August 15, 2014

Cavs vs Magic Behind The Box Score: Undefeated in 2014!

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.

Anderson Varejao vs MagicThere are ugly games in the NBA. Teams have ugly wins. Then you have whatever this game was. With Kyrie Irving sitting out with a bruised left knee, the Cavaliers played one of the worst basketball games I have ever seen. Thankfully, they played the Orlando Magic.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the first 3.9 quarters of this game. Both teams took turns trying to out-lose each other, but in the final minute of the game, the Magic appeared to have a comfortable 79-70 lead. In the final minute, all kinds of crazy would break out.

Dion Waiters got things started by hitting a pair of FTs. After an Arron Afflalo miss, Jarrett Jack was fouled on a three-point attempt and would make all 3 free throws. Orlando would then get called for a 5 second violation trying to inbound the ball. Dion would make layup to bring the Cavs within two at 79-77 with 10 seconds left. The Cavs fouled E’Twaun Moore to send him to the line with 9 seconds left. Moore would miss both free throws and on the 2nd miss, the Magic knocked the ball out of bounds to give the ball back to the Cavs. Dion then completed a nice drive to the basket to tie the game with 0.6 seconds left and the game would go to overtime.

In overtime, the Magic could only manage 2 points, going scoreless over the final 3:19 of the game, and the Cavaliers pulled away to come up with an unexpected 87-81 win. For most of this game it felt like the Cavaliers were hitting rock bottom. It was offensive to the game of basketball, and it really said a lot about the construction of this team outside of Kyrie Irving. But credit to guys like Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Dion Waiters who all made huge plays at different points and found a way to come up with a win.

Now let’s get into the mostly ugly 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...]

When it Comes to NBA Trades It’s Not What You Ask For That Matters, It’s What You Get

Chris Grant“It was much pleasanter at home, when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down the rabbit-hole – and yet – and yet – it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life!”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Following NBA trade rumors often feels like a journey down Alice’s infamous rabbit-hole. We talk about this every season, but rumors are ubiquitous to NBA life. Agents and GMs leak information to trusted sources, often with an agenda in mind. What this means to the casual NBA fan sitting at home is that they are usually reading half truths that border on propaganda. Well intentioned beat writers and national scribes are frequently used as a medium to send a message to the other party in negotiations as well as to try to control the message that is being sent to the fans.

This isn’t to say NBA writers do a bad job or are somehow unaware of the game that’s being played. Far from it. It’s a give and take relationship in which a lot of good, solid, quality information is given to reporters to build rapport and trust. It’s just that every now and then a slight half truth might get slipped in there and nobody knows the difference. [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...]

The Cavaliers Continue to Grind Through Injuries

Is it better to play poorly and win or to play well and lose? The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-14, 13th in the East) have lost quite a few games I’m not sure they deserved to lose this season. The Cavaliers are going through something of an identity crisis at the moment. Or they are a pretty good bad team, or a pretty bad good team?

One of the games they most certainly deserved to lose was the 2nd game of the season against the Chicago Bulls. Tonight the Cavaliers will try to avenge that loss when they host the Bulls (8-8, 4th in the East) at The Q.

The Cavaliers will once again be sans-starting backcourt. PG Kyrie Irving is still out with the finger injury and Dion Waiters is expected to miss this game with an ankle injury. The Bulls know the feeling. They too are missing their starting backcourt as PG Derrick Rose and SG Richard Hamilton are both out as well. [Read more...]

Box Score: Cavaliers 79, Pistons 89

You knew this game would be tough to win, with the Cavaliers starting backcourt out with injuries and the Pistons playing good basketball as of late. For a while, that’s exactly what happened, with the Cavaliers falling behind by 20 points in the first half and trailing by 17 at the half.

In the 4th quarter, the Cavaliers made a good effort to try to get back into this one. With 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Cavaliers were down 71-51. With 2 minutes to go, the Cavaliers had closed the gap all the way to 6 points at 85-79. In the end, though, it was just too little, too late, as the Pistons regained their edge to hang on for the 10 point win.

