Author Archive

The Hinkie Letters — Part II: “Demagogues and Lemmings”

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Editor’s Note: Tuesday, we published Part I in this series of letters between Tom Pestak, myself, and reader/commenter, Mac on the state of team building in the NBA. The discussion veered off into some pretty unexpected territory: philosophy, generational tendencies, religion… The piece garnered some of the most thoughtful and interesting comments of any article at CtB in some time, and for that, I thank you all. So much has happened since we started these letters. First, the fateful day that Tom wrote us all and said, “Are we sure Mac isn’t Andrew Sharp in disguise?” Sharp’s piece in Grantland (a piece I’ve avoided reading), mirrored so much of what we were talking talking about that Tom and Mac wondered if he was reading our original comments section. The article actually pushed back the publication of this series. Additionally, the Sixers bought out Javale McGee for 100 cents on the dollar, and Sixers bloggers who more are blindly loyal than Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister praised the move. (I stole that Joke from Mac). Hoop76’s, Eric Goldwein wrote a piece that filled Mac with so much rage that he had to watch some old Lewis Black bits on youtube to remind himself “how unattractive it looks to be a goofy guy shaking with anger about some triviality.” Additionally, the first part of this series garnered so many great comments that I’ve even re-written some of my final passages to reference them. The effect may make my final response read more like an epilogue than an organic response, but you guys are too good to ignore.

From the desk of Mac:

Nate, I agree with you, if there is actually a process and it is a good one and it gets good results, nothing wrong with that. But too often these days calling something “a process” is a lot like declaring “it is what it is” . . . it is just a placeholder for having something useful to say.

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Recap: Cleveland 117, Brooklyn 92 (or, the septuple double)

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

It’s hard to believe that there are only 12 regular season games left after this one. And it’s hard to believe that there was a time not too long ago when Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez were considered elite players. Cleveland overcame a sluggish first quarter against those guys to eviscerate the Nets to the tune of 45 field goals off of 32 assists, 55% from the field, 52 points in the paint, and 15-29 from three. Seven Cavs scored in double figures as the Cavs looked electric for the final three periods. To be honest, much of this was because Brooklyn’s defense was lackluster at best. But who cares? We have dunks, threes, and dimes to discuss!

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Live Thread: Cavs versus Nets

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The Brooklyn Nets visit the Q tonight winners of two straight, but they dropped five in a row before downing Philly and Minnesota. The Nets currently sit 2.5 games out of the eighth spot in the East, and are miraculously, healthy for once. Unfortunately, Brooklyn’s dangerous when healthy, because they feature six guys who can put up double digits on any given night: Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack, and Mason Plumlee. Plus Bojan Bogdanovich is a rookie who has shown a propensity to go off in games. Fortunately, the Nets are 23rd in offense and 22nd in defense, and only haven’t beaten anyone good in a while. Unfortunately, Joe Johnson has been a Cavs killer over the years, and always seems to get up to play LeBron. Fortunately, I’ve heard no chatter that anyone is sitting for the Cavs tonight. Unfortunately, the Nets are better on the road at 16-19 than they are at home (11-19). Fortunately, Cleveland is 24-9 this year at home, and they’ve won 13 straight at the Q.

The Hinkie Letters — Part I: “The Process”

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

First off, check out Cory’s extremely entertaining recap of an extremely underwhelming Cavs loss last night. Second, over the past few weeks, Tom Pestak and I have been exchanging letters with long time reader/commenter, Mac. The conversation started in the comment section of the Reader 5 on 5, as a reaction to this piece in ESPN the Magazine on Sam Hinkie and the Sixer’s “Plan to win (yes, really).” The whole piece struck Mac and I as naive at best, or as Mac said.. “The things they [the Sixers] are doing and saying about how the short term pain is all for long term gain are the things PE/finance guys do and say whether they intend to save your company or bleed it dry and leave other people to bury the corpse.” Mac expounded.

I am really sick of people patting themselves on the back for not being archaic dinosaurs like Jeanie Buss or Russ Granick and understanding what the Sixers are doing is really smart. Tanking and being a free rider while other people try to be good sports because the league doesn’t really work without a good faith effort to not mail it in unless you are a top five team is really smart, in the way that putting your money in tax shelters in the Bahamas and not paying your share of taxes is smart. It is smart in the way that forming a corporation and putting your assets in it and making your kids shareholders so you don’t have to pay estate tax is smart. It is smart in the way that rich people living in economically segregated neighborhoods so their kids can go to the best possible public schools funded by local property taxes is smart. It is smart and worthy of praise if maximizing self-interest is the epitome of human intelligence and achievement. It is strange to me that millenials, who in many ways seem much more progressive and empathetic than my generation, seem to so easily accept the premise that as long as it is legal, screwing over the common good just to get every last squeeze out of the orange for yourself isn’t merely acceptable, but the only rational thing to do.

If you haven’t checked out the comment section of that piece, I recommend you do so.  It’s one of my faves, and Mac, Ross, C6H12O6, and CLF all contributed to an enlightening conversation. We went deep down the rabbit hole. Naturally, this sparked an offline conversation about the state of team-building in the NBA between Mac, our resident cynical skeptic (me), and our defender of capitalism, Mom, America, and Apple Pie (Tom Pestak). We’re sharing it with you in a two part series that will run this week. Enjoy.

