Author Archive

Recap: Rockets 118, Cavs 111 (Or, the Quick and the Red)

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

 

Overview: In a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would indicate, the Houston Rockets blitzed the Cavaliers behind James Harden’s performance. Harden had 37 points and 11 assists in just 29 minutes of playing time, and shot 9-15 from the field and 14-14 from the free throw line. Dion Waiters led the Cavs with 26 points on 11-20 shooting, Tyler Zeller scored a career-high 23 points, and Matthew Dellavedova had his second consecutive 10-assist game.

The Rundown:

The bottom line on this one was that the Rockets absolutely played the game they wanted to play, and the Cavaliers got caught up in it. I thought the switch from Byron Scott to Mike Brown would bring in some change defensively, but that simply hasn’t been the case this season. The Cavs are tied for 18th in defensive efficiency this season, and they haven’t really been able to make their opponents feel their presence on defense at any point. The Rockets were running, gunning, and getting to the line, and the Cavs couldn’t do much to stop it.

The Rockets pushed at every opportunity, launched a 3 whenever they got a chance, and wore the Cavs down with a parade to the free throw line. The Rockets put up 118 points, and only 10 of them came on mid-range jumpers — the rest came in the paint, on 3s, or at the line. James Harden, of course, was the biggest issue for the Cavs. He really is something to watch when he has it going. He was pulling up for 3, he was slicing into the lane with that slinky dribble at will, he set up his teammates, and he found contact and didn’t miss when he went to the line. Of his 37 points, only 2 came on a mid-range jumper. He set the tone early, and the Cavs never really got back into the game after the Rockets opened things up with a 17-4 run.

The Cavs had a lot of players end up with nice box score lines because of the speed of the game and the fact that, for the second straight game, they were able to turn garbage time into really-dirty-thing time with a late run when the game was all but completely out of hand, but they really did get beat up by the Rockets. Still, the furious pace of the game did allow us to see some good stuff from a few Cavs.

As I mentioned, Tyler Zeller had a career-high 23, and I like how he’s been playing lately. He’s not settling, he’s looking surprisingly authoritative around the basket, and he’s showing that energy we’ve been waiting for. Hopefully he can build on this, and maybe develop that jumper a bit more, because I don’t think Hawes is much of a long-term answer at the pivot spot.

Waiters is proving that he is most certainly an above-average NBA rotation player — when he wants to get 20 or more, he gets it. It might take him a few more shots than would be ideal to get there, but there aren’t a ton of guards in the league who can do that, especially ones that usually come off of the bench. I feel like I’ve more or less said my piece on Waiters — I’d like to see him improve on a few things, namely his ability to finish at the basket, but the main problem is that he doesn’t have enough guys setting him up for open 3s, spacing the floor for him to go to the basket, or protecting him on defense. If the Cavs can get those things in place, he’ll be truly dangerous instead of a guy who can do a passable impression of a #1 option on offense — call it the Monta Ellis theory.

Seth Curry is here! Only 9 minutes, and his only contribution was hitting a 3, which is something we all knew that he can do. It’ll be interesting to see if he shows anything during his 10 days.

Dellavedova’s 3-point shooting and passing continue to look good, although his defense didn’t have much of an impact on Saturday.

That’s about all I have for this one. The Cavs got run out of their building, and the playoffs are all but a mathematical impossibility at this point; before this game, Hollinger’s Playoff Odds gave them a 0.6% chance of making it in, which is basically the odds of any team still left in the NCAA Tournament winning the whole thing. Not great. Until next time.

Recap: Thunder 102 , Cavs 95 (Or, Okay, Fear the Reaper)

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

 

Overview: 

After a hard-fought first quarter, the Cavs ultimately folded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who outscored the Cavs over the final three quarters of the game. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists on 12-21 shooting from the field, and Dion Waiters led the Cavaliers with 30 points on 11-25 shooting from the field.

