April 24, 2014

Statistical observations following another non-playoffs Cavs season

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers

Remember how much fun the playoffs were? From 2005-2010, spring time basketball in Cleveland was fun and exciting. If you recall, there were chants of “Eric Snow for MVP” one year – perhaps my favorite sports memory ever – and that’s how in love we once were with playoff basketball.

If the past few days of amazing back-and-forth games showed me anything, it’s that as a fan, I yearn to be back in that position again soon. Very soon.

As a stats-minded individual, I also know that the Cavaliers haven’t had it that bad … yet. Missing the playoffs four straight seasons isn’t that rare in the NBA. Several teams are on longer droughts currently. Heck, imagine how difficult life would be out in the Western Conference.

Continuing with that stats-centric hat, here are six observations I’ve been mulling over from the conclusion of this funky #seasonofhuh. Before we get started, go check out the pieces from my WFNY colleagues Ben Cox and Andrew Schnitkey so far. Both were outstanding.

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Video: Kyrie Irving’s top ten plays of the season

The NBA put together a top ten plays of 2013-2014 video for Kyrie Irving.

Matthews *and* Manziel? While We’re Waiting…

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Mock City, USA. With the NFL Draft just a few weeks away, the frequency of the ever-popular mock draft is going to pick up—immensely. One of my favorites thus far, if only from a Cleveland Browns standpoint, comes from Rotoworld’s Evan Silva. Silva hedges his bets throughout, saying that he “doesn’t pretend to know what will happen at the draft,” but then has the Browns landing Johnny Manziel…at No. 26. This, after they select Jake Matthews (hey, if we couldn’t land Clay, we may as well get his cousin, right?) at No. 4. Then in the second round, he has the Browns landing Marquise Lee from USC, a player who many had in the top 10 of the 2014 Draft as recent as a season ago.

Don’t get me wrong, this would be an absolute haul. I also give it about Bluto Blutarsky’s shot at happening1. For starters, I still see Manziel going in the top eight. Secondly, if he doesn’t, he’ll get scooped up in the late teens or early 20s by a team willing to take a gamble—the Browns would get jumped. This said, as big of a Manziel fans as I am, I’m totally fine with Matthews. As WFNY commenter Jim Kanicki said best in his latest podcast, you can’t go wrong with the bloodlines.


The NBA Playoffs will only serve to be frustrating for Cavalier fans. So many quality games, so many quality players—many of whom were selected after various Cavaliers and are doing really, really good things for their team. Watching guys like Kemba Walker (20 points, five boards, six assists) and Damian Lillard (31 points, nine rebounds and five assists) do big things for their respective teams is great for them, but just so maddening for anyone who is a fan of Cleveland. Charlotte is in the playoffs largely because of the gamble they made on Al Jefferson and Portland is stacked, so the apples we’re comparing aren’t exactly the same. But it’s very difficult to watch a team like the Bobcats—who is where they are despite a complete failure in drafting Bismack Biyombo before Walker—knowing that the Cavs could’ve been playing postseason basketball if not for such a horrid, horrid start to the season.

Some bonus Cavs coverage comes in the way of Jason Lloyd, who pegs Andrew Bynum as the common denominator of failure for 2013-14. Check it out.


On a good note regarding the Cavaliers, WFNY’s Ben Cox (Writer of the Year), Jacob Rosen (Best Written Cavaliers Article of the Year, “Everything we know about the Cavaliers and Analytics“), and Joe Mastrantoni (Up and Coming Writer of the Year) for cleaning up at Stepien Rules’ 2013-14 STEPY Awards. I’m proud to know that WFNY houses some of the best Cavalier writers on the planet. Do I wish they had the chance to utilize their skills on a competitive franchise? You bet your sweet ass. That said, covering a losing team for an entire season is even tougher, and these guys deserve all the credit they receive.


While the Tribe is struggling a bit out of the gate, Let’s Go Tribe takes a look at the players the Indians chose not to re-sign. Raise your hand if you’re a Tribe fan and knew that Ubaldo Jiménez’ ERA is north of seven.


