April 17, 2014

Cavaliers major in damage control in win over Hawks

Irving winnerComing off perhaps their worst performance of the season in Chicago, and with the news of Andy Varejao’s surgery hitting yesterday it was time for the Cavaliers to do some damage control.

It started with ticket giveaways. I know three people on twitter that got an email or phone call and received free tickets to last night’s game. Myself included. In my section, ticket representatives made frequent visits to those who also got tickets.

Dan Gilbert made an appearance on the television broadcast. He continued to preach the message of patience and letting the young players learn and grow together.

“Our record is just dismal. Frankly it’s embarrassing. I have no problem saying that, but there are spots where you start to see it… Next year I’m hoping we have a significant turn around and then we take it from there.”

The best damage control however, was done by the players themselves.

Kyrie Irving was amazingly efficient in scoring 33 points on just 15 shots. He hit 5 of 6 from outside the arc and was perfect from the line. He had 4 assists, 3 steals and only 2 turnovers in leading the Cavaliers over the playoff bound Hawks 99-83.

Alonzo Gee had a great first half shooting the deep ball and hit 5 three pointers.

Tristan Thompson was great again on the glass, especially on the offensive side. He finished with another double-double, which is becoming quite a regular occurrence since Andy’s injury.

The state of the Cavaliers rebuild has been quite the topic lately. For good reason. The margin for error in the NBA is pretty narrow when it comes to building a championship team. The Cavaliers won the draft lottery in 2003 and picked a once in a lifetime kind of player. What they failed to do was take advantage of that fortune.

After the franchise reset, they again won the lottery and selected Kyrie Irving. Irving may not be able to dominate a game in the same way that James did, but he certainly has the potential to one of the top 5 players in the league- which is good enough. What the Cavaliers can’t do is fail to take advantage of this fortune again.

Which is why the margin for error is so small.

What could the Cavaliers have gotten for Anderson Varejao before his injury this year? We’ll never know. Reportedly, it would have taken a lot to get Andy. And that is a good thing. Nobody was calling for the Cavs to trade Andy for just the best offer at the moment.

For Varejao’s value to be maximized, the Cavs would have needed him to stay healthy and productive through December and into the trade deadline season. Let’s face it, everyone else knows Andy’s injury history.

But that option is now off the table.

The Cavaliers must continue to improve on the court, and they must hit on their draft picks moving forward. They will likely have a top five pick again, and have the Heat’s pick as an asset to use as well. It is imperative that the Cavs get another potential star with these assets.

At least for the very short term, the Cavaliers may have put out a few fires with their effort last night.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    That was an extremely fun game to watch. I continue to be impressed with the evolution of Tristan Thompson. I admit that at first I figured that he was probably just bolstering his stats due to the lack of Varejao to take away from them. However, TT is showing real improvement out there even, as Dan Gilbert said, compared to six weeks ago. Dan said something interesting, which was that Tristan was misunderstanding what the coaches wanted him to do. Something like, he thought that when the coaches were asking him to get the ball up to the hoop quickly, he thought they meant he should try to dunk it every time, which was causing him to get his shot blocked a ton. I’m not sure I believe it happened exactly like that, but I could see Tristan believing that a dunk was the surest way to get the ball into the hoop quickly.

    Anyway, awesome game from Kyrie… he was simply dominant. Waiters was a mess in the first half but got his act together in the second. Gee was the opposite, looking really strong in the first half, and playing out of his comfort zone in the second. I liked what I saw from Kevin Jones… he is all hustle and actually made a jump shot. Looks like a good defender who hedges well on the pick-n-roll. Zeller was quiet but effective… really excited to see how he looks with a summer of putting on good weight. Oh and Livingston… man, I am a fan of this guy. Love the way he plays. Seems like a guy with talent and a high basketball IQ who is happy enough just to be on a roster. He said he thinks Byron’s offense is a really good fit for him, and I tend to agree. Solid defender too, his length really bothered the Hawks’ guards.

  • mgbode

    have the game taped. but, am interested in what you saw with Livingston last night. from past years and the limited amount he’s played this year, he has been sort of “blah” to me. good passer, but lost his explosiveness and not a good enough outside shooter to make up for that.

    as you know, I want to find a backup PG badly (just to make the 2nd unit passable). would love if Livingston is that guy (as we have him). please expand.

