August 27, 2014

#CavsRank: No. 9 Anderson Varejao, the Wild Thing

varejao

The date was July 8, 2004. It was a Thursday night, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were reeling. It seemed impossible, yet the outcome was simultaneously probable. Some would argue even likely. The Cavaliers took a major risk, and they were burned in a big way.

It was that Thursday night when restricted free agent Carlos Boozer informed the Cavaliers that despite their wink-wink arrangement, he had verbally agreed to an offer sheet with the Utah Jazz. To this day there remains plenty of blame to go around to everyone involved, but the simple fact is that Cavaliers GM Jim Paxson didn’t have to let it come to this.

[Read more...]

Cavs vs Spurs Behind the Box Score: What defense?

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Well, for 12 minutes this was a fun game. The Cavaliers had one of their better first quarters of the seasons, jumping out to a 23-13 lead in the quarter. Unfortunately, that would be about the extent of the fun this evening.

The Spurs roared back with a 37-17 edge over the Cavaliers in the 2nd quarter. The Spurs went from being unable to make anything to not being able to miss a thing. The Cavaliers’ offense was pretty good in this game, but the Spurs’ role players were simply too much for the Cavaliers to handle and the Spurs left the Q with a 122-101 win.

We knew March was going to be a brutal month, and nights like this show why. The Cavaliers really didn’t play all that poorly. The defense obviously wasn’t great fundamentally, but the Spurs just ran their offense to perfection and they overmatched the Cavs. The Cavs shot 48.1% from the field and 52.6% from three, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome San Antonio.

The Cavaliers already slim playoff odds are shrinking even more with every loss. So while the Cavs played decent basketball, there’s just no room for moral victories. At this point in the season, only actual wins and losses matter.

So lets get into the numbers: [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting: Welcome to the new WWW

WFNYBanner www

We’ve been going through some changes here at WFNY in recent weeks. The latest change is to the format of While We’re Waiting. First, you might notice that I’m not Rick Grayshock. Rick deserves a ton of credit for suffering through WWW for so many years. Some might think it was an easy post to do, just throwing some links together. But it was so much more involved than that—carefully curating tips sent to us, pouring through every last nook and cranny of Twitter for any and every last interesting bit of info to share.

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Cavs vs Magic Behind the Box Score: The wins keep rolling in

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

It wasn’t as easy as it could have, and probably should have been, but the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak to six.

The Cavs came out in this game picking up right where they left off in Philly, jumping to a big lead early, and eventually extending the lead all the way to 21. But in the 3rd quarter the Cavs starters stumbled a bit on both ends and let the Magic crawl back into the game. Orlando would hang around the rest of the game, eventually getting within 2. But then Tyler Zeller grabbed a huge offensive rebound and converted an And-1 and the Cavaliers never looked back, coming away with a 101-93 win.

This was by no means a perfect game, but it was a game the Cavaliers needed to win and the bottom line is, they made the plays they needed to in order to get the job done.

Now lets get into some numbers… [Read more...]

Cavs vs 76ers Behind the Box Score: Five in a row

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Cleveland took a four-game winning streak into the All-Star break, and in their first game back they picked up right where they left off. The Cavs got off to a fast start in Philadelphia Tuesday night and they never let up, winning one of their most complete games of the season by an easy 114-85 margin.

While the game was mostly an enjoyable affair, it wasn’t without drama. In the second quarter Dion Waiters threw down a monstrous dunk in traffic, but when he came down and tried to stop his momentum, his left leg locked up and he hyperextended his knee. It was a terrifying moment as Dion laid on the ground holding his knee. Thankfully, worst fears were never realized as Dion was shortly back up laughing with Kyrie. He was held out the rest of the game and for now his status is uncertain, but it seems as if the injury isn’t as bad as it initially looked like it could have been.

Other than that, this game was mostly a walk in the park against a severely struggling Sixers team. Offense, defense, transition…it was all clicking for the Cavs in this one and it’s a great way to keep building on the momentum as the Cavaliers hit the stretch run of the season. Before this game it would have been hard to believe that with Dion leaving the game in the second quarter with injury, Kyrie having a quiet but efficient 14 points and three assists in limited minutes, and Andy being out that the Cavaliers would coast to an easy 29-point victory, but that’s precisely what happened.

So lets get into the numbers… [Read more...]

Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters can use All Star Weekend as a springboard for second half

Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports

Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports

As Kyrie Irving held the All-Star Game MVP trophy above his head Sunday night in New Orleans, his confident smile seemed to give off a sense of relief. In what Kyrie himself has described as one of the toughest seasons of his career, going as far as to call it “a wake-up call,” you sort of got the sense that Kyrie needed this.

This season hasn’t been much fun for anyone associated with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In one of the worst seasons of basketball in the history of the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers somehow find themselves in 11th place in the conference with a 20-33 record. And it took a four-game win streak1 just to make the record look that good. There’s been fighting, poor play, “pouting,” confusion, insecurity, and a complete void of fun in the Cavs’ world.

