He says: "He got himself a bird."
And he usually follows that up with a sing-songy: "Time to go to the line for two."
But there hasn't been anything sing-songy about what actually happens at the line: Which, at least recently, has been a split of the pair . . . hopefully.
It's become so much of an adventure, or misadventure, that - with the way the Cavs have been scoring from the field - you kind of just want them to forget the song, forget the bird, forget the pump-fake and just take the shot and live or die with that.
I realize that isn't great basketball, but it sure beats bricking free throws.
Cleveland's free throw shooting has been atrocious all season . . . and as of late, it's been even worse.
In November, the Cavs shot 73.4% from the line. In December, they made 74.7% . . . in January, it was 71.5% . . . in February, it was 72.8% . . . and now in March, it's 65.4%.
Sunday's game against the geriatric Boston Celtics was a 104-93 win. It's wasn't a blowout . . . although it easily could've been, if the Cavs would've made some free throws. They went 31-for-48 from the line, which means they missed 17 "free" throws for an abysmal 64.6%.
So, no, the Cavs couldn't even cover their 65.4% average for the month.
[I just Googled "average high school free throw percentage." The very unofficial answer? "About 65%." That seems a little high, but in any event . . . 15 feet is 15 feet. It's always the same. It's a shot these guys have been shooting all their lives . . . a shot the coaches have spent their careers coaching.]
On Sunday, Leon Powe went 6-for-6 and Delonte West went 2-for-2 from the stripe . . . and it went downhill from there. Antawn Jamison missed six (2-of-8), LeBron James missed five (11-of-16), Anderson Varejao missed three (5-of-8), J.J. Hickson missed two (4-of-6) and Anthony Parker split two shots.
Here's some perspective:
On the season, the Cavs are shooting 72.1% on free throws. That's 29th out of the 30 teams in the league. The only team that's worse is the Detroit Pistons, who shoot 71.6%.
The median, the Toronto Raptors, make their free throws 76.5% of the time. The L.A. Lakers are 10th in the NBA at 77.1% . . . and the Dallas Mavericks lead everyone at 81.8%.
The Cavs are being out-free-throw-percentaged by their opponents 76% to 72.1%.
In the last 10 games, the Cavs' free throws are going in at an embarrassing 69.6% clip, which is 28th in the league. The lottery teams Sacramento and Detroit are worse. Over the last five games, the Cavs are shooting 64.9%, which is, by far, the worst in the NBA in that stretch.
So, who needs to pick it up? Well, everyone.
Last season, the Cavs shot 75.7% at the line, while their opponents shot 77%. And I don't know about you, but I don't remember anyone thinking that the Cavs were lighting the world on fire from the line then either.
That number would still have the Cavs in the bottom half of the NBA this season . . . but it was their best average at the line since they shot 77.2% during the 2001-2002 season. (Shout out to Andre Miller.)
Anyway, fast-forward eight seasons.
Take a look at the rough chart I built for the '09-'10 individual players' free throw averages below. If I had better skillz it would be awesome . . . but since I don't, it is what it is.
[It begins with the players' career averages, then lists their percentages for each month this season, then lists their total makes/attempts up through Sunday's game, then lists their season average, then lists the differential, or "The Diff" as The Q likes to call it, between this season and their career average. A positive number is an improvement.]
So what do we get out of this?
Well, good or bad, there isn't one or two guys that are really under-performing.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson and Shaquille O'Neal have drawn plenty of free-throw groans . . . but not recently. Shaq hasn't played in almost three weeks, and I can't really remember the last time Boobie or Z shot a free throw.
Powe's sample size isn't quite big enough yet . . . but Jamison's is. And he's been a train-wreck at the line. In 13 games with the Cavaliers, Antawn is 20-of-46 from the stripe. That's 43.5%. That's sub-Shaq-esque!
Most of the rest of the Cavs . . . including LeBron, who's up 2.8% to 77% . . . are actually shooting at their career average or above it, which basically means one thing:
The Cavs don't have a lot of great free throw shooters.
Remember how I said the Toronto Raptors are the median team in the NBA right now with a 76.5% free throw percentage as a team?
Well, the Cavs only have three players on their roster with a career average of 76.5% or better. Mo, Delonte and AP. And when Z comes back they'll have four, although he hasn't been shooting close to 76.5% this season.
Since stellar (and in some cases, acceptable) free throw shooting isn't in the Cavs' DNA, there isn't a quick fix to snap them out of the funk. The coaching staff (hopefully Chris Jent) is probably working with individual players on their form . . . and the players themselves need to remain focused and relaxed.
There's been a lot of talk about how LeBron and Mo (and others) have some pretty intense competitions in practice involving three-point shooting. If there isn't one already, would it be lame to suggest that they come up with one for foul shooting?
Not everyone has it in them to be a great free throw shooter, but you can improve. Take LeBron . . . over the past five seasons, he's shot 73.8%, 69.8%, 71.2%, 78%, and now 77% from the line.
The Cavs can do it. They're currently third in the NBA in field goal percentage (48.7%) and second in the NBA in 3-point percentage (39.1%).
They're talented enough to hit some 15-foot freebies.
And I hope they start doing it soon . . . because when you get a bird, the bird should be the one that's in trouble. Not you.