August 2, 2014

Through the Looking-Glass, and What the Cavaliers Found There

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Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s a degree of order in life. Certain things fit together in ways that make sense. There are laws of math, and physics, and biology. Unbreakable truths. Anyone who has been watching the recent reincarnation of the show Cosmos on FOX has been able to look on with awe at the sheer depth of scale to the universe and life on earth. From observable galaxies that are billions of light years away to the beautiful complexity of life at the sub-molecular level, there are rules and order. The same laws of physics that govern our world apply to those billions of light years away.

None of those unbreakable rules of consistency apply to the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers. In a world of order, the Cavaliers are outlaws. They are agents of rebellion flying in the face of matters of consistency and basketball truths. Or, should I say, they “were” outlaws. The 2013-14 Cavaliers are no longer a fluid existence in the present, but instead are now frozen in time as a part of history. And when basketball scholars look back and study this team, what will they find? They won’t find answers, but more questions. That’s something everyone who lived through this season knows from personal experience. No matter where things go from here, this will always be remembered as one of the most confusing seasons in Cavalier history.

[Read more...]

Good riddance, Cavs season: While We’re Waiting

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Yet another uninspired crawl to the finish. We shouldn’t be surprised. This isn’t unique to the Cavaliers, necessarily. Teams in April playoff chases who get eliminated often coast to the end of the season. But just because it’s not surprising, it doesn’t make the end of this Cavaliers season any less disappointing. Above all else, that’s the word that defines this season more than any other. Disappointing. With a little frustration on the side.

This season couldn’t have been set up any better for the Cavaliers. For the first time in NBA history, the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks all missed the playoffs. The Eastern Conference was historically bad. And yet even in this environment the Cavaliers couldn’t make the playoffs. They weren’t even all that close. With one game left to play the Cavaliers are 5.5 games out of the 8 seed. An 8 seed with a losing record. Six games under .500, to be exact. It demonstrates just how firmly entrenched at the kids’ table this team really is. [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...]

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...]

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...]

CJ the Great, Masfresco the Mentor

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When CJ Miles was selected with the 34th-overall selection in 2005, he had the benefit of landing in a stable environment. Not only did he enter the league with one of the most highly touted point guards in Deron Williams, but Miles was quickly taken under the wings of Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko. During his second season, the Dallas native clung to Derek Fisher, a player who Miles says taught him more in a seven-month span than at any other time he has been in the league.

And now, despite being just 26 years of age, Miles enters his ninth season in the league and knows that he has to start paying it forward. [Read more...]

Do the Cavaliers Need LeBron James to Contend Again?

LeBron James and Kyrie IrvingIn the podcast I did with Craig over the weekend, we talked a bit about the Miami Heat winning streak and whether it’s actually as impressive as it seems. Now, don’t get me wrong, winning 27 straight games in the NBA is always impressive. I cannot emphasize this enough…Their run is amazing.

Yet, I still can’t help but feel underwhelmed by it when I look at the rest of the NBA. I think this is a one team league right now. We can debate whether that’s more about the dominance and greatness of Miami or more about the lackluster play of the rest of the Association. I personally think a team doing this in the late 80s/early 90s when every team had a star would have been more impressive. In this current climate where all the stars are migrating to a select few teams, it has created a situation where Miami can beat arguably 85% of the other teams without breaking a sweat.

But even on those teams who have been arms race winners (Clippers, Knicks, Lakers), only the Clippers are really a threat to Miami1. Instead, it’s the two home-grown teams (Thunder and Spurs) who appear to be the biggest threats to the Heat’s throne. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. and probably not a serious threat even at their best []

Box Score: Hornets 100, Cavaliers 105

The Cleveland Cavaliers made their ESPN debut with Kyrie Irving tonight, and Kyrie did not fail to deliver a performance worthy of the event.

The New Orleans Hornets (who I will refer to as Pelicans from here on out because I can’t wait for it to be official) aren’t a good basketball team, but for most of the evening, the game was a back and forth affair. It started out sloppy and the teams played evenly through the first half.

