April 20, 2014

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...]

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

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

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

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

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

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

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

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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Cavs vs. Jazz Behind The Boxscore: A single triple double!

kyrietripledoubleIf the Cavaliers have done one thing consistently this season, it’s give fans anxiety with their inability to handle any sort of success. They came out in this home matchup against the Utah Jazz incredibly flat on offense and slow on defense. Then, the Utah Jazz started missing and they never stopped for the rest of the game. In the process of pulling away from the Jazz late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, Kyrie Irving inched closer and closer to a triple double. He finally got it, marking the first Cavalier to do so since LeBron James in 2010. With the 99-79 win, the Cavaliers have won two straight as they prepare for a trip to Memphis tomorrow night while still incredibly short-handed. Here’s a look at some of the easy on the eyes stats from this big win.

48 – Irving was the star of this game, but the Cavalier frontline deserves equal credit. Those two elements combined to the tune of 48 points in the paint for the Cavs, completely dominating that category 48-22. Tyler Zeller continues to confidently cut to the basket and finish strong, and Spencer Hawes’s spacing has opened up more driving lanes for Kyrie (more on Hawes in a second). No one has confused the Cavaliers for being a team that consistently takes it strong into the paint, but that improved spacing is reducing the number of blocked shots (just six for Utah tonight) as the defense collapses. The 22 points allowed in the paint (on 11-of-25 shooting) is probably even more impressive with the Cavs closing off the paint and making the shots that did occur in there a higher degree of difficulty. Which leads quite well into…. [Read more...]

Your Post-Trade Deadline Cleveland Cavaliers Viewing Guide


Because masochism isn’t for everyone

I hate winter.


I woke up today at 7:00 a.m., barely able to breath for the fifth straight day. I spent the next two minutes trying to vacate my nasal cavity of what I suspect was approximately a fetrick muckton of the crustiest boogers known to man. I then turned towards the window directly adjacent to my bathroom sink and peeped through the closed blinds to see that once again it had snowed overnight.

[Insert barely coherent mumbled obscenities here]

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Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes about how the Cavs lost their way

Chris Grant Cavaliers RookiesLiterally minutes after the Cavaliers sealed a rare three-game winning streak on Tuesday night, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski decided to rain on Cleveland’s parade and release an article about what he’d dug on a seemingly dysfunctional Chris Grant regime.

Wojnarowski is the most well connected NBA writer out there and he tends to be the one to break most of the major news that hits The Association. It’s not often though that he decides to expound further on NBA events beyond dropping #WojBombs on Twitter. So when such a well informed writer decides to go more in-depth about your favorite franchise, it’s hard not to pay close attention.

Some of the most interesting claims he makes in the article are:

  • Despite the league-wide acclaim for interim GM David Griffin, owner Dan Gilbert is going to search far and wide for a replacement this summer. That doesn’t mean Griffin is out of the running though.
  • There was belief among the Cavs organization that Grant had not scouted Jonas Valancinunas well enough before the 2011 draft. Though most of the Cavs personnel department wanted Valanciunas, Grant used the fact that the player’s agent, Leon Rose, would not negotiate a buyout agreement with his European club before they knew where he would be drafted. Thus, that was his justification to select the player he wanted in Tristan Thompson.
  • Grant passed on Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft over concerns that a Tristan Thompson-Andre Drummond frontcourt would not be offensively compatible.
  • Kyrie Irving pushed hard to have his “close friend” Harrison Barnes drafted by the Cavs in 2012.
  • Grant had been attempting to trade Dion Waiters before he was fired.
  • Klay Thompson was discussed for the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft by the Cavs, but Grant believed he could move back into the lottery and snag him later.
  • The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was between Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett.
  • If Bennett had not been selected by the Cavs, then he would have fallen somewhere around the No. 10 spot in the lottery.
  • Bennett loved making late-night pizza runs at UNLV which was a contributing factor to his weight problem.

