April 21, 2014

Is the Cavaliers’ Win Streak a Mirage or the Start of Something Different?

cavs_nuggets13“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.” – LL Cool J

On Wednesday night, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were working on putting away the Denver Nuggets for the first win streak of the season, Cavs fans on Twitter began to rejoice. With good reason, too. After the miserable month of November for the Cavaliers, the team was coming off back-to-back home wins against playoff teams.

Perhaps some got a little carried away in their exuberance. Austin Carr called the win “the shot heard ‘round the league”. Others seemed to be channeling their inner Walter Sobchak in proclaiming “our f***ing troubles are over, Dude”. Of course, in the case of Walter and the Dude in The Big Lebowski, their troubles were actually really only just beginning. But what about the Cavaliers? What are we to make of their November troubles?

A two game win streak isn’t the kind of thing most teams celebrate. It’s certainly not something I expected to see Cavs fans celebrating in early December. But that’s the kind of season it has been. Predictable in its unpredictability. And amongst the mounting frustration and anguish of media, fans, coaches, and players, answers kept seemingly growing only in their elusiveness.

After the Cavaliers let a late lead in New Orleans slip away to the Pelicans, followed up by the San Antonio embarrassment the next night, there really seemed to be a sense that everything was slipping away. It was the moment the players had to unite as one and collectively take a hard look at themselves in the mirror. The fate of the season seemingly standing of the edge of a precipice, unclear which way it would go. Would the players give in and let everything fall off the edge? [Read more...]

Cavs vs Wizards Behind The Box Score: Too Little, Too Late…Again

BtBS WizardsThey 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.

For the 2nd time in this young NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers attempted a furious late game comeback. And for the 2nd time, they fell short in the end. In this one, the Cavaliers appeared well on their way to a 30 point home loss to the Washington Wizards. But undrafted free agent rookie Matthew Dellavedova used his effort to spark some life in the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving began taking over.

With 6:35 left in the 3rd quarter, John Wall hit a shot to put the Wizards up 73-46. Mike Brown called a timeout and made wholesale substitutions, bringing in Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavedova, Anderson Varejao, and Henry Sims. That unit began chipping away at the Wizards’ lead. In the 4th quarter Kyrie Irving came back in and began scoring and attacking and the Cavaliers would climb all the way back to within 4 points at 90-86 with 1:39 left in the game.

The Cavs defense got a big stop on the ensuing Wizards possession, but Earl Clark was called for a brutal loose ball foul that negated the Cavaliers rebound and gave Marcin Gortat a pair of free throws. This was followed up by a Dion Waiters travelling violation and with that the comeback lost steam and the Cavaliers eventually fell 98-91. [Read more...]

Cavs vs Timberwolves Behind The Box Score: Another Blowout

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.

Kyrie IrvingI’ve been staring at a blank page for about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to start writing about a game like this. I rarely second guess myself when it comes to basketball. I watch a lot of basketball and it generally makes sense to me. That’s not to say I’m never wrong about things. I most certainly am. But I never doubt my understanding of why things happen and how I came to the conclusions that I have.

Yet tonight I find myself questioning a lot. I don’t have any answers for what’s wrong with the Cavaliers this season. I can’t figure out whether this is just a young team going through some early season growing pains, or if this is a serious problem. I find myself questioning if I was wrong about Byron Scott. Is it possible that this is just a collection of players who don’t care and who give up at the first sign of things going sideways?

I generally try to trust my instincts, so here’s what I think after a game like this. I think outside of Indiana and probably Miami, the Eastern Conference is filled with nothing but flawed basketball teams. I think making the playoffs is still something the Cavaliers will be fighting for all season. I think the Cavaliers will eventually start playing better basketball and go through some stretches of winning basketball. I think Mike Brown is doing everything he can to get through to this team. Whereas Byron Scott was content to sort of just let games like this play out, Mike Brown was continuously calling time outs, mixing up lineups, and searching for anything to spark this team. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Still Searching For First Road Win of the Season

Dion Waiters vs Minnesota“Are the Cavaliers at home or on the road tonight?”

