Updated: March 6, 2006, 3:04 AM ET

The Cavs' elements of style

LeBron James should shoot more. He should shoot less. He needs to be more selfish. He always needs to take the last shot. Wait, no, he should pass if a teammate is open.


Seems like everyone has an opinion on how Cleveland's star needs to play.

Sometimes, it seems as if people are upset not with who he is, but who they want him to be.

Watching him against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night, he scored 27 points in the second half. His team took a 91-72 win, and it reinforces the idea that he just needs to be the player he is. No more, no less. He's the top talent in the game, and his fairly common stat line of 37 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against the Bulls hints at as much.

We have unfair expectations of his team, because of him. We expect them to compete for a championship because he's such a superior talent, and an unselfish player.

But this is still a team that hasn't made the playoffs. Let's be realistic. The Cavs need to get in the postseason, and play some meaningful games as a group. This team is not fully grown, even if we're looking at them currently as a No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

So LeBron is going to be fine. However, one question that may need answering is the long-term style of Cleveland.

As a center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is an interesting player to team up with LeBron. You have a high-flyer like LeBron matched with a half-court center. Now, this type of approach may someday work more smoothly if LeBron evolves his half-court game, such as shouldering post passing responsibilities.

But, as he is now, he's a fabulous penetrator. And penetrators want to penetrate. When there's a big guy sitting on the low post, that's one way to at times short-circuit this element of his game. And driving into the lane these days is very important, putting more pressure on defenses because of the hand-check rules.

The Cavs aren't the only team that faces this question of how to properly use a talented big man on the block. Miami seems to address it by having Shaq post away from the ball to give Dwyane Wade room to operate.

Of course you need a low post presence, the more versatile, the better. Chicago is a lesson of what happens when you don't have it. The Bulls, who lost to Cleveland for the second straight outing, don't have a great ability to play below the free throw line. Which is what Ilgauskas gives Cleveland.

The Bulls are a team that currently lives by the J and die by the J. They seem to need to have that guy who can take over those lulls of 3-5 minutes a quarter who you can go to. A "when the playbook isn't working" guy.

Having a versatile center would help. That's what makes Tim Duncan so unique. He can step out and allow Tony Parker and Co. to drive the lane. But he can also step down and pass out of the double-team. However, Duncan's not walking through the home clubhouse doors of Quicken Loans Arena anytime soon.

Which is OK -- Cleveland does have LeBron. Give them time, and they just may deliver the goods as a title contender. Just watch LeBron grow, and enjoy it.

Talk back to the Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: February 24 | 25-26 | 27 | 28 | March 1 | 2 | 3 | 4-5

I Walk The Line
AP Photo/Jeff Lewis
Pistons guard Carlos Delfino reaches for a loose ball as Lakers guard Kobe Bryant offers his warmup jacket during the second half of the Lakers' 105-94 victory Saturday. No foul was called.

If The Playoffs Started Today

What if the season ended today? Find out how the latest matchups in the NBA would play out. Bucks versus Pistons. Lakers versus Spurs. Seems like some watchable 1-8 matchups could be setting up.

See matchups, current records

News And Notes

Elton Brand was one of 21 NBA players named Sunday to the preliminary roster for the U.S. national team. They will report to training camp in July and compete for the 12 roster spots for the FIBA World Championships at Saitama, Japan, the following month. The coach is Mike Krzyzewski, who had Brand for two seasons at Duke. "There are no assurances. That's the thing with certain players not taking the invitation," Brand said. "They wanted to be guaranteed. I definitely want do be part of that 12, but I can deal with it." ... The game resembled a Duke alumni reunion, with Los Angeles' Brand, Maggette and Daniel Ewing, and Memphis' Shane Battier and Dahntay Jones in uniform. ... Clippers backup C Zeljko Rebraca missed his third consecutive game because of a left ankle strain. ... The Clippers' next game is against the champion San Antonio Spurs, who have won the last eight meetings and 28 of the last 31. ... The Grizzlies are 10-2 when they shoot at least 50 percent.

