July 30, 2014

Cavaliers Continue Final Week of Season in Memphis

Only 3 more chances to watch Kyrie Irving this season

Here we are, three games left in this shortened NBA season for our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers. This 66 game season has been interesting. It feels like the Cavaliers play pretty much every night, which has been amazing as a fan of this team but has to have been incredibly trying on the players.

I’ve maintained all year long that I kind of liked the lockout shortened season. I’ve liked being able to turn on League Pass any given night and having literally like 10 games to watch. It was cool having the league kick off on Christmas, giving the already important holidays game even more importance. Sure, the play at times this season was sloppy due to the hectic struggle, but it was a non stop basketball assault of the sense, and I loved almost every minute of it.

But the problem with a compressed 66 game season is that it’s over just as soon as it begins. It’s hard to believe that this is the final week for the Cavaliers. That after Thursday night in Chicago, we won’t see Kyrie Irving and the rest of our Cavaliers play a real game until late October.

So what’s left for this year’s team to prove? Not a whole lot. I was happy to see Kyrie Irving come back from his injury and prove that not only is he ok health-wise, but he continues to prove he’s the best rookie in this class (by a mile, in my opinion). The Cavaliers were down and out, playing the worst basketball I’ve seen them play since the streak. It was encouraging to see the way the team responded to Kyrie’s return. It was important for Kyrie to come back and prove he’s not injury-prone.

The Cavaliers played tough against Philly, they beat the Knicks, and played really strong in San Antonio before ultimately losing. It’s clear that Kyrie Irving makes a huge impact on this team, and that’s what we needed to see.

Beyond that, all that’s left for this team is lottery position. The Cavaliers currently have the 5th worst record. They are half a game ahead of Sacramento and 1.5 games ahead of New Orleans. Getting 3rd position isn’t impossibly, but it looks less likely than it did a week ago at this time. 4th still looks like the sweet spot for this Cavaliers team.

Tonight the Cavaliers travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. Memphis currently sites in 5th place in the West, with a chance to catch the Clippers for the seed and thus securing home court advantage in the 1st round. So you know Memphis is going to come out and give everything they have in this game.

I’ve long stopped going too much into the X’s and O’s in trying to break down what I think might happen on the court and ways either team can matchup or create mismatches. To be honest, the Cavaliers stopped playing with any kind of consistency so long ago that it’s impossible to predict which version we might see. Will we see the team who is down 50 points after 3 quarters to the Pistons, or the team who beats the New York Knicks?

The Grizzlies are the type of team the Cavaliers typically don’t play well against. A team with good size, who defends exceptionally well, and who is tough on the offensive glass. By no means do I expect the Cavaliers to win this game, but I am still interested in seeing guys develop. I feel like Tristan Thompson has slowly been coming along lately. It’s not translating into huge scoring numbers or anything like that, but you can see a comfort level setting in. I’d like to see Tristan finish out these last 3 games with 3 really strong efforts.

Finally, these last 3 games are one last chance for Manny Harris and Donald Sloan to prove they deserve a roster spot next year. Both could potentially fill a role: Sloan as the backup PG in limited minutes, and Manny as an instant-offense guy off the bench. Neither one has shown enough yet that they deserve a spot or can fill said needed roles. They have 3 more chances to do so.

  • Jack

    The victory against NYK was atrocious. Killed the buffer that saved us from a win vs. WAS.

    It’s not fairly likely they drop to 6th or 7th. 

    Man, sure glad we beat the Knicks. I mean, we showed them. 

  • Jack

    now*

  • BrownsFanSF

    I blame the Knicks, Charlotte could have beat them that night.  They literally did not show up.

  • Harv 21

    literally, pretty sure they did. (sorry, pet peeve).

    Did notice that Carmelo went off for like 38 their next game. Nothing says “I know I was a dog” like Carmelo going for 38.

  • BrownsFanSF

    I didn’t see that, but it makes sense.  They came out as flat as I’ve seen a team (not literally, I think there were three dimensions :-) ).  Coming out firing the next game is Melo doing a “mea culpa”

  • Jack

    This is out of control

  • Jack

    50% from 3

    what the * are they doing?

