After spending a lovely evening watching the Akron Rubber Ducks dispatch the Erie Seawolves at Canal Park, I returned home to discover my DVR had eaten the Cavs game. So no formal recap, sadly. Houston eliminated beat the Cavs in Summer League play in a game in which Cleveland was without Matthew Dellavedova who’d been excused to join the Australian national team. Will Cherry started in his place and did not disappoint, finishing with 21 points, three dimes, and four boards on 8-14 shooting. His strong play has earned the attention of NBA and Euro scouts. But let’s not kid ourselves, this game was all about Andrew Wiggins.
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.
The Cavaliers summertime instructional team raced out to a quick lead over the San Antonio Spurs, building leads of 25-11 after one and 41-23 at the half before fending of a Spurs second-half run to notch an 82-70 victory in Las Vegas, Sunday afternoon. In what will, no doubt, come to be known as the “Crystal Ball Game” sometime around next June when the Cavs’ varsity unit puts a similar smacking on the Spurs’ A-team to win the 2015 NBA Finals and… and…
[experiences shortness of breath ... light-headedness ... reminds self of "marathon, not sprint"... counts to 10... okay, I'm back]
The Cavs Summer League team looked pretty impressive in upping their record to 2-0 in the Sunbaked Classic.
Dan Gilbert was on hand to watch a match-up that featured two of the top rookies from the 2013 draft class (Delly and Antetokounmpo) and the top two rookies (so far) from the 2014 draft class. Cleveland started the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run in the first eight minutes and survived a Nate Wolters three point attempt as time expired to win an ugly game which featured 37 turnovers and sub 40-percent shooting. It was a reported 80+ degree on the floor and both teams had been going through two-a-day practices for the last several days. Fatigue showed for each squad, but still, there was a buzz in the sold out Cox Pavillion.
A quick recap of some of the stuff that wasn’t caught (entirely) on camera…
•If you’re not a Cavs fan or member of the Cavaliers organization, you were not particularly amused by Cleveland’s lottery win Tuesday night. ESPN/Grantland’s Bill Simmons was the most vocal in his disappointment (or, maybe he just had the biggest stage) but he was not alone in his frustration over the same team winning the lottery three out of four years. There was a lot of grumbling by the media when the Cavs jumped into the top three. When they eventually won, I was pretty sure that the Kings writer I’d been chatting with was giving serious thought to whether punching me would make him feel any better. The Cavs win, while great for us, seemed to make two things obvious to those in attendance: 1.) the lottery actually isn’t rigged (unless this leads to LeBron’s return, of course…) and 2.) the current system is failing to do what it’s intended to do, namely to distribute talent evenly throughout the league and serve as a way for the league’s worst teams to have a punchers chance of climbing out from the dregs, if even only for a time. The Cavs win so closely mirrors Orlando’s back-to-back lottery wins in 1992 and 1993 that led to the weighted-odds model (both teams were legitimately bad the first year and less legitimately bad the following … although the Cavs, you know, still more so) that you have to imagine this will speed along whatever changes to the lottery are being bandied about in league offices.
No Nick Gilbert? No problem. General Manger David Griffin is all the magic you need, Cleveland. In a truly shocking bit of ball bouncery, the ping-pongs came up Cavs netting the team the top overall pick in the most anticipated draft since the 2003 Draft which featured game changers like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony (among others) and which the Cavs, coincidentally, also won.
The Cavaliers finished this season at 33-44, the ninth worst record in the league. They had only a 1.7% chance of getting the top pick, but the crowd in attendance at the Times Square Studio in New York City started grumbling when they learned the Cavs had jumped up into the top three. They knew the Cavs had just gotten very lucky. What they didn’t know was exactly how lucky.
An hour earlier, Cavs Vice Chairman, Jeff Cohen, who had been the team’s representative in the sealed-off room where the number combinations are drawn in past years, as well, saw their winning combination of 7-9-13-14 come up. It’s a feeling he’s now known three times in the last four years.
For a man who took the press conference stage with very little he could definitively say, newly-christened full-on Cavs General Manager, David Griffin, did what he seems to do best: he made everyone feel just a little bit better. His press conference track record is only three pressers old, but each one has seemed to carry the same aura of positivity, a chomping-at-the-bit enthusiasm built on two decades of front office experience, that makes one feel moderately assured that the speaker not only knows the speech, he may actually know enough to have written it himself.
David Griffin is still just the acting General Manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get to do all the fun stuff that real, fully named GMs get to do. One such perk of wearing the GM’s hat— right up there with thanklessly working one’s self into the ground— is the annual gala known as the end-of-season press conference. Griffin took a seat in front of the Cleveland press today. He was short on definitives (still no word on his long-term job status with the Cavaliers… same for the status of head coach, Mike Brown) but was long on just about everything else you’d want to hear from the man tasked with putting together the players on a professional basketball team. Griffin showed passion and smarts. He tipped his hat to the work of the previous regime (of which, admittedly, he was a part) while staking claim to a very different vision for the ball club going forward. All told, it was the kind of end-of-season presser that could make one hope that this wasn’t Griffin’s last.
Cleveland won handily against a Brooklyn team that was, frankly, trying to lose. Brooklyn was angling to play Toronto in the first round of the playoffs instead of Chicago, and the loss ensured the Nets a sixth seed instead of a seventh. The final appearance for the 2013-2014 incarnation of the Cavs looked good against the collection of backups that the Nets trotted out. Tyler Zeller was sharp with 22 points and 11 rebounds on 9-11 shooting, and Dion Waiters added 19. Kyrie Irving finished with 15 points and five assists. Tristan chipped in a double double with 11 and 10, and no one played more than 27 minutes for Cleveland. For the men in black, Marcus Thornton and Andre Blatche threw up a combined 37 shots, including 16 threes, to notch 40 points between them. Coming off the bench, Anthony Bennett and Carrick Felix made their first appearances in months for Cleveland, and both had thunderous dunks and decent showings: Felix had 10 points and three dimes in 12 minutes, and Bennett got seven points and seven boards in 15.
This was the last time we’ll see some of these players in a Cavs uniform, and to that, I say: thanks for the memories, and via con Dios.
Well, that was ugly. The Cavs and Bucks played one of the most aesthetically unpleasing games of season: a game marked by YMCA style defense, strange bounces of the ball, steals, run-outs, phrenetically incompetent play, and lots of barely contested dunks. The Cavs were without Luol Deng who sat out with a bad back, and they missed him badly. Alonzo Gee started in his stead and played 23 minutes, finishing with 9 points and four rebounds and was -17 for the game. The other 25 minutes, Cleveland played three guard lineups and fared better, but had no answers for a team with two real small forwards. 6-foot, 8-inch Khris Middleton and his backup, 6-foot, 9-inch Chris Wright, combined to score 31 points on 14-20 shooting for the worst team in the league. (more…)
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
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