and I think there is something to be said about a coach who resigned after one 9-7 season (this was Buffalo’s first winning season in 10 years.) The Browns also interviewed their former defensive back coach and current Cowboys secondary coach, Jerome Henderson on Friday. Three of the four candidates that the Browns have interviewed so far do not have head coaching experience.

As much as I would love to see the Browns hire a head coach with previous head coaching experience, that is currently not an option. I believe that out of all of the current candidates, Adam Gase is the man for the job. Gase is one of the top quarterback coaches in the NFL and is considered to have one of the best offensive minds in the league. If the Browns hire Gase and find their franchise quarterback, Haslam’s latest blowup will have proved to be a great move.