Author Archive

The Point Four-ward: Brewer(y) Tour

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Over the weekend, reports surfaced that the Cavs were interested in trading for Corey Brewer of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Cavs have the trade exception they acquired in the Keith Bogans merry-go-round and, therefore, would not have to include a player in the trade. The Wolves are said to be looking for “future assets” in exchange for freeing up their glut on the wing and the Houston Rockets have also been listed as a potential trade partner. The Cavs roster stands at 15 right now, so if they don’t include a player in the trade, one would have to be released.

If this trade happens, Brewer likely slides right into the starting lineup, moving Shawn Marion back to the bench. At 6-9, Brewer brings tremendous length to both the shooting guard and small forward spots. Outside of being Kevin Love’s preferred touchdown target for his outlet passes, Brewer has never been known for his offense. He’s never developed into even an average three-point shooter (29% for his career), but he has a tendency to find ways to contribute across the box score.

2.) The Cavs interest in Brewer seems to come down to two things: a.) his relationship with Love and b.) the Cavs front office realizing that their defense is even worse off than they thought coming into the season.

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Fantasy Notebook: It’s Cavs/Wizards Week!

Monday, November 17th, 2014

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The NBA and your fantasy team are ready to kick off Week Four with a particularly fun fantasy/reality wrinkle for Cavs fans. The 5-3 Cavaliers visit the 7-2 (as of now) Wizards with some early season bragging rights on the line.

For the Wiz: On Saturday, Beal announced that he would begin practicing with the Wizards this week and was eyeing Friday’s game against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers to make his return. Wizards coach Randy Wittman hasn’t confirmed Beal’s return date, but the third year shooting guard is expected to practice on Monday for the first time since suffering a non-displaced fracture to his left (non-shooting) wrist back in October. In Beal’s absence, Wittman has been starting Garrett Temple, who had become a fantasy darling with a torrid stretch of minutes/points/rebounds. Temple has, not surprisingly, come back to earth recently, scoring just over four points a game over his last four. Expect Temple’s reintroduction to gravity to continue as Beal begins to work himself back into the Wizards lineup.

 

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The Point Four-ward: Sputter, Sputter, Sputter, Vroom

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA…

1.) As recently as last year, people were describing LeBron James as being one of the fastest players in the NBA. While perhaps not tops in terms of sheer speed, James’s ability to cover large swaths of the court in precious few strides made him one of the quickest players his size ever. That’s why so much is being made of the relative snail’s pace of his play this season. What Cavs fans have seen thus far is one of the most athletic players in league history running and jumping like he’d added 20 pounds in the off-season rather than dropped it.

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Fantasy Notebook: Fantasy Bad

Monday, November 10th, 2014

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In fantasy basketball, there is almost always a silver lining to be found on the NBA’s bad teams. On even the worst teams, someone has to score the points, grab the rebounds and fill up even the most uninspiring of box scores.

A great example of this right now is Tony Wroten of the Philadelphia 76ers. In spite of the Sixers’ 0-6 start, Wroten has been fantasy gold turning in 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7 assists in 33.8 minutes a game. Wroten is benefiting from the same quick Sixers pace that buffed Michael Carter Williams to a shine last season, as well as from being the only Philadelphia starter (my apologies to former Cav Henry Sims) with even the slightest track record of putting a ball through a basket.

As historical context, think what kind of numbers Ricky Davis would have put up on the 2002-03 Cavs if the rest of his team had been composed of slightly-better-than-D-Leaguers instead of…

Okay, maybe not the best example. Still, if you were out in front of Wroten-mania, you’re sitting back and reaping the fantasy benefits at least until MCW returns (he’s practicing now). Even then, it’s likely that Wroten will continue to be a useful fantasy player because… well, historically teams have occasionally fielded more than one effective player at a time.

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The Point Four-ward: O-Boards Don’t Lie

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

 

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First, if you haven’t checked out Ben’s excellent recap of the Cavs/Blazers game, it’s right here.

And now: Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) It’s tough to believe, but these Cavs — the Cavs of the most highly anticipated offense in years coming into this season — are shooting just 42% from the floor so far this season. LeBron James continued a cold start to the season going 4-12 for 11 points against Portland. That included going 1-6 in the paint, a ridiculous number for a finisher as good as number 23.

Against Portland, though, everyone caught the cold hand. The team shot just 36.5% for the game. Kyrie Irving was 3-17 and (in a disturbing trend) was thoroughly outplayed by slumping-until-yesterday Damian Lillard. Dion Waiters was 3-11 and didn’t attempt a three-pointer. Only Kevin Love, who led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds, managed a remotely efficient offensive game.

I know it’s early, but the team’s stagnancy and passivity on offense is a little disturbing. There’s been precious little of the weak side action that we saw freeing up so many good looks in the preseason and the ball’s been more of a moderately warm potato than a hot one.

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Fantasy Notebook: The Autodraft Hangover

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

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Yes, yes, I know; autodraft is a cruel mistress. It’s a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It’s a lightning rod for venomous hyperbole. It is the cruel thumb of fate made all too real as it presses down to take from each of us any hope for individual agency, much less the occasional hollow victory. It may not be the most satisfying version of fantasy basketball but, as the saying goes, it’s the version of fantasy basketball that we have. Well, here at Cavs: The Fantasy League, at least.

Each of the twelve staunch and ready participants in the inaugural CtFL went to bed last night (except for Ben, who was probably just waking up) with dreams of sugar plums and LeBron James dancing in their heads, only to wake up faced with, in the immortal words of Mallory Factor, “DeMarcus Cousins and a pile of poo.”