The Rundown:

The first quarter went about as well as one could possibly hope for the Cavaliers. It was no secret coming into this game that the Cavs weren’t going to be able to beat the Thunder based on talent, but they started off the game doing exactly what they needed to do — frustrating the Thunder offensively and outworking them on the glass. Hawes is a legitimate liability as a rim protector, but his ability to step out and stretch the defense gives the Cavaliers a dimension they desperately needed offensively, even if he couldn’t get his three-point shots to fall early in Thursday’s game.

Kevin Durant got Gee into early foul trouble, which was a blessing in disguise, because Lord Dellavedova was in full effect in the first quarter. He managed to frustrate Kevin Durant — Kevin Durant — when KD tried to isolate him 18 feet away from the basket, forcing Durant to settle for some tough jumpers that he couldn’t get to fall. Offensively, Dellavedova took advantage of the open 3 opportunities that come from offensive rebounds, showing a clean stroke and a lightning-quick trigger, and made the Thunder pay for sagging off of him. Thanks to hustle on the glass, Dellavedova, and some nice plays from Waiters, the Cavs actually held a 25-21 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Kevin Durant got the Thunder into the flow of the game, and they started playing some of the most beautiful basketball I’ve seen from any team this season. Durant, who’s going to go down as one of the five best jump-shooters of all time when he retires, made all of one jumper before the first-half buzzer sounded, and he was punishing the Cavs offensively anyways.

I don’t get to watch Durant as much as I should as a basketball fan, but he seems to get so much better every time I see him play. He was getting himself into the game in so many more ways than he used to be able to — he was getting put-backs off of offensive rebounds, making gorgeous back-cuts for dunks, throwing down alley-oops, and immediately firing off a pass to an open teammate when he didn’t have the angle, even if that pass led to a hockey assist instead of a wide-open shot. Apparently this wasn’t typical, even for the Thunder — I always watch the opposing team’s broadcast feed to get as many points of view as I can, and they were raving about how the ball was moving better for the Thunder in the second quarter than it has all season. Oh, and then Durant finished the quarter with a filthy, filthy crossover to pull-up jumper to beat the buzzer. This dude is on another level right now.

Meanwhile, the Thunder were bearing down on the glass, the Cavs were getting stagnant offensively, and their energy advantage had evaporated. When the Thunder are playing like a well-oiled machine of death, having your energy advantage evaporate is not a good thing, and the Cavs went into the break down by 10.

At the start of the 3rd quarter, Durant decided to announce that he had found his jumper by calmly draining a 31-foot pull-up jumper. Until there were 6 minutes left to play in the 4th quarter, it was pretty much all downhill from there for the Cavs. They couldn’t get an offensive rebound to save their lives, Durant was either hitting jumpers or setting Ibaka up with easy 18-footers when the Cavs came to trap him, and Derek Fisher, who is 63 years old, was draining every three he looked at. Dion was making some nice plays to keep the Cavaliers in the game, but things were clearly getting out of hand, and the Cavs were down by 24 with 6 minutes to play.

That’s when a ray of hope came, in the form of (who else?) Matthew Dellavedova. He started initiating the offense, and brought the Cavs to within striking distance by dishing out four consecutive assists and draining a jumper. After a Waiters layup and free throws, as well as a free throw from TT, the Cavs somehow found themselves within five with 1:12 to play.

However, tonight’s miracles were reserved for the college set, and the Thunder got their bearings after a timeout, got a key offensive rebound, and rode a parade of Durant free throws to a relatively easy finish. Good fight, but the Cavaliers were hopelessly outmatched, especially without Deng and Irving.

Notes:

I counted four 3-second violations for Serge Ibaka on Thursday — two on the offensive end, and two on D. That’s a personal high for one player in a game I’ve watched.

Waiters had to work for his 30, but 30 points in the NBA is 30 points in the NBA, and he again showed strong flashes — he can score from anywhere on the court, and something good always happens when he uses that devastating first step going left. I think he can be a foundational piece for an NBA team. I just hope the right pieces come into place around him so it’s this NBA team.

Speaking of, who’s on everybody’s draft wish list, now that we’re in tournament time? Maybe this is a “Once bitten, twice shy” thing with Karasev (is he alive?), but even though McDermott is a tweener in the worst way, I can’t see a scenario in which I’d rather have Dario Saric or pay Deng 5x as much on knees with 200,000 more miles on them.