In the 3rd quarter, the Cavaliers built a 10 point lead before their typical late quarter collapse allowed the Pelicans to tie the game before taking the lead after 3. After some sloppy back and forth play in the 4th quarter and with the Pelicans defense stiffing the Cavaliers offense, Kyrie came back in with 7 minutes left.

The rest of the game belonged to Kyrie. Irving did a little bit of everything, distributing to teammates, grabbing rebounds, taking charges, and yeah, scoring. A lot. And in often spectacular fashion. Irving scored 20 points in the 4th quarter en route to finishing with 35 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.

Dion Waiters picked up where he left off toward the end of the first half of the season with 16 points on 60% shooting from the floor and Tristan Thompson came 1 point short of another double double. But this evening belonged to Kyrie Irving. The night began with Bill Simmons saying he thinks Kyrie has a chance to be the best pure PG of all time, and it ended with Irving putting on a show for everyone in the country who hasn’t seen him play a Cavaliers game yet. The hype keeps growing and growing for Kyrie, and so far he’s lived up to it. This was just a really fun night for Cavs fans.

 

 

New Orleans

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Greivis Vasquez
G 38:49 5-13 1-5 2-2 -7 0 4 8 4 0 1 1 2 13
Austin Rivers
G 30:55 5-11 1-1 0-0 -6 1 4 2 0 0 0 1 5 11
Robin Lopez
C 15:33 5-9 0-0 5-6 -18 3 3 0 3 0 0 1 6 15
Al-Farouq Aminu
F 35:37 1-2 0-0 2-2 -1 2 10 3 0 1 2 0 0 4
Anthony Davis
F 29:13 2-7 0-0 8-8 -4 2 4 1 1 0 2 0 4 12
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 37-76 7-15 19-22 11 39 16 13 2 6 3 28 100
Percentages .487 .467 .864 Team Rebounds: 6
Ryan Anderson
28:10 3-11 1-4 0-0 +9 0 3 1 3 0 0 0 1 7
Jason Smith
23:04 5-9 0-0 2-4 +3 1 6 0 1 1 0 0 4 12
Roger Mason
20:46 4-5 1-1 0-0 +5 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 9
Brian Roberts
10:56 7-8 3-4 0-0 -2 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 3 17
Xavier Henry
6:57 0-1 0-0 0-0 -4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Eric Gordon
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Darius Miller
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Lance Thomas
DNP – Coach’s Decision

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Kyrie Irving
G 36:40 13-22 2-5 7-7 +2 0 5 7 4 2 0 2 1 35
Dion Waiters
G 28:54 6-10 0-1 4-4 +10 0 0 3 0 1 1 1 1 16
Tyler Zeller
C 22:06 5-7 0-0 0-0 +6 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 3 10
Tristan Thompson
F 32:54 2-8 0-0 5-12 +2 5 13 1 2 1 1 0 3 9
Alonzo Gee
F 28:01 3-7 3-4 1-2 -2 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 10
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 38-77 5-14 24-34 12 34 20 8 6 3 6 18 105
Percentages .494 .357 .706 Team Rebounds: 12
Wayne Ellington
23:52 1-3 0-2 6-6 -1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 8
Marreese Speights
18:26 2-7 0-0 0-2 -10 3 6 1 0 0 0 1 2 4
C.J. Miles
18:10 5-7 0-2 1-1 +1 1 2 0 0 1 1 0 2 11
Luke Walton
17:39 0-2 0-0 0-0 +11 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 2 0
Shaun Livingston
13:18 1-4 0-0 0-0 +6 1 2 2 0 0 0 1 3 2
Omri Casspi
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Daniel Gibson
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Kevin Jones
DNP – Coach’s Decision

Box Score: Timberwolves 100, Cavaliers 92

Another frustrating defensive evening for the Cavaliers.

After having their 3 game winning streak snapped Saturday night, the Cavaliers were hoping to hop back on the winning train facing an injury depleted Minnesota Timberwolves team. Instead, the Cavaliers were left scratching their heads, more questions than answers as to how to get stops on defense particularly in the 4th quarter.

