Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The Point Four-ward: Fantasy Versus Reality

Monday, October 20th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Well, the bloom is officially off the rose. The Cavaliers have lost. All the tiny cracks and fissures Cavs fans have seen in their team over the first four preseason games finally busted open full and wide in the team’s 108-102 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The turnovers. The consistently inconsistent implementation of David Blatt’s new offense. The porous defense. The less-than-fully-active roster. All of those were on full display and, in the end, the result was predictably not in the Cavaliers’ favor.

Now (he says for about the millionth time), most of this is just preseason stuff. Coach Blatt is clearly choosing to have his club ready to begin the season physically, even if that means making sacrifices in cohesion that result in all of the above. Friday was Kevin Love’s and Shawn Marion’s turns to sit, meaning Blatt hasn’t had his full roster to play with in-game since the Cavs’ preseason opening win against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

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The Point Four-ward: Keepin’ That Bench Warm

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) The preseason is a time, much like one’s college years, where a certain amount of experimentation is to be expected, so too much shouldn’t necessarily be made of where one’s decisions might get one. For instance, there was a point in the final minutes of the first quarter of the Cavs’ 107-80 preseason win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday where head coach David Blatt’s substitution pattern yielded a lineup of Matthew Dellavedova, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, Anderson Varejao and Lou Amundson. This group saw a grand total of 90 seconds of action together, but it did highlight that, for the bevy of players the Cavs have who can routinely create their own shot, they are still capable of putting a five-man unit that is… well, decidedly less able to do that.

I know, I know, it was 90 seconds. That’s all. In fact, it was a 90 seconds where the Cavs even outscored Tel Aviv 6-3. But if you take away Dellavedova’s buzzer beating J with three defenders on him, that 90 seconds was essentially the Cavaliers’ version of the Island of Misfit Toys and featured such unlikely plays as Varejao feeding the ball to Amundson like he was Amundson’s grandmother (and Amundson finishing off his plays like he was, say, my grandmother). Marion didn’t look comfortable trying to create for himself, missing an eight foot hook shot right before Delly’s heroics, and, Miller didn’t take a shot as part of this lineup.

In fact, Varejao’s insistence that he and Amundson become the next Steve Nash-to-Amar’e Stoudemire seemed like it was done partly in fun (and only partly, you know, because Amundson was open under the hoop) as you could almost see the players in that lineup look around and said, “Really? With these guys??”

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The Point Four-ward: Calm Before Storm

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Last year and forever ago...

Last year and forever ago…

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) The Cleveland Cavaliers will hold their annual pre-Training Camp Media Day this Friday, September 26 at Cleveland Clinic Courts. No actual basketball will be played, with the only chance of sweat to be broken coming in the unlikely event that someone feels it appropriate to ask LeBron James about his “hairline rumors.” Still, Media Day is the grand public preening, the public’s first look at the 2014-15 Cavaliers assembled together, the Memorial Day to the wonderful summer that is the NBA season (which, somewhat contradictorily, takes place almost entirely during the winter… but you get the idea).

2.) With the addition of A.J. Price and Lou Amundson, Cavs General Manager David Griffin has said the team’s training camp roster, now featuring a full 20 players, is set. Or, rather, it’s set until it’s not. Griffin has made it clear that the team is still interested in adding Ray Allen, should the 39-year old guard decide he wants to play this year. There will also continue to be rumors linked to whatever big man du jour people think could help shore up the team’s biggest on-paper weakness.

So, here’s who the Cavs have busy at home writing their names on the tags of their underwear as they prepare to go to camp:

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Bring the World Some Extra ‘Zine

Friday, September 19th, 2014

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If you’re a regular reader of Cavs: the Blog, part of the reason (we hope) is that you enjoy good, fresh, engaging writing about (what we assume is) your favorite basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If the above statement is true — and you’ve never had a pleasure to get your hands on any of the previous four installments of CavsZine: The Bible of Cavs Fandom — well, you’re in luck. The fine folks at CavsZine, which features writing from your favorite local and national Cavs scribes, Cavs-centric illustrations, humor… oh, and some of the most amazing free goodies (see CavsZine exlusive Mark Price sticker above, for example) this side of a free Taco Bell chalupa on game night.

This year, with the aid of their first Kickstarter campaign, Cleveland Jackson, Alex Raffalli and company are upping the ‘Zine’s production to better be a Bible of Fandom for a championship contending team.