(Caveat: I am fairly terrible at draft predictions, to the point where this was the first article I ever wrote that got major attention. I probably wouldn’t have ended up getting this blog without it. The moral, as always: Fail Upwards.)

Jack’s been playing well lately, but boy was he awful on Thursday. So, so, many short-armed pull-ups in transition.

Yes, I’m in love with Matthew Dellavedova. Double-Double! Give him a Danny Ferry contract. 10 years guaranteed. Needless to say, the Tarence Kinsey Award Race is over for this season.

Forgettable game for Tristan Thompson, who did not seem to remember that Serge Ibaka is quite good at blocking shots.

 

Recap: Cavs 93, Pistons 89 (Or, WINNING STREAK.)

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

 

Overview: Led by 25 points on 12-16 shooting and 15 rebounds from Tristan Thompson, the Cavs were able to come back from an early deficit and outscore the Pistons 34-23 in the fourth quarter of a 93-89 win. This is the Cavaliers’ first four-game winning streak since March of 2010.

Well, that’s the way to go into the All-Star Break Bullets:

Definitely a game to write home about from Tristan Thompson. The Pistons’ pick-and-roll defense is some of the worst in the league, and Kyrie and Thompson used everything in their bag of tricks to exploit it. Thompson was absolutely wonderful out there–he was finding space, always moving, and finishing with both hands with confidence. He even sprinkled in a jumper from the baseline, but this was mostly about Thompson stepping up in Varejao’s absence — in fact, he looked more like LeBron-era Varejao cutting to the basket and finishing tonight than Current Anderson Varejao has in the last year or two.

Not Kyrie’s best game, but he didn’t do much crazy, and rarely strangled the offense. He really let the game come to him, and while he struggled with his shot, he was able to make some beautiful passes, got himself into the paint and to the line, and did put the Cavs up four with a pull-up 26-footer with 27 seconds to go, which was nice.

Very quiet game from Dion — not a lot of penetration from him, and just 9 points, as he made everything from inside the arc and none of his threes.

I liked that Deng was aggressive taking the ball to the basket. So did Detroit’s gigantic frontline. The results were ugly: four points in 36 minutes on 0-9 shooting from the field. Yikes.

No real time for the Dellavedova love corner tonight — Will Bynum was just too fast for him, and his abuse of Dellavedova early in the fourth quarter almost put the Cavs in a hole they couldn’t get out of.

Anthony Bennett’s breakout game didn’t have much of a follow-up, with him getting just two points in 15 minutes on 1-4 shooting. I think it’s safe to say that with Bennett’s sleep apnea and asthma, and his overall physical condition, that back-to-backs are not going to be Bennett’s strength this year. I’m willing to ride high on Tuesday’s performance going into the All-Star break.

I’m saying a lot of negative things, so just take this away: This was an ugly game, the defense was solid, and Thompson was really, really good. JONAS THAT.

Bullets of Randomness:

This is a Pistons team with some serious issues. As much as I’ve complained about Kyrie this season, Brandon Jennings is just kinda wandering. 3-14 from the floor, and 11 of his shots were threes. At least three of his shots were LAUGHABLY bad ideas. There’s no sense that he’s setting up any kind of an offense. Andre Drummond is a load and Monroe has skill, but there’s no spacing when they share the floor, and the pick-and-roll defense is horrendous. I was going to rip Josh Smith for his effort, but he played a team-high 40 minutes tonight, so is it surprising that he ran out of gas defensively in the fourth quarter? And he took some bad shots, but HE’S JOSH SMITH AND YOU KNEW THAT WHEN YOU SIGNED HIM AS A SMALL FORWARD.

WINNING STREAK! See you guys after the All-Star Break.

Recap: Cavs 91, Grizzlies 83 (Or, Take Your Winning Streaks as You Get Them.)

