April 17, 2014

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...]

Game One: Cavaliers vs Nets Behind The Box Score

They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

[Read more...]

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

Cleveland Cavaliers

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

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

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

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

NBA News: Cavaliers excercise options on Irving, Thompson, Waiters and Zeller

The Cavaliers announced today that they have exercised fourth year team options on Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and third year options on Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.

The option for Kyrie Irving is worth $7.46 million dollars for the 2014-2015 season. Tristan Thompson’s option will cost the Cavaliers $5.42 million.

Waiters will earn $4.06 million nest season and Zeller $1.7 million. The Cavaliers now have just under $36.3 million in guaranteed contracts for the 2014-2015 season. Andrew Bynum’s contract is worth $12.54 million additionally if he is on the team after this season.

Irving , Waiters and Zeller were among the 27 NBA players who participated in the three-day USA Basketball minicamp held in Las Vegas July 22-25, while Thompson led the Canadian National Team during the FIBA Americas Championship tournament.

[Related: Video of Cavaliers' future. Tristan block leads to Irving assist of Bennett dunk]

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...]

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...]

Summer League Thoughts: On Dion Waiters, His Struggles, and More

There’s always plenty of debate when it comes to the NBA Summer League. Every year we see certain mid-to-low first round picks who shine and several top draft picks who really struggle. And there’s always debate as to what it all means.

In general, I would argue that for top draft picks, the Summer League doesn’t tell us a whole lot. It provides us with our first glimpse and you know what they say about first impressions, but when it’s all said and done, these are glorified practices/scrimmages. There’s not a lot of structure, full offensive and defensive sets aren’t installed. It’s a lot of isolation and one-on-one.

Now, if you’re an elite basketball player, you should thrive on this. This freestyle form of basketball should play to your strengths. It’s why we saw Michael Kidd-Gilchrist come out and dominate the game until his injury. It’s why Bradley Beal looked solid in averaging 17.5 points per game for Washington. It reaffirms why so many Cavalier fans were hoping one of those guys would fall to Cleveland. [Read more...]

Kyrie Irving Makes 1st Team NBA All-Rookie, Tristan Thompson 2nd Team

Not exactly breaking news here, but the NBA announced it’s All-Rookie teams today with Kyrie Irving leading the way in votes. The teams are selected by votes from NBA coaches and Kyrie Irving earned 58 points, most among all rookies. That total placed him on the 1st-team list where he was joined by Ricky Rubio, Kenneth Faried, Klay Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Kawhi Leond, and Brandon Knight. Yes, that’s 7 players, but the last 3 all tied for 5th place, so they all get 1st-team nods.

Fellow top 5 pick Tristan Thompson earned enough points to make the 2nd-team. He is joined there by Chandler Parsons, Isaiah Thomas, MarShon Brooks, and Derrick Williams. Thompson was tied for last on the All-Rookie teams with Derrick Williams, the player many pegged as the best player in the draft prior to selection night. Interestingly enough, though, were it not for the 3 way tie on the 1st-team, neither player would have made 1st or 2nd team selections.

Irving’s 1st team selection is hardly a surprise, but a nice cherry on the top of a rookie campaign that was everything fans in Cleveland hoped it could be. Having Tristan Thompson also making All-Rookie designation only adds to the hope Cleveland has for its future.

[Related: Kyrie Irving Named to USA Basketball's Men's Select Team]

Tonight We Say Farewell to the 2011-12 Cleveland Cavaliers

Media Day seems like just last week

The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers played on a Thursday was January 12th, the 3rd week of the season. You see, Thursday nights are typically the big matchup nights. It’s the night TNT has TV rights and other than their premiere games, there’s usually only one or two overflow games.

So it’s fitting, then, that the Cavaliers finish the season on a Thursday night in Chicago, buried underneath the hype and excitement of the NFL Draft. While Browns fans are anxiously greeting the newest members of their team, Cavaliers fans are saying goodbye to their players.

In a season in which the Cavaliers were mostly ignored outside of Cleveland, save for a handful of people who occasionally flipped over on League Pass to see what that Kyrie Irving guy was doing, the season comes to an end much in the same way it started…quiet, unassuming, and with more questions than answers.

[Read more...]

Cavaliers Continue Final Week of Season in Memphis

Only 3 more chances to watch Kyrie Irving this season

Here we are, three games left in this shortened NBA season for our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers. This 66 game season has been interesting. It feels like the Cavaliers play pretty much every night, which has been amazing as a fan of this team but has to have been incredibly trying on the players.

I’ve maintained all year long that I kind of liked the lockout shortened season. I’ve liked being able to turn on League Pass any given night and having literally like 10 games to watch. It was cool having the league kick off on Christmas, giving the already important holidays game even more importance. Sure, the play at times this season was sloppy due to the hectic struggle, but it was a non stop basketball assault of the sense, and I loved almost every minute of it.

But the problem with a compressed 66 game season is that it’s over just as soon as it begins. It’s hard to believe that this is the final week for the Cavaliers. That after Thursday night in Chicago, we won’t see Kyrie Irving and the rest of our Cavaliers play a real game until late October. [Read more...]

