Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The Point Four-ward: MVP! MVP?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

First, if you haven’t read David’s excellent recap of last night’s win over the Celtics, do that first. Then, continue on to—

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) All of the MVP talk that sprouted up around James following the Cavs brilliant performance against the Golden State Warriors last Thursday got me to thinking: what is the most number of games a player has missed in a season and still won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award?

In two games this past week, James came out with guns blazing against the current MVP front-runners, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Stephen Curry of the Warriors. Against the Warriors, James was magnificent, scoring 42 points on 15-25 shooting in what turned into a relatively easy victory against the team with (at the time) the league’s best record. Against Houston, James shot poorly (15-25 from the floor, 3-11 from the free throw line) but played as spirited and springy on defense as he has in a very long time. Regardless of how it ended, put his team in the position to win a game on the road against one of the league’s best teams without the help of the team’s all-star point guard.

Did James do enough in those two games to convince me that he’s still the game’s best player?

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The Point Four-ward: The Unofficial Stretch Run

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers as they pick back up after the All-Star break…

1.) You may have read the following comment from LeBron James following Sunday’s All-Star Game and raised your eyebrows just a bit.

Asked about his aggressive first quarter of the showcase game (in which he scored 15 points on 6-9 shooting in eight-plus minutes) James said:

It’s my obligation and my responsibility to go out there, if I’m feeling 80 percent or 85 percent or 90, to go out there and give my fans something. Give my fans what they wanted to see. And hopefully I did that.

The good news is that James viewed himself at somewhere between 80-90 percent on a day where he was still looking at several days off before picking the season back up again on Friday night. He also threw out those percentages after he’d scored 30 points on 11-21 shooting with five rebounds and seven assists in a performance that would have surely netted James the game MVP award had the East not fallen to the West 163-158.

So, 80-90 percent of LeBron James is still pretty darned good.

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All-Star Roundup, and who Would Help the Cavs? — w/ a Haywood Contract Update

Monday, February 16th, 2015

LeBron moved into second place all time in All-Star game scoring with 30 points last night– including 15 in the first eight minutes — but he missed his third MVP trophy when Russell Westbrook went off for 41 points to lead the West to an All-Star game victory last night.

There was a flurry of fluff over the weekend, and it’s impossible to list every interview or soundbite, but one thing of note, LeBron James was elected Vice President of the NBPA, joining president Chris Paul as the top players in the union power hierarchy. Count me in the group that thinks having two max players at the top is bad for the rank and file NBA guys. Their focus is going to on improving contracts for the guys at the top of the salary structure, not the middle or the bottom. Of course, I’m an old school prole. I’m always wary of the rich. If there’s one guy who knows how to leverage his image for gain, it’s James. For all the LeBron news about him holding court at the All-Star game, click here.

J.R. Smith provided my highlight of the weekend (above), by participating in the NBA All Star Weekend fashion show, SI reports.

With the All-Star game in the books, the talk now turns to the NBA trade deadline, which is Thursday the 19th at 3PM. The Cavs are in the middle of a few rumors, but nothing is really concrete. Let’s take a look at who’s out there in trade or as a free agent, and who could help the Cavs. While the Cavs’ biggest needs are probably another big and another guard, they’d add a wing if the price was right.

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The Point Four-ward: Fit In, Fit On, Fit Out

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

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Four things I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) LeBron James loves his teammates.

Sorry… change that. LeBron James loves to love his teammates.

From his days playing at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary with Dru Joyce III, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Romeo Travis, to his days as a Cavalier and thier elaborate choreographed pre-game introductions, James has always seemed most comfortable when his team exudes a family atmosphere. When they’re close. When everybody fits in.

So, it wasn’t shocking to see that this weekend, as his new version of the Cavaliers continues to round into form, that James would address what he saw as the team’s squeakiest wheel going forward: power forward, Kevin Love.

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The Point Four-ward: Keep Streak Alive!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

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Four things I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Thursday’s game against the Clippers will be a good measuring stick for these Cavs — and it comes at just the right time. The Cavs just played three of the worst teams in the league in the Sixers, Wolves and Kings and, while it would be unfair to say that the team has gotten bored of Avenge-a-palooza 2015, serving steaming piles of roundball comeuppance to a rogues gallery of disheartening losses, finally seeing a team that also plans to be playing deep into May and June (and one looking to avenge its own disheartening loss, a 126-121 Cavs win in L.A. on January 16th) is exactly what the Cavs need to resharpen their focus and keep this winning streak going.

Thus far, the Cavs have had some trouble piling it on against lesser 0pponents. Last Friday against Sacramento, the Cavs managed only 15 points in the fourth quarter, letting the Kings back into a game that should have been well out of reach. The next night in Minnesota, the young Wolves team (sporting the league’s worst defense) were actually leading the Cavs in the second half, before the Cavs defense (still sporting its new car smell) put the strangle hold on in the fourth. Then Monday night, those scrappy Sixers, got within two points in the fourth before Matthew Dellavedova stepped in to blow their candles out.

