Overview: The Cavaliers were able to overcame a slow start and a shaky finish to beat the Bulls in Cleveland and take a 3-2 series lead. LeBron James led the Cavs with 38 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three blocks, and three steals, with 24 points on 10-12 shooting in the first half alone. Kyrie Irving added 25 points on 16 shots, while Jimmy Butler led the way for Chicago with 29 points as Derrick Rose struggled en route to an 8-24 night from the field.
Exclusive: an Interview with Patrick Potopsky, Owner of the Brew Garden (Plus, A SECOND MOZGOV COMMERCIAL!)Thursday, March 26th, 2015
Occasionally, amazing things happen in this life. One of those things was the Timofey Mozgov ad for the Brew Garden that I wrote 1,700 words on earlier today. However, just that writeup did not fully quench my thirst for knowledge about the 15 seconds of pure magic that is Timofey Mozgov firing a competitor plate aside and declaring that he is hungry for Brew Garden. So I called the Brew Garden and got some initial details from a bartender who was present for the shoot of the ad, and was able to get some information for her. I also left my number for the owner of the Brew Garden, the true mastermind of the ad, in the hopes that I could get the full breakdown of the ad. A few hours later, he called me back. The following is a transcript of what he told me about the ad. (more…)
Video: Timofey Mozgov will not tolerate anything less than The Brew Garden (UPDATED WITH INFORMATION FROM BREW HOUSE EMPLOYEE)Thursday, March 26th, 2015
Sometimes, things are perfect. This is one of those times. Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov recently did a 15-second commercial for The Brew Garden, and quickly had the type of positive impact on the Brew Garden and Commericals that he’s had for the Cavaliers since being traded to the team. According to NBA.com, Mozgov has the second best raw +/- on the entire team, trailing only LeBron James. Since the number of times I have thought about the Brew Garden has gone from “0” before I saw this commercial to “560,000” in the three hours since I have seen it, I believe his +/- impact on the restaurant may be even more dramatic.
We’re going to break down each of these 15 precious seconds as completely as possible. The ad demands at least this much from us.
:00 — We open with a shot of what appears to be a sandwich, some kettle chips and a side of cole slaw on a plate behind a sign that says “COMPETITOR.” A very large hand is next to the plate. Behind the plate is a yellow shirt.
This Cavaliers season has been one of highs and lows. The team won the draft lottery, LeBron came back, Kevin Love came shortly thereafter, and all was good. Then, the team, and Love, had some serious struggles out of the gate, and woe came down upon us all.
Recently, the Cavs have been on an absolute tear since getting healthy and acquiring Timofey Mosgov and J.R. Smith, and now things get even better: The Impossible Dream has happened, and Kendrick Perkins will now be a Cleveland Cavalier, according to ESPN.com’s Royce Young, who previously wrote what must be considered the definitive post-Celtics Perkins piece earlier this season.
Perkins is mainly known for his ability to set lots and lots of screens, many of questionable legality, and his individual post defense. He does very few other basketball-related things well. Out of 346 qualified players, Perkins ranks 335th in PER, which is not good. He has one of the worst True Shooting percentages in the league at 46.1%, which is impressive since he’s a center who rarely shoots, and he has the highest turnover ratio in the league. (However, his True Shooting percentage is still higher than Dion Waiters’, so there’s that.)
Perkins’ Real Plus-Minus is kinder to him, however, and puts him right about in the middle of the pack among NBA centers, which backs up the notion that he contributes with screens, post defense, and rim protection in ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet. (It should be noted that RPM has not been nearly this kind to Perkins in years past.)
It’s clear what Perkins provides: A battle-tested veteran who can be relied on to give spot minutes in the playoffs and give Mozgov a rest in the regular season, and a guy whose myriad of deficiencies will be mostly covered up by playing with three guys who can keep the floor spaced and will have the ball in their hands for the vast majority of the time.
Some very bad news, via ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst:
This has become sadly commonplace for the beloved big man — in the past four seasons, Varejao has played only 31, 25, 25, and 65 games, and it looks like he will only play 26 games this season, with no real guarantee that he will come back at 100% from this injury by the start of next season.