Thorpe: Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson Rookies With Most Upside

When the Cavaliers landed the #1 and #4 picks in the draft, it was imperative they land two impact players with those picks. We know Kyrie Irving has lived up to the top pick and then some, but there’s a fair debate as to whether or not Tristan Thompson was the right pick at #4.

ESPN’s David Thorpe, one of the sharpest talent evaluators in the media, think the Cavaliers might have nailed this draft. In his rankings of the rookies with the most upside, he obviously lists Kyrie #1 on the list, but surprising to some might be Tristan ranking #2 on his list.

2. Tristan Thompson

Take a look at the top 10 rookie rebounders (based on rebound rate). You’ll see guys who played four years of college, guys who have been pros overseas for years, and guys with huge, wide bodies that make it easy to soak up boards. And then there’s Thompson, who played one year in college and is still much weaker than most of his opponents. But that has not mattered.

Thompson really has very little clue how to play yet, especially around the rim, but he has been a very effective player on many nights. Given a few more years to figure things out, and considering he’ll be a long and elite athlete for a decade or so, it’s easy to imagine just how good he can be. He has All-Star potential.

Obviously there are a lot of ifs in there, but it’s exciting for Cavalier fans to know that Thorpe thinks so highly of Thompson’s potential. If Thompson even comes close to reaching that peak as a potential All-Star, the Cavaliers will be in good shape in a few years.

[Related: ESPN NBA Redraft: Irving and Thompson go in Top Two]

Short Handed Cavaliers Must Make Most of Opportunities Against Toronto

Can Tristan raise his game and his team in Toronto?

It doesn’t seem like that long ago. It was the day after Christmas, a time  of hope, inspiration, and holiday cheer. And on that Monday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers walked from the swirl of the unknown into reality. We didn’t know what to expect of this team. Kyrie Irving wasn’t the Irving we know today. He was just an idea, and a hope.

Opening night for the Cavaliers didn’t go as most followers of the wine and gold had hoped. Irving had a rough debut and the Cavaliers played pretty poorly in losing to the Raptors. In the weeks that followed, though, we saw glimpses of what this team could be. We saw Irving grow into the almost certain rookie of the year. We saw a team show a phenomenal spirit, a level of fight that kept them in games against far superior opponents and even lead to some big wins against playoff caliber team.

One other thing became clear, too. The Toronto Raptors are like kryptonite to the Cavaliers. No matter how well the Cavaliers could look at their peak, the Raptors were always there to bring out the worst in the Cavaliers. [Read more...]

Spurs Will Provide Formidable Challenge For Cavaliers

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that Kyrie Irving will be back in the starting lineup for the Cleveland Cavaliers (17-33, 12th in the East) tonight. The bad news is the Cavaliers are playing the San Antonio Spurs (36-14, 2nd in the East).

It’s funny that the Spurs can continue to fly under everyone’s radar. Hardly anyone seems to be talking about them or taking them seriously. Maybe it’s because they lost the opening round as a #1 seed last year. Maybe it’s because people think that because Tim Duncan is old the Spurs are finished. Maybe it’s because the Spurs are just there every year and everyone just kind of got used to seeing them at the top.

Whatever the case may be, the Spurs are sitting just 2.5 games back of Oklahoma City for the top spot in the West. It’s no fluke or happenstance. The Spurs are one of, if not the, best coached teams in the NBA, they have a smart, savvy, veteran core who know how to win Championships, and they sprinkle in the right kind of young players who can learn how to play their role. [Read more...]

Cavaliers vs 76ers: Battle of the Post-All Star Break Blues

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as dog days of spring or not, but if there is, you could arguably say the Cleveland Cavaliers (17-29, 10th in the East) are there.

The excitement of trade deadline has passed, the thought of the Cavaliers making the playoffs has long passed, injuries to Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson, along with the trade of Ramon Sessions has left the team shorthanded in terms of reliable players, and with 5 weeks left in the season, the team isn’t playing for much other than pride, development, and draft position.

That may be the reality of where we are in this shortened season, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of reasons to watch. It happens much less frequently these days, but when this young team is clicking and playing at full potential, this is a fun team to watch. Perhaps a mild glimpse of what things will look like in the future as guys like Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Alonzo Gee continue to get better while new impact draft players are brought in. [Read more...]

Box Score: Cavaliers 105, Nets 100

It was the night of the rookies for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson scored a career high 27 points and Kyrie Irving had 26 points (14 of them in the 4th quarter) as the Cavaliers came away with a nice win in New Jersey.

The Cavaliers got off to a hot start as Tristan Thompson was active in the post and was punishing the Brook Lopez-less Nets with dunk after dunk. The Cavs had an early 15 point lead, but Deron Williams wasn’t about to let the Nets go down without a fight. Williams used some precise shooting and some crafty moves in the lane to bring the Nets all the way back.