It didn’t take long for Clint Frazier to get the call. The Tribe’s red rocket is officially a member of the Lake County Captains. Frazier made his 2014 debut going 1-for-5, scoring a run and had a RBI as well as the team ended its losing streak, winning 6-3 and are now 5-9 on the year. Last year Frazier played 44 games in the Arizona Rookie League hitting .297, with 32 runs scored, 11 doubles, five triples, five homeruns and 28 runs batted in.


Spoiler-free Mad Men thoughts: Sally Draper episodes have become exponentially better than non-Sally Draper episodes.


Cochella thoughts: Welcome back, OutKast.


And just because: Paul Pierce, falling down.



  1. Zero. Point. Zero. []

2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers and the #seasonofhuh – WFNY Podcast – 2014-04-17

WFNY Podcast LogoI got Ben Cox to come on the podcast to discuss the 2014 Cleveland Cavaliers. He dubbed it the season of huh.

From the Cavaliers drafting Anthony Bennett, to hiring Mike Brown, to firing Chris Grant to Matthew Dellevedova being the Cavs’ best rookie this year.

It was one for the ages.

Make sure you go read Ben’s post at WFNY on the topic.

Check out this episode!

Kyrie Irving continues to screw with Cavs fans


With less than a week remaining in the regular season, Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving continues to play games with Cavalier fans who are concerned about the All-Star point guard’s future with the team. This past weekend, Irving vaguetweeted in a way that would make a teen girl blush out of admiration, putting the following tweet in quotes.

A quick Google search leads to nothing in the way of a well-known (or even obscure referenced) quote. Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Jodie Valade dug into the ever-enlightening pages of UrbanDictionary to find out that “jumping the fence” means “the moment when you are trapped in a bad situation, and you are quickly trying to get away, hoping things won’t get worse.”

Earlier this month, the point guard was the subject of an interview wherein he was not painted in a pretty light, one which stated that “his camp” had been intimating that he yearns to leave Cleveland. The rumors were quickly refuted, Irving stating that reporters should “be man or woman enough” and ask him directly. Well, on Monday, Irving was questioned about the tweet, to which he responded, “I’m going to let you dissect that. I’m just going to let you dissect that. Whatever you want to think about that.”

The Cavaliers could be eying up a ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, placing them with the worst odds at the NBA Lottery and one spot outside of the postseason—this is commonly known as NBA Limbo. Irving is expected to be offered a contract extension this summer, which he could accept or decline. He’s just 22 years old, has all the talent in the world, and continues to be scrutinized every step of the way. He can will his team to victory one night and take the next one off, expecting nothing in the way of direct or indirect recourse. He holds most of the cards, but has grown increasingly frustrated when being asked to show them. Whatever he meant by that tweet, it’s going to be a long two months.

(Photo via Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Kyrie and Dion love-fest and keeping the Wahoo narrative alive: While We’re Waiting

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The dumbest press conference ever? – Have you ever seen a press conference where teammates had to stand before the media to tell everyone how good of friends they are? I certainly hadn’t….prior to yesterday:

How would Irving describe his relationship with Waiters?

“Honestly, off the court and on the court, we’re the best of friends,” he said. “So when we come on the court, we’re just going to play basketball like we’ve been doing the past few games and our focus is on winning right now.”

Added Waiters, “On behalf of [Irving], myself, I just think we’ve been in so much media this year, and it’s not fair to either of us.

“I just think, man, throughout this whole year with us two not liking each other, it’s total BS. We’ve been friends before we even made the NBA, before any of this. I just think y’all saying we don’t like playing with one another …

“Yeah, we still need to learn certain things. But I think at the end of the day, we’re genuinely friends. I love him as a friend, teammate, everything. I just want everybody to know that. I don’t hate this guy. I’m pretty sure he don’t hate me. I know he don’t hate me. I hope he don’t hate me. Rome wasn’t built in one day. We’re still young. We’re still planning to stay together. We’re still working. As long as we’ve got great communication down, it’s fine.”

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Are the Browns jerseys going grey? While We’re Waiting…

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Could the Cleveland Browns new uniforms be less Brown? A discussion in the Browns sub-Reddit sheds some light on what 2015 may bring in the way of the new look Browns.

The design that looks like it’s going to be chosen can best be described as a happy medium between Minnesota and Seattle.

