A tale of two halves again. Tonight, the Cavs put together an offensive masterpiece in the 1st half. In the second, they only managed 31 points. The Grizzlies pounded the Cavs inside – they finished with 50 points in the paint. The Cavs had a chance late, but Zach Randolph was too much to handle. He was kinda like Darth Vader tonight – where you expect the brute strength but forget that he can use the force to do all sorts of clever moves. I guess that makes Mike Brown the Admiral Ackbar of this game, as I imagine he worried that the Cavs’ offensive outburst had them feeling a little too good about their chances. His half-time speech was about as effective as Ackbar’s too-late proclamation, as the Cavs continued to defend poorly in the third quarter, when the game swung out of their favor.
Archive for the ‘Recaps’ Category
Recap: Cleveland 93, Toronto 99 (or how does Amir Johnson’s bum conform to the “rule of verticality”?)Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Before we start, let me just take my objective blogger hat off for a minute, to say: this was the worst officiated game I’ve watched all year. I spend most of the season giving officials the benefit of the doubt: that they do not play favorites and that they do their best to call things both ways. Then I watch a game like this and it makes me question those notions. It seemed as if, all night, the Raptors were allowed to be physical, body up players, flop, and run through Cavalier players to get loose balls and play defense, while Cavs’ players were consistently being called for touch fouls when the Floptors fell over from stiff breezes. It very much reminded me of the despicable Jazz teams from the Sloan era, or the flopping antics of a young Manu Ginobili. And let’s not even talk of my least favorite NBA officiating blunder: the pump fake where the defender jumps, yet comes down in front of the offensive player, and then offensive player throws his shoulder into the defender while he attempts a flailing jump-shot and then gets a whistle (yes, I’m talking about you, Kyle Lowry).
To compound that, Cavaliers like Anthony Bennett were being nitpicked for travel calls, while Terrence Ross and DeMarr DeRozen were getting away with equal or worse violations. (At one point in the fourth, I’m quite sure DeRozan did not have a pivot foot, but had a pivot shoe — as long as one part of the pivot shoe touched the ground, it was not a travel). The fun culminated in the last minute (click the links for video), when the Cavs were down three, and Kyle Lowry drew a charge from Kyrie Irving. Lowry started inside the charge circle when contact started (1:01), and the officials even reviewed the play, yet ruled for Lowry. Thirty seconds later, DeMar DeRozan ran through Tyler Zeller, hip checked Tyler, and got a steal while Zeller crashed to the floor as the whistle remained silent (0:31). 10 seconds later, with the Cavs down five, Kyrie Irving drove for a layup, got thudded by Amir Johnson’s backside knocking him out of the air during a layup (0:21). That last interpretation of the “rule of verticality” would have made Keith Ballard proud. But putting my blogger hat back on, I’m quite sure that my objectivity as a fan clouds my judgment of the pitched battle between the Raptors and the Cavaliers. The fouls were even, both teams shot 24 free-throws, and the turnovers were close. If I was a more objective watcher, I’m sure I’d have seen that the calls all evened out in the end.
The Cavs stretched it to six straight wins tonight, after letting a 21 point lead dwindle to two points. Cleveland gutted out a win and overcame the absences of Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters, and an injury to C.J. Miles. The Cavaliers got some big-time play from all the starters, and just enough from the bench. This was a gut-wrenching victory.
It was a rout for the Cavs with little to note besides a ferocious dunk by Dion and a hyper-extended knee on the landing. The dunk and the scary moment are illustrated above. Though he missed the second half, Dion is thankfully claiming he’s ok. Whew! After taking the lead, 7-5 in the first, the Cavs led the rest of the way and cruised to a blowout over the Sixers, to claim their fifth straight win. The Cavs were engaged, energetic, and performed like they were playing for something, and Philadelphia… did not.
Philly’s lone highlight came in the form of a ceremonial two day contract that they signed Monday with area high-schooler, Kevin Grow, a young man with Down syndrome, who scored 14 points in his final two varsity basketball games. It was a touching moment when Kevin was introduced to the arena tonight, and he was the highlight of the game for Philly fans. The story took a sad turn after the game, though, when Grow called his agent and demanded a trade.