Anderson Varejao did what Anderson Varejao does with another workman-like 17 point, 18 rebound night (9 offensive rebounds). The Cavaliers just didn’t have enough offensive firepower with both Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters out with injuries. Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 17 points.

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 17 22 24 16 79
DET 30 26 19 14 89


Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
A. Gee G 29:44 2-10 0-3 2-2 -5 0 2 1 1 3 0 1 0 6
J. Pargo G 29:39 4-13 0-2 2-4 -11 2 4 8 2 1 0 1 4 10
A. Varejao C 39:29 7-18 0-1 3-6 -4 9 18 2 3 3 1 2 2 17
T. Thompson F 32:33 4-13 0-0 2-2 -8 5 11 1 0 0 2 4 4 10
O. Casspi F 28:12 4-11 2-5 0-0 -9 1 4 1 1 0 1 1 2 10
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 32-95 3-20 12-17 20 53 19 11 7 5 13 20 79
Percentages .337 .150 .706 Team Rebounds: 11
D. Gibson 28:42 1-6 1-6 0-0 +3 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 3
T. Zeller 20:10 4-8 0-0 0-0 -5 2 4 1 3 0 1 2 3 8
D. Sloan 18:21 3-8 0-1 1-1 +1 1 5 4 0 0 0 2 2 7
C.J. Miles 9:22 3-6 0-2 2-2 -9 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 8
S. Samuels 3:48 0-2 0-0 0-0 -3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
K. Irving DNP – Coach’s Decision
J. Leuer DNP – Coach’s Decision
L. Walton DNP – Coach’s Decision


Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
B. Knight G 33:45 5-13 0-4 7-7 +9 0 5 5 3 0 0 1 1 17
K. Singler G 33:08 6-14 3-6 0-0 +14 2 6 1 2 0 1 1 2 15
G. Monroe C 35:38 4-10 0-0 1-3 +9 4 14 5 3 2 2 1 4 9
T. Prince F 33:55 6-10 1-2 2-2 +6 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 15
J. Maxiell F 28:10 6-12 0-0 0-0 +10 0 6 0 1 0 5 1 2 12
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 36-84 4-18 13-19 15 49 21 11 6 13 5 16 89
Percentages .429 .222 .684 Team Rebounds: 9
R. Stuckey 27:16 4-9 0-2 0-1 -3 0 3 6 1 1 1 0 1 8
A. Drummond 19:31 3-8 0-0 1-4 -1 9 12 1 0 1 3 1 2 7
C. Maggette 15:56 1-2 0-0 2-2 +4 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 4
C. Villanueva 12:41 1-6 0-4 0-0 +2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 2
W. Bynum DNP – Coach’s Decision
A. Daye DNP – Coach’s Decision
K. English DNP – Coach’s Decision
J. Jerebko DNP – Coach’s Decision


Trading Anderson Varejao Still Doesn’t Make Sense for the Cavaliers

So here we are again. Another season, another never ending stream of talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers trading Anderson Varejao.

It’s not surprising. Exhausting? Sure. But not surprising. Any time you’re a young, rebuilding team and you have a top level player in his prime, it’s only natural that there will be speculation about trading him. To many, Anderson Varejao is nothing more than an asset. That’s an unfortunate way of looking at one of the most valuable players in the NBA.

Look, I get it. We all know top free agents don’t sign in Cleveland. The Cavaliers can’t keep drafting in the top 5. Eventually they have to start getting better. And when that happens, the draft will become much more difficult to add difference making talent to the team. That will leave trades as the primary way of improving the roster. So the thought is, why not trade Anderson Varejao while he’s still in his prime. He’ll never get more on the market than he will today.

That’s true. All of it. Good, sound reasons for trading Varejao. The problem is, there’s absolutely no return on investment in trading Varejao now. The Cavaliers will never, ever replace Varejao’s value to the team because players like Varejao are extraordinarily rare. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Look to Shake Off Rough Weekend with First West Coast Game of the Season

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

It was a rough weekend for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they dropped both of their games Friday and Saturday night.