If you ever find yourself pondering this question, there’s a simple exercise to help you figure out the answer.

Step 1: Look at a Calendar and notice the month

Step 2: If the calendar says “November” the Cavaliers are almost certainly playing on the road.

The end. The Cavaliers are basically living out of suitcases in November thanks to an unfriendly schedule draw to start the season. On Wednesday night the Cavaliers must travel north to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves for what feels like about the 20th road game of the season1. While playing on the road obviously isn’t preferred over playing at home, it certainly isn’t the end of the world for most teams. For the Cavaliers, it has been.

The Cavaliers join the Utah Jazz as the only 0-5 teams on the road this season2. Cleveland could certainly use a road win to get this monkey off their back, but breaking the streak in Minnesota is no small task. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. it’s actually “only” the 6th road game of the season []
  2. there are a few 0-3 road teams as well…Brooklyn, Detroit, Chicago, and Memphis…Orlando is 0-4 on the road []

NFL News: Cleveland Browns Audition Three Running Backs

After the Cleveland Browns traded Trent Richardson following Game 2 of the season, they added Willis McGahee to take his place. The results of that pickup have been less than overwhelming, as McGahee has rushed for 262 yards on 100 carries with 1 TD. With the aging McGahee being the only thing standing between the Browns being without a featured back, it would make sense that the team would be keeping an eye on the free agent pool for potential help. Especially as the Browns suddenly find themselves in contention once more.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the Browns are doing just that:

None of the 3 RBs were signed, but obviously the Browns are continuing to keep their options open at RB.

The Browns travel to Cincinnati this Sunday to face the Bengals with a chance to draw even in the loss column.

[Related: Redemption Song: Davone Bess’ bounce-back]

Game 8: Cavaliers vs Bulls Behind The Box Score

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.

Kyrie Irving Derrick Rose BullsThere are different degrees of losses for sure. Some losses are better than others. I’m not sure I would go so far as calling something a good loss. That would imply value in losing, and that’s such a dangerous proposition. I certainly don’t want to be back in a position where losing games is a good thing, especially this early in the season. But on the sliding scale of losses, this loss to the Bulls wasn’t as bad as some of the other losses.

It’s not that the Cavaliers played particularly well. In general, this was an ugly game with a lot of bad basketball being played. But the Cavaliers showed a lot of spirit and heart in this game, coming back from a 2nd half deficit to get within 1 point in the 4th quarter before things fell apart a bit. But playing Chicago hard on the road really is progress. After seeing so many 20+ point blowouts over the years, it was just nice to see the Cavaliers come out and play the Bulls tough for once.

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

Cleveland Browns News: Quentin Groves Out For Season

Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski announced Monday that outside linebacker Quentin Groves needs to have surgery on his injured ankle and will be placed on Injured Reserve, thus ending his 2013 season.

Groves came to Cleveland from Arizona along with Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton. A natural leader and someone with experience in Horton’s system, Groves was looked to as someone that could help the Browns’ linebackers with the transition from 4-3 to 3-4. Groves initially injured his ankle in week 2 and the injury has slowed his productivity all year and kept him off the field for much of it.

Groves will end the year with 4 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble in the limited action he was able to see on the field.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Film Room: Blitzing the Ravens]

Kyrie vs Rose: (Almost) The Matchup We’ve All Been Waiting For

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago BullsIt’s the matchup three years in the making that all of us have been waiting to see. Well, sort of. On Monday night in Chicago, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose will play against one another in an NBA game for the first time. That’s the good news. The bad news is that neither player is really playing like themselves so far this young season.

Rose is certainly struggling more than Irving this season, and perhaps that’s to be expected. After not playing in more than a year recovering from his ACL tear and surgery, Rose has a lot of rust to dispose of. After averaging more than 21.8 points and 7.7 assists per game in his previous two seasons, Rose is down to just 14.4 points and 4 assists per game this season. Rose is averaging more turnovers per game than any other player in the league (5.0 turnovers per game) and his PER is a staggering 5.271. A career 46.1% FG shooter, he’s shooting just 32.0% this season. Never one to struggle going at the rim (he’s never shot worse than 52% from inside 8 feet), he’s suddenly shooting just 35.9% from inside 8 feet this year. In other words, getting back to his form has been a bit of a struggle for Rose.