Obviously, this is a bummer, as Andy’s presence on the floor made LeBron far more comfortable due to the pick-and-roll ESP the two share with each other and Andy’s growing set of tools, including a nice passing game and an ugly but effective mid-range jumper he’d finally gotten comfortable with.
The pressure is now on Tristan Thompson and David Griffin. Thompson will take over Varejao’s starting spot, and while +/- numbers that say the Cavaliers have been significantly better with Thompson on the floor than Varejao this season, that hypothesis will now be fully tested. As for Griffin, the Cavs were thought to be in the market for an additional rim protector before, with Kostas Koufos and Timofey Mozgov being the names most often linked to the Cavs — the Cavs will now desperately need an extra center to have a chance at being serious finals contenders, because I don’t see this thing working with Lou Amundson and Brendan Haywood getting significant minutes. We’ll see how this shakes out in the coming weeks.
Hi, it’s me. Thick in the middle of law school finals (had one today, have another tomorrow, and the last one on Friday), so time hasn’t been my friend of late. I still wanted to get in on this little bit of absurdity. The fun starts at the 2:22 mark of the video above (props, as always, to @DawkinsMTA)
Off a Kemba Walker fast-break layup, LeBron grabs the inbounds pass, gets into a full quarterback stance, and heaves the ball from just inside the Cavs’ free-throw line to Kyrie, who made a ridiculous layup in traffic. (I’m fairly sure Kyrie makes more layups off damn near the top of the backboard than anyone else in the league.) Oh, and LeBron threw that with his left hand.
It’s pretty well-known at this point that LeBron does everything but shoot a basketball left-handed, and his ability to drive and finish with his left hand has always been a vital and underrated part of what makes him great, but that’s freaking ludicrous.
As has been mentioned, LeBron’s pretty clearly past his physical prime — he’s not the holy-christ jumper he used to be, and, more importantly, he doesn’t have enough in his legs to compete on both ends for the full game the way he used to. This began in earnest last season (I said as much on this CBS.com podcast! Don’t listen to the part where I say Golden State was dramatically overvaluing Klay Thompson. Just focus on where I say LeBron is past his physical prime. I am so often wrong.), especially the defense part, but nobody really noticed it because people are slow to change their opinions on how good perimeter defenders are (even GMs — seriously, guys?), and the Heat’s offense got LeBron the ball in positions where he had a deep post-up or an outright layup or dunk, minimizing the need for him to slice all the way through defenses like he did in his first stint with the Cavs.
The point here is that even though LeBron’s crazy dunks are probably gone, he’s still a player capable of doing insane, insane things, and we should appreciate them.
(I’d say I’d like to see more of the kind of action we get at the 2:10 mark of the above video, where LeBron gets an easy layup after catching Lance Stephenson cheating a screen, but that play was entirely thanks to Al Jefferson. His man is setting a screen, LeBron is basically scratching his back, and he’s just standing still and staring straight ahead, thinking about muffins. Never change, Big Al.)
Happy Thanksgiving, campers. This Thursday, since it’s a holiday, I’ll spare you my weekly 2,000 word screed on what I’d like to see the Cavs doing and just show you a perfect example of the Cavs doing exactly what I’ve been begging them to do all season long.
Hopefully, the above video above (which comes from @DawkinsMTA, who runs the best NBA YouTube channel out there) is set to the appropriate time, but since I have no idea how to do that, skip to the 3:55 mark if it starts from the beginning. This is how a 2014-15 Cavalier offensive set should look.
STEP 1: The play here is a simple 3-1 pick and roll, which was a staple of the Heat offense when LeBron played there and has been an attempted staple of the Cavalier offense this season. It’s a very effective set, since not many teams can have a 250-pound man as the ball-handler on the pick-and-roll. The problem with it so far for the Cavaliers has been that Kyrie has been setting nonchalant screens, so instead of a 3-1 pick-and-roll it’s “Kyrie and LeBron waste 8 seconds of the shot clock while standing near each other.”
On this play, however, Kyrie sets a screen like a guy who was born in Australia, not like a guy who went to Duke. LeBron’s man can’t fight over the screen fast enough, and LeBron has a lane to the basket. Now the Wizards are on the back foot, and good things can happen organically. That’s what a successful offensive set does.