The Cavaliers made a nice 1st quarter run and lead for much of the 2nd quarter before Minnesota came back and stole the lead at the half. In the 3rd quarter the Cavaliers looked out of sync and Minnesota appeared on their way to victory. But the Cavaliers bench unit came back and tied the game in the 4th quarter before the Wolves finally pulled away for good. The Cavaliers tried to make one last run, cutting the deficit to 3, before their inability to stop the Wolves came back to haunt them.

Luke Ridnour killed the Cavaliers all night and the Wolves, the NBA’s worst 3 point shooting team, caught fire going 8 of 14 from distance to put away the Cavaliers. Ridnour finished with 21 points and Nikola Pekovic added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Dion Waiters was aggressive early and finished with 12 points on 6-6 shooting from the field despite surprisingly not playing down the stretch. Tristan Thompson had a nice game with 16 points and 9 rebounds and Wayne Ellington scored 10 off the bench against his old team. Kyrie Irving, who gave the Cavaliers a scare late in the 2nd quarter when he rolled his ankle coming down on an opponent’s foot after hitting a three, lead the team with 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. Irving didn’t look physically hobbled by the ankle in the 2nd half, but he was noticeably less aggressive in the 2nd half.

This was by no means the worst game the Cavaliers played this season, but it was frustrating none the less falling at home to a team missing Kevin Love, Andrei Kirilenko, and Chase Budinger. The Wolves had lost 4 in a row, 10 of 11, and 8 straight on the road coming into this game. Circle this one as a winable game that the Cavaliers let slip away by poor 4th quarter defense. It’s a recurring theme for this season, but until the Cavaliers can force defensive stops in crunch time, these results will continue to repeat themselves.

 

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 25 24 23 28 100
CLE 27 19 19 27 92

 

Minnesota

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Luke Ridnour
G 37:25 9-14 1-2 2-2 +6 1 4 3 3 1 0 0 2 21
Ricky Rubio
G 33:14 5-9 1-1 2-2 +3 0 3 10 7 5 0 1 5 13
Nikola Pekovic
C 40:28 6-14 0-0 4-6 +12 5 10 2 2 2 0 4 0 16
Mickael Gelabale
F 28:24 3-4 3-3 2-2 +16 2 6 2 1 0 0 0 2 11
Derrick Williams
F 16:13 4-9 1-2 3-4 +1 0 5 1 1 0 1 0 4 12
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 39-75 8-14 14-17 10 36 25 20 10 6 7 17 100
Percentages .520 .571 .824 Team Rebounds: 5
Dante Cunningham
31:47 4-9 0-0 0-0 +7 1 4 1 1 1 2 0 2 8
Alexey Shved
30:13 5-9 1-3 1-1 +5 0 0 3 2 0 2 1 2 12
J.J. Barea
14:53 2-4 1-3 0-0 -6 0 0 3 3 1 0 0 0 5
Greg Stiemsma
7:23 1-3 0-0 0-0 -4 1 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 2
Chase Budinger
DNP – Inactive
Chris Johnson
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Andrei Kirilenko
DNP – Strained Right Quadriceps
Malcolm Lee
DNP – Inactive
Kevin Love
DNP – Right Hand Injury
Brandon Roy
DNP – Inactive

