On the back of a dominant 20 point, 10 rebound, 5 block, 3 assist (and a few hockey assists) effort from Andrew Bynum, the Cavaliers defeated a feisty Chicago Bulls squad to get back into the win column. Kyrie Irving struggled from the field but played with reckless abandon at both ends. His energy jump-started the Cavs early and his attacking of the basket netted him 19 points. Dion Waiters had perhaps his most efficient game of the season, finishing 8-10 from the field for a team high 20 points.
Archive for the ‘Recaps’ Category
With the full assortment of Cavs:the Bloggers wrapped up in varieties of travel and holiday festivities, no one volunteered to recap tonight. That is probably for the best. In the first half, the Celtics hit easy shots. In the second half, they hit tough shots. I included their third quarter shot chart above. Of the four three-pointers, two were by Jared Sullinger, and one was banked in by Brandon Bass at the buzzer. Almost everything else was a long two. Sullinger hit four three pointers on the game, adding to his previous ten career bombs from deep.
This was not the Cavs night. Cleveland was frequently a perverse comedy of errors. Players falling down. Airballing three pointers. Banking in three pointers. Throwing the ball to unoccupied space. Fighting each other for rebounds and losing the ball out of bounds.
Cleveland started the game behind on a 22 to 4 run, as the Andrew Bynum thing is not working. He was minus-25 in 15 minutes. The first half highlights involved Kyrie going off for 15 points, and Varejao nearing a double-double with 8 & 10. Cleveland trailed 39 to 55 at the break. The second half included even fewer positives. Dion got aggressive and did some damage, but much of it in relative garbage time, as after Boston scored the first bucket of the third quarter, the deficit never got closer than 18.
Kyrie finished with 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting, with 3 assists and 4 turnovers. Dion tallied 21 points on 7 of 18 shooting, with 6 assists, but also 6 turnovers. Andy finished with 10 & 12 and wins MVP for the night. His energy level was solid, and the Cavs actually outscored Boston by three points during his 26 minutes. No one else did anything noteworthy, at least not in a positive sense.
I don’t know if the plan is to sit Bynum tomorrow against Chicago, but maybe it should be. Until then.
Overview: LeBron James, who used to play for the Cavaliers, outscored the Cavaliers’ entire starting 5 en route to a 95-84 win for the Miami Heat, who have only lost to the Cavaliers once since James left the team in free agency. Dion Waiters was the bright spot for the Cavaliers, scoring 24 points off the bench, while Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley scored 22 and 17 points for the defending champs.
All Things Considered, That Honestly Could Have Gone a Lot Worse Bullets:
– Let’s start with the good news, because there’s certainly no shortage of bad news. Apparently trade rumors agree with Dion Waiters, because that’s about as well as I’ve ever seen him play. All but one of his shots came from the paint, the free-throw line, or behind the arc, and he was aggressive all night — this is the guy the Cavs thought they were getting with the 4th overall pick. Waiters is a good spot-up three-point shooter, and can get to the basket seemingly at will, especially when he goes to his left hand. His two main problems are that his shot selection is usually horrendous, and he has trouble turning his ability to get to the rim into actual points for the team.
The former issue wasn’t a problem on Wednesday, and he managed to be effective in attack mode, as he was 3-5 from inside the paint and got to the line 11 times. Free throws have been a problem all season, and that continued tonight, with Waiters bricking five of his 11 attempts from the line, but that’s something you just have to hope improves. If this Dion keeps showing up, trading him would be a mistake — having trouble converting opportunities at the rim into points is an issue, but it’s not a fatal issue for a player as young as Waiters — it takes some time to adjust to the size of NBA shot blockers, and a lot of young guards figure it out after initial struggles.
– Now, the bad news! There’s a lot of it! First, and most importantly, Kyrie is completely lost out there. He didn’t create angles, and had more turnovers than assists. He forced low-percentage jumpers and drives to the rim alike. It’s Kyrie vs. the world right now, and that isn’t a recipe for winning basketball, especially when it’s your point guard.