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

 

Overview:

The Cavaliers escaped with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies over 53 minutes of ugly, ugly basketball, with both teams shooting under 40% from the floor and generally not moving the ball at all. Kyrie Irving finished with a game-high 28 points, including a game-tying layup with 19 seconds left in regulation, and Dion Waiters punctuated the game with a vicious crossover and one-handed dunk to put the Cavaliers up six points with 41 seconds left in overtime.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

(more…)

Initial Thoughts on the Deng Trade

Monday, January 6th, 2014

 

deng

 

Well, that was unexpected. After an extended dance with the Lakers about a possible Bynum-Gasol swap, the Cavs have decided to trade Andrew Bynum’s immediately erasable contract and 3 draft picks to the Bulls for Luol Deng and his $14.275 million expiring contract. I’m going to come right out and say it: This trade carries some long-term risks, but in the short-term, it’s an absolute coup for Chris Grant, and just might save his job. Here are the things I like about the trade:

1) Defense, Defense, Defense

As long-time readers of this blog know, I have always been a Mike Brown apologist, and feel he never gets the credit he deserves for turning the Cavaliers into an elite defensive squad during his first stint with the team. As short-term watchers of Cavalier basketball know, Mike Brown has been an absolute disaster on both ends of the floor this season, and the team has only been league-average defensively while being an absolute nightmare on offense. This trade gives Brown another really, really good defensive piece to play with, which he desperately needed. Deng is still an elite defender — the Bulls are 2nd in the league in defensive efficiency and they’re 4.5 points per 100 possessions better defensively when Deng is on the court. Having a stopper on the wing, as well as a high-profile player who buys in on defense, should help the Cavs tremendously on that end of the floor.

2) He comes from the right culture.

I alluded to this above, but I’ll give it it’s own paragraph here. Deng comes from the kind of team that the Cavaliers should aspire to be. They (were) built around a scoring point guard, they played brilliant, intricate, suffocating defense, and they out-worked their opponent almost every night. That’s how they won the most games in the East during Rose’s MVP year, and that’s how they stayed competitive when Rose got injured. If Deng can get Cavalier players to buy into that mentality, it’ll be a huge deal. (Short version: Luol Deng is the opposite of Rudy Gay.)

3) A target for Kyrie — on the wing!

Deng isn’t the prototypical #2 guy for Kyrie on the perimeter. He’s not a great shooter, he works in isolation a lot, and he generally likes the ball in his hands. Still, Deng is an above-average passer for a small forward, which is great considering he’ll be playing alongside of Irving and Waiters in crunch time, he’s a fantastic finisher at the rim, which is something the Cavaliers desperately need, and his combination of basketball IQ and toughness should be an absolute godsend after the parade of wings the Cavaliers have trotted out in the post-LeBron era. Deng’s relatively weak outside shooting keeps him from being a traditional sidekick, but he’s always found ways to score at a decent (if not thrilling) rate of efficiency, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue in Cleveland.

4) The only player the Cavs traded is one who they had banned from the team for the rest of time.

That sort of explains itself. So long, Bynum experiment.

5) According to the numbers, Deng is somehow not breaking down physically.

Deng has been playing “If he dies, he dies” minutes for the last few seasons, and missed time last season because of a BOTCHED SPINAL TAP. 28-year old male humans should not be needing spinal taps. That’s a bad thing. And Deng, when not playing 37.4 minutes per game this season because I CAN FEEL A PULSE NOW GET BACK OUT THERE AND SHOW HARD ON THAT DAMN PICK AND ROLL, has missed some games with injuries. However, when he’s played, he’s somehow been having one of his best seasons in years. His PER is as high as it’s been since the 06-07 season, and his TS% has only been higher in 06-07 and the year Rose was healthy and the league MVP. So, fingers crossed, we’re not getting a Luol Deng running on fumes here, which was a pretty major cause with Pau Gasol.

6) Expiring contract!

If Deng does break down, or doesn’t mesh with the team, or whatever, guess what? His contract is coming off the books after this season! It’s all the same! There’s no long-term risk financially here? (Again, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that Deng is not Rudy Gay.) The only thing that’s happening here is that Dan Gilbert will have to spend more money. And we here at Cavs: The Blog are always willing to spend Dan Gilbert’s money in order to help the Cavaliers. It’s just the kind of giving souls we are. And this means the Cavs will still have the flexibility to sign LeBron! (Note: the Cavs are not going to sign LeBron.)

