Befitting a manwho has a title in his sights, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown owns 22 pairs ofeyeglasses. "I've got them in black, silver, gray, red, brown," hesays. "My wife picks out a pair for every game, along with my suit, shirt,tie, socks and shoes."
Last year Brown,now 36, did more than look sharp on the sidelines, leading Cleveland to itsfirst playoff series win in 13 years. He was also the first rookie coach to win50 games since one of his mentors, Rick Carlisle, accomplished the feat withDetroit in 2001--02. But unlike the Pistons and the rest of the CentralDivision, Brown's Cavs made few off-season changes to their roster. His primarygoal will be to improve an offense that ranked 15th in scoring last season(97.6 points a game) but was often predictable, as players stood around waitingfor LeBron James to work his magic. "We're going to try to get a littlemore movement," says Brown, who has included more options offpick-and-rolls. "But make no mistake, the ball is still going to be inLeBron's hands."
As thesecond-youngest coach in the NBA and one of the few who didn't play in theleague, Brown had plenty of skeptics when G.M. Danny Ferry hired him in 2005.But he quieted the doubters by keeping the Cavs in contention after guard LarryHughes broke a finger on his shooting hand in midseason and missed 46 games.The Cavs beat the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs, then took thePistons to seven games.
"Last yearwas great, but our goal is to win the championship," Brown said. But evenwith a pair of rose-colored glasses, he's unlikely to see that this year.--Marty Burns
ProjectedStarting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
Record: 50--32(3rd in East)
Points scored: 97.6 (15th in NBA)
Points allowed: 95.4 (10th)
Coach: Mike Brown
(second season with the Cavaliers)
is the best player in the league andLeBron is second.... I think the Cavs can improve simply by getting a full yearout of Larry Hughes, who gives them a second potent offensive player.... TheirAchilles' heel is point guard. Eric Snow is an adequate leader who just can'tmake a shot, and Damon Jones loses focus.... With teams playing more up-tempo,Zydrunas Ilgauskas is not a factor. They're shooting with 16 seconds left onthe shot clock and he's just getting into the post.... Drew Gooden isn't thesmartest guy in the league and can forget what they're trying to accomplish onthe floor. They can get more production from Anderson Varej√£o, a good rebounderand active defender who can score in transition.
In his firstplayoff series LeBron James set 11 Cavaliers postseason records, includingpoints in a game (45), free throws made (he went 17 of 18 from the line) andthree-pointers made (seven).