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Prince Kyrie Most Valuable He, All-FIBA

Monday, September 15th, 2014

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Kyrie Irving and the USA Men’s National team won the FIBA World Cup of Basketball over the weekend and received gold medals for their efforts. After they routed Serbia in the final game, 129-92, Kyrie was named to the all-tournament team, and named tournament MVP. This is a stunning rise for Irving, who was not even the USA’s projected starter when the tournament began. After finishing 30th in points per game, and 18th in assists for the tournament, the award was unexpected. But while Harden was the top scorer for team USA, and Kenneth Faried brought unexpected and much needed energy to the squad, Irving was the man who steadied the ship for the team throughout the tournament. For the first time since I’ve watched him, Irving received accolades not as much for scoring, but for things that don’t always show up in the box score: defense, hustle, leadership, and selfless play. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that he went 6-6 from three in the final game and shot over 60% for the tourney). If this season marks the return of the King to Cleveland, Kyrie must surely be crowned prince.

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The Point Four-ward: When Steady Is Exciting

Friday, September 12th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Kyrie Irving drew some compliments from commentators Marc Kestecher and Fran Fraschilla during ESPN’s broadcast of Team USA’s 96-68 win over Lithuania in the semi-finals of the FIBA World Cup. During the fourth quarter, Fraschilla mentioned how “steady” Irving has been throughout this tournament, adding that when you think about Irving’s performances it’s difficult to pick out a bad one. Irving has been “average” at worst, and generally “very, very good.”

Irving, who played a team high 34:27 minutes on Thursday, also led the team in scoring with 18 points. His +19 was second only to James Harden’s +20.

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The +/- Fun Zone

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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Back in April, Cavs: The Blog writer Tom Pestak took a ton of time to try and figure out which Cavs two man units were the most effective using plus-minus data for individual players and plus-minus data for two man units.  To make some sense of that data, a little math was required.  Plus-minus (PM) numbers don’t take into account how many minutes players and lineups played, so it needs to be adjusted to be looked at as a per 48 minute rate.  Once that rate is figured out it can be used for all sorts of fun stuff.  By comparing players’ expected PM/48 in lineups to their lineup’s actual on the court PM/48, you can see how well the players made magic together.  If the numbers match up, then the unit played average, but if the two numbers are drastically different, the unit either under-performed or over-performed.

Tom did this exhaustive exercise for two man units on the Cavs. The conclusion: everything commonly thought was more or less wrong.  CJ Miles was a beast, Andy V and Matty D made everyone better, and Kyrie only exceeded an expected PM/48 number when playing with Miles.

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The Point Four-ward: Getting Way, Way, Way Ahead of Ourselves

Friday, September 5th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) I caught up with fellow Truehooper Graydon Gordian earlier this week. Graydon is Editor Emeritus of the Spurs’ blog 48 Minutes of Hell and this finally-August-hot September evening was the first time we’d talked hoops since the Cavs’ Hulked-Out off-season began. Possibly because I immediately demurred to his own loyalties (“There’s no way I want any part of the Spurs, should the Cavs make the Finals this year,” said I) we strolled down Hypothetical Way, talking about the likely Western Conference contenders and how, should all of the 950,000 things that must go right for any team to dream of playing into late-June go right for the Cavs this year, each of them might match up against the wine and gold from Nor’thrn ‘Hia.

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Underrated Andy

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Sorry, Kyrie, but Anderson Varejao is the third most important player on the 2014-2015 Cavs. I came to this conclusion as I watched Andy outplay his starting teammates, Tiago Splitter and Nene, in a losing effort versus Spain, Monday. In a game in which Pau Gasol looked as good as he has in six years, Varejao played very well, and reminded us that his presence is vital if Cleveland is to contend for a championship this season.

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For the Love Of…!

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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It’s impossible to say something that hasn’t already been said about the this off-season.  We’re all aware of the impact on the league and the region, and we’re also aware of the potential consequences that come with trading Wiggins and Bennett.  I’m not here to put the last three months into an NBA context because I wont be able to contribute anything fresh (and, lets be honest, no one really knows what will happen this season or any future season). More, I think the largest unspoken impact this summer has had, and the impact that has been largely overlooked, is on a fanbase dying for something to be positive about.

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