I take qualms with some of the opinions expressed in the article such as Victor Oladipo being the “perfect two-way player to complement Kyrie” and that Anthony Bennett is a “colossal failure” considering no one in this draft class has colored themselves in glory. Plus, Bennett hasn’t been given a ton of opportunities. Nonetheless, the sourced information is fascinating and a must-read for any Cavs fan.

[Related: David Griffin: Next Man Up]

Photo: Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer

New Cavs GM will have the tools in place to rebuild properly


From the first day Chris Grant took his office as the general manager of the Cavaliers, the buzz word on everybody’s lips was “assets.” As Investopedia describes it, “assets are bought to increase the value of a firm or benefit the firm’s operations.” At the time Grant took over general manager duties for the Cavaliers, the franchise had just lost the biggest asset they’d ever had (or anyone had ever had) in LeBron James. And since there was no other asset attainable on the market of the caliber of LeBron, Chris Grant went into asset collection mode. The notion was the more assets you gather, the more flexibility you have as a franchise. [Read more...]

Cavs vs Rockets Behind The Box Score: If the Cavs lose and no one notices, does it count?

Mike BrownHeading into this latest Cavs game, the season appeared to be as low as could be. After a week of drama and speculation, a New York Daily News report centered on Luol Deng comments painted the team as an absolute mess.

Over in Houston on Saturday night, the final result wasn’t that terrible after all, somewhat. Heck, the Rockets have won two-thirds of their games this season, so this could have been much, much worse. The final score read 106-92. It was a wee bit close for a few minutes midway through the third quarter, but that was about it. The Rockets are a much better team.

During a 33-12 rally by the Cavs that intersected halftime, they looked very solid, especially offensively. Small victories! But at half, only three Cleveland players even scored more than two points: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Luol Deng. Those were the three players with notable efforts, really. The Rockets are just too good, too talented and too efficient in their schemes. It wasn’t really that competitive. Yikes. [Read more...]

The Diff: How the Cavs lost momentum during home losses

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about C.J. Miles’ oddly impressive plus-minus data. This week, I’m logging terrible recent runs against the Cavaliers.

The Diff

This Cleveland Cavaliers season has not gone according to plan. That’s the understatement of the year. Heading into this five-game home stand, the team appeared to be turning a corner. With Luol Deng in tow, they were 4-2, including a very solid five-game road swing. But with just one win – against the NBA’s worst team – over the past nine days, the Cavs season has perhaps hit its crescendo. And these losses weren’t just any boring defeat; no, they went down in the most Cleveland way possible. [Read more...]

Cavalier Film Room: Too much help-side and three point consequences

When we last convened in the film room, I was breaking down the offensive rebounding of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, aka “The Windex Duo”. As always if you have any suggestions for film room topics, you can reach me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

Today, we’re going to be talking about help-side defense and what happens when players help too much. Specifically, we’re going to take a look at several wide open three-point looks the Suns got on Sunday night and how these could have been much better contested with proper defensive floor balance. Let’s go ahead and dive into the evidence.

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Behind The Boxscore Cavs vs. Suns: Watch That Third Quarter Step, It’s a Doozy!

BtBS Suns

Wow. At halftime, I was expecting to talk about one of the more glowing wins of the season from both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers shot 55% from the field in that half. They were cutting without the basketball toward the basket, setting effective picks for one another, knocking down mid-range shots, and sharing the offensive workload as well as they have all season. Defensively, the Suns were settling for shots, and the Cavaliers were forcing turnovers and playing inspired as one unit. With a 18-point lead, the Cavaliers could do no wrong heading into the locker room at the half, and then came the third quarter. We should have known better. The Cavs lost it all and then some, and they got doubled up in the second half as they dropped their third game of the five-game homestand 99-90.

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Cavs vs. Bucks Behind The Box Score: A sweet honest-to-goodness victory

BtBS Bucks

Don’t you wish the Cavs could play the Milwaukee Bucks every night? Friday night felt like a beautiful dream compared to the rest of this dreadful half of a season.

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Cavs vs. Nuggets Behind The Box Score: Road trip ends on a high note

brown nuggetsThere’s no denying that this was a monster victory, likely the best of the season.

