By the end of a game like this, it is hard to form a coherent story line, or put much effort into a recap. The first half was exhilarating, the other, frustrating. Deflating. Disheartening.
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The game was tied at 96 with 2:31 left. The Blazers were looking forward to the start of a road trip and the Cavs were eager to end theirs. It felt like the game had set the table for another classic finish between these two odd rivals, but then the other shoe, which had been levitating conspicuously near the Moda center’s jumobtron fell with a thud. LaMarcus Aldridge went off and the Blazers ended the game on a 12-0 run, a run which the Cavs were powerless to stop. The Blazers seemed stifled the whole game, more by themselves than by Cleveland, but after the official timeout when it was tied, they played like their mental block had been lifted and they torched the Cavs.
Tristan Thompson splits a pair of free throws with 9.3 seconds left. The Lakers charge down the court, miss a three, but it’s straight into the waiting hands of Pau Gasol! Gasol only has to dunk to beat the buzzer, which he does! What an ending!
Fortunately for Cavs fans, the buzzer beater was inconsequential and only served to make the win look tighter than it was. Despite playing silly basketball on the defensive end for much of the night, the Cavaliers were just good enough down the stretch to beat the Lakers to move to 2-1 on this road trip. Anderson Varejao was the player of the game for the Cavs, grabbing 18 rebounds to go along with 18 points and six assists. He also kept the Cavs in the game during a horrible second quarter with facilitation and timely thumps on a few Lakers big men. Luol Deng shot 5-5 from three to punctuate his efficient 27 points, by far his best game as a Cavalier thus far. The team shot 13-17 overall, good for 77%.
Editor’s Note: Comments were accidentally turned off for this article, earlier. They’ve been re-enabled.
As gets mentioned around here a tad, Nate, Tom and I, in addition to the esteemed Randall Cooper (@laughingcavs), started another website, gotbuckets, largely devoted to Adjusted Plus Minus (APM) and Regularized APM (RAPM). For a brief discussion of APM, check here. Yesterday, the first update of 2-year APM to incorporate 2013 – 2014 play was posted. With that, let’s discuss what the results may mean for the 2013 – 2014 Cavs. Keep in mind that these results include all games from 02/14/2012 through 01/06/2014 (not exactly two years due to strike shortened season), so it’s much more than just this season. Using reasonably large sample sizes is important for APM though.
The game clock wasn’t functioning for the first four seconds of this afternoon’s game. The refs quickly stopped the game and basically started over from scratch, running the elapsed time off the clock. Maybe, in the alternate universe where that Kings possession continues uninterrupted, the Cavs play coherent basketball and push hard for longer than a quarter and change. Maybe the stoppage dammed their energy and they were unable to get it flowing again. Maybe the team was swapped out for very convincing lookalikes in the first quarter when my TV died for five minutes, because Cleveland was run out of the worst gym in the NBA by one of the worst teams in the NBA.
In the series Brews and Bruises: Life as a Drinking Cavs Fan, I’ll playfully explore the mixture of pain associated with Cavalier fandom and the glory associated with drinking. As always, drink responsibly (and legally, ya kids!)
Another year, another reason to drown our collective sorrows in a nice, cold, tall glass of beer. Bynum is gone, the record stinks, Kyrie and Dion wont stop fighting, Mike Brown is still Mike Brown, and Cleveland is cold. Lets face it: times are tough. But with the arrival of 2014, we as Cavs fans can take solace (or hope) in potential improvement. Right? If not, what left is there?!
While the typical sports fan would expect improvement to come through the gym; ya know, hard work, tireless effort, etc. etc., I tend to look at things a little differently. Maybe if our boys could find their magic elixir, their perfect beer, they’d be able to find their groove.
So what should our players be drinking to get their game up? Lets discuss:
It was one year and one day ago, that I wrote a Young Player Profile on Tristan Thompson. At the time, I felt Tristan was receiving an unfair shake. He was contributing the little things, was still young, and was starting to show improvement. As another calendar year rolls by, while not an All-Star, there is no doubt that TT can be a solid contributor in this League for a long time.
I have a somewhat similar feeling of optimism about the entire franchise right now. Again, it feels out of place. It is possible it is because I am dumb. Hopefully not.
Due to general holiday weariness, no one signed up for a recap last night, so this will be short. The Cavs lost a tough one to fall to 10 wins and 18 losses on the season. They led 95 to 91 with two minutes remaining in regulation. They led 108 to 105 with seven seconds remaining in the first overtime. They led by five early in the second overtime. Alas, the Wine & Gold never closed out the win though, as Jeff Teague hit a buzzer beater that rattled around the rim six times.
Kyrie finished with 40 points on 17 of 33 shooting, with 9 assists, 4 steals and 6 turnovers. There were portions of the game where he was completely unstoppable, but also portions when it would have been nice to see more ball movement. Tristan tallied 22 points on 66% true shooting, with six rebounds and two blocks. Dion scored 20 points on 67% true shooting, aside a handful of nice passes generating buckets or free throws. His five turnovers were ugly, but his plus-10 on-court / off-court was second best on the team…shockingly, the bench is better with Waiters around. The team’s defense was poor, and never got the stops needed to pull out a victory for the home-court crowd.
The team heads to Boston on Saturday, hopefully to right the ship and pull out a much needed win.
First off, I am firmly in the camp that believes the Cavaliers should not trade Waiters. This year’s Cavs offense has been 10 points per possession better with Waiters on the court, and he is part of the most efficient Cavs lineup. Since ESPN reported that he was being hawked on the open market, his play has been stellar. Scoring has ticked up, but what’s been most impressive is how he’s improving his shot selection towards the mostly-layups-and-threes prescription and reducing his tendency to fire away from midrange.
You could examine this cynically and come to the conclusion that he is seizing the opportunity to audition for the rest of the league. There are some rumors (which feel pretty true given the soap opera of the past two weeks) about the iciness of his relationship with Kyrie Irving. Signs may point to his desire to get out of Dodge, but punting the most dynamic player of a frustrating Cavs team would be a mistake. He gets a lot of flak, mostly based on his propensity to shoot everything all the time and who the Cavs passed on to take him, but he has shown noticeable improvement. Waiters’ ability to slash through multiple layers of defense provides precious movement for a stagnant offense. There aren’t any other players on the team besides Kyrie who can impose their will to the degree Waiters can, regardless of his deficiencies. He likely has a way to go as a player, and it feels as if he is on the path to realizing this potential, be it as a sixth man (my money is on this) or as a starter.