July 29, 2014

Cavs vs Raptors Behind the Box Score: One ugly way to win a game

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

The Cavaliers started out playing great basketball on both ends of the court. In the 3rd quarter they extended the lead to 18 points at 81-63. Then they turned the offense switch to the “Off” position, and with with just under 7 minutes remaining in the game, Greivis Vasquez hit a three point shot to put the Raptors up 95-94.

The Cavaliers would quickly take the lead back and would lead the rest of the way, but it took a little luck down the stretch. The Raptors missed a couple good looks and the Cavaliers held a three point lead with 12 seconds left. DeMar DeRozan then drove and was fouled by Alonzo Gee. DeRozan only made one of his two free throws and after a Cleveland timeout, the Cavaliers were inbounding at midcourt with 7 seconds left.

This is where the Cavaliers’ inbounding issues would strike yet again. First Luol Deng was handed inbounding duties, and when nobody was able to get open, he called a timeout. Then Varejao was given the job of inbounding, and once again with nothing really developing, he tried to throw it in to Deng along the baseline, but the ball sailed out of bounds. It looked like the refs missed a foul on the play, but regardless, its embarrassing that the Cavaliers still can’t operate an inbound play in late game situations.

Thankfully, though, the Raptors decided to return the favor with a bad turnover of their own on their last possession and the Cavaliers hung on for the 102-100 win over a playoff team in the East. The Cavaliers continue to play hard without Kyrie Irving, CJ Miles, or Anthony Bennett, it’s just a shame it’s happening now that the playoffs are but a minute possibility.

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

LaQuinton Ross going NBA, Sixers keep losing, and Community: While We’re Waiting

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I’m currently writing this while fighting a fever, so this will probably be a little shorter WWW than I normally write, so please bear with me….

LaQuinton Ross going pro? I heard whispers all season long that Ohio State junior forward LaQuinton Ross would be heading to the NBA after this season. I never really believed it. I believed he wanted to, but I didn’t he was good enough to actually do it.

Well, I don’t know if I was right or wrong on whether he’s an NBA player, but he evidently really is entering the draft. I don’t really get it. I understood why Deshaun Thomas went pro last year. He had probably peaked as a scorer and he was getting in a shallow draft while avoiding this year’s supposedly loaded draft. But Ross lacks the consistency that Thomas showed and he’s entering what some consider to be one of the better draft classes in recent memory. I hope it works out for him, but I really don’t get it at all. [Read more...]

Cavs vs Heat Behind the Box Score: So close

Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cavaliers came into this game against the Heat without Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, and CJ Miles (for the most part, anyway…CJ played just 2 minutes). A lackluster performance could have been expected. Instead, the Cavaliers played a great all around game and took the Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade, down to the wire.

The Cavaliers had their chances down the stretch, but a ridiculous no-call on a Dion Waiters drive, combined with LeBron James hitting all six of his free throws, proved too much to overcome. Waiters hurt his hip on the play as he landed squarely on it, which made things even tougher for the Cavs. Yet Jarrett Jack, who had a season high in scoring, hit a couple late threes to keep things interesting, but LeBron just wouldn’t miss any FTs and the Heat came away with the win.

But still, the Cavaliers deserve a lot of credit for the heart they showed in fighting right down to the wire against one of the NBA’s best teams.

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

Kyrie’s injury, Browns draft thoughts, and The War on Drugs: While We’re Waiting

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Kyrie Irving out at least two weeks. It’s that time of year. The season is down to the final month, the Cavaliers are slipping out of playoff position, and the injuries are piling up. The latest victim is Kyrie Irving, who left Sunday night’s game with an injured bicep. After an MRI revealed a strain in the long head tendon of his left bicep, Kyrie has been ruled out at least two weeks.

It could very well be more than that, though. The two week period is merely the rest period. After that, he will be “re-evaluated” and then the Cavaliers will decide how to proceed. Without Irving over these next two weeks, an already difficult schedule looks insurmountable. If the Cavaliers are out of the playoff hunt and chasing the bottom of the lottery, it makes you wonder if they would just hold him out for the rest of the season. We’ll see.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers respond to Kyrie being out. Many Cavs fans have been anti-Kyrie all season long, placing the majority of the blame for this season on his shoulders. If there’s truth to that, will the Cavaliers play better without Kyrie? Will Dion Waiters step up to fill the scoring void that Kyrie is leaving behind? If nothing else, these next two weeks will be interesting from that standpoint, just to see what affect Kyrie’s absence has on the team and whether its a positive or a negative.  [Read more...]

