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Recap: Oklahoma City 103, Cleveland 94 (Or Valiance in Defeat)

Friday, December 12th, 2014

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The Cavs, minus LeBron James, fell to the Thunder last night in a game that felt just out of reach for most of the second half. Despite a strong start that saw the Cavs jump out to a 26-18 first quarter, Cleveland lost the lead toward the end of the second when they went cold from the field, intimidated by the strong defensive play of Kendrick Perkins. The perimeter play of Westbrook, Lamb, and Jackson consistently led to good looks for the Thunder and by 1:31 remaining, OKC led by three. But the score seemed inconsequential when Kyrie Irving when down in a heap after challenging a Russell Westbrook 15-footer. On a slow, excruciating replay, it appeared that he had hyper-extended his right knee. After several minutes on the floor, Kyrie hobbled back to the locker room and Cavs Nation held their collective breath. A patented “damnit, Dion…” swish, and a Delly o-board and dish to Dion for corner three helped the Cavs finish the quarter tied at 47.

After a very long halftime, Kyrie came out to warm up for the second half. Yes, ladies and gentleman, “Daniel LaRusso’s going to fight!” Irving immediately canned a nifty floater off a Kevin Love feed, and we all exhaled.

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Live Thread: Cavs @ Thunder

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

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This is always one of my favorite match-ups of the year. I’ve Aunts and Uncles and cousins in Wichita and OKC, and they pull big-time for KD and the gang. It’s fun to send some trash talk across the great plains. The Tacoma City Plunder, as I call them, come into the game finally healthy and winners of five of the last six, now that reigning MVP, Kevin Durant has returned along with All-Star, Russell Westbrook. KD hasn’t lost much in his four games back, with shooting splits of .492/.316/.889 to go along with 22 points, 5.5  rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes a night. Westbrook has been similarly stellar, posting a 31.5 PER so far this year, and adding 24.5 points, seven dimes, and six rebounds in 28 minutes a night with splits of .433/.306/.814. Contrast that with LeBron and Kyrie… The head-to-head position battles tonight will be epic.

James Vs. Durant, Irving Vs. Westbrook, Marion Vs. Roberson?, Varejao Vs. Adams… One can’t ever forget block machine, Serge Ibaka when talking of the Thunder. Kevin Love will have his hands full. Jeremy Lamb has also emerged as a solid bench scorer for the Zombie Sonics, averaging 12 points off the bench with a 58.5 TS%. A lanky 6’5″, Jeremy will be a tough match-up for the Cavs bench guys. Add Anthony Morrow, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones, and all-time-tough-guy, Kendrick Perkins, and this Thunder bench is intimidating. Cleveland is going to need big contributions from everyone.

Oklahoma City is still on the outside of the Western Playoff race, looking in. At 8-13 they’re three games back of eighth place Phoenix and 11 games back of the NBA best Warriors. So every game is huge for them right now. The Cavs, meanwhile, are waiting on a “Game Time Decision” to determine if LeBron James plays tonight. Fortunately, the Cavs have shown they can win without him, taking three of the the last five contests from OKC during the LeBronless years, including one of the biggest Cavs victories last season, a stunning 114-102 February victory in OKC. Given the burgeoning rivalry, I’d be shocked and concerned if the King missed a showdown this big.

Update: LeBron will sit out this game with “general knee soreness.” Matthew Dellavedova will start in his place.

Recap: Cleveland 90, New York 87 (or “Is it the Shoes!?”)

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Tonight, every Cavalier not named Kyrie Irving played like garbage for three and a half quarters. LeBron James and the minimal effort supporting cast played like they knew they could beat the Knicks any time they wanted. The non-Irving Clevelanders waited till crunch time to bother to try.  Then, they put the pathetic Knicks out of their misery. If it weren’t for Kyrie’s new shoes and his unbelievable first half (23 points on like 10 shots), to keep the Cavs in it, Cleveland never would have had a chance to be the stoppable force that overcame the moveable object. Kyrie was transcendent tonight, scoring 37 with an unearthly 81% true shooting. He was the best player in the building.

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Live Thread: Cavs @ Knicks

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

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Knicks, losers of 12 of  the last 14 host the Cavs. Lets hope Cleveland doesn’t help them off the mat.

Cavs drop Cherry, add Price

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

In a reversal of the move they made at the beginning of the season, the Cavs waived Will Cherry in order to claim A.J. Price off waivers, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Price was released by the Indiana Pacers. Price averaged over 10.5 points and 2.7 assists for the Pacers, but was deemed expendable with C.J. Watson returning from injury.

