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.
Archive for the ‘Recaps’ Category
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.
Podcast time! After this blowout, Tom and I hopped in the podcast booth to see what this game means (if anything), and what stories it told about the season and the future of this team and its players. Listen at Mixcloud, http://www.mixcloud.com/oldseaminer/ctbpodcastepisode46/.
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…)
The Cavs playoff chances are over now, since the Boston Celtics couldn’t hold off the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter. Yet, I haven’t been happier about the team in a long time. I was working during the game and watched it after I got off, but I was checking in on the score periodically my whole shift.
On a normal Cavs’ game day, I talk myself into the Cavs winning and share those thoughts with my coworkers who are Bulls fans (I live in Chicago). A lot of days, by halftime, they’re laughing at me. That was not the case tonight as the Cavs led by 32 at the half and finished the game up by 22. Matthew Dellevadova scored 14 points to go with 12 assists to compliment Dion Waiters’ 22 points and eight assists.
I attended the game tonight and had a really great time. It was the first game I’ve been too since the “Welcome Home Z” game. The Cavs and Bobcats had lids on the rims in the first half and came alive a bit more in the second. Kyrie hit a big jumper to send the game into OT and had a wide open look for 3 to win the game in OT, but it spun out and the Cavs lost. Charlotte, meanwhile, clinched the playoffs and could face either Indiana or Toronto. The Cavs may not yet be mathematically eliminated but they won’t make the playoffs this season. The good news is they have played much better the last two months. I expect them to springboard off this foundation next October.
Interesting things I noticed:
-The Cavs really put on a show, but at one point it felt a little much. I swear Ahmad Crump was getting us amped up like crazy, with the epic movie scenes and the scream meter for….out of timeout free throws and must-foul situations on inbounds plays. I want that job. I’m officially throwing my hat in the ring as the apprentice in waiting for the job of pumping up Cavs fans. “CUHLEEEEEEEEVELAND! GET. ON. YOUR. FEET. for the 15th ranked defensive rating in the league since February 12.” I’ll work on the delivery. Trust me; this will be great.
-A fan in front of me had his family with him, very nice folks. Because we were in the nose bleeds I couldn’t discern that #12 was Gary Neal. He heard me thinking out loud and told me. I was impressed, but didn’t want to be outdone, so I started spouting off Gary Neal’s journey the last few years to show my moxy. Anyway, I point blank asked the guy if Delly should win the ROY. And instead of laughing, he said “they would never give it to him, but he’s so much better than his stats suggest.” #winning
-Cody Zeller and Tyler Zeller wear the same number 40, run the same way, shoot in a similar way, and just play the game with a familiar set of moves. Cody had a huge rebound late in the game after the Cavs had played solid D for 24 seconds.
-I love staring at the retired jerseys. I am so glad the Cavs honor Joe Tait up there too. I miss Joe. I tried calling a bit of the second quarter as if I were him. It’s really hard. He was so fast. #LegendsofCLE.
-I know this is sort of an already-aired grievance of a few people, including Zach Lowe, but the Cavs overhelp on the PnR, especially Tristan. I think they need to work harder to keep spotted-up 3-point shooters from getting comfortable releases. They seemingly had OCD tonight about sending the big so far out to block the ball-handler from turning the corner. Kemba Walker split that double team (H/T Mark Price) many times and it just seemed like it wasn’t worth all the extra effort and was even a bit risky at times although I didn’t see the Bobcats exploit the slow-retreating big as much as I thought they could.
-Kyrie’s abilities were on full display tonight. I haven’t looked but I assume tonight was his career high for points. He played with effort and intensity on defense the entire night – I was looking for that and I noticed it. There were times he left the wrong man or something but the effort was strong. Good for him. He was feeling it with his shot most of the game but you could still sense frustration in his demeanor. Upset about a few no-calls, hanging his head at times. After he hit a heat-check 3 that sent the crowd into a frenzy, he put his head down and had a very aggravated jog up the court before succumbing to the adoration and deciding to feed off it. He put his hand in the air and asked for even more. At times tonight you could tell he didn’t want to take over but he saw no other options. The Bobcats are a very good defensive team and they really defended the Cavs well tonight. Irving almost overcame them by himself.
-There was a sequence in the 1st half where Alonzo Gee hit the side of the backboard and then Gary Neal did likewise at the other end. Points were an epic struggle in the second quarter.
-The refs let a ton of contact go, especially in the first half. I love it. No need to slow down the game every time players touch each other. As the game went on they called it a bit tighter. I didn’t see the foul when Dion missed the two handed dunk.
-Kyrie probably makes the final shot 6 out of 10 times. He was WIDE open, spotted up at the top of the key. He looked pretty upset he missed it. But I was pleased with the inbounds play to get him so open!
-Spencer Hawes fired up a three-quarter-court shot after securing the rebound on the final free throw that missed. He could have passed to someone else upcourt or taken a few dribbles, I think he had two and a half seconds or more. He just immediately heaved it with two hands. From that distance in NBA Jam it’s an underhanded uppercut heave. #seasonofhuh?
-Kyrie and Dion were displaying positive interactions all throughout the game, even when Dion wasted a possession in the midst of a Kyrie scoring barrage for some reason.
