LeBron already selling Knicks season seats

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Thumbnail image for James_dunk.jpgTruly hope is an audacious thing.

That, or Knicks fans are completely delusional. The more I think about it, I’m going to go with door number two here.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell explains the latest delusion.

In just a couple of weeks, the New York Knicks have taken deposits on 1,800 new season tickets.

For those keeping score at home, that’s the fastest the team has sold this many new season tickets in its storied history.  Considering the team is heading for another losing season and hasn’t won a playoff series in a decade, it can be assumed that all this excitement has to do with the anticipation of the free agents the team is going to sign for next season.

It’s all about LeBron James. Knicks fans want desperately to believe he will come to the Big Apple, eat thin-crust pizza and save what should be a glory franchise in the league.

People in NYC are willing to make a $500 come bet that it happens. If no LeBron, it will be like someone rolled a craps, and all those supposed new ticket holders will be quickly gone for the board.

The fact is New York needs LeBron more than LeBron needs New York. He is likely to stay in Cleveland, something that becomes almost a certainty if the Cavaliers win a title this year. Maybe the Knicks can lure Dwyane Wade (not all that likely either, people don’t leave South Beach willingly) or possibly Chris Bosh. The Knicks could then put a second-tier guy (Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson) with the big star. Or maybe they don’t get what they like and hold out for a bigger, better name in 2011.

That would not be good enough for delusional Knicks fans.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.