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Kyrie Irving
G 35:49 9-20 1-3 1-2 -14 2 4 7 3 1 0 2 3 20
Dion Waiters
G 21:09 6-6 0-0 0-0 -6 0 1 1 6 1 0 0 2 12
Tyler Zeller
C 25:00 0-2 0-1 0-0 -13 0 8 0 2 0 1 0 2 0
Tristan Thompson
F 33:51 5-12 0-0 6-7 -14 5 9 1 1 4 2 1 2 16
Alonzo Gee
F 27:26 5-10 1-5 0-2 -11 0 4 2 2 2 0 1 1 11
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 40-79 5-18 7-11 10 32 24 20 12 7 6 15 92
Percentages .506 .278 .636 Team Rebounds: 9
Wayne Ellington
24:49 4-7 2-3 0-0 -3 1 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 10
C.J. Miles
21:10 4-9 1-5 0-0 -2 0 0 2 1 2 1 1 3 9
Marreese Speights
20:12 5-9 0-0 0-0 +6 2 3 1 3 0 1 1 0 10
Shaun Livingston
16:25 2-2 0-0 0-0 +11 0 0 4 1 1 2 0 1 4
Luke Walton
14:09 0-2 0-1 0-0 +6 0 0 4 1 1 0 0 0 0
Omri Casspi
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Daniel Gibson
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Kevin Jones
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Josh Selby
DNP – Inactive
Anderson Varejao
DNP – Inactive

Box Score: Celtics 90, Cavaliers 95

Boston came into this game hurting. Losers of 3 straight, the Celtics surely looked at this game in Cleveland as a prime opportunity to get things back on track. Kyrie Irving had other ideas.

“Mr 4th Quarter” disguised himself as “Mr 1st Quarter” in this one as he came out looking to make a statement against the East’s All-Star starting PG Rajon Rondo. Irving was aggressive from the beginning and had 19 first quarter points to get the Cavaliers off to a great start and a 1st quarter lead.

After an offensive battle in the first half, the game turned into a defensive battle in the 2nd half, and the Cavaliers rose to the Celtics challenge hanging around with the Celtics. With Boston unable to separate themselves from the Cavaliers, they saw Cleveland take a late 4th quarter lead and down the stretch the Cavaliers made huge plays on both ends of the court to secure the win.

Kyrie was able to switch into Mr 4th Quarter mode as well as he made some enormous plays in the final stanza. He made a hustle steal off a Rondo attempt to save the ball and turned it into an uncontested layup, and he added two huge layups in the final minute to seal the victory.

Don’t overlook the night Tristan Thompson had either. The Celtics frontcourt may not be the feared defensive machine it once was, but Thompson was still active and able to chip in 21 points and 9 rebounds. But the night belonged to Irving who finished with 40 points and 5 assists. It’s really hard to use words to describe just how good Kyrie was in this game. He just continues to get better and to amaze and to give Cavaliers fans a glimpse of a brighter future.

Rondo paced the Celtics with his typical stat stuffing effort with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists and Kevin Garnett added 16 points. Paul Pierce continued his shooting woes and despite hitting his first two shots finished 3-15 from the field for 12 points.

 

1 2 3 4 T
BOS 27 26 20 17 90
CLE 31 23 16 25 95

 

Boston

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Rajon Rondo
G 37:39 7-17 0-2 3-4 -10 3 13 8 5 0 0 0 2 17
Avery Bradley
G 25:39 2-4 2-2 1-2 -5 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 3 7
Kevin Garnett
C 30:40 5-13 0-0 6-6 -3 0 5 3 2 1 5 0 3 16
Paul Pierce
F 36:49 3-15 1-4 5-6 -8 4 7 7 4 2 0 3 0 12
Brandon Bass
F 27:33 4-7 0-0 0-0 -7 2 6 1 2 0 0 2 2 8
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 32-84 7-17 19-22 16 48 24 16 5 8 7 18 90
Percentages .381 .412 .864 Team Rebounds: 7
Jared Sullinger
26:17 5-11 0-0 2-2 -4 5 10 0 0 0 1 1 6 12
Jeff Green
21:21 1-3 1-2 2-2 +7 0 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 5
Jason Terry
19:46 2-5 0-2 0-0 +4 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 4
Courtney Lee
14:16 3-9 3-5 0-0 +1 1 3 2 0 1 0 1 2 9
Leandro Barbosa
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Jason Collins
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Chris Wilcox
DNP – Coach’s Decision