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The Point Four-ward: How Buddy Ball Won Out

Friday, January 30th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) This time last season, I couldn’t have expected I’d be uttering the following statement: the two Cavaliers players I most enjoy watching this season are Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.

Now, sure, even before Wednesday night’s Kyrie-a-thon, that’s not the craziest thing in the world to say. It’s not like saying I’m tuning in just for the chance to see three glorious minutes of Mike Miller or James Jones. But this time last year, I was firmly on Team Dion and was more than open to criticizing the highly-susceptible-to-criticism play of Irving and Thompson, a.k.a. Team Buddy Ball.

But here we are now…

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Resisting the Urge

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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The Cavs have been linked to quite a few different players of late, from the recently released Nate Robinson and Jordan Farmar to China’s Bobby Brown and Will Bynum. Heck, there’s even been talk about bringing in Golden Buckeye candidates, Tayshaun Prince and Ray Allen. The Cavs, though, should resist any temptation to mess with the roster right now. I know, I know. This from the guy who said about a dozen times that you can never have too many “bullets in the gun,” but after my lamentations about roster construction earlier this year, David Griffin went out and brought in three rotation players that have markedly changed the talent level of the starting lineup and the bench. Those moves worked, LeBron got healthy, and now the team is winning. So don’t screw it up! The Cavs brass should resist the urge to mess with the roster. They should respect the streak, learn from team history, and not sacrifice the team’s future.

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The Point Four-ward: Backcourt Bliss

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

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First off, if you haven’t listened to Nate, Tom and Ben’s mid-season Cavs: The Podcast, what are you waiting for??

Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Kyrie Irving is really winning me back over this season.

While everyone (CtB included) was quick to heap praise on the performance of newly-acquired center Timofey Mosgov in the Cavs 108-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls, Monday night, for me, was all about Irving.

It wasn’t his greatest shooting performance (7-16 for 18 points and only got to the free throw line four times) but watching Irving play surrounded by talent is to remember just the type of amazing plays he’s capable of on an every-time-down-the-floor basis. In fact — and it pains me to say this — he may have already passed LeBron James in that regard.

This is not to say that Irving is a better player than James. The Cavs recent losing streak with James out showed that, no, Irving still does not know how to win in this league. Too often, his brand of hero ball seems to send the Cavs to the wrong side of the win/loss column. He walks the ball up too much rather than pushing it. But, as we saw from Irving in the FIBA tournament this summer, when he seems to feel more trust in the players around him, Irving can look like one of the best players in the league.

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Lessons from the Bench

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

We’ve all been thinking a lot about David Blatt, lately. Questions float around in our head… Why isn’t this working? Is it the players? Is it the coach? Is it the waning moon? Did I move my life-size cutout of LeBron too close to my stuffed Moondog, and thus cancel out their energies? It’s true that there’s no single reason the Cavs are struggling. A new person is assigned as blame tampon each week…. Mike Miller, Delly, Sir C.C., Kevin Love, and this week, David Blatt. Having a little bit of coaching experience, myself, I thought I’d offer some advice. You see, I’ve coached girl’s basketball for the last three years as my oldest has matriculated from third to fifth, so I can empathize with what coach Blatt is going through. Coaching in the NBA is a lot like coaching fifth grade girls, right?

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The Point Four-ward: A Personal Blatt-ack?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

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If you haven’t read David Wood’s excellent recap of last night’s loss to the Suns, get on it!

Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) The fallout over David Blatt’s comments after the Cavs loss in Sacramento that Kevin Love is “not a max player yet” should come as a surprise to no one. Blatt has always been known as a fiery guy who, thus far in his career (storied abroad, though it may be) hasn’t had to deal with as many of the finer points of player ego-massaging as he has this season, his first in the NBA. While he has ladled freely from the soup of praise when talking about his players, Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, in particular, there was bound to be a moment when Blatt, understandably frustrated following a 19-point drubbing by a Kings squad where his team played unengaged, uninspired and… well, basically un-anything-good, would release a little steam. Unfortunately, his pressure check was in front of the media and at the apparent expense of the player who, should he leave after just one season in wine and gold, would leave the team with a lot of gold — from the yolk running down their collective face — to show for it.

Do I think Blatt thinks Love is a bad player? Absolutely not. I think Blatt believes his starting power forward is a very talented offensive player — one of the more versatile offensive bigs in the league — but to say that Blatt, in his most private moments, is without criticism of Love is probably unrealistic, as well. Blatt later backpedaled saying that what he meant was that Love has not yet signed a max contract with the Cavs and didn’t want to be accused of tampering by suggesting that those kind of discussions were had with Love.

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