7) No major assets were given up.

When I first saw that the Cavs had given up two second round picks, a first, and a right to swap for Deng, I thought Grant had gone into a Paxson panic and made a Jiri Welsch-esque “I’m fired if this doesn’t work, so who cares about the future?” trade. However, the “1st-round pick” is almost certainly not going to be in the first round, since it comes from Sacramento and is top-12 protected. (One more time: THANK GOD FOR RUDY GAY.) In fact, the pick is top-10 protected through 2017, which means that the pick won’t come back to bite the Cavs until Sacramento gets out of the cellar, which could take a while, or if Chicago hits the jackpot and finds a franchise-changing player outside of the top 10. As for the second-rounders, it’s hard to feel too bad about them when the Cavs have one lottery pick who can’t crack the rotation and another who shouldn’t be in the rotation. TYLER ZELLER IS A RELATIVE SUCCESS AMONG RECENT CAVS LOTTERY PICKS. As for the pick-swap, that’s pretty well protected too.

DOWNSIDES:

1) Spacing.

As mentioned above, Deng is a pretty poor shooter for a high-profile NBA wing. He’s shooting 27.4% from deep, and he’s not much better on long twos. Considering that the Cavs already have some pretty serious issues with spacing, that’s a legitimate concern, especially since you’d love to see someone able to give Waiters and Irving more space to work in in the paint.

2) Deng is an old 28.

I mentioned this above, but it’s concerning that Deng has been playing 38 minutes a night for the last few years, had a spinal tap procedure that almost killed him during last year’s playoffs, has missed games this year, and was given up for a player who will not be playing basketball anytime soon willingly. I can’t shake the feeling Deng is going to age like an NFL running back — one day, he’s just going to be DONE, and some team will be stuck with a substantial bill. I just hope it’s not the Cavs. That takes us to…

3) I am terrified of signing Deng to an extension.

As of now, I love this deal. The Cavs can get some pride back, some wins under their belt, make an actual run at a playoff seed, and feel like a real basketball team again. Despite the current theory that tanking is a panacea, that strategy generally works just as well for getting teams out of the gutter than bottoming out does. However, I will want to eat a compact fluorescent lightbulb if the team signs Deng at $15-17 million through his age 32 year, because he’s not going to take the team any further than the first round and at some point his next contract will become an albatross. (Joe Johnson is currently 32. That should terrify you.) If the Cavs extend Deng immediately, I will go insane. If they extend him on the strength of a first-round playoff appearance and exit, I will also go insane.

Fortunately, they probably won’t extend Deng right away, because they want to keep their slim hopes of getting LeBron alive (and honestly, LeBron is worth it, despite the odds), and won’t extend him on the strength of a first-round playoff birth, because I still don’t think the Cavs are making the playoffs. This trade will help, but the Hollinger odds have the Cavs with a 10.4% chance to make it in as of today. Only the Bucks have lower odds of making the playoffs in the East, and I don’t think Deng is enough of a game-changer to completely turn it around.

The bottom line, though, is that this move represents a step in the right direction for the Cavaliers, and I look forward to them getting much more watchable in the near future. Things will get squicky for me when the time comes to decide on re-signing Deng, but until them I’m happy about this one. Until next time, campers.

 

Recap: Heat 95, Cavs 84 (Or, LeBron is back. It might be best to take a picture.)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

Overview: LeBron James, who used to play for the Cavaliers, outscored the Cavaliers’ entire starting 5 en route to a 95-84 win for the Miami Heat, who have only lost to the Cavaliers once since James left the team in free agency. Dion Waiters was the bright spot for the Cavaliers, scoring 24 points off the bench, while Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley scored 22 and 17 points for the defending champs.