To complete a five-game Western Conference road trip, the Cleveland Cavaliers just beat the West’s hottest team. A 42-point second quarter led the way for a 117-109 victory over in Denver against a Nuggets squad that was 6-1 in their last seven games.

Entering the road swing, the Cavs were just 2-15 on the road all season. They finished the trip with a 3-2 record, more than doubling their previous total of road wins.

Tristan Thompson had a very efficient offensive night while the Cavs bigs dominated again against the Nuggets. The guards led the way early on. Overall, it was a great performance as the team heads into the holiday weekend. [Read more...]

Comparing national and local perspective of the Cavs and Browns – Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard and Andrew Zelman – WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-13

WFNY Podcast LogoToday I wanted to talk about the national and local perspective of the Cavs and the Browns. It feels so paranoid, angry and negative locally, but that also can sometimes feel accurate. In various cases, that perspective is backed up nationally. So what’s the right perspective?

I talked to Cleveland Scene’s new owner Andrew Zelman and on of Scene’s many resident sports fans, Sam Allard.

You should follow these guys on Twitter as well.

Andrew Zelman is @AZFromCleveland

Sam Allard is @SceneSallard

Check out this episode

Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings host suddenly streaking Cavaliers

Cavaliers vs KingsThe Cleveland Cavaliers are suddenly an exciting team to watch. Just like that, after a trade for a two-time All-Star and a double-digit road win – just the third in four seasons – and the season has turned around again.

Tonight, they continue their five-game Western Conference road trip in Sacramento. The Kings are 12-22, even with the 13-23 Cavaliers in the overall NBA standings, and they also had a major trade for a small forward earlier this season. They’ll likely have a much more difficult road to postseason contention over in the West, however.

On the year, Cleveland remains just 3-15 on the road. They have just five three-game winning streaks in four seasons and zero four-gamers. Here’s a preview of what to watch over at the humorously named Sleep Train Arena.
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Cavs vs. Jazz Behind The Boxscore: Offense! Honest-to-goodness offense!


Luol Deng made his Cavalier debut tonight in Utah, and it couldn’t have went much better for the Wine and Gold. Deng showed some nice things in a 4-for-8 shooting effort for 10 points in 21 minutes, but it was the Cavaliers’ 39-point third quarter explosion that allowed them to jump out to an insurmountable lead. Seven Cavaliers finished in double figures, and the Cavaliers thumped the Jazz 113-102 in Energy Solutions Arena to improve to 13-23 on the season and 2-0 since the Deng trade.

Let’s dig into some of the stat nuggets from this game, and there is no shortage of them.

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WFNY Stats & Info: Cavs frontcourt’s potential without Bynum

andy tristanIt’s no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers were not a good basketball team with since-departed Andrew Bynum on the court. Heck, they obviously haven’t been good overall with their 12-23 record, but it was particular awful with the current free agent.

In Bynum’s 480 minutes, the Cavs had a -11.3 net efficiency rating per 100 possessions. That’d easily be the worst team in the NBA. In the remaining 1,240 minutes this season, the efficiency differential is just -3.0, a mark resembling that of a 30-win team, which might just be enough for the playoffs in the year’s historically bad Eastern Conference.

But that alone wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to dig even further into the specific frontcourt combinations that the Cavaliers have used this season. I then looked at all of the iterations of playing time between Bynum, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson. The data was parsed with an eye toward the corresponding plus-minus points and net rebounding data. It’s not easy to track possessions in this way, so I averaged them out per 48 minutes of playing time.

My goal: To look only at Cavs lineups with Thompson and/or Varejao on the court, but never with Bynum. These are the options the team will rely upon going forward in the second half. So their past success (or failures) could tell a sign for the future.

cavs frontcourt plus minus

Looking at only the highlighted combinations, they represent 63% of total minutes this season: 1,077 overall. And, to great fortune for the team’s future: They have exactly a zero plus-minus thus far. They’ve been perfectly average. That’s awesome. That should be music to Cavs’ fans ears.