Mr. Irrelevant, the final player taken in the autodraft, was former Cav C.J. Miles, who wound up on Team PESTAK.

And… well, full disclosure, yours truly wound up with the randomly generated (for serious!) first pick and the auto-LeBron selection. So… well… you know… that worked out.

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The Point Four-ward: Fantasy Versus Reality

Monday, October 20th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Well, the bloom is officially off the rose. The Cavaliers have lost. All the tiny cracks and fissures Cavs fans have seen in their team over the first four preseason games finally busted open full and wide in the team’s 108-102 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The turnovers. The consistently inconsistent implementation of David Blatt’s new offense. The porous defense. The less-than-fully-active roster. All of those were on full display and, in the end, the result was predictably not in the Cavaliers’ favor.

Now (he says for about the millionth time), most of this is just preseason stuff. Coach Blatt is clearly choosing to have his club ready to begin the season physically, even if that means making sacrifices in cohesion that result in all of the above. Friday was Kevin Love’s and Shawn Marion’s turns to sit, meaning Blatt hasn’t had his full roster to play with in-game since the Cavs’ preseason opening win against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

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The Pre-Re: Recap of the Cavaliers 106-100 preseason win over the Milwaukee Bucks

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

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In a game that saw three of the Cavs’ presumptive starters sitting out — Kyrie Irving (ankle), LeBron James (rest) and Tristan Thompson (shoulder) — the pressure was on its remaining two, Kevin Love and Dion Waiters, to step up and fill the void. The void was filled all right; filled up like the basket on one of Love’s five three pointers in seven tries on an evening where he scored 25 points in just 20 minutes on the court. It was filled up like Waiters on his way to 23 points. It was also filled by having to play a Milwaukee Bucks team that was missing regulars Larry Sanders and Brandon Knight and, well… you know, is the Bucks. Still, it was nip and tuck for most of the way, with the Cavs bench putting it away late to improve their preseason record to 3-0 with a 106-100 win at The Q.

Save for a Cavs mini-run in the first quarter that put the team up by 11, the game remained close throughout. Yes, Love and Waiters were the main story — and we’ll get to them — but here was the lineup David Blatt went with for much of the fourth quarter with the game’s outcome still in doubt: A.J. Price, Joe Harris, Chris Crawford, Shane Edwards and Alex Kirk. The Bucks, meanwhile, rode their regular rotation through the tight fourth — Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, John Henson, rookie Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, starting at point guard for the first time — and still couldn’t quite get over the hump.

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The Point Four-ward: Keepin’ That Bench Warm

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) The preseason is a time, much like one’s college years, where a certain amount of experimentation is to be expected, so too much shouldn’t necessarily be made of where one’s decisions might get one. For instance, there was a point in the final minutes of the first quarter of the Cavs’ 107-80 preseason win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday where head coach David Blatt’s substitution pattern yielded a lineup of Matthew Dellavedova, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, Anderson Varejao and Lou Amundson. This group saw a grand total of 90 seconds of action together, but it did highlight that, for the bevy of players the Cavs have who can routinely create their own shot, they are still capable of putting a five-man unit that is… well, decidedly less able to do that.

I know, I know, it was 90 seconds. That’s all. In fact, it was a 90 seconds where the Cavs even outscored Tel Aviv 6-3. But if you take away Dellavedova’s buzzer beating J with three defenders on him, that 90 seconds was essentially the Cavaliers’ version of the Island of Misfit Toys and featured such unlikely plays as Varejao feeding the ball to Amundson like he was Amundson’s grandmother (and Amundson finishing off his plays like he was, say, my grandmother). Marion didn’t look comfortable trying to create for himself, missing an eight foot hook shot right before Delly’s heroics, and, Miller didn’t take a shot as part of this lineup.

In fact, Varejao’s insistence that he and Amundson become the next Steve Nash-to-Amar’e Stoudemire seemed like it was done partly in fun (and only partly, you know, because Amundson was open under the hoop) as you could almost see the players in that lineup look around and said, “Really? With these guys??”

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The Pre-Re: Recap of the Cavaliers 107-80 Preseason Win Over Maccabi Tel Aviv

Monday, October 6th, 2014

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Even after the months of build-up, it was still surreal. There was a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game played at Quicken Loans Arena that featured LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving leading the wine and gold. Once the ball got tipped, NBA basketball followed, if the preseason version of it. But the introductions took on an air of unreality, showing off all the pieces the Cavs accumulated over the summer finally together in the flesh (or, cousin to the flesh, the grainy internet stream) playing against people other than themselves. It was just the first step down a long road, one littered with broken glass, land mines, bear traps, chewed gum and the chance that Derrick Rose could always develop an outside shot, but, at least for now, it was a first step that was all spring. What this team eventually becomes won’t be realized for some time now, but there were glimpses in this 107-80 exhibition win over head coach David Blatt’s former team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, that exciting basketball lies ahead.

First off, the introduction sequence is incredible. Echoing the new hint of Cleveland skyline on the Cavs home court, the video introduction showed each of the team’s players posing with the city skyline projected on them, True Detectice-opening-credits style. Once the ball was tipped, though, Cavs fans got a taste — not a full meal, but a taste — of what this team could look like this season.

As the teams tipped off, it soon became clear that Maccabi was the more practiced team. This was the 2013 Euroleague champion’s ninth game (having gone 6-2 in the previous eight) and it showed. Tel Aviv moved the ball with a crispness that Cavs fans hope to see from their team, as they were essentially running Blatt’s system. Maccabi moved the ball, as Mr. Cavalier, Austin Carr, loves to point out “with the pass, not the dribble” and shot the ball effectively early on.

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