Irving, on the other hand, is experiencing some troubles of his own, but very different struggles from Rose.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. the previous two seasons he had PERs of 23.62 and 23.10 []

Cavaliers Seek First Road Win of the Season in Milwaukee

Jarrett JackWriting about basketball teams on a micro game-by-game basis is sometimes a daunting challenge. Not that it’s hard to find things to write about. In the NBA season, there are almost always storylines galore. No, the hard part is deciphering what matters at the 5-game point of the season.

A lot of us get over eager to project early season results in the context of an 82 game season. It’s only natural. We don’t know what the future holds. We only know what little evidence we have.

So when the Cleveland Cavaliers have been so wildly inconsistent through 4 games, it makes it even harder to separate fact from fiction. This gets amplified even more when you consider this is an all new coaching staff, there are 4 new players getting meaningful playing time1, and a new focus on defense that these players aren’t used to.

My point here is this, the Cleveland Cavaliers we are judging today are almost certainly not what the Cleveland Cavaliers will be when we look back on this team after the 82nd game of the season. But when we formulate our final verdict on the 2013-14 Cavaliers, these 4 games will be included in there. It’s a small part of a larger story that is being told. We just don’t know how the story ends yet, and in that context, it seems pretty foolish to say anything definitive about this team. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. 5 if you count Anderson Varejao []

Game 4: Cavaliers vs Timberwolves Behind The Box Score

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.

David Liam Kyle/NBAE

David Liam Kyle/NBAE

A win is a win, right?

Blowing 20 point leads is a sore subject for the Cavaliers and their fans. After blowing many 20 point leads the last few seasons, as things began to fall apart in this games, the inevitable seemed to be closing in around the Cavs.

But outcome is all that matters, really. When the final record is tallied at the end of the season, this will count as a W, same as if the Cavaliers won this game by 20. While Byron Scott had to live with the record of losses after holding 20 point leads, Mike Brown will carry this one as a win on his record. Never mind that the Cavaliers did indeed blow a 23 point lead and had to rely on Minnesota not converting on the final possession of the game. When people tally the number of times that this year’s team blows 20 point leads, they won’t count this one. That’s why winning is the only thing that really matters. The Cavaliers beat a hot 3-0 Minnesota team. That’s the only thing that counts.

But you better believe Mike Brown is going to have a few things to say to his team about this game. I know I sure have a few things to say as well. So let’s get into the numbers… [Read more...]

Game 2: Cavaliers vs Bobcats Behind The Box Score

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.

Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

In Game 1, the Cavaliers played like a Mike Brown team. In game two, they played like a Byron Scott team. Of course, that’s not entirely fair to Byron Scott. If Coach Scott is going to take the blame for lackluster energy and defensive effort, then Coach Brown deserves the blame for the way the Cavaliers started this game.

The Cavs fell back on old bad defensive habits in the first quarter and dug themselves a hole early. Unlike the Nets game, when the Cavaliers were able to regroup and take a lead, the Cavaliers just never could seem to overtake the Bobcats. Every time the Cavs went on a run to close the gap, the Bobcats would quickly extend their lead.

The second  half was a little better on the defensive end, and the Cavaliers’ bench was able to do some things to get the Cavs back in the game. Once again the game down to execution in the final two minutes, but in this game it was Bobcats who made the plays and got the stops to secure the win.

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

Cavaliers Look To Escape Slow Starts of Past Seasons

20131101-190143.jpgYou wish the excitement of an opening night win by the Cleveland Cavaliers would last forever, but ultimately, the excitement fades and the grind of the regular season begins.

The Cavaliers aren’t strangers to opening night wins. Well, at least not in the post-LeBron era, anyway. Believe it or not the Cavaliers were 2-5 in openers with LeBron James on the roster, and are 3-1 in openers in the time since. Of course, some of that1 is due to the Cavaliers being scheduled in a lot of prime opening matchups against other good teams. But still, the post-LeBron Cavaliers have had a lot of success on opening nights.