The game would be back and forth from then on, before Mr 4th Quarter, Kyrie Irving, took over and did his thing. After Williams blew by Irving for a nice dunk, the rookie showed he wasn’t going to back down and on the subsequent possession Irving drove in for an And-1 opportunity. Then on the next possession Irving hit a 3 pointer to give the Cavaliers a lead they would never relinquish.

Going back to our theme of development, Tristan really did a nice job making his impact felt, going for 27 points and 12 rebounds. Kyrie Irving had 26 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal. Donald Sloan came off the bench to backup Irving and chipped in 11 points of his own. It’s far too early to proclaim Sloan a future backup candidate, but he did show some excellent composure and did some nice things to help the Cavaliers win.

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
A. Parker G 31:51 2-6 0-2 0-2 +10 0 3 5 0 1 1 0 1 4
K. Irving G 31:14 8-20 3-6 7-8 -2 1 5 7 4 1 0 2 5 26
T. Thompson C 37:29 12-16 0-0 3-4 -8 8 12 1 2 0 1 1 3 27
A. Jamison F 39:14 5-20 1-3 2-2 +11 6 13 3 1 0 1 1 2 13
A. Gee F 28:30 3-6 0-0 2-4 -2 0 7 1 2 1 0 1 6 8
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 41-89 5-15 18-27 21 55 21 11 6 3 6 25 105
Percentages .461 .333 .667 Team Rebounds: 7
D. Sloan 19:33 4-6 1-1 2-2 +7 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 4 11
S. Samuels 19:17 5-5 0-0 0-3 +7 4 6 2 2 1 0 0 2 10
D. Gibson 17:14 1-5 0-1 2-2 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 4
O. Casspi 15:38 1-5 0-2 0-0 +2 1 4 0 0 2 0 0 1 2
S. Erden DNP – Coach’s Decision
R. Hollins DNP – Coach’s Decision
L. Walton DNP – Coach’s Decision

New Jersey

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
D. Williams G 38:02 8-23 4-10 8-9 +4 0 0 8 5 2 0 2 3 28
M. Brooks G 29:54 3-10 0-2 4-6 -2 1 4 2 0 1 0 0 2 10
S. Williams C 25:46 4-5 0-0 1-2 -5 2 5 2 3 0 1 0 4 9
G. Wallace F 39:58 8-14 1-4 10-11 -5 1 12 1 1 0 1 0 4 27
K. Humphries F 33:12 5-10 0-0 3-3 -8 4 11 2 1 0 1 1 5 13
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 34-81 6-23 26-31 10 37 15 12 6 6 3 24 100
Percentages .420 .261 .839 Team Rebounds: 10
G. Green 27:29 2-6 1-2 0-0 -7 2 3 0 2 1 2 0 4 5
A. Morrow 19:49 3-10 0-4 0-0 -2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
J. Petro 15:52 1-2 0-0 0-0 +9 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2
J. Smith 9:58 0-1 0-1 0-0 -9 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 0
J. Farmar DNP – Coach’s Decision
S. Gaines DNP – Coach’s Decision
D. Stevenson DNP – Coach’s Decision
J. Williams DNP – Coach’s Decision

Cavaliers Continue Fitting Puzzle Pieces Together in New Jersey

As hard as it may be to believe, there are only 6 weeks left in the NBA regular season. It feels like this season just started a month or so ago, but here we are hitting the home stretch. Some have said that the Ramon Sessions trade killed the Cavaliers’ playoff chances, but in all honesty, those chances were dead with the way the team opened the 2nd half of the season.

The fact is, the Cavaliers were not a good enough team to make the playoffs. So rather than wasting energy over these final 6 weeks talking about how far out of the playoffs the team is, let’s focus instead on development.

Tonight, the Cavaliers (16-26, 10th in the East) travel to New Jersey to face the Nets (15-31, 13th in the East) in the road finale of a back-to-back. The Cavaliers and Nets have split the first two matchups this year, both in Cleveland. Now the Cavaliers will try to earn at least a split of the two remaining games in New Jersey. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Look To Snap Season-High Losing Streak

Cavaliers hope to fare better against Utah this time around

The Cleveland Cavaliers (13-22, 10th in the East) can officially kiss the playoffs goodbye. Not many felt the Cavaliers could actually make the playoffs to begin with, but the Anderson Varejao injury just made things that much more difficult. Now the Cavaliers find themselves on season high 5 game losing streak and everything is pretty much fallen apart.

Those who prefer lottery over winning games can rejoice in the fact the Cavaliers are actually closing in on a top 5 pick at this pace. The Cavaliers currently have the 8th lowest win PCT and have just one more win than the four teams currently tied for 4th fewest wins. A few more losses to teams the Cavaliers should be able to beat, along with a few timely wins from fellow bottom dwellers like Detroit, Sacramento, Toronto, and New Jersey, and the Cavaliers just might be in the hunt for a top 5 pick after all.

Those who would prefer to see the Cavaliers developing and winning games, this has been a rough stretch. A frustrating lack of focus and effort, things are starting to feel dangerously close to last season. The team is beginning to have that look in their eye again, where they know they’re going to lose before the game even starts. [Read more...]