Cavaliers INSIDER Cavaliers coach Mike Brown has been campaigning for ages for LeBron James to make the NBA All-Defensive first team, which the league's coaches select.
All his - and James' - efforts paid off Wednesday. Two days after being named the league's Most Valuable Player, James was named to his first All-Defensive first team.
"It means a lot," said James, who finished second to Orlando's Dwight Howard in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. "It was a big goal of mine to become a better defensive player and take on a little bit more onus on that end of the floor. It's definitely good. It's humbling, once again. It's a great feat for myself. I really enjoy that side of the floor. I thank the coaches for saying that I picked up my game on that end."
Also selected to the first team were Howard, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Chris Paul of New Orleans and Kevin Garnett of Boston. The second team consists of Tim Duncan of San Antonio, Dwyane Wade of Miami, Rajon Rondo of Boston and Shane Battier and Ron Artest of Houston. Duncan has been selected to the NBA All-Defensive team 12 consecutive seasons.
Anderson Varejao also received votes from the coaches.
Brown sought recognition for Varejao and Delonte West, as well.
"You can't have the type of defense our team defense is right now without having individual defenders," the coach said. "So it was great to see some guys getting some recognition. We feel like all of our guys want to bring something on that end of the floor."
The coach known for his defense laughed off the suggestion he should take credit for James' development on that end of the floor.
"I think myself and the rest of our staff and coach K [Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski] and his staff, and if you go back to coach [Keith] Dambrot [at St. Vincent St. Mary] and everybody LeBron's been with can take a tiny bit of the credit.
"But ultimately it all goes to him. In order to play defense, you have to want to give effort. Anybody almost can do it, especially on this level because to get to this level, you have to be strong, you have to be athletic, you have to be quick. You have to have some sort of intangibles or intelligence.
"When you have those type of things, if you have the desire and the want to do something on that end of the floor, you're going to have a pretty good chance of being a pretty good defender. He wants to be a good defender. He wants to be the best. You've got to give him a lot of credit for doing so."
Nose job: Cavs guard/forward Sasha Pavlovic, who had seven points and three rebounds Tuesday night in his first extended minutes of this postseason, suffered a broken nose in the win over Atlanta when he was hit by an elbow thrown by Zaza Pachulia.
Pavlovic was fitted with a protective mask Wednesday.
It's yet another setback for him.
"That seems like that's been Sasha's M.O. over the last couple of years," Brown said. "He started to get going, played well, found himself in the rotation and then came up with an ankle injury or a leg injury. He always seems to bounce back from those things. I'm sure he will."
Oh, shoot: The Cavs big men - Zydrunas Ilgauskas (2-for-9), Varejao (2-for-8), Joe Smith (0-for-4), Ben Wallace (1-for-1) and Darnell Jackson (0-for-1) combined to go 5-for-23 in Game 1.
Before the series, Ilgauskas said the Hawks' athletic big men could give the Cavs trouble. But he said he felt fine Tuesday.
"I didn't shoot the ball well, not as good as I wanted," he said. "I got some good looks. My legs and my body felt great, actually, running up and down. I was rested. It was just one of those nights I couldn't get in the flow offensively."
Brown was happy that other than Josh Smith, who had 22 points, the Hawks' big men didn't play well either. Al Horford, who didn't practice Wednesday and is a game-time decision tonight with a bum right ankle, had four points, as did Pachulia.
"Our bigs did a terrific job," Brown said. "Even though they were not shooting the ball well, they impacted the game."
Not to rain on the parade, but today marks the 20th anniversary of "The Shot" - Michael Jordan's last-second jumper over an outstretched Craig Ehlo that lifted Chicago to a 101-100 victory in the decisive Game 5 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Arguably, The Shot launched Jordan and the Bulls on their run of greatness and relegated a great Cavs team to also-ran status.
"It's the story that never ends," said former Cavs star Mark Price, now an assistant coach with the Hawks. "Honestly, I don't think about it at all anymore. Once you get past it, it is like an old cartoon. Every so often you see it on TV. The first couple years it was a bad dream but I don't even think about it anymore.
"Until Cleveland wins a championship in something, that is a story line whether it is the Cavs, Browns or Indians. Obviously, the Cavs have put themselves in a position to make a run at it."
Plain Dealer reporter Brian Windhorst contributed to this report.
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