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Kyrie Irving
G 37:55 16-24 1-3 7-7 +11 0 3 5 5 2 0 1 5 40
Dion Waiters
G 33:19 3-12 1-4 0-0 +8 1 2 3 0 1 0 1 1 7
Tyler Zeller
C 37:45 2-10 0-0 2-2 +5 3 10 4 2 0 3 2 6 6
Tristan Thompson
F 39:39 9-18 0-0 3-3 +9 2 9 5 1 1 1 3 3 21
Alonzo Gee
F 30:56 3-7 0-1 4-6 +8 1 6 2 0 1 0 0 2 10
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 37-82 2-12 19-22 8 39 28 13 7 7 8 22 95
Percentages .451 .167 .864 Team Rebounds: 9
Luke Walton
18:00 3-3 0-0 1-2 +2 1 3 7 2 1 0 0 0 7
Shaun Livingston
17:39 0-2 0-0 2-2 -6 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 2
Daniel Gibson
14:59 0-3 0-3 0-0 -6 0 2 1 1 1 1 0 3 0
Omri Casspi
9:48 1-3 0-1 0-0 -6 0 3 0 1 0 1 1 2 2
Kevin Jones
DNP – Coach’s Decision
C.J. Miles
DNP – Coach’s Decision

 

 

 

On the Cavaliers and the Prospects of a Failed Rebuilding Process

Sometimes you think you know something. And then someone really smart says something that challenges what you think you know, and it makes you look at the subject from an entirely different point of view. And when the context changes, you can sometimes be surprised at what you learn.

I love the WFNY Podcasts that Craig is doing, and by far my two favorite episodes have been the two Brian Spaeth conversations. I don’t know Brian, save for a few Twitter interactions and one email interaction in which he sent me a promotional copy of his movie “Who Shot Mamba?” (which is genuinely funny and really stupid at the same time…it’s great). But I follow him on Twitter and read his website. He has a lot of interesting things to say and generally looks at things from a perspective different from my own.

But what I really remember the most about Brian is his old sports blog, Yay Sports!. Yes, a long time ago (in internet time) Brian wrote this really great basketball blog and I vividly remember reading it, laughing a lot, thinking about basketball from a different perspective, and just being happy that this guy was a fellow Cavs fan. [Read more...]

The Fine Line Between Losing with a Purpose and Just Plain Losing

Kyrie Irving is seeing plenty of extra defensive attention this season

It’s no secret that what happens in the 4th quarter often defines a basketball game.

One of the more common criticism of basketball, particularly in the NBA, is that the first 3 quarters are irrelevant and all that matters is the 4th quarter. If someone doesn’t enjoy just watching the game of basketball itself, I can see how they would feel that way. In the NBA, it seems like everyone goes on a run and no lead is safe. Winning and losing frequently comes down to late game execution.

Last season, the Cavaliers were often an exception to the rule. It seemed that the 4th quarters rarely mattered and the most important quarter was the first. Indeed, how the Cavaliers played in the 1st quarter was often the defining quality of the game. It was hard for that team to come back from early deficits and 4th quarters usually involved opponents giving the tail end of their bench some quality playing time.

But in those few games where the Cavaliers came out playing good basketball in the 1st quarter, they would often find themselves in the game in the 4th with a chance to win. These became Kyrie Irving’s moments. It was where Mr. 4th Quarter was born. As fans, we had ultimate confidence that if the bench could somehow just keep it close, within 5 points or so, that when Kyrie Irving checked back in he would find a way to win the game for Cleveland. [Read more...]

Is There Any Hope Beneath the Frustration for the Cavaliers?

I keep trying to tell myself to remember that it’s still early in the season. And then I quickly try to forget that fact.

It’s far too early in the season to be this frustrated. Particularly when none of us expected the Cavaliers to be any good this season anyway. I predicted before the season that this Cavaliers team would be absolutely atrocious on the defensive end. So why am I so frustrated and angry when my watching it come to fruition on the court? I don’t know.