All Things Considered, That Honestly Could Have Gone a Lot Worse Bullets:

– Let’s start with the good news, because there’s certainly no shortage of bad news. Apparently trade rumors agree with Dion Waiters, because that’s about as well as I’ve ever seen him play. All but one of his shots came from the paint, the free-throw line, or behind the arc, and he was aggressive all night — this is the guy the Cavs thought they were getting with the 4th overall pick. Waiters is a good spot-up three-point shooter, and can get to the basket seemingly at will, especially when he goes to his left hand. His two main problems are that his shot selection is usually horrendous, and he has trouble turning his ability to get to the rim into actual points for the team.

The former issue wasn’t a problem on Wednesday, and he managed to be effective in attack mode, as he was 3-5 from inside the paint and got to the line 11 times. Free throws have been a problem all season, and that continued tonight, with Waiters bricking five of his 11 attempts from the line, but that’s something you just have to hope improves. If this Dion keeps showing up, trading him would be a mistake — having trouble converting opportunities at the rim into points is an issue, but it’s not a fatal issue for a player as young as Waiters — it takes some time to adjust to the size of NBA shot blockers, and a lot of young guards figure it out after initial struggles.

— Now, the bad news! There’s a lot of it! First, and most importantly, Kyrie is completely lost out there. He didn’t create angles, and had more turnovers than assists. He forced low-percentage jumpers and drives to the rim alike. It’s Kyrie vs. the world right now, and that isn’t a recipe for winning basketball, especially when it’s your point guard.

— One way to fix that problem would be to have Kyrie come off of some type of action to set up a secondary pick-and-roll with either Jack or Waiters being the primary ballhandler, but that’s not happening, because Jack and Waiters are both shoot-first guys and Mike Brown’s offensive system sure as heck isn’t going to cover up their deficiencies.

— As for who Kyrie’s pick-and-roll partner would be, well, there’s no good news on that front either. Tristan Thompson wasn’t particularly close to finding the rim with either hand around the basket, going 1-for-6, and he was being guarded by Rashard Lewis and Michael Beasley, neither of whom is known for being a rough-and-tumble defender. And as sad as it is to say, the Anderson Varejao who would set the pick, fly through the lane, catch it at full speed and flip it in from whatever angle without breaking stride might be gone. At 31, he’s clearly lost a step, and that is very bad news for a player who relies on his athleticism as much as Varejao does.

— Andrew Bynum started the game wonderfully, then went completely silent for the last 3.8 quarters of the game. That’s less than ideal. And the Cavs’ other two lottery big men were DNP-CDs. Also less than ideal.

Bullets of Randomness:

– The Cavs were able to stay in this game because Miami’s ludicrously good floor-spacing didn’t make the trip to Cleveland with them. Shane Battier was out with the flu, Bosh didn’t make a shot from outside the paint, and the 3-heavy Heat offense went just 4-19 from deep.

— LeBron finished with a workman-like 28/8/8, but the Cavs didn’t do a bad job on him. Miami wasn’t able to get LeBron the deep post touches he likes, and he had to work for pretty much all of his points that didn’t come in transition off of Cavalier miscues. (By the way, the Cavs were way, way, way too sloppy with the ball against a Miami team that turns live-ball turnovers into points as well as any team in the league.)

— Wade had one of those games where you just have to throw your hands up. He was making the mid-range turnarounds, the floaters, the everything. When his knees are under him and his mid-range shots are falling, there’s simply no way to keep a player that quick from slicing you apart.

— Jeez, does Michael Beasley look born again. 17 points on 10 shots, he finished the game for Miami, and he didn’t even hit a shot from outside the paint. This is a guy who Phoenix paid to go away and never come back in the off-season. Just goes to show the difference great players and a great team culture can make.

That’s all I have for today, campers. The big story is that Dion looked really good, and everything else looked really bad, but good on the team for holding its own, for the most part, against a team as good as Miami. This upcoming Boston/Chicago/Denver stretch should tell us a lot about whether the Cavs should cling to hope of a respectable season or if we should start watching Wiggins, Randle, and Parker a lot more closely.

