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Feeling Cavalier in Spain; Opening Weekend

Monday, September 1st, 2014

The inaugural FIBA World Cup is officially underway. Two days of group play has yielded relatively expected results: USA and Spain look dominant, Goran Dragic is hilariously fun to watch, Iran isn’t very good at bringing the ball up and the talented Brazilian frontline will challenge Spain’s for bigman bragging rights. That is all very good. But, as stated in the preview, this series is dedicated to the Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving PG, USA, Group C

Being a shadow of one’s former self can be a good thing.

Kyrie got the start and played solid ball against Finland. The Finnish guards are so weak that Irving didn’t really have to break out his Team USA defensive stance. To be honest, he looked “regular season Cavs” in this one, but it’s hard to blame him. Kyrie was a totally different player against Turkey. For large stretches of this heavily contested game, Kyrie controlled pace, (perhaps to fault; he still loves walking that ball up) and played hard-nosed all around ball.

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Feeling Cavalier in Spain; FIBA World Cup

Friday, August 29th, 2014

As Spain is rather famous for swashbuckling and suave cavaliers, it seems only fitting that the Cleveland Cavaliers will play important roles for their respective international teams in the Inaugural FIBA World Cup. Let’s hope the young Cavs (let’s just pretend Andy is young) will focus more on crisp ball swings and active defense than seducing a Zerlina or taking out a troublesome commendatore. (Cavs: The Blog: your random source of operatic entertainment.)

In this series of FIBA coverage, I will focus predominantly on the performance of the Cavaliers participating in the Cup. You don’t need me to remind you that Spain’s front court is ridiculously stacked with the Gasols and Ibaka dwarfing the USA bigmen, or that Greece’s backcourt will be ridiculously entertaining with the Greek Freak and Nick Calathes handling the ball. (For more on that, read Grantland’s preview). Instead, this space will be devoted to Cleveland Cavalier performance.

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Not a (Team USA) Recap: Team USA 95, Brazil 78 (or, Yes Please!)

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

We have finally reached the point in the NBA dead season that the venerable Zach Lowe is breaking down Space Jam. I love cartoon Muggsy Bogues as much as the next guy, but I would much rather watch our very own Sideshow Bob take on Uncle Drew, albeit in a game with much smaller ramifications. The friendly scrimmage between Team USA and Brazil provided some real basketball relief and a delightful peak into 2014-2015 Cavalier ball.

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LeBron International (Cleveland’s Eurotrip)

Monday, August 4th, 2014
Forget sausage legs on the beach. My bald head in Sicily.

Forget sausage legs on the beach. My bald head in Sicily.

I rounded the southern tip of Ortigia, the island city center of Siracusa, Sicily. Drinking in the sinking Ionian sun, I glanced to my left at a small sicilian boy rocking a Miami Heat hat. For a split second, my vacation euphoria was replaced by the dull ache of disgust. Then a beautiful thing happened. Almost immediately, the feeling gave way to an open-mouthed giggle that brought the boy’s eyes to mine. “Go Cavs!” I cheered. I don’t think he understood what I said. I didn’t care. What was more important to me in that moment was the realization that this time next year, another little boy’s hat would be displaying a Cavalier’s sword. Or even better, the word: Cleveland.

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Summer League Recap: Cleveland 86, Philadelphia 77 (or, Did You See That Dunk?!?)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The Cavaliers remain unbeaten in Las Vegas Summer League play as they defeated a Sixers team featuring Nerlens Noel and 2014 Draft pick, KJ McDaniels. The Cavs, led by Mathew Dellavedova, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins took a lead on the game’s fourth possession that they wouldn’t relinquish. After a relatively even first quarter, Cleveland closed the the first half on a 10-2 run. The Sixers were limited to nine for 29 shooting at the break. The lead swelled to as many as 21 before the Sixers’ full court pressure ignited a 16-2 run spanning the end of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth. But some steady play and a parade of free throws pushed the Cavs to a 3-0 Summer League record.

Heading into the contest there were many questions: How would Wiggins match-up against KJ McDaniels? Will Grant Hill’s pleasant baritone sustain us in his new color commentator role? But really most Cavs fans were focused on Noel vs Bennett and the 2013 Draft debate.

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Under the Radar Targets: Donatas Montiejunas

Monday, July 7th, 2014

 

dgplane

So I hear there are some relatively big free agent names out there this summer. Something to do with the 2003 Draft Class. Details. I assume that all those fine gentlemen will make the appropriate choices (fight the urge to say Decision) for themselves and their respective families. Depending on how this all shakes down, some fortunate teams will be in a rush to free cap space in an effort to sign a max salary player. The Cavaliers have an interesting slate of 2015 draft picks that could come in handy when attempting to steal acquire another team’s cap-clogging assets.

Houston has been very aggressive in its effort to land Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, or Chris Bosh.

*In not-so-insignificant-news that I am clearly attempting to downplay for our collective sanity, LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul has reportedly met with Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and Cleveland to discuss LeBron’s future; not to mention the insanity about Dan Gilbert’s plane flying to Florida, yesterday, Chris Broussard’s tweet, and the subsequent internet freakout. We live in a world with a 1440 minute news cycle.

If Houston were to lure a big time free agent to play with James Harden and Dwight Howard, the Rockets would be required to do some serious cap management. If they match whatever contract offer restricted free agent, Chandler Parsons signs, GM Daryl Morey will have to earn his Dork Elvis moniker. Many smart teams are calmly waiting for those large dominoes to fall.

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If There is No parade, I’m Out!

Monday, June 16th, 2014

LeBron is now  2-3 in Finals appearances. When discussing the Heat’s attempt to claw back from a 3-1 series deficit to the San Antonio Spurs, James made the normal “Why not us?”  argument. What followed was both strange and emblematic of a prevailing attitude toward playoff competition.

I’m not sure exactly when it became normal, but there is a sentiment in today’s culture that is neatly summed up by LeBron’s subsequent quote: “I’d rather get my two months off.” Basically, LeBron would rather miss the playoffs completely than lose in the NBA Finals.

What?

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International Men of Mystery; Part Deux

Monday, June 9th, 2014

As evidenced by the seven International players on the Spurs, it is clearly a good idea to look outside of the good ole’ USA to find basketball talent. In part 2 of the “International Men of Mystery” we will check out a couple teenagers whose birth certificates require verification, and a player whom the Cavs clearly like in Damjan Rudez (who is reportedly meeting with the Cavs, today).

Related news: The Cavs are looking at David Blatt for the head coaching job. The American born coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv would bring an understanding of the International game to Cleveland. He coached the Russian National Team to a Bronze medal in 2012. It would be an intriguing hire.

As always, I have a set of scouting questions that help to discern whether a player’s skill-set will translate well to the NBA’s basketball culture.

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One Sport, Two Continents, and the International Men of Mystery

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Editors Note: Please welcome new Staff Writer, and CtB European correspondent, Ben Werth.

I yell out “Check up top.” General dillydallying continues, and I yell again.  “BALL UP TOP.”  Okay, maybe something is lost in translation.  I try a different tactic.  “Der Ball ganz oben, bitte?”  That combined with the well known International Sign of “putting my hands out to receive a pass” have the desired effect.  I’m pretty sure my whack literal translation was not what yielded the ball.

“What do you guys usually play?  12 win by two, or 21 straight?  All ones?”  I generally detest playing with ones and twos in pickup ball.  The NBA short corner three is ridiculously inefficient compared to that two for one advantage.  Good thing most normal people can’t shoot.

“Okay!” says one lithe baller.

“Okay, what?  Bis zwölf, oder was?”  Have I been talking to myself?

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