Let’s start with the helmet. A flat matte finish in a color I can only describe as “candy orange” with a matching color facemask and sublimated striping enhances the look of the helmet without sacrificing it’s iconic image.

The Jersey is candy orange with silver accents and brown trim. A custom block font is meant to invoke a blue collar feel. The stripes are subliminated and higher up on the sleeve, kind of like large spaghetti straps.

There are three different pairs of pants, Orange, gray and Brown. There is no Brown jersey, but rather a gray with orange chrome accents and white with the same. The pants have the same sublimated striping as the helmet and jerseys.

While this can only be classified as rumors to this point (as the official uni is supposed to be kept “under tight security”), we know for certain that the Browns will be getting their new uniforms for next season and will be unveiling them before the 2015 NFL Draft. We also know that Nike is in charge these days and that matte helmets are all the rage. Jimmy Haslam said that he will not be altering the logoless lids, so this corroborates such. Where things get interesting are with the jerseys which are orange and…silver? If the brown jersey does in fact disappear, this would be a tectonic shift for Cleveland, but one that’s in line with the rest of the new-wave NFL uniforms. They’d also be in line with what the Tennessee Volunteers, Haslam’s collegiate ties, have unveiled for themselves. There’s plenty of smoke here…


Chris Grant, Sour Grapes? In what may be the strangest angle to come out of the Kyrie Irving “unhappy in Cleveland” story from late last week, FOX Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico pieces the puzzle together to tie things back to since-been-fired general manager Chris Grant. While he rightfully slams Bleacher Report for their nonsensical rumor surrounding Dion Waiters earlier this year, he pegs Grant as a potential source of some of these new negative stories.

I am being told by executives and insiders around the NBA that former Cavs GM Chris Grant has been spinning stories. Grant, of course, was fired in February. I’ve always really liked Grant personally, even if I didn’t care for the way he refused to make himself regularly available to local media. But one insider told me Grant “is considered a buffoon around the league: Dishonest, incapable and full of (beans).” It wasn’t the first time I heard something like that, and I still often get that vibe about Grant when talking with other GMs.

Grant now has a reputation as someone who is attempting to tell the world the Cavs will be one huge disaster without him. I have no clue if he’s talking directly to national writers — but he at least talks to people who talk to those writers (and, obviously, to me). I’m not saying Grant had an influence in Windhorst’s comments. I’m not even trying to imply that. Brian is certainly dialed-in and intelligent enough to form his own opinion on things. But beware of other yarns involving the Cavs. The one thing I learned long ago in this business is that, sometimes, sources have agendas. The key is to pay attention to what takes place on the floor and in the locker room, and don’t get too caught up in the “he said, she said” stuff.

Kudos to Amico for going Inside Baseball on this one. As someone who has been pen-and-pad deep in the Cavaliers locker room this season, reading something like this—something that doesn’t look like a robotic lede-quote-supporting stats game recap that often comes out of the local beat—is refreshing. Beat reporters have the tireless job of following the daily minutiae and can fall into the trap of regurgitating the same quotes we all hear in the post-game airing. Whether Grant is spinning stories or not, Amico is reporting things that aren’t reformatted from a press release.


Drake is essentially a teenage boy without guidance. I like Drake, the musician. I think Nothing Was the Same was one of the better albums of 2013, especially when it comes to hip-hop. I think this Michael Paterniti profile from last summer was insightful. But Drake the person? Man…

If you hadn’t heard, Drake was spotted celebrating with the Kentucky Wildcats following their win over the Wisconsin Badgers this past Saturday night. Drake is Canadian. He’s never lived in Kentucky. Yet, when asked about his Kentucky fandom, he said he has “always” been a believer in the big blue. Thankfully, the kind folks at SBNation called Aubry Drake out on his bullish—, linking him to the Miami Heat, Johnny Manziel, Manchester United and countless other front-running gobs of nonsense. You know how LeBron James was a fan of the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys? Well, he may have met his match. I was fortunate enough to witness Drake’s All-Star weekend antics live and in person. He’s the kid at the local library in a Steelers jersey. Never be that kid.


And just because: More Drake.