Here’s what we do know, though. The Cavaliers are 5-21 on the season. In his 2+ years at the helm, Byron Scott now has a record of 45-129. That’s a win percentage of 25.86%. The Cavaliers’ win percentage this season is 19.2%. Only one team in the NBA has a worse record than Cleveland. The Cavaliers are 23rd in scoring, and 23rd in opponents’ scoring. 26th in offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency. 27th in eFG% and dead last in opponents eFG%. They have exactly two players with an Efficiency Rating about 13 (where 15.0 is average). [Read more...]

Box Score: Lakers 94, Cavaliers 100

What a night for Cleveland sports.

First, Kyrie Irving came back for the Cavaliers.

Then, while the game was going on, the Indians made what appears to be a stellar trade.

And then, just for good measure, the Cavaliers beat the Lakers.

It was evident from the beginning just how much Irving was missed. Kyrie wasted no time in making his impact felt and the Cavaliers opened up a huge 54-39 lead at the half. The Lakers would fight and claw their way back into this game, and they set up an awesome 4th quarter showdown between Kyrie Irving and Kobe Bryant. In the end, the Cavaliers made just enough plays down the stretch to hang on and get the win.

Anderson Varejao fell 1 rebound short of yet another double-double but finished with 20 points. CJ Miles, starting for the still injured Dion Waiters, had by far the best game of his career with 28 points. And Kyrie tied Miles for the team high with 28 of his own to go with his 11 assists and 6 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant was incredible as always with 42 points, but it really did feel like Kobe was playing by himself against the Cavaliers. Credit to Tristan Thompson for some good defense on Dwight Howard, and Tyler Zeller was especially impressive on defense in this game as the Cavaliers were content to force Kobe to do everything himself.

Huge win for the Cavaliers and a huge morale boost to do it with Kyrie Irving back in the lineup.

 

1 2 3 4 T
LAL 23 16 23 32 94
CLE 29 25 14 32 100

 

LA Lakers

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
K. Bryant G 40:43 16-28 3-9 7-10 -7 1 5 2 5 1 1 0 1 42
C. Duhon G 33:02 1-2 0-1 0-0 -2 0 3 2 2 1 0 0 1 2
D. Howard C 41:06 3-9 0-0 13-22 -10 6 20 3 4 0 0 1 5 19
M. World Peace F 35:37 5-12 2-6 1-4 -9 3 9 0 3 1 1 2 3 13
J. Hill F 25:33 1-6 0-0 0-0 -9 5 10 1 2 1 1 1 5 2
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 31-75 7-27 25-40 15 54 11 18 7 3 4 22 94
Percentages .413 .259 .625 Team Rebounds: 9
A. Jamison 29:21 3-10 1-6 2-2 +7 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 4 9
J. Meeks 21:17 2-6 1-4 2-2 -5 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 2 7
D. Morris 6:52 0-1 0-0 0-0 -2 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0
D. Ebanks 6:29 0-1 0-1 0-0 +7 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
E. Clark DNP – Coach’s Decision
P. Gasol DNP – Coach’s Decision
R. Sacre DNP – Coach’s Decision

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
K. Irving G 38:14 11-21 4-6 2-3 +12 2 6 11 4 1 0 1 3 28
C.J. Miles G 37:11 10-18 5-10 3-4 +7 0 5 0 1 1 1 0 5 28
A. Varejao C 34:51 8-13 0-1 4-7 +9 2 9 5 1 3 1 1 4 20
A. Gee F 39:59 6-14 2-5 3-4 +5 1 5 3 3 1 1 0 4 17
T. Thompson F 33:36 0-3 0-0 1-4 +1 2 10 0 1 0 0 1 4 1
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 37-84 11-27 15-26 8 43 24 12 8 4 3 26 100
Percentages .440 .407 .577 Team Rebounds: 11
T. Zeller 27:08 2-6 0-0 2-2 +2 1 6 3 0 2 0 0 3 6
O. Casspi 11:50 0-3 0-1 0-2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0
J. Pargo 9:46 0-3 0-2 0-0 -6 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 1 0
D. Gibson 7:00 0-3 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Samuels 0:25 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
K. Jones DNP – Coach’s Decision
D. Sloan DNP – Coach’s Decision
L. Walton DNP – Coach’s Decision