The Cavaliers showed us two very different types of losses, though. Friday night against Chicago was a reprise of the song we heard so many times last season. The Cavaliers fell behind by 16 in the first quarter and never really appeared too interested in playing and fighting back.

Here’s an example of how bad things were Friday night. With 4:41 left in the 1st, Kyrie Irving hit a 10 foot jumper to pull the Cavaliers to a 19-15 deficit. Here’s how the remaining first quarter possessions for the Cavaliers went:

[Read more...]

Cleveland Cavaliers Look to Move to 2-0 on the Season

On opening night, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave us all a glimpse of some of the highlights, and just a few of the lowlights, that we can expect to see this season. Friday night, as the Cavaliers host the Chicago Bulls, the question will be about consistency.

Against the Wizards on Tuesday, we what the Cavaliers can be. A persistent team capable of outworking their opponents in the paint with a strong backcourt duo to keep opponents honest. We saw some crisp passing, some good cuts off the ball, and just a fun style of team oriented basketball. [Read more...]

Random Cavaliers Off-Season Thoughts

Now that Summer League has come and gone, things are probably going to be mostly quiet on the Cleveland Cavaliers homefront until training camp starts in late September/early October. Sure, the Cavaliers will likely sing restricted free agent Alonzo Gee at some point, they still have to decide whether or not to pick up Daniel Gibson’s team option (they probably will), and there’s always the chance of the Cavaliers being involved in some kind of trade. But for the most part, this is the quiet period for the team.

So in the meantime, while football is getting ready to start and baseball is going through all their trade deadline hoopla, here’s some random basketball thoughts to pass the time. [Read more...]

Revisiting the Anderson Varejao Trade Discussion

Anderson Varejao's Value Shining Through This Season

In the midst of watching the Cavaliers’ incredible comeback against the Celtics, I was also keeping one eye on Twitter. (On a side note, I don’t know how those of you who tweet during games do it…I always feel like anytime I try to tweet during games, I feel less connected and distracted from the game. So kudos to those more adept to multi-tasking that I am). I noticed something interesting happening on Twitter during this game.

As Anderson Varejao kept pouring his heart and soul into that game, giving every last ounce of effort and want-to he could possibly find inside his seemingly tireless body, Cavs fans on Twitter were making arguments as to why this should be the showcase for trading Varejao.

The irony of people asking for the Cavaliers to trade Varejao as we were all watching the man give the type of effort without which the Cavs certainly would have lost was absolutely not lost on me. Nor was the fact that Varejao, always considered a fan favorite, seems to be the guy many Cavs fans are most eager to have the team trade away. [Read more...]

The JJ Hickson Issue

The losing streak may be over, but for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the season itself is far from over. Even amongst the talk of trades, draft positioning, and draft prospects, for the franchise itself, taking stock of which players have value moving forward should still be a priority. Beyond simply weighing who should or should not be included in trade discussions, the team needs to know for itself exactly how to proceed into the future and which players have a role in that rebuilding process.

Perhaps nowhere is this as confusing as in the case of JJ Hickson and Anderson Varejao. If Varejao is the team’s best overall player, then you can consider Hickson the team’s most confusing and difficult to understand from a performance point of view.

There’s no question that JJ’s performance on the court has been outstanding, for the most part, in recent weeks. It would appear that coach Byron Scott has helped JJ achieve a real breakthrough and he’s given Cavs fans something to feel good about with regard to the future of the franchise. However, none of this means that questions don’t still linger. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Preview Game #1: Celtics at Cavs

Boston Celtics (1-0) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
7:00 PM EST

The Cleveland Cavaliers begin a new journey tonight. Although the result of their path is as unclear as I can ever recall it being, just having the ability to begin down the path brings excitement. And with that excitement comes the nerves. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I was nervous about a season opener. Nervous in a good way, I mean. Nervous because I don’t know what to expect. Nervous because my security blanket is gone. Nervous because I had forgotten what it’s like to watch the Cavaliers and not have LeBron James being a part of it. But it’s a nervous excitement because tonight we begin this journey together. This is about as united as the fans, players, and team as a whole have been in a very long time. We don’t know how this is going to turn out, but we’re in this together. [Read more...]