– One way to fix that problem would be to have Kyrie come off of some type of action to set up a secondary pick-and-roll with either Jack or Waiters being the primary ballhandler, but that’s not happening, because Jack and Waiters are both shoot-first guys and Mike Brown’s offensive system sure as heck isn’t going to cover up their deficiencies.
– As for who Kyrie’s pick-and-roll partner would be, well, there’s no good news on that front either. Tristan Thompson wasn’t particularly close to finding the rim with either hand around the basket, going 1-for-6, and he was being guarded by Rashard Lewis and Michael Beasley, neither of whom is known for being a rough-and-tumble defender. And as sad as it is to say, the Anderson Varejao who would set the pick, fly through the lane, catch it at full speed and flip it in from whatever angle without breaking stride might be gone. At 31, he’s clearly lost a step, and that is very bad news for a player who relies on his athleticism as much as Varejao does.
– Andrew Bynum started the game wonderfully, then went completely silent for the last 3.8 quarters of the game. That’s less than ideal. And the Cavs’ other two lottery big men were DNP-CDs. Also less than ideal.
Bullets of Randomness:
– The Cavs were able to stay in this game because Miami’s ludicrously good floor-spacing didn’t make the trip to Cleveland with them. Shane Battier was out with the flu, Bosh didn’t make a shot from outside the paint, and the 3-heavy Heat offense went just 4-19 from deep.
– LeBron finished with a workman-like 28/8/8, but the Cavs didn’t do a bad job on him. Miami wasn’t able to get LeBron the deep post touches he likes, and he had to work for pretty much all of his points that didn’t come in transition off of Cavalier miscues. (By the way, the Cavs were way, way, way too sloppy with the ball against a Miami team that turns live-ball turnovers into points as well as any team in the league.)
– Wade had one of those games where you just have to throw your hands up. He was making the mid-range turnarounds, the floaters, the everything. When his knees are under him and his mid-range shots are falling, there’s simply no way to keep a player that quick from slicing you apart.
– Jeez, does Michael Beasley look born again. 17 points on 10 shots, he finished the game for Miami, and he didn’t even hit a shot from outside the paint. This is a guy who Phoenix paid to go away and never come back in the off-season. Just goes to show the difference great players and a great team culture can make.
That’s all I have for today, campers. The big story is that Dion looked really good, and everything else looked really bad, but good on the team for holding its own, for the most part, against a team as good as Miami. This upcoming Boston/Chicago/Denver stretch should tell us a lot about whether the Cavs should cling to hope of a respectable season or if we should start watching Wiggins, Randle, and Parker a lot more closely.
Recap: San Antonio 126, Cleveland 96 (or, “It must be nice to make that much money and be that bad at your job.”)Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
The title quote comes from my wife, who does not watch the Cavs most nights and had to sit through this abysmal game. Now she knows what it’s like to root for the Washington Generals. 26 minutes in, Cleveland was down by 43 points. They had no chance, and they played like they knew it.
Tonight offers an opportunity for Cleveland to rebound from a mostly embarrassing midweek tilt against the Wizards. And what do you know? The one player that wasn’t a complete disaster in that game gets to start. Undrafted rookie Matt Dellavedova supplants injured CJ Miles and Dion Waiters…remember, I compared him to Steve Nash* first. Now, onto tonight’s affair against the vaunted New Orleans Pelicans.
On Saturday night, Mike Brown seemed optimistic about his team looking ahead to the coming week. And he should have been. Not only did the Cavs spend their Saturday in Washington knocking off the Wizards in OT, but the victory took the team into a very rare clear patch in the schedule. Three whole days off, Brown said, meant that the team would actually be able to get some much needed practice time in.
Personally, I expected this game to be a whole lotta Andrew Bynum, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters never being on the court at the same time, and Waiters exploding for 25 points in a “This is why I should be a starter!” off-the-bench performance.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m almost always wrong about things like this.
What three days off got the Cavs was some embarrassingly languid play that led to a 27-point deficit early in the third. Oh, and a new folk hero for Cleveland. Take a bow, Matthew Dellavedova.
The Cavs traveled to the nation’s capital amid stories of a contentious players only meeting after Wednesday’s lackadaisical loss to Minnesota. Dion Waiters was excused from practice Thursday for being “sick” and then missed Friday’s game and this game. The suspicion by myself and others is that Dion was told to stay home. That was just one of the swarm of story lines swirling around this game.