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Live Thread: Cavs @ Heat

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers are taking their talents to South Beach for the second time this season, though LeBron is a “maybe.” After tweaking his knee against the Magic last night, LeBron received treatment today, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if David Blatt rests him. It wouldn’t be a bad time to tune up the K-Love/Kyrie two man game, and I’m quite sure the Heat hope the King’s a scratch. Miami is currently a half game out of the playoffs behind Charlotte and tied with the suddenly hot Celtics. They’re 5-5 in their last ten, and are only hanging around because Dwyane Wade has been off the charts lately, averaging 29, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 boards with 53%/40%/82% shooting splits in his last four games.

The Heat have been seriously banged up, and have been forced to start Henry Walker (formerly Billy, formerly Bill, formerly William) at forward. Miami’s also seen Hassan Whiteside’s dark side, as a recent flagrant foul against Kelly Olynyk drew a suspension for Hassan. Still, I wouldn’t sleep on this Heat team.  They’re desperately fighting to make the second season, and they’re always jonesing for a chance to punk the Cavs. D-Wade and Dragic have been Cavs killers in the past. Stopping those two and smart play by Mozzy to keep Whiteside off the O-boards and to counter his physicality will be key. I’m betting this one’s chippy. Wear your mouth guard and your scowl, Perk. Let’s go Cavs.

Emergency Podcast Episode 62 — Cavs down Spurs! + Bonus Pod!

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Robert will have a recap up after this, but in the mean time, Tom and I, unable to sleep after tonight’s awesomeness, got in the studio to talk about this epic Cavs win. In case you missed it, this was one of the great Cavalier NBA regular season games of all time. LeBon scored 30, and Kyrie Irving scored a Cavalier record 57, including a three at the regulation buzzer to force overtime. On this podcast, we talk about the epic game, Kyrie Irving, the fantastic play of the both teams, LeBron’s mean mugging, celebrations, and how winning absolves everything, even Tristan Thompson’s leather pants. You can listen above, on Soundcloud, or on iTunes.

BONUS COVERAGE!: Tom was on Dayton radio yesterday afternoon to discuss all things Cavalier. So you got that going for you too — which is nice.

Recap: Cleveland 110, Golden State 99 (or “Statement Game”)

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Joshua Gunter/Northeast Ohio Media Group

Thursday’s showdown between two of the league’s hottest teams was kind of a big deal — so big that LeBron was reportedly out two hours early to practice shooting. The preparation showed, as LeBron shot his way to a season high 42 points on 70% true shooting. After a close first half that saw the Cavs claw their way to a five point lead at the break, Cleveland blew the doors off the Warriors in the third, stretching the lead out to 16 at one point and holding the Warriors to 38% from the floor. The Cavs remained in control the rest of the game, and never let the game get too close. In many ways Cleveland won because they controlled their emotions better than the Warriors, who seemed to lose their composure when the calls weren’t going their way in the third. (To be fair, Cleveland shot 35 free throws to the Warriors 19). Let’s get to it.

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Preview & Live Thread: Cavs vs Warriors

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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They say to be the best, you have to beat the best. With that thought in mind, tonight’s match-up is the biggest of the season. The Golden State Warriors come in to Cleveland with the league’s best record: 44-10 and are 8-2 in the last ten games (as are the Cavs). We all know about the brilliance of Golden State’s starting back-court — Curry and Klay combine to score 46 points and 11 assists and eight rebounds per game while posting all-time shooting percentages. But there’s more than just these two that make Golden State click.

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CtB Podcast, Episode 61 — Trade Deadline Musings

Friday, February 20th, 2015

After a frenetic trade deadline which saw 9% of the NBA moved, David Wood, Mallory Factor, and I answered the call of the CtB staffer’s conch, and assembled to podcast. We discuss trade day winners and losers, how Thursday’s trades effect the Cavs, our predictions for the the rest of the regular season, and Kevin Love’s highly retouched GQ cover. Also, included on this podcast is a fun episode of, “Story Time with Mallory.” We approach each subject with our brand of somewhat detail-oriented analysis and late night punchiness. Listen on Soundcloud above, with this link, or check us out on iTunes.

–Update: Technical difficulties scuttled the first Soundcloud post. Computers… am-I-right? All should be well now (though if the iTunes link isn’t updated yet, just wait for it).

Update II: Thanks to @pinwheelempire for the awesome trade deadline 2015 flowchart. Check out the full version here.

Links to the Present: Cover Boy and Trade Deadline Blues

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

The trade deadline is coming (3:00 PM EST), and the Cavs are looking quiet. As Jason Lloyd reports for the Beacon Journal, Cleveland looks like they’ll make any roster additions through free agency rather than through trades.

Barring a dramatic change in the final few hours, today’s 3 p.m. trade deadline is expected to pass without the Cavs making any deals, multiple league sources told the Beacon Journal. The Cavs are still trying, but weren’t close on any trades early Thursday morning and losing faith they could get anything done, league sources said.

Ideally they would still like to upgrade the point guard position and add another big, but they are simply left with too few trade assets and no cap flexibility after a flurry of recent moves.

In other Cavs related news, Alonzo Gee has just been traded again.

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