• Wolves coach Dwane Casey said before the game that backup G Anthony Carter, who didn't play, would remain in the rotation despite his arrest last Friday on suspicion of drunken driving. Casey said the team would wait to impose any disciplinary action until the legal process is complete. Carter is scheduled to appear in court March 10. Casey wasn't sure of Carter availability for Minnesota's upcoming six-game road trip that begins Wednesday.

Steven Hunter made his sixth straight start at center for the Sixers, with Samuel Dalembert coming off the bench for the third game in a row after missing three with an ankle injury. Dalembert made all three of his shots -- all dunks. ... Forward Jermaine O'Neal (groin), guard Jamaal Tinsley (elbow) and forward Austin Croshere (concussion) remained sidelined for the depleted Pacers. ... The teams have split two of their three meetings. In 1 seasons, the Sixers are 26-18 when Iverson and Webber score at least a combined 50 points . ... Indiana's Danny Granger fouled out with under a minute left. ... Stojakovic spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench.

-- The Associated Press

Motion: Offensive Machines
When Dallas and Phoenix meet, there's going to be some scoring. Both teams shot over 50 percent. Four Suns scored over 20. And Bulls castoff Tim Thomas contributed eight points.

Diaw's Triple-Double

Trying To Face Guard

AP Photo/Mark Duncan
Bulls guard Chris Duhon, right, tries burrowing into LeBron James' armpit. Not enough, Cavs win 91-72. James scored 37.

Extreme Behavior

Sunday's Best
Boris Diaw, Suns forward: The NBA's second-best Frenchman helped keep Dirk in check in the final quarter (an improved Maginot Line), helping Phoenix to a 115-107 win over the Mavericks. Oh yeah, and he got his second triple-double.


Sunday's Worst
Sam Cassell, Clippers guard: Forget the distributing role of a point guard. We're talking Sam I Am here. When SIA makes one field goal in 28 minutes of action, it's probably not a good sign for the Clips. It wasn't. Clips lost to the Grizz, 102-86.


Quote of the Day
"We can't panic. We still feel confident of where we are. All good things must come to an end. We've got to start a new [home winning streak]."
-- Mavs swingman Marquis Daniels, after his team's record 16-game home win streak ended at the hands of Phoenix.

-- Andrew Ayres

See how all 165 who played stacked up

Growing Pains In Oakland

There was a lot of optimism in Oakland at the beginning of this season. Many picked the Warriors to make the playoffs for the first time since 1994, but after a 103-90 loss to the Wolves on Sunday, it now appears unlikely that they will play in the postseason.

The Warriors have some interesting young talent. Ike Diogu, Mickael Pietrus, Andres Biedrins and Monta Ellis have all showed flashes of brilliance this season. Add the explosive Jason Richardson, steady Troy Murphy and two-time All-Star Baron Davis and you'd think this team would be competitive night in and night out.

Perhaps the one missing ingredient in Golden State is experience. If you look at the organization from top to bottom you can see a lack of experience at all the key spots. GM Chris Mullin is relatively new to the job as is head coach Mike Montgomery and his staff. The roster is the fifth youngest in the league.

Ownership has to decide whether to let this group get its experience through on-the-job training or make some changes in the off-season. A more experienced organization could bring more wisdom and wins to the Bay Area.

-- Will Perdue

Elias Says

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points in the Lakers' 105-94 win over the Pistons. It marked the third time this season that an opponent had reached 40 points against Detroit, but it was the first of those performances that was coupled with a victory.

Earlier this season against Detroit, Tracy McGrady scored 43 points in a Houston loss and Michael Redd scored 41 in a Milwaukee loss.

• Elias Sports Bureau | More Elias Insider

Five Alive For Stoudemire

Many have wondered how many games it would take the missing centerpiece of a very good Suns team to whip himself into playoff shape. At least a dozen, right?

Nope. Amare Stoudemire, out all season after undergoing microfracture surgery, told Dr. Jack Ramsay on Sunday's NBA on ESPN Radio broadcast of the Suns-Mavs game how many regular season games it will take to get back into the flow for Phoenix.

'All I need is five, to be honest'


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