Cavs Beat Heat as Mo Williams Outshines MVP Candidates

(Cleveland 99 – Miami 89 Box)

As Dwyane Wade drove toward the basket, you could see he was starting to lose control of his body as he so often does.  It usually ends with Dwyane Wade flying every which way, firing up a circus shot that has at least a 30% chance of going in all the while forcing contact and making it look like he just got killed in the process.  Ask Dallas about Dwyane Wade’s histrionics.  Mark Cuban would probably still be willing to give just about anyone who will listen a profanity-laced soliloquy on the topic if you ask. In Miami, Dwyane Wade gets these calls.  All the time.

But last night in Cleveland, while Wade was driving to the hoop flailing about, it was Anderson Varejao who got the benefit of the doubt.  He is infuriating to other teams, and apparently perfectly executed defense where you move your feet and go straight up as an opposing player is trying to get to the rim is infuriating to Dwyane Wade.  As Wade went up and made contact with Varejao, the referrees stayed silent as Wade earned his second technical of the night, and an early trip to the showers with his team down 6 with 50-some seconds left to play.  From there the Cavs hit free throws the rest of the way out to finish riding Lebron’s triple-double and Mo Williams’ game high 29 points to victory. [Read more...]

Who Are These Cavaliers?

It is a season to remember thus far, that’s for sure.  Terry Pluto thinks this could be the greatest Cavs team ever.  Now this quote comes from CNN/SI’s latest power rankings (the Cavs are number 2 this week.)

“Cleveland has been so good, they haven’t needed LeBron in the fourth quarter,” an advance scout told me recently.  “That’s going to help them in the playoffs.”  Indeed, the Cavaliers have been downright lethal in the third quarter this season; on average, only the Celtics and Lakers outscore the opposition by more in that period than Cleveland does.

I am sure there is some statistical mining to do in this area, but off the top of my head here’s what I am thinking. [Read more...]

Varejao Mending Fences

Andy Varejao Playing For BrazilCleveland Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao Not Playing For Team Brazil In The Upcoming Summer Olympics

It’s been no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers organization does not want Zydrunas Ilgauskas to play for Lithuania in the summer olympics in Beijing this August. Worried about his health and the ability of his infamous feet to withstand such little rest, the Cavaliers would prefer he just stay at home this summer.

What was a bit of a secret, though, was that the Cavaliers also didn’t want Anderson Varejao to play for his native Brazil in the Olympics (Brazil has yet to qualify, so he would have been playing in qualifiers as well). According to Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon Journal, Varejao has agreed to not play for Brazil this summer, but instead rest his weary knees. He writes,   [Read more...]

Getting Better, One Player At A Time

Anderson VarejaoCavaliers Forward Set To Return Tonight

Anderson Varejao, the Cavaliers forward who has been out since January 27th with a sprained ankle, will be back tonight barring a setback at shoot around, according to the Akron Beacon Journal’s Brian Windhorst. Meanwhile, center Zydrunas Ilgauskas is suffering from a cold and is now listed as questionable for tonight’s game. You’ve gotta believe Z will play through it and be in the starting lineup tonight. This makes tonight’s game even more exciting. How many minutes will AV get? Whose minutes will he take? Will Mike Brown play Andy and Big Ben together at the same time? Will the Bucks get 1 rebound tonight? Etc, etc, etc.

It remains to be seen how effective this frontcourt can be on the offensive side of the ball, despite Z and Joe Smith’s talents on that side of the ball. What would seem to be beyond question, though, is the defensive prowess of this frontcourt. A frontcourt that now runs 5 deep with Z, Big Ben, Andy, Joe Smith, and the tall D-Jones. Add in LeBron’s size and Devin Brown’s knack for finding his share of rebounds, and this is looking like a big and athletic (not counting Z, of course….sorry, Z) force that is really going to create problems for a lot of teams. This game’s gonna be a fun one.