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The Point Four-ward: Letting It Fly

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) It’s darned near impossible to overstate the importance of the three point shot in the playoffs. In the Cavs most recent six game series against the Chicago Bulls, there were several instances where a player getting hot from deep helped to swing the game. There was Mike Dunleavy’s first quarter outburst in Game 1, J.R. Smith’s three big triples in the fourth quarter of a crucial Game 4 that set up the game winning shot by LeBron James, while Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova took turns keeping Game 6 en fuego.

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Five on Five: Conference Finals Edition

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

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1. If you’re the Cavs, what worries you the most going into a series against the Atlanta Hawks?

Tom: I worry about the Cavs being able to match up with the front line of the Hawks.  They got away with playing James Jones because Joakim Noah with so useless offensively. But that’s not going to work against Paul Millsap or Al Horford. they’ve had slow start with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson playing together. The key to the series may be LeBron James guarding Paul Millsap.

Cory: Kyle Korver shot a sizzling .492 3P% on 449 attempts during the regular season, but has struggled from downtown against the Wizards. Bradley Beal blanketed Korver through their series and it was effective as Korver shot just 12 for 42 from beyond the arc. He’s due to breakout of his shooting funk.

Ben: Dennis Schröder. That kid is insanely slippery. He walks around the court like he owns the place and it rubs some people the wrong way. There are also the Rondo comparisons that lead many to assume he is a headcase. And hey, his German status has confused people into thinking he dominated a chair in his youth. However, he is a very fine player who is only getting better. He is incredibly long on the perimeter. (I was just chatting with a German buddy of man who got yanked from his youth game after Dennis picked his pocket on four consecutive trips). He and Teague should be able to give Kyrie some trouble even if Uncle Drew feels fresh like Nephew Drew. Schröder is a much better shooter than Rondo every dreamed of being and has already mastered the change of pace drive going either way. He has a knack for getting his shoulder by the defender as if it were buttered. The Cavs have had some trouble against lightening quick PGs. It will probably be up to Shump to shut him down.

David: I’m worried about the Hawks offense starting to look like it did in the middle of the season. When the Hawks destroyed the Cavs by 29 points in December, it was because their guards would cut into the paint and then whip the the ball to the open shooter. If Kyrie is still running around like he has a stick taped to his leg, there would be even more pressure on Mozgov to mean mug away possible penetration. Delly might have to play 48 minutes then too. Relying on those two guys full-time scares me.

Robert: The Cavs need to be very cautious about starting games as slowly as they did against Chicago. I don’t think you can expect this Hawks team to take a quarter off from scoring like the Bulls often did to let the Cavs claw their way back into the game.

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The Point Four-ward: When The Going Gets Tough…

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Coming into this series, one of my biggest concerns was how the Cavaliers’ toughness would stack up against the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls, after all, roll out a number of players — point guard Derrick Rose, swingman Jimmy Butler and center Joakim Noah, in particular — who are long, strong and, overall, play a more physical style than their Cavaliers counterparts. The Bulls also feature a deep and talented front court rotation that, along with the 6-11 Noah, include 6-9 Taj Gibson, 6-10 rookie Nikola Mirotic and the 7-0 All-Star Pau Gasol, who is “hopeful” he’ll be able to play in Thursday night’s Game 6 after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury.

But, beyond being physically tough — which the Bulls definitely are — they are one of the most mentally tough teams in the league.

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The Point Four-ward: One and (Not) Done

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Well, that sure wasn’t fun.

Cavs fans knew their team had some things to overcome in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals matchup with the Chicago Bulls. Besides missing two starters in Kevin Love (shoulder) and J.R. Smith (poor decisions), the Cavs had accumulated the rust of the eight days that had passed since they last laced up for a game.

The Bulls, meanwhile, were coming off an historic 54-point demolition of the Milwaukee Bucks, finally finishing off that series in six games after leading it 3-0. While many have touted the Bulls as “finally clicking” or “getting healthy at the right time,” that might be a bit of an overstatement. Joakim Noah has battled knee and hamstring issues all year and was clearly limited in Game 1, failing to score on 0-4 shooting, though he was able to tally nine boards and four assists. Nikola Mirotic saw only two minutes of action, after being bothered by quad and knee issues during the Milwaukee series. And Derrick Rose isn’t exactly back if his shooting drops off from 56.1% from the floor when he gets two or more days rest to 42% when he plays with only one day off.

Still, the Bulls were the more fully lubricated machine on this night. The Cavs seemed completely out of sorts following the insertion of Mike Miller and Iman Shumpert into the starting lineup, and the Bulls rode a hot shooting streak that punished the Cavs for every defensive breakdown.

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The Point Four-ward: Love-less and More

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

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[Note: if you haven’t checked out David Wood and Evil Genius going at each other in a classic Cavs: The Duel, from earlier today, go here first.]

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) The pop Cavs fans heard when Kelly Olynyk “got tied up” with Kevin Love wasn’t Love’s shoulder separating from its socket — the acute anterior inferior glenohumeral dislocation with the corresponding ligament/labrum tearing and humeral head bone bruising. It was almost as if Love’s shoulder was mic’d up at that moment of “incidental contact” with Olynyk, as a crushing, sickening popping sound echoed throughout all of Cavs fandom. It was that moment that a wheel popped off of what had, until this point, been a very fun ride on the Cavs bandwagon.