It’s a frigid, snowy NYC Saturday in February. I’ve got two sixers of a wide selection of beers (more on that later!), a fridge full of snacks, and I’m about to order Chinese. That can only mean one thing…
It’s ALL STAR SATURDAY!
As some of you may remember from last year, I absolutely love this night. Old timers taking half court shots? Giannis showing off his ball handling skillz (with a z)? Kyrie draining threes? High flying dunks? COUNT. ME. IN.
So lets get started, folks!
Overview: Led by 25 points on 12-16 shooting and 15 rebounds from Tristan Thompson, the Cavs were able to come back from an early deficit and outscore the Pistons 34-23 in the fourth quarter of a 93-89 win. This is the Cavaliers’ first four-game winning streak since March of 2010.
Well, that’s the way to go into the All-Star Break Bullets:
Definitely a game to write home about from Tristan Thompson. The Pistons’ pick-and-roll defense is some of the worst in the league, and Kyrie and Thompson used everything in their bag of tricks to exploit it. Thompson was absolutely wonderful out there–he was finding space, always moving, and finishing with both hands with confidence. He even sprinkled in a jumper from the baseline, but this was mostly about Thompson stepping up in Varejao’s absence — in fact, he looked more like LeBron-era Varejao cutting to the basket and finishing tonight than Current Anderson Varejao has in the last year or two.
Not Kyrie’s best game, but he didn’t do much crazy, and rarely strangled the offense. He really let the game come to him, and while he struggled with his shot, he was able to make some beautiful passes, got himself into the paint and to the line, and did put the Cavs up four with a pull-up 26-footer with 27 seconds to go, which was nice.
Very quiet game from Dion — not a lot of penetration from him, and just 9 points, as he made everything from inside the arc and none of his threes.
I liked that Deng was aggressive taking the ball to the basket. So did Detroit’s gigantic frontline. The results were ugly: four points in 36 minutes on 0-9 shooting from the field. Yikes.
No real time for the Dellavedova love corner tonight — Will Bynum was just too fast for him, and his abuse of Dellavedova early in the fourth quarter almost put the Cavs in a hole they couldn’t get out of.
Anthony Bennett’s breakout game didn’t have much of a follow-up, with him getting just two points in 15 minutes on 1-4 shooting. I think it’s safe to say that with Bennett’s sleep apnea and asthma, and his overall physical condition, that back-to-backs are not going to be Bennett’s strength this year. I’m willing to ride high on Tuesday’s performance going into the All-Star break.
I’m saying a lot of negative things, so just take this away: This was an ugly game, the defense was solid, and Thompson was really, really good. JONAS THAT.
Bullets of Randomness:
This is a Pistons team with some serious issues. As much as I’ve complained about Kyrie this season, Brandon Jennings is just kinda wandering. 3-14 from the floor, and 11 of his shots were threes. At least three of his shots were LAUGHABLY bad ideas. There’s no sense that he’s setting up any kind of an offense. Andre Drummond is a load and Monroe has skill, but there’s no spacing when they share the floor, and the pick-and-roll defense is horrendous. I was going to rip Josh Smith for his effort, but he played a team-high 40 minutes tonight, so is it surprising that he ran out of gas defensively in the fourth quarter? And he took some bad shots, but HE’S JOSH SMITH AND YOU KNEW THAT WHEN YOU SIGNED HIM AS A SMALL FORWARD.
WINNING STREAK! See you guys after the All-Star Break.
The Cavs played one of their best games of the season despite missing Anderson Varejao and C.J. Miles (or, #1 and #2 in terms of +/- this season). Pretty much everything that has plagued the Cavs was nonexistent tonight. They competed for 48 minutes, they were unselfish with the ball, they generated easy baskets at the rim, they spaced the floor effectively, they contained DeMarcus Cousins, Mike Brown trusted his lineups to play long spurts, Dion and TT finished at the rack, and Anthony Bennett looked, not “ok”, or “coming along”, but like a #1 draft pick, and an excellent fit on this team. [deep breath]