-I really get a kick out of fans participating in half court contests or timed shooting drills. I’ve seen some epic ones at the Q. Tonight, a decently athletic looking guy had to make seven free throws in 30 seconds. “EZ” I thought. Well, he airballs the first one by 4 feet. Airballs the second one by 2 feet, front-rims the 3rd, rims out a few, and then he front-rims one in. And another: front, back, in. Then net, and net, and net, net, net….and they just made him stop at 7! I think he was a machine and once he calibrated the distance he would have made 100 in a row! It was not what I expected, someone with that form and touch shouldn’t airball the first two.
-Seems some of the other “local Cavalier writers” have either corroborated Windy’s “Kyrie’s camp sez” information or expressed frustration similar to Irving. I won’t say who they are or link you to them though.
-I got to meet Mark Price after the game. We spoke for a few minutes and he thanked me for the #CavsRank tribute I wrote here a week ago. It’s pretty surreal meeting your childhood hero. I probably bumbled like an idiot. We talked about the Bobcats playoff seeding and he seemed to intimate that he thought Toronto was a better match up for them even though he agreed with me that Indiana is struggling.
-I presented him with a framed commemoration of #CavsRank and he seemed to enjoy it although I’m not sure he had actually seen the #CavsRank list before. I hope he likes it. There seemed to be some old friends of his there too, waiting to meet him. He held it up and looked at them and said something like “The blog had a ranking of players…and I won!” Indeed. It was fitting that on this night they showed Price on the jumbotron with his career stats overlayed and he received a roaring ovation. He stood up and acknowledged the crowd.
This was a depressing one, Cavalier faithful. For the Cavs playoff hopes, this game could only be described as a “must win.” Unfortunately, Cleveland came out flat and failed to match the energy and focus of the Atlanta Hawks. As a result, Cleveland was dominated on offense and defense by the Hawks, who won in a rout. Cleveland shot 39.6% while Atlanta shot 58.5%, and 48% from three. While the Cavs are mathematically alive for the playoffs, they trail Atlanta by four games in the loss column. This means that even if the Cavs go 5-0 over their final five, Atlanta only has to has to go 3-4 to make the the playoffs, as they own the tiebreakers. As Campy Russell said, “It wasn’t the loss that hurt so much as the way they lost.” Cleveland’s body language was subdued all night, they lacked energy and fire, and their communication and execution on offense and defense seemed non-existent. For the umpteenth time this season, Cleveland failed to compete.
The Cavs completely dominated the Magic. Any worry that CavsNation had about Kyrie and Dion playing together were quickly dispelled. They were completely unstoppable and played the way we’ve been begging them to play for over a year. Kyrie was incredible, finishing 7-8 from the field, converting a bunch of awesome contested shots at the rack, and playing the role of distributor/defense-magnet quite well. Waiter was 10 of 15 shooting. He splashed all three of his 3s, and nine of his other 12 shots were taken in the paint. Perfect. Spencer Hawes, TRUE PATRIOT, flashed his passing and his 3-point stroke and Tristan Thompson was too much to handle. He made all eight of his free throws. Jarrett Jack and SuperDOVA managed the PG position well and Jack threw down a huge dunk. (I’m serious!) The execution tonight was just insurmountable, whether the Magic cared about winning or not. Even the shots the Cavs missed were open. They finished with 62 points in the paint and scored 70 points in the first. The Cavs are making it interesting!
Nate and I hopped in the ole podcast booth to talk at length about the Cavs. Mallory is in the process of posting to SoundCloud and iTunes, but, for now, the Podcast is available at Mixcloud
Tune in to find out about the game, the playoff race, #CavsRank, who the best dressed bench Cav is, which Cavalier legend I get to meet this weekend, and the details of our bet on whether the Cavs make the playoffs. Go Cavs!
Today’s matinee loomed large for the Cavs’ fleeting playoff hopes, entering three games behind Atlanta and trailing New York by 1.5, with none of the teams having more than ten games left to play. Normally, playing the Pacers, sans Kyrie, would look like another nail in the coffin of this season. In a brutal March that features 18 games though, Indiana has won only 8 of 16. Their offense is completely dysfunctional and their defense declined from “historic” to “very good”. Playing at the Q, it seemed the Cavs had a chance.
Cleveland traveled to Brooklyn, tonight, nursing a three game win streak, with a chance to make up ground on Atlanta and New York. Unfortunately, Mike Brown and the Cavs contracted amnesia and completely forget about the last time that the Cavs played the Nets or the fact that the previous game gave the entire NBA a blueprint for beating Cleveland: make Tristan Thompson guard outside shooters. Instead, Brown decided that playing Tristan Thompson at power forward against Paul Pierce could somehow be effective, even though Pierce and Teletovic destroyed TT last time they played. Thompson, bless his heart, cannot guard 3-point shooters, and could not resist the urge to consistently drift toward the key. This didn’t stop coach Brown from trying to beat a square a dead horse into a round hole in the ground as Brooklyn gleefully launched wide open 3s throughout the game, making 14 of them at a clip of 48.3%. The flawed game plan ultimately doomed them, as Brown tried to find ways to guard the Nets stretch lineups and still score points. He failed at both those tasks.