Author Archive

Fantasy Notebook: The Autodraft Hangover

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

ESPN-Hoops

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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The Point Four-ward: Calm Before Storm

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Last year and forever ago...

Last year and forever ago…

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) The Cleveland Cavaliers will hold their annual pre-Training Camp Media Day this Friday, September 26 at Cleveland Clinic Courts. No actual basketball will be played, with the only chance of sweat to be broken coming in the unlikely event that someone feels it appropriate to ask LeBron James about his “hairline rumors.” Still, Media Day is the grand public preening, the public’s first look at the 2014-15 Cavaliers assembled together, the Memorial Day to the wonderful summer that is the NBA season (which, somewhat contradictorily, takes place almost entirely during the winter… but you get the idea).

2.) With the addition of A.J. Price and Lou Amundson, Cavs General Manager David Griffin has said the team’s training camp roster, now featuring a full 20 players, is set. Or, rather, it’s set until it’s not. Griffin has made it clear that the team is still interested in adding Ray Allen, should the 39-year old guard decide he wants to play this year. There will also continue to be rumors linked to whatever big man du jour people think could help shore up the team’s biggest on-paper weakness.

So, here’s who the Cavs have busy at home writing their names on the tags of their underwear as they prepare to go to camp:

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Bring the World Some Extra ‘Zine

Friday, September 19th, 2014

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If you’re a regular reader of Cavs: the Blog, part of the reason (we hope) is that you enjoy good, fresh, engaging writing about (what we assume is) your favorite basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If the above statement is true — and you’ve never had a pleasure to get your hands on any of the previous four installments of CavsZine: The Bible of Cavs Fandom — well, you’re in luck. The fine folks at CavsZine, which features writing from your favorite local and national Cavs scribes, Cavs-centric illustrations, humor… oh, and some of the most amazing free goodies (see CavsZine exlusive Mark Price sticker above, for example) this side of a free Taco Bell chalupa on game night.

This year, with the aid of their first Kickstarter campaign, Cleveland Jackson, Alex Raffalli and company are upping the ‘Zine’s production to better be a Bible of Fandom for a championship contending team.

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Five-on-Six: Summer Break Edition

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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September is here. Everyone has felt the buckle tighten back on school or a more rigid work week. We at Cavs: the Blog are no exception. But, even as we sit and watch the clock tick down the precious minutes until the NBA returns (Cavs Media Day is a week from tomorrow!!!) we are not without our actual full (?) and rewarding (??) lives. So, for unbalanced edition of Five-on-Six we’ve got a little bit of basketball and a little bit of that small sliver of our lives that is… well, un-basketball. Enjoy!

1.) Did you go on a vacation this summer? If so, where? And, if so, was there a Cavs-related story that broke / distracted you from fully enjoying yourself.

Tom: Yes, to Cape Hatteras North Carolina on the Outer Banks.  No, no #wojBombs that I can recall.  I was there during games 1-3 of the Finals.  I was terrified that the Heat were going to ruin my vacation, especially after the Bosh primal scream in game 2.  I didn’t watch the start of game 3 until I got a text that the Spurs had started 19 of 21.  One of the best vacations I’ve ever had.

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The Point Four-ward: When Steady Is Exciting

Friday, September 12th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Kyrie Irving drew some compliments from commentators Marc Kestecher and Fran Fraschilla during ESPN’s broadcast of Team USA’s 96-68 win over Lithuania in the semi-finals of the FIBA World Cup. During the fourth quarter, Fraschilla mentioned how “steady” Irving has been throughout this tournament, adding that when you think about Irving’s performances it’s difficult to pick out a bad one. Irving has been “average” at worst, and generally “very, very good.”

Irving, who played a team high 34:27 minutes on Thursday, also led the team in scoring with 18 points. His +19 was second only to James Harden’s +20.

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The Point Four-ward: Getting Way, Way, Way Ahead of Ourselves

Friday, September 5th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) I caught up with fellow Truehooper Graydon Gordian earlier this week. Graydon is Editor Emeritus of the Spurs’ blog 48 Minutes of Hell and this finally-August-hot September evening was the first time we’d talked hoops since the Cavs’ Hulked-Out off-season began. Possibly because I immediately demurred to his own loyalties (“There’s no way I want any part of the Spurs, should the Cavs make the Finals this year,” said I) we strolled down Hypothetical Way, talking about the likely Western Conference contenders and how, should all of the 950,000 things that must go right for any team to dream of playing into late-June go right for the Cavs this year, each of them might match up against the wine and gold from Nor’thrn ‘Hia.

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