July 23, 2014

Cavs vs. Thunder Behind The Boxscore: HUH?!

kyriethunderOn the second night of a back-to-back against the best of the West following a tough loss to the Raptors, I gave the Cavaliers virtually no chance of competing tonight, let alone winning. But, they did exactly that, it was a star-studded effort for Kyrie Irving, who trumped the duo of Durant and Westbrook with plenty of help from the other four starters to pull off a fourth quarter stunner, capped by a 40-23 run in the fourth that turned a seven-point deficit into a 10-point lead on the way to a 114-104 victory in Oklahoma City.

There were so many highlights late in this one: Alonzo Gee’s steal and power thump on a breakaway, Kyrie’s out-of-state three point answer, Spencer Hawes’s pair of floating left-handed hooks through the lane, Tyler Zeller zipping through the lane on multiple dump-offs, and Tristan Thompson’s bounce pass feed on a backdoor to Kyrie that extended the lead from six to nine with under two minutes to play. But, the takeaway from this one is that the Cavaliers did not back down when Oklahoma City hit them in the mouth in the third quarter and looked to pull away. Let’s dig into some noteworthy numbers. [Read more...]

Thunder, Lightning, and Kyrie: A Storm Of Epic Proportions At The Q

kyrieibakaWe all know how difficult the weather can be to predict. Who hasn’t been caught on a seemingly bright and sunny day without an umbrella when the skies suddenly open up? The Oklahoma City Thunder strolled into snowy Cleveland winners of 35 games in their 46 attempts this season. Meanwhile, the Cavs were less than 24 hours removed from the embarrassing and lackluster defensive effort against the middling Pistons. The weatherman, whether you take him or her in the form of Vegas, analysts, fans, or even this writer, failed to forecast this one correctly and was fooled yet again. It was the quick shower that was C.J. Miles’s bench production, followed by a wall of smothering, low-hanging clouds in the form of Marreese Speights, capped off by the lightning bolts coming off the kicks of Kyrie Irving that lit up Quicken Loans Arena and the surrounding stratosphere and propelled the Cavaliers to a 115-110 victory over an Oklahoma City squad poised for a deep playoff run. [Read more...]

Silver lining on the Varejao injury, the rebuild moves forward

Anderson VarejaoIt’s hard not to feel some pain for Anderson Varejao after hearing the news that his knee contusion was in fact a torn muscle in his leg. Memories of Andy winning the game with a buzzer beating 3-pointer against Atlanta, and giving Ray Allen the business during a national televised game against the Celtics are two of my favorite moments I’ve enjoyed at the Q. I’ve really never enjoyed watching basketball more than watching Andy and LeBron fly around the court together.

That being said, Andy’s injury increases the Cavs’ chances of completing a successful rebuild.

The longer Andy is off the court, the worse this team is.

The worse this team is, the more ping pong balls they have in the lottery.1

The more ping pong balls in the lottery, the better chance of landing a superstar.

[Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. The lottery is won with a winning four ball combination. For simplicity’s sake let’s use ping pong balls as the example instead of how many four ball combinations a team has. []

NBA Playoffs Showing Cavaliers How Hard Building a Championship Team Really Is

Even with Kyrie Irving in place, the Cavaliers still have much work to do

With the NBA Finals drawing near, it’s only natural for fans of teams not currently playing basketball to look on from a distance, wondering what it must take to be one of the teams representing their conference in the Finals.

Make no mistake about it, the Cleveland Cavaliers are a very long way away from getting there. The first key component is in place. Kyrie Irving was everything the Cavaliers were hoping for, and more, in his rookie season, but when you consider the 4 Conference Finalists, it’s clear that much work needs to be done.