The drama continues: Kyrie Irving calls out Josh Gordon

kyrie edit

The drama permeating from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room has officially transcended over to Berea. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has shot back at Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon for comments the NFL receiving yards leader made about the Wine and Gold. From Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

“Guys like Josh Gordon need to stay in his sport and mind his own business. Does he still play for the Browns? I’ll continue to root for the Browns, but in terms of this stuff here, what goes on in this locker room, he needs to stay out of it.”

Earlier this week, Gordon, speaking in an ESPN interview, said “I talked about it with Dion [Waiters]. He’s my neighbor in my building so we hang out all the time. I’m aware of the rift in the locker room. That’s just alpha males and supreme athletes trying to share the spotlight.”

In a move that isn’t likely to do much for his Q Score amongst Cleveland fans, the receiver already responded to Irving’s declaration, doing so via Instagram.

In his attempt to stay out of the middle of a war of words between two of Cleveland’s most popular athletes, Waiters said that “[Gordon] can’t put words in my mouth. That’s his opinion. That’s what he thinks. I can’t stop a man from saying that. That’s what he thinks.”

While Irving’s “does he still play” comment is a bit empty given Gordon’s recent barrage of national media attention, the message is very clear: Gordon should be staying in his lane. As if Cleveland’s trench of sports-related issues wasn’t deep enough…

Silver lining: At least Kyrie Irving roots for the Browns.

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

Kyrie Irving takes to Twitter to defend himself against reports

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard took to Twitter following his team’s brutal loss to the Atlanta Hawks and shot back at reports that he, once again, wants out of Cleveland.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, in an interview with Cavs: The Blog, stated that Irving’s “camp” has been leaking desires of the player wanting out of Cleveland “for years.” Windhorst stated that the All-Star point guard is not a fan of head coach Mike Brown and was not a fan of Chris Grant—the latter who was fired mid-season.

There has been smoke billowing out of the Irving rumor mill for most of the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately for the player and fans alike, the true “clarity” can’t come until July if or when he signs a contract extension.

Kyrie Irving mastering the art of “The Return”

Kyrie Irving Orlando Magic 20140402

It was just three years ago, almost to the week back in 2011, when an 18-year-old Kyrie Irving took to the basketball floor for the first time in what was a three-month span. Having sustained multiple torn ligament in his right big toe, Irving, one of the college game’s most heralded prospects, rejoined his team during the men’s Division I tournament, one of the most celebrated win-or-go-home stretches of play in all of sport. As Irving’s teammates filled in admirably in his absence, lifting the Duke Blue Devils to the top seed in the region, questions surrounded his decision to return—team chemistry notwithstanding, with an NBA paycheck in his not-so-distant future, was Irving risking too much by lacing them back up?

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Cavs vs Magic Behind the Box Score: Signs of a fun April?

AP Photo/John Raoux

AP Photo/John Raoux

Talk about a boring game. But boring in the best way ever.

The Cavaliers were ready to play from the start in this one, and they never let up as they absolutely crushed the Magic by a 119-98 score. This one had a little bit of everything and everyone. Kyrie Irving came back and played well, Dion Waiters just kept doing what he’s been doing, Spencer Hawes had his best game in a while, and Tristan Thompson had a double-double. So yeah, it was a good game.

With every win the Cavaliers continue to keep the playoff hunt interesting. The Knicks and Hawks are virtually tied for the 8 seed, with the Cavs lingering just two games back. The Cavs’ chances would be a lot better if they were only chasing one team instead of two of them, but still, with six games left to play, this thing isn’t over yet.

Now lets look at a few numbers… [Read more...]

Late Opening Night, Joe Banner’s Office, HIMYM, and Cloud Nothings: While We’re Waiting

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I had a dream last night that the Cavaliers got into the playoffs and beat the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. It was one of those ultra-realistic dreams, too. Like, the kind where even when you wake up and you know it was a dream, you still think it might have been real and you check your phone to see if was actually reality. Well, it wasn’t reality……yet? I guess it depends on what time the dream took place. If it was before midnight, it was still March 31st and I think it was a prophecy. If it came after midnight, though, it would have been April 1st and thus just a cruel April Fool’s prank my body and mind played on me. I guess in a couple weeks we’ll find out if I am a prophet or a fool.