 

Recap: Bulls 96, Cavs 81 (Or, this offense is a disaster)

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

bill-mikebrownjpg-6a65a1ee4bee9cb5

Good lord, it’s getting hard to watch these Cavs play basketball. Before I proceed any further, I do want to say that Mike Brown taking what had been a bottom-five defense the last three seasons and turning it into a top-10 defense this year is a HUGE deal, and his focus was clearly on getting his defense installed before his offense, so there is some hope. But objectively, it is hard to watch this team play basketball.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

It’s time to say it: Kyrie is having a rough start to the season. His usage has only gone up a hair, but his TS% has gone down a full 10%, and he’s currently 21st among point guards in True Shooting. More disturbingly, it doesn’t look like he’s struggling with his shot that badly, it just looks like he’s trying to pilot an airplane made of refrigerators and stuffed deer tied together. There’s no space for him to work with, he’s not creating angles, and as he gets more frustrated, he’s looking for his own shot more and more aggressively, regardless of the percentage. Since Kyrie is capable of making any shot, it works more often than it should, but he needs to get back to being himself on offense, and soon. We can go chicken-and-egg with the offense struggling and Kyrie struggling all day long, but the bottom line is that the offense is going to struggle until Kyrie starts playing like an All-Star again.

Speaking of guards with no real plan on offense, it’s Dion Waiters! If there was a way to pare Waiters’ game down to his explosive dribble-drives and good, clean jumpers, we’d have one heck of a combo guard on our hands. Instead, Waiters dribbles around the court with blinders on, shoots off-balance midrange jumpers with too much time on the shot clock, and generally plays like a guy who watches a ton of Dwyane Wade and makes a mental note to only do the bad things. There’s a name for a “poor man’s Dwyane Wade.” That name is Randy Foye. This, too, must change.

Jarrett Jack gets described as “solid” so often that it seems odd to see him have a horrible game, but then you remember that “solid” is a euphemism for “not all that talented, as NBA guards go,” remember that the Bulls are really good defensively, and it makes sense.

Onto the good news! Andrew Bynum looked very solid offensively in his first start, and the move he put on Joakim Noah here was highlight-worthy. There’s nothing prettier to me than a great post move, and that one was a beauty. Bynum continues to look better and better, and you’d have to say that him and Thompson, who had another solid double-double on Monday, have been the two most pleasant surprises of the season thus far.

No Super C.J. for the Cavs tonight. I know I tend to be a glass half-empty kind of guy, but I don’t think C.J. Miles thought that C.J. Miles was going to stay top-20 in PER for much longer.

That’s pretty much it. Kudos to the defense, which is harder to see improve, but this offense is brutal. That’s essentially the long and the short of it. There’s no way the Cavaliers make the playoffs without picking it up offensively, and worse yet, the “okay, here’s a ball, and I think the basket is that way” offense is not going to be very enticing for free agents this summer. Until next time, campers.

 

Recap: Bucks 109, Cavs 104 (Or, the Time Anthony Bennett Made a Basket)

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

image-14-for-gallery-green-fayre-at-beacon-country-park-skelmersdale-181282691

Overview: The Cavs put themselves into a hole against the Milwaukee Bucks thanks to communication issues on both ends of the floor, but Kyrie Irving dug them out of it with great play late in the fourth quarter. He then let the game slip away with two turnovers and a missed three on the Cavs’ three final relevant possessions of the game. In other news, embattled #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett made his first NBA field goal on a pick-and-pop 3-pointer from the top of the arc. It was his only basket in the game.

(more…)

Links ad Praesens

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The Cavaliers season is just about over.

It’s end-of-season time for the Cavs, and their goods offered are looking just about as appealing as a J.C. Penney sale rack. Here’s some links. By the way, it’s Latin in the title. In case you were wondering. Anyways, links.

– Byron Scott continues to fight until the end. Defense is the real problem here, Byron, and why you’re going to lose your job. I don’t think pre-game shootarounds are going to do much. But Byron is a human, just like the rest of us! Just kidding; Byron is a cyborg sent from space to befuddle Cavs fans into submission.

– Ooh, ESPN thinks the Cavs have a bright future. Sweet! No surprise here, of course. Chris Quinn has superstar potential. Never mind, that’s Kyrie. But at least Quinn tries on defense.