Cherry was unable to make much of his time in Cleveland, averaging 1.9 points and one assist in 8.6 minutes a game, white shooting only 5-19 in his eight games in a Cavs uniform. Meanwhile, Price has shown he can be a legit bench scorer, posting an 18 PER, with a 54TS%, and scoring in double figures despite only playing 19.3 minutes a game.  I’m surprised the Pacers let him go, and even more surprised that the Cavs were able to claim him. Let’s hope he can add some the same scoring punch we saw him exhibit for the Pacers and for the Cavs in preseason.

Recap: Washington 91, Cleveland 78 (or Does Everyone on this team Hate Each Other?)

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

 

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Well that game sucked. Cleveland passed poorly, shot poorly, defended poorly, rebounded poorly, were poorly coached, and generally played selfish basketball. I’m sure I left some things out that the Cavs did poorly that game, but it’s hard to list them all. The game was not nearly as close as the 13 point deficit might indicate, either. Cleveland had a 13-8 lead about halfway through the first quarter, after a sequence where LeBron scored off a Kyrie fast break assist, and then Irving stole the inbound, missed a three, and LeBron cleaned up the trash. That was as good as it got for the Cavs for the rest of the game. Cavs made two stupid turnovers and Bradley Beal stole the ball twice and fed John Wall for two straight far too easy baskets to tie it up at 13. Washington never looked back after the first quarter.

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Live Thread: Cavs at Wizards

Friday, November 21st, 2014

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In a season where every game is becoming a test, this one really is a test. A loss tonight, and the Cavs drop below .500 and will have lost three straight: the narrative vultures really will be swirling. Meanwhile, the Wizards are 7-3 despite only having Bradley Beal back for one game. The Wiz are winning with defense. They rank 21st in pace adjusted offense, but eighth in pace adjusted defense.  They are stout around the basket, and at limiting field goal attempts, but if there’s a spot they’re vulnerable from, it’s at the three point line, where they give up 38.6%, good for 25th in the league. This matchup has no shortage of storylines either: the rekindled rivalry from the mid aughts, Brendan Haywood returning to his long time stomping grounds (in the uniform of an enemy), and a Waiters/Beal off-season brouhaha. Remember? Bradley said, that he and John Wall are “definitely the best backcourt in the league.” Dion Waiters responded:

(And Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili just rolled their eyes). It should be a good one Cavs fans!

 

Live Thread: Cavs/Spurs

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

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Tough assignment tonight as the Spurs come to town. 5-4 Cleveland tries to right the ship against a Spurs team that has been struggling in their own right at 6-4.  Hulk Hogan is courtside, so eat your vitamins before you post, Hulkamaniacs…

Recap: Cleveland 122, Boston 121 (or “Once We Start Playing Defense, We’re Really Going to be Something.”)

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

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The title quote was by David Blatt after an amazing comeback win by the Cavs last night. Let’s get to it.

First Quarter: This one started out with Love on the left block on offense, and then devolved to a frenetically paced post-pattern drill, highlighted by numerous Kevin Love touchdown passes, including one over two Celtics that would have mad Brian Hoyer proud. LeBron caught it and two step flushed. A full court alley-oop dunk is coming before the end of the season. Unfortunately, Cleveland was giving up more than they got and by halfway through the quarter the Cavs were down by 17-11. A David Blatt timeout ensued.

That whole meme about LeBron’s lack of “explosiveness” seemed like a story from eons ago, as James looked like he was shot out of a canon every time he took off down the floor, and his pace matched the game’s. At one point in the first, a Celtics-Cavs-Celtics field goal sandwich took about 10 seconds as Brandon Bass scored, LeBron beat the camera down the floor to find TT for a layup, and then Rondo returned the favor to Kelly Olynyk. This whiplash inducing sequence prompted Austin Carr to prophetically comment that at this pace the game was going to be in the 120s.

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Mailing it in: Your Roster Changes

Friday, November 14th, 2014

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Long weekend here at the CtB offices. We all took off a day early in anticipation of this weekend’s games. The Cavs head to Boston tonight, and play the 3-and-4 Celtics at 7:30. Then it’s back to the Q for a 7:30 match-up with the 4-and-3 Hawks on Saturday.  I don’t know about you, but four days was a long time to wait for my Cavs fix. I’m wearing my Ben Wallace wig, going through cold sweats, and clutching my Boobie Gibson bobble-head. (I need to buy some new gear.)

To get us through, let’s talk about whether you think this Cavs team is ready to roll through for the rest of the season, or whether this first half a dozen games has made you consider some roster changes. Would you leave it the same? Are there any positions/players you think the Cavs need to add? Subtract? Is there a shotblocker you’ve had your eye on? Does the cut of Will Cherry’s jib offend your basketball palette? If you don’t want to talk roster, why don’t you reveal your favorite Cavaliers mid-game snack? Heck. Share a recipe if you want. If you really wanted, you could even talk Celtics and Hawks, but wouldn’t you rather have the formula for beer nog and Triscuit nachos?