Oh, hey, there was Indians baseball on last night! Too bad I missed most of it….

It’s completely ridiculous for MLB to make an EST team open the season at 10:00 pm – I am absolutely furious about this. I can’t remember the last time I missed an Indians’ opening day game, but I had to miss last night’s opener. My alarm goes off at 5:00 am and there’s just no way I can stay up after 1:00 am on a Monday night. I realize some people can and do, but it just seems like an absolute slap in the face from MLB to make the Indians play their first game at 10:00 on the east coast. If you’re going to make an east coast team open the season on the west coast, at least have the game played at 1:00 or 4:00 local time so all fans can enjoy the game.

Now, having said all that, there’s really nothing like opening day in baseball. Yeah, I love opening night in the NBA, and the first NFL games are always fun. But there’s just something special about the start of the baseball season. It announces the arrival of spring with authority and the romanticized nature of the sport lends itself perfectly to the pomp and circumstance of the moment. [Read more...]

Has Dion Waiters (finally) arrived?


After a season rife with rumors of trades and fistfights, is this—finally—Dion Waiters’ coming out party?

Dion Waiters stood outside of his locker, squinted his eyes and shook his head as a half-smile-half-grimace formed on his face. It was early January, just days after the calendar turned to 2014. The Cleveland Cavaliers had just lost a heartbreaker to the Indiana Pacers, contenders for the NBA title, and he came pretty damn close to pulling off a miracle that would have propelled his name even further up the ranks in the minds of Cavalier fans. The Cavs were playing in their third game without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving who had fallen victim to a bruised knee. In Irving’s absence, Cavs head coach Mike Brown opted to go with Matthew Dellavedova at point guard, an undrafted rookie out of St. Mary’s who had grown a bit of a cult following due to his never-ending hustle, rather than Waiters, who was drafted fourth-overall just a year earlier. [Read more...]

Nike Zoom Irving, Alex Mack’s Free Agency, and Fred Hoiberg Dancing (Kind of): While We’re Waiting

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Good morning and good week, my friends. I’m back, Captaining the Good Ship While We’re Waiting after a weekend full of Madness. Before you even begin to scroll, let’s make sure you threw WFNY a few votes for Best Sports Blog and Best Podcast for Cleveland Scene’s Best Of for 2014. Now, as we head in to our final week without regular season baseball, we should take a look at the lay of the land, focusing on the important and ancillary. Let’s dig in…

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NBA Rumors: Cavs looking to sign Seth Curry to 10-day contract?

Seth Curry

While this can only be classified as a rumor, there appears to be some smoke billowing out of a potential 10-day contract between the Cleveland Cavaliers and guard Seth Curry. Initial reports of Curry joining the wine and gold started to creep out early Wednesday morning and have picked up some steam since.

Leung’s tweet suggests that Curry has already inked a contract, but there’s been no announcement from the team. Curry, brother of Warriors star Stephen Curry, had a brief stint with the Grizzlies earlier this season after going undrafted this past summer. Curry was also in camp with the Warriors in the fall, but he failed to make the opening-night roster. The 6-foot-2-inch guard is averaging 19.4 points and 5.9 assists in 35.3 minutes per game for the Santa Cruz Warriors. He was also the namesake for (Grantland’s) Shane Ryan’s first home as a blogger—so there’s that.

The Cavs have a full 15-man roster, though half of the 15 are experiencing some sort of ailment1. They could terminate their 10-day contract with forward Shane Edwards to make room for Curry or could simply wait for Edwards’ deal to expire this Friday night. With expectations of Kyrie Irving (who played with Curry at Duke in 2010-11) missing the rest of the regular season with a biceps injury, Curry would provide much-needed depth behind Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavedova and CJ Miles.

Photo: Michael Conroy/AP



  1. Seriously. Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, Luol Deng, CJ Miles, Matthew Dellavedova, Carrick Felix and Dion Waiters are all on the injury report in some form or fashion []

Your 2014 (Offseason) Champion Cleveland Browns: While We’re Waiting

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Tell me how my Ben Tate: So how about these free-spendin’ Browns? While some national types will want to parse apart the $7 million given to Ben Tate this past weekend  (Phil Dawson money!), Cleveland locked up a 25-year-old without much in the way of mileage on his tires. Sure, those tires have had trouble staying affixed for the last few years, but we’re talking about a guy who thrived in a zone blocking scheme in Houston, who will now be given feature-back carries in a similar offense with chip on his shoulder and a chance to prove his worth. Plus, HE’S ONE OF US.

