In less than twenty minutes, the Cavs take the court for their first regular season game with LeBron James in uniform since 2010. It’s against the already struggling Knicks and will be a great opportunity for LeBron to start the season off right by giving Cleveland a decisive win. This is The King’s first step towards becoming the hometown hero he longs to be. Post your thoughts about the pre-game festivities, The Humongotron, The Chalk Toss, and, most importantly, LeBron’s homecoming game. This is the start of a magical season. GO CAVS!
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LeBron James was feuding with Chris Bosh and the Heat. The Cavs and Heat were even trying to avoid each other in Brazil; furthermore, Bosh said LeBron is hard to play with, and ultimately, feelings were hurt. Feelings are miraculously unhurt now. Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel witnessed a true show of affection between the former Heat player and Chris Bosh.
James squashed the thoughts of their strained relationship with a hug at midcourt before Saturday’s tip-off between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers at HSBC Arena. The players supposedly were feuding once James announced he was leaving the Heat to return to the hometown Cavs. Both denied any rift.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Seems wasteful to exert much energy over the LeBron to CLE rumors until something more permanent starts to take shape. As a person with access to zero “sources” it makes even less sense. We’re analysts, fans, and supporters, not insiders. But, I’ve had plenty of thoughts and conversations about all the rumblings lately. I thought I’d share them.
On everyone’s emotions:
Can you believe it – we’re a mere FOUR days from the 2014 NBA draft! Embiid is injured, Blatt is the head coach, and no one (including the front office) has a clue WHAT to do with the number one overall pick. Nate, Ben, and I do, though. So we hopped on the line to discuss the new head coach hire, who the Cavs should draft (and whether or not they should trade the pick), what will happen to Embiid, and what other surprises the draft holds.
The podcast can be found on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0050-new-coach-new-draft-same-podcast
I am largely stepping away from Cavs:the Blog. The primary reason is time constraints, mainly my kids, both of whom have outgrown naps, and also my increased job responsibilities. I also try to exercise occasionally and co-started another NBA blog, gotbuckets.com. I can’t find enough opportunities to contribute to C:tB, and without solid time investment, don’t want to let the other writers down. Time to regroup and retool with me out of the way.
Writing here provided a fun outlet for three years, even though the Cavs struggled. Hopefully recent front office and coaching changes finally put the franchise on the right track. I liked a lot of the moves the team made in 2011 and 2012, so if they can unwind the missteps of 2013, the upcoming season can be the entertaining, exciting campaign that was hoped for this past summer.
Thanks to John Krolik for offering the opportunity to be a “Draft Expert” in 2011. Also much credit to Colin McGowan for being an asshole and giving constructive writing tips. Thanks to Tom Pestak and Nate Smith for venturing into gotbuckets.com with me. Finally, thanks to anyone who took a minute to read anything I wrote.
I’ll still be watching and rooting for the Cavs. Hopefully 2014 – 2015 brings big things.
The first round of the NBA playoffs were bananas. So much overtime, so many game sevens. The critical question lost in all that spectacular basketball though is, “what does it mean for the Cavs”? I will briefly look at each series in the Eastern Conference and make one glass half full and one glass half empty conclusion from each first round playoff series.