STEP 2: Marcin Gortat makes a nice rotation to keep LeBron from getting an easy finish on the drive, and Kris Humphries rotates down to keep LeBron from having a pass to Thompson for an easy dunk. This leaves Joe Harris open for an above-the-break 3, and LeBron fires the pass to him.
STEP 3: Since Harris is a 3-point threat who has to be respected, Kyrie’s man leaves him to contest what would be a wide-open 3. Harris, without so much as putting the ball on the floor, swings the ball to Kyrie, who’s open at the top of the 3-point arc. This forces Dion Waiters’ man to leave Waiters alone in the corner and close out on Kyrie at full speed.
STEP 4: Kyrie now has two options: Hit Waiters with a pass that would set him up with an open 3, or decimate the ankles of a defender who has to run at him full-speed, and thus has no real chance of staying in front of one of the best ballhandlers in basketball. Kyrie goes with option B, and goes from left to right with a behind-the-back dribble on his man.
STEP 5: Kyrie is now between the top of the key and the free throw line, with options. He can pull up on his man for a mid-range jumper, which isn’t a terrible shot, but isn’t a great one. There’s still enough room between Waiters and his man for a three if Kyrie fires a pass to his right side. But the best option is the one Kyrie goes with — since Kyrie’s crossover forced Humphries to step into the middle of the lane to prevent Kyrie from getting a layup on a potential blow-by, LeBron is now open just under the basket, on the left side. In a flash, Kyrie picks up his dribble and hits LeBron with a bullet pass in one fluid motion. Now LeBron’s got a layup, and he even gets an and-1 out of the deal.
That’s what we’re talking about here — spacing, guys working together, multiple good options created by actions, and LeBron and Kyrie using their respective talents to make life easier on each other. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Overview: After four hard-fought quarters, the Cavaliers fell short against the defending champion Spurs when LeBron James turned the ball over at half-court with Cleveland down by two and just seconds on the clock. Anderson Varejao led all scorers with 23 points on 16 shots, while James and Kevin Love combined for just 25 points on a combined 10-29 shooting night.
LeBron James has never played with a high-level true point guard before. Dwyane Wade was the closest thing he had to a guy who could function as a high-level creator next to him, but since Wade is secretly a 6’4 power forward without the rebounding, Miami got away with an inverted situation, having LeBron function as the primary creator, Wade slashing to the basket off the ball, and Bosh providing the floor spacing despite being the tallest of the three.
That’s not going to work in Cleveland. This is evidenced by the fact that it is currently not working in Cleveland. It’s early, but the Cavs currently rank 19th in offensive efficiency, 22nd in True Shooting, and dead-last in assist ratio. The defense is a larger issue, as only the Lakers (bless these horrible Lakers) and the Jazz have a lower defensive efficiency than the Cavs. For those of you keeping score at home, the second-worst defense in the NBA held the Cavaliers to four assists last night.
The Cavaliers need to run an honest-to-god offense, and they need to start running it soon. For that, two things have to happen: Kyrie needs to have a come-to-Jesus moment and LeBron needs to find an effective middle gear.
Hi. I’m John. I started this website in 2008, and was its Editor-In-Chief until after the 2010-11 season. I spend lots of time doing law school-y things now, such as going to law school. This season, I’m going to be doing a weekly column, as well as some other things as time allows. Over the past 11 seasons, I have watched LeBron James play basketball an unhealthy amount, and I’ve learned a few things about his game over that time. (These columns will be more varied as the season goes on, but don’t be surprised if the first few are LeBron-centric: I’m still getting to know this brand-new Cavs team, while I have 11 years of intense LeBron-watching under my belt.)
Since LeBron James now plays for the Cavaliers again, I thought it would be useful to go back through the last decade-plus of LeBron, and see how he got from the 18-year old kid out of St. Vincent/St. Marys to the four-time MVP and two-time champion who will be suiting up for the Cavs this season. One of the (many) things I always say is truly incredible as LeBron is that he not only came into the league as the most talented prospect of the modern era and lived up to the hype right out of the gate, but he’s improved and changed his game more from when he was first successful to when he hit his prime as much as any player in NBA history.
Follow me past the jump for more (a lot more):