Of course, those opening night wins haven’t turned out to be the best indicators of how the season was going to go. In 2010, the Cavaliers won what was one of the most memorable opening night games of our lives. It sounds shallow now, but in that moment, playing the first game without LeBron, the fans bonded and stood behind that team for that one night as the Cavaliers knocked off the Boston Celtics, the very team that put an end to the LeBron era. Unfortunately, the team lost their next 3 games en route to a 7-10 record through November. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. and by some of that, I pretty much mean all of that []

Game One: Cavaliers vs Nets Behind The Box Score

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.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Opening nights are generally fun regardless, but there’s simply nothing better than getting that first win under your belt in game one.

The Cavaliers got off to a slow start, but after a Mike Brown timeout with the Cavs trailing 10-2, both teams settled into a nice groove and for 3 quarters this a pretty solid, well played basketball game. Then the 4th quarter happened.

In the 4th, things devolved into an ugly defensive grind-fest which carried with it an almost playoff like atmosphere. The crowd was into and the game felt like it hinged on every single possession for the last 4 minutes. In the end, though, the Cavaliers were able to make plays to get the needed baskets and they were able to get defensive stops when they needed them.

And defense was the story of this game for the Cavaliers. Lets get into the numbers.

[Read more...]

Cleveland Cavaliers Open the Season with Hope, Excitement, and Something New….Expectations

Cleveland Cavaliers

Season 44 of Cleveland Cavalier basketball tips off tonight at 7:00 at The Q when the Wine and Gold host the new-look Brooklyn Nets. That much we know for sure. Beyond that, so much of this upcoming season is a mystery. But the nice thing about the unknown is that it can offer equal parts hope and excitement.

Hope is nothing new for Cleveland. People often mistakenly assume that Cleveland sports fans are miserable and hopeless. Well, we might be miserable, but for some reason we never let go of hope.

There was hope that the post-LeBron Cavaliers would still make a playoff run with the likes of Mo Williams, JJ Hickson, Antawn Jamison, and Daniel Gibson. There was hope that Byron Scott would bring a fresh, new, exciting brand of basketball to Cleveland. There was hope that Brandon Weeden in his 2nd year would make the leap into a competent QB and lead the Browns to a meaningful season. There was hope that an overachieving Indians team could ride their hot streak into the playoffs and make an improbable run at the World Series.

So maybe our hope isn’t paid off very often. But this unrequited hope is what makes Cleveland sports fans so great. And never is hope more abundant than on opening day of any season. None of this is new. I feel like every year on opening night I write about the hope of a new season and the quality of the unknown and blah, blah, blah. It’s all a fine sentiment, but all it’s ever done recently is precede a gut-wrenching season of miserable basketball. [Read more...]

NBA Previews – Central Division and Northwest Division links

Kyrie Irving shoots over the Thunder's Serge Ibaka during the second quarter Saturday in Cleveland. Irving had 35 points in the Cavs' 115-110 victory. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The start of October represents the start of NBA Training Camp and Preseason. And with those come our annual NBA Blogger Previews. The Cavaliers’ preview was last week and now here are the links for the rest of the Central and Northwest Divisions. Check out the links and let us know in the comments which teams are your favorites to win each division.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: Blog a Bull
Cleveland Cavaliers: Fear the Sword | Waiting For Next Year
Detroit Pistons: Detroit Bad Boys
Indiana Pacers: Indy Cornrows
Milwaukee Bucks: Brew Hoop

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: Denver Stiffs
Minnesota Timberwolves: Canis Hoopus
Oklahoma City Thunder: Welcome to Loud City
Portland Trail Blazers: Blazer’s Edge
Utah Jazz: SLC Dunk

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

It’s time to say goodbye to Chief Wahoo

wahooI have spent a lot of time and energy in my life defending Chief Wahoo. In many ways, I love Chief Wahoo. It’s an image that reminds me of my youth, of my mom and dad taking my brother, sister, and I to a game every year. It reminds me of talking Tribe with my late grandfather. It reminds me of Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Charles Nagy, Jim Thome, and Sandy Alomar Jr. It’s a sacred image for many fans of the Cleveland Indians.