  • ChadF

    Living in Southern California for almost five years I came across a ton of Lakers fans. Most were diehard, but outside of Showtime Lakers, Shaq and Kobe they really didn’t care about anything else in the NBA. In fact most Lakers fans I ran into were uneducated about the NBA in general. It’s all about entertainment in LA and I think most Laker’s fans realize that seeing Lakers games as more of shows than sport. I’m not saying there are not educated Lakers fans but they are few and far between.

    With that being said, i will never again root for the Lakers as much as I will be this year. As many already know, if they don’t make the playoffs their pick goes to the Suns and we take the Heat pick. If they do make the playoffs, at this point, we would have another pick between probably 16-21 and the Heat pick would go to the Suns. That’s either the last pick of the first round or a good slot in the middle of the draft.

  • mgbode

    another way of saying it: the difference between a pretty sure solid contributor (Tyler Zeller) and a complete shot-in-the-dark project (Christian Eyenga)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Thompson has and will be the key as you said he seems to be “getting it” more and definitely alot faster then I thought he would given the way he started. I said before the season he needed to step up this year and show something and for the last week and a half he’s been doing exactly that for me.

    Waiters and Zeller just need time. I still really like Zeller he’s a foundational player though not a dynamic superstar just a really solid fundamental player. Like you say additional strength and I’ll add knowledge should only benefit him. As for Waiters he needs probably more time along with some strength and conditioning but he’s shown he has skillz. I particularly like the fact that he goes to the basket a ton. His shot is faulty but I believe he can improve upon that with work. You can’t become a slasher/driver as easily as you can become a decent to solid shooter IMO. In fact Michael Redd was on NBATV last night during Gametime discussing that very thing. He was talking about how he didn’t think of himself as a shooter out of Ohio State but that he developed that skill more, honing it simply because he played shooting guard and a shooting guard has to be able to shoot.

  • FrenchToast

    Don’t forget that Heat pick can be swapped with the Lakers pick. The Cavs will be just fine, and Andy will be an important part of our playoff runs in the next two seasons.

  • DK45

    Only if the Lakers make the playoffs, a prospect that appears dimmer by the day

  • BenRM

    TT might have been hurt a bit by not getting as many minutes last year. It seems his progress has increased exponentially now that he sees more and more important minutes.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Livingston reminds me of a younger Andre Miller… he doesn’t have the same ability to draw fouls, but I think they play similarly. Defensively, his length allows him to grab rebounds, block shots, and be a general nuisance, but he is a little slow in trying to keep up with the faster guards. Offensively, he has solid range out to about 18 feet, but it doesn’t extend to the 3-point line. Like Miller, I think Livingston’s strength is in taking smaller guards (and most of them are smaller) into the post, and generally making good decisions from there whether it’s a turnaround jump shot, a shot-fake-and-drive, or a pass from the post. So in that way I think he’s better as a combo guard than a true point guard and benefits from being placed with another combo guard. I don’t think you want Livingston running the pick-and-roll a ton… I don’t think he’s great in that role.

  • Kildawg

    If Thompson and Zeller both become constant double-double machines, the Cavs would truly have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. Add the superstardom of Kyrie Irving, plus compliments makes this team competitive. If James comes back, we could win a championship with this team (a very good SF gets us to good playoff contenders, maybe championship).

  • SDA

    I thought the big thing I saw last night was a mental change. They poured it on when they needed to and mentally beat the Hawks.

  • Yup

    Livingston even now is still more athletic that Miller. I can’t help but chuckle that you compare him to Miller because facially he looks EXACTLY LIKE HIM! Haha!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Haha, I would say both of those comments are true.

  • ThatAlex

    I think more of that had to do with the Hawks coming off of a back to back and tough schedule.

  • SDA

    Ill take what I can get. Sometimes it just takes one win for the light bulb to go on. Austin Carr was saying the same thing during the game. It was like for once they had that killer instinct we see from good teams. It gives me hope.

  • mgbode

    thanks. i’ll watch him with that in mind.