In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden1 as part of their “Big 3”. The San Antonio Spurs featured Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

The Eastern Conference Finals have their own clash of “Big 3s”. The Boston Celtics have the original Big 3 in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Not to mention Rajon Rondo, who is currently better than any of the original Big 3. The Miami Heat have the most infamous Big 3 in the NBA with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. [Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. if you count Serge Ibaka in that group, they actually have a “Big 4” []

LeBron has MVP showing in 100-99 win over OKC

Thunder CavsThe Cavs were missing their first and second string PG, missed 20 of 40 free throw attempts,  and had 17 turnovers yet they somehow managed to improve to 26-1 when scoring 100 points in a game with a victory over the OKC Thunder.  LeBron was magnificent and carried the depleted roster in a vintage LBJ MVP performance.  He absolutely dominated the last minute of each half which buoyed the Cavaliers to victory.  At the end of the first half, he hustled down with about 35 seconds to play and hit a three to force a 2-for-1 exchange giving the Cavaliers the final shot – where he promptly drilled another 3 pointer to end the half.  A 7 point lead was immediately extended to 13 on the perfectly executed 2-for-1.  It was a crucial exchange as the Cavaliers came out asleep in the 3rd, giving up an inexcusable 35 points in the quarter which  in turn gave the Thunder a 1 point lead heading into the 4th.

Kevin Durant matched James for much of the second half and finished with 34 and 10.  The final minute of the game, however, belonged to the reigning MVP who willed the undermanned Cavs to victory.  As the Cavs gagged on free throw attempt after attempt, they found themselves down 1 with 35 seconds to go.  Lebron grabbed a rebound off a Russell Westbrook miss and immediately raced down to the offensive end looking to score a quick bucket without calling timeout.  With all 5 Thunder defenders focused on James, LeBron found Boobie Gibson who was wide open in transition.  Boobie, who had a largely ineffective game as the new starting PG, stepped up and hit the clutch three to give the Cavs a two point lead. OKC isolated Durant on the other end to try and tie the game.  KD drove to his left and got to the block only to be denied on highlight rejection by LeBron.  James was fouled and sank the icing 2 FTs for the win.  While James, who was one rebound away from a triple-double, and Durant were incredible throughout the game, those closing minutes of the first half and the game are what sealed the W and boost his MVP credentials.

[Read more...]

Cavs Preview Game #45: Thunder at Cavs

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Oklahoma City Thunder (24-19) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (33-11)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Saturday, January 23, 2010
7:30 PM EST
FSOH/WTAM

When I was planning for the lottery to split up Cavs group season tickets, I marked this game down as my top choice.  The Thunder have an exciting young team paced by superstar 21 year old Kevin Durant.  While it may not receive comparable hype, the LBJ-Durant matchup is just as exciting as the LBJ-Kobe matchup we saw on Thursday.  Those who watch the NBA closely have considered Durant must see tv every night but the national wave of attention has really started to swell.

Durant has scored as least 25 ppg in 17 straight games – a record for someone his age.  It’s hard not to like Durant as a player and Chris Ballard in this week’s Sports Illustrated had a nice bio which portrayed him as a kid who loves to play ball but has an exceedingly strong work ethic.  Teammate Nick Collison was quoted in the story as saying

“It’s kind of refreshing, someone with that much talent and ability…all he wants to do is play basketball and hang out.  He’s not trying to rule the world or become a global marketing icon – he just wants to play ball.” 

Hmm,  it could be read  that Collison had a particular someone in mind when making that general contrast. 

[Read more...]

Cavaliers at Thunder: Open Thread

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Cleveland Cavaliers (16-7)
@ Oklahoma City Thunder (12-9)
Ford Center, Oklahoma City, OK
7:00 PM EST FSN, WTAM 1100-AM

The Cavaliers look to collect another W tonight on the road against the suddenly above average Thunder in Oklahoma City. Still weird to consider there is a basketball franchise in that state, but it is definitely acceptable to refer to them as the Zombie Sonics, as popularized by ESPN’s Bill Simmons. Kevin Durant is absolutely tearing it up yet again this season for them, averaging 28.3 points per game while Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and James Harden represent a very young and productive core overall. This will not be a given for the Cavs and they need to recapture some of their fire and intensity from a few weeks back.
[Read more...]