I also believe that it’s time to put Chief Wahoo out of his misery and remove the image from any association with the baseball franchise. The sooner the better.

My change in stance on this issue has been a slow one, but it really picked up speed in recent weeks. Things really started to change with the Indians’ recent playoff game against the Rays. The TBS crew at one point aired a shot of a group of Indians fans who had painted their entire faces red with an enormous, exaggerated white toothy grin. [Read more...]

2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Kyrie All StarThe 2012-13 season for the Cleveland Cavaliers was an up and down season. Mostly downs, but there were some nice stretches of good basketball mixed in. But the recurring theme of an almost defiant refusal to play any defense whatsoever night in and night out became too much for head coach Byron Scott to survive. And so the Cavaliers begin the 2013-14 season with a new head coach, a new identity and philosophy, a new hope in a veteran All-Star center, a new potential in the #1 overall pick, and a new sense of purpose for achieving a higher goal. And oh yeah, they still have Kyrie Irving, too. Will the new season deliver new results, or will the Cavaliers continue to watch the playoffs from home? Let’s take a closer look at the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers.

Team Name: Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Year’s Record: 24-58 (5th in the Central Division)
Key Losses: Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, Shaun Livingston, Daniel Gibson, Omri Casspi, Luke Walton, Byron Scott (coach)
Key Additions: Andrew Bynum (free agent signing), Jarrett Jack (free agent signing), Earl Clark (free agent signing), Anthony Bennett (first round draft pick), Sergey Karasev (first round draft pick), Carrick Felix (second round draft pick), Mike Brown (coach) [Read more...]

Cleveland Cavaliers’ C Tyler Zeller out for first preseason game

The Cleveland Cavaliers announced Monday afternoon that 2nd year center Tyler Zeller has suffered a left hip flexor strain and will miss Tuesday’s preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Cavaliers describe the decision to hold out Zeller from the first preseason game as “precautionary”.

Zeller injured the hip when he slipped on the slick court and fell in the 3rd quarter of Saturday’s Wine and Gold Scrimmage. Due to the unseasonably warm weather and unusually high humidity for October, condensation was an issue for much of the scrimmage and when Zeller went down, coach Mike Brown called off the rest of the scrimmage.

Zeller was given an MRI at the Cleveland Clinic which confirmed the hip flexor strain. Zeller is being treated and limited to non-contact drills in practice. Zeller averaged 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game in his rookie season with the Cavaliers.

[Related: CJ the Great, Masfresco the Mentor]

NBA Previews – Atlantic Division and Pacific Division links

Joe Johnson, Stephen Curry

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The start of October represents the start of NBA Training Camp and Preseason. And with those come our annual NBA Blogger Previews. The Cavaliers’ preview will be coming tomorrow, but for now, here are the links for the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions. Check out the links and let us know in the comments which teams are your favorites to win each division.

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: CelticsBlog Celtics Green | LucidSportsFan | CLNS Radio | Celtic Fan Chat | Truth On Causway | Sonics Rising
Brooklyn Nets: Nets Daily | Baller Mind Frame
New York Knicks: Posting and Toasting
Philadelphia 76ers: Liberty Ballers
Toronto Raptors: Raptors HQ

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: Golden State of Mind 
Los Angeles Clippers: Clips Nation
Los Angeles Lakers: Silver Screen and Roll
Phoenix Suns: Bright Side of the Sun
Sacramento Kings: Sactown Royalty | Baller Mind Frame

Cleveland Indians Wild Card Playoff Live Blog

Believe it or not, once upon a time in WFNY history, Cleveland teams played in big games. Games that mattered. Postseason games. And one of our favorite traditions back in those days was the WFNY Live Blog, where we could invite our readers to watch the games in real time with us as a community.

Well, since playoff baseball is here again, we figured it was only fitting to bring back the Live Blog. The event is scheduled to start at 8:00.