– The Cavs ended the season ranked 28th in the ESPN (Stein) Power Rankings. Hey, at least Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Nerlens Noel, Shabazz Muhammad, and Ben McLemore declared for the NBA Draft. #OKCmodel

Well, That Wasn’t Very Fun

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The 76ers throttled the Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.

Watching the Cavaliers play basketball is getting more and more emotionally deflating. This entire year was all about losing, and it has pretty much gone as expected. Lots of losses, a win here and there. But as the season comes to a close, the brand of basketball the Cavs play has become increasingly pathetic. Even that, arguably, was expected. After all, the third pick is more valuable than the fourth, and the second all the moreso. That doesn’t make it any easier to watch. The 76ers ran the Cavs right out of Wells Fargo Center today. The final score was 91-77, but anyone who watched the game knows that it was never in question, the winner never in doubt. Halfway through the first quarter, the 76ers had a 19-3 lead. In the third quarter they built the lead up to 28. A few garbage-time buckets cut the lead to 14, and that was all she wrote. Given the horrific nature of the “contest” that I’m sure about six people watched all of, I’m going to skip a full game action recap. Instead, some notes on the game and notable performances.

– Kyrie Irving played a very ugly 19 minutes, picked up five fouls, and was unsurprisingly left on the bench for the rest of the game. Kyrie looked uninspired on both ends, but he faced bad luck on a few layup attempts. The rim was not Mr. Irving’s friend tonight. It isn’t hard to see that Kyrie has tired of the incessant losing, and that’s what worries me most about the Cavs’ end of season record. As analytically-minded fans, it may be easy to grasp the concept that a few awful seasons is crucial to small-market success in the NBA. But that may be harder for a young star to internalize. No one likes to lose, and another season of it would undoubtedly create an embittered Kyrie Irving.

– Tristan Thompson continues to be blissfully unaware of the fact that the Cavs are tanking, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch. TT dropped 12 and 12 in 26 minutes, showing off that push shot he seemingly developed overnight. Unfortunately for his self-esteem, he was seemingly incapable of containing Spencer Hawes, who totally went off.

– Marreese Speights is a very talented player. When he avoids falling in love with mid-range jumpers, Speights can play at a near All-Star level; the aggression, skill and athleticism is all there.

– Kevin Jones plays hard, has 17-foot range, and can’t jump. He’s a solid end-of-bench option, and the Cavs should hold onto him.

– In a strange turn of events, Omri Casspi has seemingly made it out of Byron Scott’s doghouse in the final week of the season. Does this mean that the Cavs might extend the $3.3 million qualifying offer to Casspi this offseason, or is the increased PT simply part of the tanking? Whatever the case, he has looked very effective when he’s seen the floor recently, and I wouldn’t mind in the slightest a three-man SF rotation of Victor Oladipo, Alonzo Gee and Omri Casspi.

– Dion Waiters wasn’t very good at all, not that it matters. The time he missed from the knee surgery clearly threw Dion off-rhythm, ending a promising and often explosive rookie season on a sour note. By the way, Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis are the only players from last year’s draft that are inarguably more valuable than Dion.

– Damien Wilkins hit a lot of turnaround jumpers. Evan Turner still isn’t very good at basketball, and doesn’t have a position. Thaddeus Young is a baller. Jrue Holiday isn’t as good as Kyrie Irving, but it’s fun to see a young point guard play defense. A real treat for Cavaliers fans. It appears Arnett Moultrie is alive and well after falling in the draft, and then barely ever playing. Doug Collins is one of the few NBA coaches that I wouldn’t take over Byron Scott.

URGENT: Dion Waiters needs a nickname. “D-Wait” is lame and a near-homonym of D-Wade. Saint Weirdo, while fascinating, is despised by much of the Cleveland population. D.W. is a character from the children’s show Arthur. “Chubs,” as my friend calls Dion, is both derogatory, meaningless and insulting. Get to work, Cavs fans! Hit me up with suggestions at @dansoch. For serious nickname/nickname-branded T-shirt discussions, email me at danisocher@gmail.com.