Obviously, this excludes the lineups we’ve seen without Thompson, Varejao or Bynum on the court. Those will still be possible going forward, so their issues aren’t just immediately alleviated. The Cavs have been very bad during those minutes. Still, it’s pleasing to know of the positive results.

On the rebounding side, the combined Thompson/Varejao lineups — representing 39% of minutes — out-rebound opponents by 6.4 boards per 48 minutes. That’s elite and very impressive. It’s perhaps in line with Varejao’s recent eight-game rebounding hot streak. Although the Cavs are an average rebounding team overall, they’ve been below average in every other lineup iteration.

The biggest factor for the future could just be the health of the team’s best players stars, specifically Varejao. He personally has a -3.7 plus-minus per 48 minutes in the last four years in 3,708 minutes despite all of the franchise’s terrible struggles. If he can stay on the court — and Bynum gone — then this Cavs team could truly have a fighting chance with solid new addition Luol Deng.

[More Andrew Bynum thoughts from WFNY's Scott Sargent: The end of an era]

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cavs vs. Bucks Behind The Boxscore: Kyrie beats the flu and Milwaukee too

U-G-L-Y. This game certainly had no alibi for the first three and a half quarters. The Bucks, missing nearly half of their roster including three starters, played the Cavaliers hard as both teams struggled to play aesthetically pleasing basketball. What we did see, however, was a thrilling finish that saw huge shots from several different Cavaliers, and they needed every single last one of them to eek out a 114-111 overtime victory over the Bucks in Quicken Loans Arena. Let’s highlight some of the numbers from this much-needed win that keeps the Cavs just one-half game out of the 8 seed in the wide-open East. Cavs Bucks 1 - The Cavaliers had just one turnover in the fourth quarter and did not turn the ball over in overtime. With just 12 miscues for the 53 minutes of action, it’s even more impressive when you point out that nine of those came in the first half of the game. The Bucks only turned it over 11 times themselves, and what that meant was more shots going up. Each team took 100 shots with the Bucks making one more with 40. The single most detrimental thing game in and game out for the Cavaliers is their number of turnovers. Holding them in check allowed them to survive a subpar effort defensively and shooting-wise.

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Cavalier Film Room: Conceding The Defensive Glass

Last week in the film room, we dove into some of Mike Brown’s defensive principles. This week, it’s pretty obvious where I’m going given Tuesday night’s outcome in the heartbreaking loss at the hands of Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. As always, if you have an idea for a film room topic, I’m always happy to take suggestions at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

On Tuesday night, the Cavaliers allowed the Blazers to collect 18 offensive rebounds. That doesn’t sound particularly outrageous on its own, but when you consider that the Blazers turned that into 35 second chance points on 12 field goals and the Cavaliers only grabbed 31 defensive rebounds (or roughly only 63% of the rebounds at that end) themselves, it becomes the single most significant factor as to why the Cavs weren’t able to pull off the sizable upset on their home court. Let’s take a look at a few of those 18 Portland second chances and see if we see any common themes develop.
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Cavalier Film Room: Defense: Clipper Tested, Mike Brown approved

Last week in the film room, we looked at Andrew Bynum’s recent big contributions. As always, if you have suggestions for a topic, feel free to contact me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room


This week, we’re going to finally dive into Mike Brown’s defensive system and how well the Cavaliers are adopting it through the first quarter of the season. We’re going to focus on Saturday night’s home win against the Clippers for this effort. The Cavaliers won 88-82, allowing the Clips to shoot just 32% as they attempted 35 three pointers. Here, we’ll touch on just a couple things that I like to see with Brown’s defense, as this will be a recurring theme that we’ll visit plenty throughout the season in slightly different formats.

We start off with Chris Paul at the top of the key, guarded by Kyrie Irving, entering the ball into Blake Griffin, covered by Tristan Thompson. The first thing I enjoy seeing is Tristan attempting to deny the ball into Griffin. Far too often, we see the defender just allow the ball to get entered there. Sure, Griffin isn’t a good shooter, but the first step in any power move that he has is getting the ball entered.

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