Sign me up.

Speaking of, this may deserve more in the way of an in-depth discussion, but there’s something to be said about the front-loaded nature of these Browns free agent deals. The bulk of Karlos Dansby’s money is up front; Donte Whitner’s appears to be relatively similar. Same can be said for the two-year deal given to Isaiah Trufant and the four-year deal offered to Andrew Hawkins where $10.8 million (of the $13.6 million) will be provided to him in the first two seasons. I don’t have the energy or desire to analyze what the Browns’ situation looks like beyond 2016, but things appear to be mighty flexible. I would imagine this means good things for the Josh Gordons and Joe Haden’s of the world.

Ouch: Talk about a bi-polar road trip. While you were counting sheep, the Cavaliers were shocking the world on a West Coast swing, coming up with wins against the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately for Cleveland and any remote playoff hopes, not only did they fall victim to the always dangerous Los Angeles Clippers, Kyrie Irving may be done for the season with a biceps injury. Brother left Staples Center on Sunday night with his left arm in a sling. Also not helping matters: This week’s schedule brings both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder to The Q.1 Enjoy the road show, folks.

Ohio State: I’ll obviously be pulling for the Buckeyes this weekend when they look to escape the first two rounds (Yes, they’re the first two rounds—nothing the NCAA will change what normal—read: non-paid individuals—call them), but it will certainly be a tough road. If they can scrape past the Dayton Flyers, they’ll be forced to tackle the zone defense of Syracuse. They may not score 40 points. Someone has to provide the Scarlet and Grey with a consistent scoring option—you can only live on Aaron Craft’s defense for so long. The missed free throws certainly will not help. Here’s a March Madness prediction: Several shades of red emanating from Thad Matta’s high-definition face this weekend. Book it.

And just because… Cricket: A sport Brandon Weeden could actually be good at.



  1. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Tristan Thompson who bottomed out in Sunday’s loss, scoring just two points on 1-of-6 shooting with one rebound and three personal fouls in 20 minutes of action. Over the past four games, shooting 8-of-28 from the field with more fouls (12) than combined assists, steals and blocks (nine). Come celebrate his birthday this Thursday! []

Kyrie Irving may be done for season with biceps injury


When Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving left Sunday night’s game with an apparent biceps injury, hopes were that he could rest and make it back for Tuesday night’s contest against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Updated reports, however, have a bit of a different story: Irving may be lucky to make it back for any of the team’s remaining games as an MRI may prove to end his season.

From Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:

Irving, the Cavs All-Star point guard, left the game with a left biceps injury late in the first quarter, and he left the arena with his left arm in a sling. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday in Cleveland, but two NBA sources indicated the injury could be severe enough to end his season in the worst case scenario.

“That‟s the nature of the business, to go out there and try to contribute,” said Irving’s teammate Jarrett Jack following the game. “[Kyrie Irving] is our key guy. Leading the team, fueling the break, so a number of us have to step up in his absence.”

The Cavs sit at 26-41 with playoff hopes faint enough to merely tease us at this point (4.5 games back with 15 to play), losing Irving for an extended amount of time—or the season—would be enough to pull the plug.

Setting a goal to play in all 82 games this season, Irving, prior to this injury, missed just three games to this point due to a left knee contusion. He suited up several times after succumbing to a form of a stomach flu and even played through a broken nose suffered in a contest with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Results of Irving’s MRI should be known by late Monday.

(Image: Scott Sargent/WFNY) 

Salazar’s debut, Playoffs?, and True Detective: While We’re Waiting

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Is Kyrie Irving overrated? #CavsRank is still going on, and number eight on the list is Kyrie Irving. Mallory Factor wrote an excellent piece on Kyrie for Cavs: the Blog, and it ignited quite a debate in the comments over there. Well, it wasn’t so much a debate as an outright revolt against the pick, with most of the comments feeling Kyrie in no way deserves to be ranked this high on the list.