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The Point Four-ward: The Ballad of the Slow Gunslinger

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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

1.) Nothing about the Cavs overall performance in their first two playoff games against the Boston Celtics really qualifies as reason for alarm. The Cavs have taken care of business winning Games 1 and 2 by 11 and nine points respectively. Some expected the Cavs to steamroll the Celtics a little more than they have, but these games have shown the Boston squad to be made of just the type of pluck and gumption that makes for a good story this time of year.

A good story, though, does not a winning team make.

This doesn’t mean the Cavs have played fault-free ball since the league’s second season tipped off. In fact, one of the things that has been most troubling about this Cavs team so far is that they seem to need to take a good shot from a more spirited opponent before playing their best ball.

The Celtics, it turns out, are in no short supply of shots.

The Cavs have started both games slowly, giving the Celtics shooters (I mean, if that’s what you want to call Marcus Smart…) space and allowing relatively easy access to the rim, while the Celtics have been draped over LeBron James and Kyrie Irving from jump.

So far, this Cavs team is the rare slow gunslinger who may not get off the first shot, but, in the end, is still able to walk away from the showdown.

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Fantasy Notebook: And We Have A Winner!

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

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This was a spirited first year of Cavs: The Fantasy League, one that pitted your favorite Cavs: The Blog writers against (well, each other… as well as) your favorite Cavs: The Blog readers. There were ups and down, smiles and frowns… but, in the end, there can only be one winner and I come here today to present that winner to you.

Congratulations to Evil Genius and his Team Evil Genius on capturing the first inaugural CtFL championship trophy. In what will surely go down as an Instant Fantasy Classic, EG’s team prevailed over Nate Smith’s Team Stark Delly Treys.

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And, yes, you’re seeing that right: the margin of victory was pretty darn close in some categories: four wins, four blocks, 1.02% in field goals. Heck, they even tied on rebounds. Nate’s gonna be licking those wounds for some time now. But that, as we all know, is how the playoff cookie crumbles.

Take a bow, EG! Nate, you may take a slightly more hesitant (but no less well-earned) bow, as well. These are your bloggers, my friends. And they kept on fighting ’till the end. You can see the road to the final two, here, while you queue up a rendition of “One Shining Moment.”

The battle for third place also came down to the final day of action, with my own Team Waiters Invaders eventually — though, narrowly — edging out Team Grover 13
. (Correction: due to statistical updates, Grover now appears to be the winner. We’ll see if this holds).

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Good job, again, to EG and Nate— and to all who participated in the inaugural CtFL. Now, go rest up, take your family on a European vacation (or several) and I’ll see you back here next October.

Break!

The Point Four-ward: A Merciful End to the Regular Season

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers on the final day of the 2014-15 NBA regular season…

1.) While the Celtics won’t be pushovers in the first round, it’s clear why the Cavs would prefer to play a relatively young Boston team over a resurgent (until the last two games, anyway) Brooklyn team and a Pacers team who have given the Cavs problems all year and just got their star player, Paul George, back for the stretch run and likely beyond.

The Celtics are hot at exactly the right time. Winners of four straight and seven of the last ten, head coach Brad Stevens’ squad ranks third in points per game (111.5), third in assists per game (26.3) and first in steals (13.3) over the ten game span prior to Tuesday night’s game against Toronto.

Also, in the month of April the Celtics have been allowing only 97.4 points per 100 possessions, good for fifth best in the league. They feature a dangerous scorer in Isaiah Thomas (20.7 points and 5.5 assists in April) and some lively big bodies in Brandon Bass and former Cavalier Tyler Zeller to go along with an absolutely dogged perimeter defense led by Avery Bradley and rookie Marcus Smart.

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The Point Four-ward: Looking (Somewhat Ambitiously) Ahead

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) J.R. Smith’s three point explosion against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday (8-17 FGs… all three pointers) had many Cavs fans on Twitter talking about the team’s starting two guard and his contract status. After all, Smith has a player option for just under $6.4 million for next season. If he were playing like he was as a member of the New York Knicks earlier this season, Smith likely would have picked up that option. And, right now, $6.4 million for the type of production Smith is providing is a bargain.

In Cleveland, Smith has thrived and the team has thrived with him. Cavs head coach David Blatt has referred to Smith as “a godsend” and LeBron James has said the 6-8 Smith has been “everything we needed and more.”

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Fantasy Notebook: The Finals

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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For fans of the real-life NBA, the playoffs are still about a week and a half off. But for fans of Cavs: The Fantasy League, that one shining moment has come. We’ve reached the end point of the inaugural Cavs: The Fantasy League and we’ve got one mammoth of a Finals underway as two very worthy competitors look to get their taste of that gold ring (or… you know, the fantasy equivalent which is imagining what a gold ring might taste like).

Nate Smith’s Team Stark Delly Treys moved into the Finals with a sound spanking of the third seeded Team Grover 13.

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Team Stark Delly Treys has its fair share of star power, boasting the likes of MVP-contender James Harden and Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, but also mixed in some new blood like Orlando’s rookie guard Elfrid Payton, the Thunder’s Steven Adams and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, all of who are having strong seasons both in reality as key contributors to Smith’s squad.

Meanwhile, Evil Genius’ appropriately named Team Evil Genius finished off yours truly and his Team Waiters Invaders.

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EG surged to CtFL’s best record and carried that momentum into the playoffs. With a backcourt featuring the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving and the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan and a frontline sporting names like Gasol (of the Pau variety) and Drummond, it’s easy to see why.

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