But something seems to have changed in the past couple weeks. From the moment GM Chris Grant was fired, the team seemed to flip the proverbial switch. Young SG Dion Waiters has spoken openly about how he took Grant’s dismissal personally, taking accountability for his inconsistent if not poor play. But in the wake of one man’s loss, the team did something remarkable. They came together, they started winning some games, and above all else they started having fun. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. the first four-game win streak of the post-LeBron era, nonetheless []

WFNY Roundtable – Reactions to the end of Banner and Lombardi

WFNY_roundtableNever a dull day in the life of covering Cleveland sports. With the news of Banner and Lombardi’s era coming to an abrupt end, we naturally had to have a quick roundtable discussion at WFNY to give our impressions and reactions to the news. Check out the conversation below: [Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable: The unofficial rules of athletes talking or not

WFNY_roundtableThe topic of athletes talking has been prominent in the media in recent days/weeks. Here in Cleveland we’ve seen our fair share of athletes on both sides of the equation. We decided to discuss this topic and see where everyone’s head is at on the issue of athletes talking. Check out the conversation below: [Read more...]

Browns fan politely declines Joe Haden’s offer of Super Bowl tickets

Cleveland Browns Pro-Bowl CB Joe Haden is a fan favorite for sure, and it’s not very hard to figure out why. Since day 1 of his arrival in Cleveland he has embraced and city, the fans, the team, and the culture of the area. He also does things like this:

Haden’s caption on the photo reads:

This is how you know Cleveland browns fans are SERIOUS!!! I called and offered Rhett Super Bowl tickets and a first class flight and he politely declined.#bleedOrangeandBrown

Overall, this is just a pretty cool story. A nice move by Haden to offer the tickets and flight, and you have to appreciate the unwavering loyalty of a fan who has the guts (or maybe stupidity, depending on your point of view) to turn them down to wait for his beloved Browns to be there. He may be waiting for quite some time, but if the Browns should happen to make it in his lifetime, it will certainly be all the more sweet.

EDIT: For those wondering who the fan is, Rhett Wennes is the Browns fan responsible for many of the end zone signs you see, including the infamous TO sign that Eagles WR Terrell Owens once ripped down and the Edwards Butterfingers sign.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: Talking Browns and Offensive Coordinators]

WFNY Roundtable: Talking Browns and Offensive Coordinators

WFNY_roundtableThe Cleveland Browns finally found their new head coach, but now the search for Offensive Coordinator is in full swing. We look at the search and how it might impact free agency decisions. Check out the conversation below: [Read more...]

Cavs vs Pelicans Behind The Box Score: Are We There Yet?

BtBS PelicansAre we there yet? Have we hit rock bottom? Are we at the point of inevitable change? Is this season over yet?

The Cavaliers scored 29 points in the first quarter for the second straight game….and for the second straight game they followed that up with a whole lot of nothing. The Cavaliers offense is an absolute nightmare. And when things go bad on offense, they stop playing defense. And when you don’t play offense or defense you get crushed at home in consecutive games.

The Cavaliers went 1-4 on their homestretch after their successful west coast road trip, which is really the most Cavaliers thing ever. I’m not sure what else there really is to say, other than this is a really, really, really bad basketball team and we’re stuck with them for 3 more months. Buckle up! [Read more...]

Report: Browns select Mike Pettine as coach, working on contract today

According to Bleacher Report Browns columnist and local sports personality Will Burge, the Cleveland Browns have selected Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to be the new head coach of the Browns. Burge began a sequence of Tweets early Thursday morning with all the details:

 

 

 

Pettine, who was a linebackers coach for the Ravens before serving terms as defensive coordinator for the Jets and Bills, is 47 years old and this would be his first head coaching gig. While little may be known about Pettine among many Browns fans, Pettine seems to be well thought of in New York and Buffalo as well as by coaches and analysts throughout the NFL. The question remains, of course, whether he will be able to succeed where Rob Chudzinski failed and last longer than 11 months on the job.

Cavs vs Bulls Behind the Box Score–A Broken Team with No Solution

BtBS Bulls

The Cleveland Cavaliers endured their 5 game road trip and came back with a 3-2 record. It seemed like a real positive….a sign that perhaps this team was finally starting to figure things out and turn their season around.

Coming back home for a 5 game home stand against 5 very beatable teams, this was supposed to be the time the Cavaliers took control of their season and got themselves back into serious playoff contention.