Andrew and Craig talk about Z’s jersey, Rashard Mendenhall, Wahoo and more – WFNY Podcast – 2014-03-09

WFNY Podcast LogoAndrew and Craig break down a bunch of things regarding Cleveland sports. Chief Wahoo, Cleveland fans battling each other, Rashard Mendenhall’s retirement decision, Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ number retirement, Dion Waiters tweeting at fans, and all kinds of TV stuff.

Check out this episode!

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...]

The Browns shouldn’t put too much stock in Brian Hoyer

105-20130726-0178_600Part of the Browns’ off-season has obviously been a debate over what priority the Browns should place on which positions.1 Some fans prefer that the Browns draft a quarterback no matter what. Some fans prefer standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins who showed off his skills against the (mostly) popular Ohio State Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl. There are more still that don’t name a specific player but insist on the Browns taking the best player available at all times. I largely stand with this last crowd, but I also recognize a clear and obvious premium that must be placed on the quarterback position in the NFL. With that in mind, while I don’t have any kind of mandate in mind that I want to try and artificially put on the Browns, I can’t help but think the Browns would be wise to hedge against the wild fantasies about Brian Hoyer proving to be a franchise quarterback.

There are enough examples in history that make our dreams of Hoyer becoming the next Kurt Warner legitimate enough. Could it happen? Of course it could. But there’s at least equal chance that Hoyer won’t become the next Tony Romo.2 He could just as easily be Kelly Holcomb. In many of Holcomb’s 24 career NFL starts, someone thought they’d have a chance to win with Holcomb. In those 24 starts, Holcomb went 8-16, including his 4-8 mark with your Cleveland Browns. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Opening sentences to Browns posts feel like massive understatements lately. []
  2. Some of you might argue that Romo isn’t good enough either, I bet. []

#CavsRank: No. 15 Andre Miller

andremillerA guy like Andre Miller can get lost in the shuffle. A four-year player out of mid-major-at-the-time Utah. Drafted 8th in a deep 1999 NBA Draft class that included the likes of Lamar Odom, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Richard Hamilton, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, and Elton Brand. Drafted into an organization that has had some great point guards in its history such as Mark Price, Terrell Brandon, Kyrie Irving, Mo Williams, and yes, rookie LeBron James to name a few. Playing for the Cavs at one of the low points in franchise history following the mediocre Fratello era, Miller may always be remembered as the last good player that preceded a great player and era in Cleveland. However, as difficult as it was at the time, without Andre Miller being traded, there would’ve been no LeBron James, no Eastern Conference and pair of Central Division banners hanging in Quicken Loans Arena for the Cavaliers. [Read more...]

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 []

Conflicted about Kyrie: A look at why Cleveland hasn’t completely embraced their latest superstar

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Kyrie Irving is about to speak to the huddled mass of media that surrounds him in the Cavaliers locker room. The Cavs just defeated the Sacramento Kings to earn their only three-game winning streak of the season. For the first time in my short tenure of covering the team with press credentials, the other media members seem to actually be in a jovial state. We’re all waiting on Irving to give us the okay to question him. He has this sort of informal ritual he does before speaking with the media in the locker room. On all the occasions I’ve seen him speak, he has been showered and in the process of getting dressed to go home before accepting questions. The media stands patiently around him. He buttons his shirt, shakes out his shoulders, and rubs his hands across his face. He’s ready to speak though I’m admittedly already not paying attention. I should feel somewhat irresponsible for this, but I don’t. I have plenty of questions I’d love to ask Irving. The problem is there’s almost no chance of him giving me an interesting response. [Read more...]

Cavalier Film Room: A window into the Anthony Bennett skill set

When we were last in the film room, we took a look at the Cavaliers over-helping on three-point shots and the resulting consequences. As always, if you have any ideas for film room topics, contact me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com. This week, we’re going to look no further than Anthony Bennett’s performance against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night and how it showed a preview of what Bennett can become as a player. You can find my NBA Draft film room on Bennett here.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

By now, you’ve seen the stat line: 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 6-of-9 shooting in 30 minutes to lead the Cavaliers’ to their third straight win at the time, a 109-99 victory over the Kings at home. It was much more than Bennett’s first career double-double, however. In this game, we saw a decent chunk of the skills and potential that made the now-terminated Chris Grant choose him with the first overall pick. We’re seeing a slimmer, more confident Bennett, and we’re going to take a look at a few of those instances. [Read more...]

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...]

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:
[Read more...]