April 24, 2014

Preseason Games Complete, But Cavaliers Far From Finished

Next Tuesday, the Cavaliers tip off against the Washington Wizards in the season opener. A few pesky details have to be decided between now and then. Things like what five players will be on the floor at that tip, and who will still be on the roster.

Coach Scott juggled the line-up for the team’s final preseason game against the Pacers on Tuesday night. “We told the guys at the beginning of camp two spots were pretty much nailed down- Kyrie and Andy. That hasn’t changed.”

Last night’s line-up including Irving and Varejao with Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee and rookie Tyler Zeller starting at center. Scott indicated that had Daniel Gibson not developed concussion symptoms from an errant elbow in practice the other day, he very well could have started instead of Waiters.

What the coach is searching for, is a line-up that works together. One that plays defense as a unit and can run the offense effectively.

Case in point- against the Pacers on Tuesday, Tyler Zeller stepped up his game. He played aggressive and smart basketball.

“I thought (Zeller) played well,” Scott said. “The one thing he did was battled. You know, he went against a guy who’s an All-Star. (Hibbert) I think he played great basketball tonight.”

Zeller finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a big time block against David West. But while Zeller had an outstanding game against an All-Star center, Anderson Varejao seemed to struggle to find his way again as a power forward. Through three quarters Varejao had zero points and three rebounds. Not his usual ‘Andy’ effort. He finished the game with five fouls and seven rebounds with his zero points.

So there lies the rub: Tyler played very well as a starting center, but Varejao had an off game. The whole preseason has been filled with these kinds of pairings. What is coach Scott to do?

Well for starters, the team will continue to practice, and practice hard for the next week. They are nowhere near where they want to be. Truth is, it may take several weeks to figure out what the best line-up is.

Tristan Thompson had a terrible game both offensively and defensively. Alonzo Gee played pretty well. Dion Waiters had a few moments offensively that were really good, especially a couple of two man breaks with Gee. But he didn’t play very good defense. The team as a whole struggled in that department- which you figure a young team will do against a veteran squad like the Pacers.

“There were times when we had four guys do exactly as they are supposed to do, and one guy breaks down. It costs us a basket.”

The team has a week to tighten up before things count.

—-

-For those wondering who the back-up point guard might be, Donald Sloan was the only other PG to play on Tuesday. But he didn’t exactly burn up the court.

-Several players got the DNP-CD who you think would be fighting for a roster spot. I think that shows you how concerned Coach Scott is about finding his first two rotations as opposed to figuring out the last two spots on the roster.

-Byron Scott said many things will determine his starting five. The best five players may not be in that starting group, if that makes the team as a whole better.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    There are still true centers, there’s just fewer of them than ten yeas ago. You really don’t see that? Why are you arguing this point? I think you need to do more original comments on here and less trolling to crap on someone else’s, Steve. Come at me with some stats to back up the fact that there are just as many back-to-the-basket, offensive-hub centers and I will bow down to your superior intellect.

  • Steve

    I don’t know why you’re in a pissy mood that someone doesn’t just completely agree with you. The format is discussion-based. You have to listen to someone else’s opinion and response to your opinion, you don’t get to just say something and have it easily and unanimously accepted.

    So, some facts:

    What I first pointed out, that Varejao has been better, on both sides of the ball at the 4 than the 5, and to be specific to today’s Cavalier team, I think we need to avoid the Lebron era. Last year, he had a 19.7 PER, and a 19.6 PER against, with all his minutes coming at the 5. The previous year, it was 16.3 for and 13.3 against as a 5, and 21.5 for and 10.0 against as a 4. He’s been better at the 4 than the 5 in the last two years, a time period when the number of centers did not change dramatically, you’re moving the goalposts when you say 10 years ago.

    And we still have Howard, Bynum, Gasol, Hibbert Jefferson, Gortat, Noah, Chandler, Camby, Monroe, Kaman, Jordan, Lopez, just off the top of my head. Guys like Zeller are still first round picks. We may not be in the era of Robinson-Ewing-Olajuwon, but we still have more than a couple guys who want to put their back to the basket and bang it up.

  • mgbode

    you forgot it’s a strict Baptist campus that requires jumping through hoops in order to do collegey things like drinking and having sex. and, it’s the central location for the Texas Rangers (cuz college kids love having tons of law enforcement around – not the baseball team).

    don’t diss the climate though. it stinks from May-September, but right now it’s 70 and sunny. and it’ll stay that way till January (i’m in Austin, but close enough). nice climate overall and college kids aren’t around in the summer anyway.

  • Wow

    Will they win? Not many games, but the pieces are there for a bright future.

  • bob

    HAHAHAH your a fool

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I get “pissy” because every time I see one of your comments on here, it’s always argumentative. Either the author is wrong or the person leaving the comment is wrong. I think you’d do yourself a lot of credit by initiating your own thought in the comments section or explaining why you agree with the author of an article. I’m very much willing to accept the opinion of other regulars on here and admit when I am wrong: harv, mgbode, garry_owen, mr_cleav, etc who have proven that they are also open to having their minds changed.