The C:TB mansion is aflame. Nate is passed out, face-in-the-dirt on the front lawn, and Patrick is still shuddering, wild-eyed, occasionally murmuring something incoherent about “The Wet, Black Noise.” I may never learn what horrors befell my staff while I was out buying skirt steak and face wash at Jewel. In lieu of a recap—I must tend to my staff!—this excerpt from Ottessa Moshfegh’s “Bettering Myself” must suffice:
I’d been up on bad cocaine and drinking for days. I’d roped a few men back to my apartment and showed them all my belongings, stretched out flesh-colored tights and proposed we take turns hanging each other. Nobody lasted more than a few hours.
Kyrie Irving finished with 18 points on 5-for-16 shooting. Hold each other close tonight, friends.
After this game, I gave some serious thought to having this recap just be a whole page of absent, vacant space. Just space. Vacant space. But then I had visions of Ricky Rubio threading a pass to Minnesota Player Whomever who would see that space, as wide open as the lanes the Cavaliers were giving them all night, and have yet another uncontested bucket in a game full of un-to-lightly contested buckets. And I would not be a party to furthering the pattern of defensive blahs that buried a never-very-in-it Cavs team tonight. So here is your written word version of Nikola Pekovic. Here is your lane clogger, your big body … your space eater.
Good lord, it’s getting hard to watch these Cavs play basketball. Before I proceed any further, I do want to say that Mike Brown taking what had been a bottom-five defense the last three seasons and turning it into a top-10 defense this year is a HUGE deal, and his focus was clearly on getting his defense installed before his offense, so there is some hope. But objectively, it is hard to watch this team play basketball.
It’s time to say it: Kyrie is having a rough start to the season. His usage has only gone up a hair, but his TS% has gone down a full 10%, and he’s currently 21st among point guards in True Shooting. More disturbingly, it doesn’t look like he’s struggling with his shot that badly, it just looks like he’s trying to pilot an airplane made of refrigerators and stuffed deer tied together. There’s no space for him to work with, he’s not creating angles, and as he gets more frustrated, he’s looking for his own shot more and more aggressively, regardless of the percentage. Since Kyrie is capable of making any shot, it works more often than it should, but he needs to get back to being himself on offense, and soon. We can go chicken-and-egg with the offense struggling and Kyrie struggling all day long, but the bottom line is that the offense is going to struggle until Kyrie starts playing like an All-Star again.
Speaking of guards with no real plan on offense, it’s Dion Waiters! If there was a way to pare Waiters’ game down to his explosive dribble-drives and good, clean jumpers, we’d have one heck of a combo guard on our hands. Instead, Waiters dribbles around the court with blinders on, shoots off-balance midrange jumpers with too much time on the shot clock, and generally plays like a guy who watches a ton of Dwyane Wade and makes a mental note to only do the bad things. There’s a name for a “poor man’s Dwyane Wade.” That name is Randy Foye. This, too, must change.
Jarrett Jack gets described as “solid” so often that it seems odd to see him have a horrible game, but then you remember that “solid” is a euphemism for “not all that talented, as NBA guards go,” remember that the Bulls are really good defensively, and it makes sense.
Onto the good news! Andrew Bynum looked very solid offensively in his first start, and the move he put on Joakim Noah here was highlight-worthy. There’s nothing prettier to me than a great post move, and that one was a beauty. Bynum continues to look better and better, and you’d have to say that him and Thompson, who had another solid double-double on Monday, have been the two most pleasant surprises of the season thus far.
No Super C.J. for the Cavs tonight. I know I tend to be a glass half-empty kind of guy, but I don’t think C.J. Miles thought that C.J. Miles was going to stay top-20 in PER for much longer.
That’s pretty much it. Kudos to the defense, which is harder to see improve, but this offense is brutal. That’s essentially the long and the short of it. There’s no way the Cavaliers make the playoffs without picking it up offensively, and worse yet, the “okay, here’s a ball, and I think the basket is that way” offense is not going to be very enticing for free agents this summer. Until next time, campers.