That was the theory, but none of it was true. The Cavaliers once again showed their true colors in the first two games of this home stand. It’s time to face reality. This is a bad basketball team. Poorly constructed, poorly coached, and consistently giving poor effort. The stark contrast between the Cavs and the Bulls is palpable. The Bulls, who lost Derrick Rose to injury, just traded the heart and soul of their team to Cleveland, and were without Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich…all they’ve done is continue to play tough defense, give great effort, and have won 6 of 8 since trading Deng and 12 of their last 16 overall. That’s what a basketball team with heart and determination does. [Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable: Handicapping the Browns’ coaching search

WFNY_roundtable

With the rumor, speculation, hysteria, and paranoia regarding the Cleveland Browns search for a head coach ramping up, we decided to look at a few of the issues surrounding all the noise. Check out the conversation below:
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The WFNY Sportsman of 2013: Terry Francona

Terry Francona had much to celebrate in 2013 (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfel)

Terry Francona had much to celebrate in 2013
(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfel)

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover, WFNY writers have been giving their nominees for our own Sportsman of the Year. After an internal vote, WFNY is pleased to announce the winner of the inaugural WFNY Sportsman of the Year award.

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My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Kyrie Irving

DSC_0389

No other athlete put Cleveland on the map like Kyrie Irving
(Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by an WFNY writer.
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The Dude, Michael, and Joey…who loved bowling

Browns Lebowski

“The Dude abides”

The Big Lebowski is one of the greatest movies of all time. Sometimes when life has you down, all you can do is try to laugh about it. With the Browns coaching search seemingly devolving into chaos once again, I thought it might be fun to intertwine some of my favorite quotes from the movie and paraphrase them through the context of the recent events.

The writing was on the wall. From the moment news started leaking out that the Cleveland Browns were going to fire first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski, the word that fans should look for Josh McDaniels to be the prime target of the team was almost immediate.

It wasn’t long before whispers began trickling through that former Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz was expected to be the Browns’ next defensive coordinator, as long as the new coach didn’t veto the move. If the Browns were high enough on Schwartz to hire him before a coach, it would make sense to look for a coach who specifically wouldn’t object. And what kind of coach wouldn’t object? How about a coach from the Belichick tree who shares the same agent as Schwartz and Browns GM Mike Lombardi?

“Oh yeah, how’d the interview go?”
”Went alright. Dude’s candidate got a little dinged up.”
”Walter, we didn’t make the f—ing hire, man! He didn’t get, the f—ing money and we’re not gonna – not gonna –“
”We’re not gonna hire that poor candidate.” [Read more...]

Cavs vs 76ers Behind The Box Score: A Relaxing Blowout

CJ Miles vs 76ersThey say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

The Cavaliers may not have had newly acquired Luol Deng yet Tuesday night against the 76ers, but they definitely didn’t need him on this night. CJ Miles put on a shooting display and the team offense was clicking in all aspects. The Cavs jumped out to 36-20 lead after the 1st quarter and they never looked back, cruising to a refreshing 111-93 win.

The Cavaliers are expected to have Deng on Friday in Utah as they kick off a 5 game road trip. This game against the Sixers is a great way to head out on the road and adding a player like Deng should give the team a nice boost.

Now let’s get into the numbers… [Read more...]

Cavs trade for Deng a win for the present, but a question for the future

Luol Deng

While many of us were sound asleep on Monday night, Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant was still hard at work. Glasses on, Grant was looking to capitalize on the flexibility he gave the team in structuring Andrew Bynum’s contract in a way that not only protected the team, but also served as a valuable trade item should Bynum not work out in Cleveland.

Needless to say, Andrew Bynum didn’t work out. So late Monday night, Grant finally found the trade partner he was looking for in the Chicago Bulls. At 12:54 am, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert officially welcomed Luol Deng to the team via Twitter.

[Read more...]

Cavs vs Magic Behind The Box Score: Undefeated in 2014!

They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

Anderson Varejao vs MagicThere are ugly games in the NBA. Teams have ugly wins. Then you have whatever this game was. With Kyrie Irving sitting out with a bruised left knee, the Cavaliers played one of the worst basketball games I have ever seen. Thankfully, they played the Orlando Magic.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the first 3.9 quarters of this game. Both teams took turns trying to out-lose each other, but in the final minute of the game, the Magic appeared to have a comfortable 79-70 lead. In the final minute, all kinds of crazy would break out.

Dion Waiters got things started by hitting a pair of FTs. After an Arron Afflalo miss, Jarrett Jack was fouled on a three-point attempt and would make all 3 free throws. Orlando would then get called for a 5 second violation trying to inbound the ball. Dion would make layup to bring the Cavs within two at 79-77 with 10 seconds left. The Cavs fouled E’Twaun Moore to send him to the line with 9 seconds left. Moore would miss both free throws and on the 2nd miss, the Magic knocked the ball out of bounds to give the ball back to the Cavs. Dion then completed a nice drive to the basket to tie the game with 0.6 seconds left and the game would go to overtime.

In overtime, the Magic could only manage 2 points, going scoreless over the final 3:19 of the game, and the Cavaliers pulled away to come up with an unexpected 87-81 win. For most of this game it felt like the Cavaliers were hitting rock bottom. It was offensive to the game of basketball, and it really said a lot about the construction of this team outside of Kyrie Irving. But credit to guys like Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Dion Waiters who all made huge plays at different points and found a way to come up with a win.

Now let’s get into the mostly ugly numbers… [Read more...]