    As for your opinion, I admit that the stats 3 years ago and before show that Varejao was better at the 4 than the 5. Last year he played exclusively at the 5, so we didn’t really get to find out if he would have been better at the 4. The year before that, he only played a couple of games there (you can tell by the stats on 82games because he averaged something like 22.3 points per game at that position). This year we might get to see both again. Maybe you’ll be right, but in no way do I think you have proven that.

    My last point was to verify that the center position has indeed changed. Yes, we still have big guys who play center, but they don’t play the same way. The days of throwing the ball down low and clearing out for Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing, Ostertag, Smits, Mourning, etc are gone. Centers have to move now, offensively. A lot of them are more face-up players like many of the guys you mentioned (Camby, Gasol, Noah, Monroe, Zeller). That’s not to say they can’t hit a baby hook, just that this isn’t their primary mode of operation. There are a lot more offenses predicated on movement. Maybe it really hasn’t changed that much in two years, but my comment about the position having changed I think is still valid.

  • Steve

    There’s a difference between argumentative, and fleshing out a point. If you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone on a certain point, discussing and debating the issue brings out the best of both sides, while exposing any flawed logic. I am open to having my mind changed, that’s why I comment here. That’s why my first line in my original response was asking you a question. I’m looking for deeper insight from you on that position. I welcome any responses or differing opinions. You can’t learn without challenging yourself. Also, when I’m one of the first ones to get to an article, I post my thoughts on the topic. If I get there later, I’ll follow along with the commentary already going on. There is no intentional lack of initiating. And, I see little point in explaining why I simply agree with an author or commentator. going “+1″ doesn’t add anything constructive, and doesn’t create discussion. The up arrow at the bottom of the comment does this task well enough (meanwhile, the down arrow does the complete opposite, it gives people the opportunity to denigrate something without being forced to explain themselves).

    On Varejao, I don’t think we’re that far apart. We both agree that he was better at the 4 than the 5 when he got minutes at both in the same year. We see the development of the last two years differently. I’m not sold that he can play the 4, and think you may be on to something with his quickness. I just think it’s fairly clear he can’t play the 5. (does this work for explaining how I agree with you?)

    And on the center position changing, I felt I was pretty clear in saying it hadn’t changed much in the two years since Varejao became an exclusive center. If you want to say 10+ years, then sure, we’ve seen offensive games that rely more on athleticism and less on skill.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    I thought of the basketball program as well when I was typing that. Not sure what is up with that. They even had the best Women’s player in the world as well. Jury is still out on her though. If you have heard her talk you might think something is fishy there as well…

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I think that what always gets me is the tone of your comments. I understand that you like coming here to exchange ideas and you’re obviously an intelligent person, but it seems like every comment I see from you is to point out a fault in someone else’s logic, and if it’s a first comment then it’s to point out a fault in the article’s logic. I do that from time to time as well, but I like to think that I balance this out by leaving encouraging comments as well. I think saying that you don’t like giving a “+1″ type of comment is valid, but there are many ways to expand on an idea and still agree with it. Likewise there are ways to start a topic that is related to the article without picking apart the article. These are the kinds of comments I’d like to see from you, otherwise how do I know if you are doing anything other than patrolling comments and looking for opportunities to flex your mental superiority? Again, I am not saying this is the person behind the avatar, but this is the only version of Steve that we get to see on here… the one who is looking to find the fault in anything you write.

    I think your comments above about Varejao are fair. I admit that a lot of my comments are based on the eye test and I just go with what seems obvious to my eye, but I also have bad eyesight so maybe I’m wrong more often than I think I am. And just to say it, I actually never said that I thought the center position had changed in the last 2 years… I don’t really think it has much, if at all. I meant changed from what it had been for many decades of basketball. I can see where that would be confusing since I made that statement after talking about how Varejao has slowed down a bit over the past 2 years.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Great comment, Bob. Wonderful insight.

  • mgbode

    hmmm, Bob has made me question my selection of T-Mobile as my carrier despite no issues to date. Perhaps he is correct and I am a fool. Quite the Yoda that one has turned out to be.

  • Steve

    If people want me to say encouraging things and point out the best parts of an article, well, ok I guess. But I still feel it is at least as important to shine the spotlight on, and make people discuss, the weaker points, even if they don’t want to. That’s the only way to eliminate it. We have to be able to trim the fat.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    It’s a deal.

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    Post-LeBron, I have always said the next team to make it to the playoffs will be the Cavs. I still think that’s true, because out of all 3 teams, the Cavs have the best people at the top. Maybe not in the economy, but the “trickle-down” theory works in sports… even small market teams with a good foundation have a chance. (see: the Thunder, as noted previously)

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    that said, if we don’t see improvement (considering outside circumstances like injuries, of course) by the end of next season, then we worry. Little tiny baby steps.