  • Jack

    TOR going full-on tank…blowing big lead vs. Milwaukee.

  • Jack

    Unreal.

  • @wes_ryan_

    reading that tyreke evans may be available this offseason. i’d love to see him at the 2 or 3 next season, it may only cost our late first, too. a five of irving-evans-gee-tt-anderson would be fun to watch. not to mention our high lottery pick.

    -a working history with the sac front office
    -coach scott willing and assumably able to whip evans into the star he should be
    -a point guard that will make sure the ball doesn’t stick in evans’ hands
    -with kyrie, less pressure to carry the franchise

    .. any thoughts?

  • DontbringLBJback

    I really like DeRozan from the Grizzlies… maybe because he has looked so good against us this year.  He’s young, solid defender, and he can go off for 20 points on any given night… that being said, would love J.J. Redick as well.  We really need SOMEONE that can drain 3′s all day long, and J.J. has proven he’s a heck of a shooter.  Evans would be my third choice.  I just hope we sign one of them.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Don’t expect Cleveland to build through free agency. Tyreke Evans is a player I love, but not a fit for Cleveland. DeRozan (who plays for Toronto, not Memphis) and Redick are decent players, but I’d be stunned if the Cavaliers went after either. Cleveland is going to build through the draft while stockpiling cap space. Only once they have a core nucleus of young, good players do I expect them to start adding free agency pieces. 

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Jack, despite us not always agreeing, I’m a big fan of yours…but holy cow was this an epic meltdown over a game the Cavaliers lost in the end anyway, haha. 

  • Jack

    Haha, I know. I felt bad. Unfortunately, I still don’t have a Twitter account and my meltdown led to my co-opting your thread. 

    All due apologies.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    No need for apologies. That’s what this site is for. A collective support group for all the craziness Cleveland sports teams put us through.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Cleveland Browns redux, Indians redux it’s a Cleveland sports team greatest hits!

    At least there are less positions to fill.

  • DontbringLBJback

    Yeah, meant Raptors… brain fart I guess.  :) 

    But Andrew, don’t you think they need to add a key FA this off season, and another next off season in order to compete?  I think TT is two years away from being an impact player, and hopefully Gee improves into a SOLID starter by then as well.  But we need to add 2 really good players in order to have any chance for the playoffs in 2 years.  Andy’s going to be 32 in 2 years, so he will likely be backing up TT or other bigs at that point (if he’s still on the roster). 

    Just seems like we need to put a solid long term piece in the mix right away, and lock them in for 5 years.  Evans or DeRozan would look real good in wine and gold.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Honestly, I don’t think the Cavaliers expect to compete next year yet. They’re losing Antawn Jamison, and I know we all like to rip on the guy, but Jamison gives the Cavaliers 17-18 points a night, and that scoring probably isn’t going to be replaced. The Cavaliers are potentially an Anderson Varejao injury or trade away from being worse next year than this year. Being in the top of the lottery next year again might be in store for this team. The Cavaliers don’t want to spend a lot of money on someone like DeRozan now when they know they’re not ready to compete yet. This thing is a process, and we’re still very early in it. The worst mistake a team can make is getting impatient and trying to rush things by making rash free agent signings. 

  • DontbringLBJback

    You’re right, and it’s a scary thought… Andy has missed 100 games the last 2 seasons.  But don’t we have to build in free agency as well?  I mean, if you only use the draft (this applies to the Browns too), it will take 5 years to build the team, but in 5 years Kyrie and TT may well be gone, right? 

    We all make fun of the Yankees because they just spend like crazy but they don’t always win (well, and we hate them).  But, you know what… they’ve won 27 times.  They win the freakin World Series one out of every 3 years on average for the past 90 years!!! 

    This build through the draft crap is just that… crap.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    In general I would agree, but basketball is a unique sport. Because only 5 players are on the court at one time, one player has an enormous impact on his team. Basketball is a sport when teams routinely build through draft and trades. Very few teams build via free agency in the NBA. Those who try it often have disastrous results. 

    Eventually, yes, the Cavaliers will need to try to add pieces via free agency, but that’s all they need there….pieces. You get your core talent from drafts and trades.