On one hand, it does seem crazy that a guy who has yet to finish his 3rd season in the NBA would be considered the eight best player in team history. On the other hand, Kyrie has a list of individual accomplishments that few Cavaliers can match. Rookie of the Year, two time All-Star with one All-Star starter nod, All-Star Game MVP, three point shooting champion, Rising Stars MVP, three-time Rookie of the Month, two-time NBA player of the week. He’s 3rd in franchise history in career points per game, 8th in assists per game, and 2nd in player efficiency rating.

While he is still extremely young and his teams have not had much (any) success, the unfortunate reality is that the Cavaliers as a franchise simply don’t have a wealth of all time great players and Kyrie’s three seasons have been almost as good as anyone’s. The ranking system is a collaboration of a ton of Cavs writers that I really respect and, honestly, eight probably sounds about right to me for Kyrie. [Read more...]

Kyrie Irving takes blame for early miscommunication with Spencer Hawes


The minds of professional athletes are often wondrous when you can catch them off-guard. Not in that sort of ‘gotcha’ moment, but one where they’re forced to think before replying to a post-game inquiry. We’ve discussed the heady nature of one CJ Miles many times around these parts, but a player like Kyrie Irving is often grouped in with the quiet, canned answer-types. And who can blame anyone for this categorization as the two-time All-Star transforms from perky to lethargic the moment the video cameras and voice recorders turn on.

After the cameras had been turned off and the beat reporters had fled to file their game story before deadline called, I asked Kyrie Irving about playing alongside the Cavaliers’ newly acquired center Spencer Hawes. “Have you ever played with a big man with the same skill set as Spencer?,” I asked. Irving, scooping laundry up off of the floor and placing it into a white, drawstring-topped bag, paused. He did that move that is oh so typical amongst 20-somethings, especially athletes, who are asked a question that wasn’t expected, sucking in a corner of his mouth, squinting one eye and looking off into the distance—deep thought comes packed with physical collateral, after all.

“No,” said Irving, mentally chronicling his entire playing career. “I can’t think of anyone.”

This season alone, Irving has largely been flanked by big men who have had nary a play designed for them. Since Hawes’ arrival in Cleveland, despite his 15 points and 10 rebounds per night, there have been multiple instances where Hawes has set a pick for Irving, subsequently rolling to the top of the key or wing, awaiting a wide-open three-point attempt. This, obviously, is counter to many other big men who roll toward the rim for a higher-percentage finish. Instinct has forced Irving to pass toward the baseline, leading to a turnover.

Irving then dropped his bag, if only for a moment, gearing up to act out point guardian moves, crouching down and using his arms to depict an actual play as he replies further.

“For me, it’s frustrating from a point guard standpoint because I keep messing up our pick-and-roll,” Irving said pointing to imaginary spots on an imaginary basketball court. “He taps himself on the chest saying it’s his fault, but mainly it’s my fault. Getting used to that pick-and-roll with him—I know he’s a pick-and-pop big. We’re going to get on the same page.

“For me, it’s continuing to communicate with him and getting him the ball where he likes it on the perimeter, especially when we’re playing a sideline pick-and-roll. In the middle, we have it down pat, but on the sideline, I’m seeing the pocket pass, he’s popping back. For me, as a point guard, I just have to be better with it and get him the ball where he likes it.”

Irving, fully dressed in street clothes at this point, takes a step back toward his locker as if he’s dodging a defender, and delivers a pass over what would be outstretched arms in the direction of an imaginary Hawes. He shakes his head and sighs, knowing that growth as a player never truly stops. Quite a change from the 21-year-old kid whose post-game physicality stops at nervous ticks like wiping his face and tugging on his earlobes, pocket passes and all.

(Image: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Spencer’s Gifts


Turmoil often leads to reaction. You can attempt to rectify your prior poor decisions with new ones, but oftentimes this is analogous to doubling down at a blackjack table in hopes of catching a hot hand. We often expect things to simply work out. Our decisions that were, at the time, supported by well-thought and careful analysis are supposed to bear fruit. But when they don’t… Well, that’s when some point fingers and others lose their jobs.

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