Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The Case for Cleveland

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

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Editor’s Note: This piece was written before the events of Sunday, but I believe it is more relevant now than ever. As someone who didn’t grow up in northeast Ohio, but adopted it as my home and chose to raise a family here, this piece resonates with me. I believe a Cleveland championship is still within this team’s grasp. I believe that, at their best, sports have the ability to elevate and unify us as citizens of this great country and this great state. That is something worth hoping for. We all could use a dose of hope today. Hope and anticipation always trump despair and worry when rolling over the potholes on the road to a goal. Thanks for writing this, Cory. -Nate

We all have to come from somewhere and have little choice in the matter. A long time ago, ambitious men drew lines on paper to divvy up soil to segregate ourselves from one another, and our minds are so powerful, or so weak, that today we believe that those boundaries are natural. As time passed those lines defined where we were from and who we are. Different sets of customs, speech and mores arose. Where you’re from is probably something simple like where your grandfather found work or where your mother forgot to take a pill. For Northeast Ohioans, that work was breaking their bodies in the mile long mills that built America. Coke ovens spitting out heat so hot that it would make the devil himself blush forged the ivory tower of the American Empire. Our lines are often described as flyover country, a place to ignore in between the flight between the coasts. It’s a time and place to be forgotten. Every passing year, the powerful marriage of iron and carbon is forgotten a little more, and the red headed bastard child slowly percolates. The rust is swallowed by the rich glacial soil that once feed our grandfathers. The rust is in our rivers and lakes. The rust is in our corn and apples. The rust is in the breast milk we feed our young.

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The Point Four-ward: The Ballad of the Slow Gunslinger

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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

1.) Nothing about the Cavs overall performance in their first two playoff games against the Boston Celtics really qualifies as reason for alarm. The Cavs have taken care of business winning Games 1 and 2 by 11 and nine points respectively. Some expected the Cavs to steamroll the Celtics a little more than they have, but these games have shown the Boston squad to be made of just the type of pluck and gumption that makes for a good story this time of year.

A good story, though, does not a winning team make.

This doesn’t mean the Cavs have played fault-free ball since the league’s second season tipped off. In fact, one of the things that has been most troubling about this Cavs team so far is that they seem to need to take a good shot from a more spirited opponent before playing their best ball.

The Celtics, it turns out, are in no short supply of shots.

The Cavs have started both games slowly, giving the Celtics shooters (I mean, if that’s what you want to call Marcus Smart…) space and allowing relatively easy access to the rim, while the Celtics have been draped over LeBron James and Kyrie Irving from jump.

So far, this Cavs team is the rare slow gunslinger who may not get off the first shot, but, in the end, is still able to walk away from the showdown.

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The Point Four-ward: A Merciful End to the Regular Season

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers on the final day of the 2014-15 NBA regular season…

1.) While the Celtics won’t be pushovers in the first round, it’s clear why the Cavs would prefer to play a relatively young Boston team over a resurgent (until the last two games, anyway) Brooklyn team and a Pacers team who have given the Cavs problems all year and just got their star player, Paul George, back for the stretch run and likely beyond.

The Celtics are hot at exactly the right time. Winners of four straight and seven of the last ten, head coach Brad Stevens’ squad ranks third in points per game (111.5), third in assists per game (26.3) and first in steals (13.3) over the ten game span prior to Tuesday night’s game against Toronto.

Also, in the month of April the Celtics have been allowing only 97.4 points per 100 possessions, good for fifth best in the league. They feature a dangerous scorer in Isaiah Thomas (20.7 points and 5.5 assists in April) and some lively big bodies in Brandon Bass and former Cavalier Tyler Zeller to go along with an absolutely dogged perimeter defense led by Avery Bradley and rookie Marcus Smart.

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The Point Four-ward: Looking (Somewhat Ambitiously) Ahead

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) J.R. Smith’s three point explosion against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday (8-17 FGs… all three pointers) had many Cavs fans on Twitter talking about the team’s starting two guard and his contract status. After all, Smith has a player option for just under $6.4 million for next season. If he were playing like he was as a member of the New York Knicks earlier this season, Smith likely would have picked up that option. And, right now, $6.4 million for the type of production Smith is providing is a bargain.

In Cleveland, Smith has thrived and the team has thrived with him. Cavs head coach David Blatt has referred to Smith as “a godsend” and LeBron James has said the 6-8 Smith has been “everything we needed and more.”

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The Point Four-ward: Delly Roll(ing)?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Matthew Dellavedova may have saved his spot in the rotation with a strong recent six game stretch.

Prior to the trade deadline, the Cavs were known to be looking to shore up their back-up point guard spot. As previously discussed in this column, the Cavs were seriously considering former NBA players then playing in China who would become free agents at the conclusion of the CBA season.

Following an early-season knee injury, Dellavedova was still showing all of the grit and hustle that has made him beloved by each of the last two Cavaliers head coaches. Only now he seemed a step slow(er) and his offense had taken a dip, going from “feisty” to just “showing the occasional twitch.”

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An Open Letter to Earl Joseph Smith, III

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Dear Earl,

I have two words for you… I’m sorry.

I don’t know if you’ve already heard this mea culpa sentiment from other former doubters, haters or pessimists, but I for one can say in all honesty that I completely misjudged what your impact on this team would be from the start. (more…)

The Point Four-ward: What Is And What Should Never Be

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Not long after Steve Nash announced his retirement last week, this story broke: had Nash asked for a buyout from the Lakers around the trade deadline, the Cavs had interest in bringing the 18-year vet on board to spell Kyrie Irving for limited minutes. The move made some sense because a.) LeBron James has always been a big Nash fan b.) both Cavs GM David Griffin and Director of Player Administration Raja Bell are close with Nash from their time together with the Phoenix Suns and c.) the Cavs, at least at the time they were considering this move, were looking to shore up their backup point guard spot.

Nash, however, chose to stay a Laker, the organization with which he wanted to end his career. And, really, you have to wonder if Nash would have been able to give the Cavs even the 10-15 minutes a night they were looking for, as he has not played in a game all season and has only played 65 games for the Lakers since they acquired him prior to the 2012-13 season.

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Kevin Love is Not Fitting In (to your Preconceived Notions of Kevin Love Fitting In)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

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Editors Note: This piece was published with editorial contributions from Nate Smith and EvilGenius, and with scouting contributions from Ben Werth. Also, please check out David Wood’s Links to the Present published earlier today.

On January 13, the Cavaliers lost their sixth game in a row to drop below .500 (19-20).  Kevin Love played particularly poorly, shooting 3-11 from the floor and posting a team-worst -19 in under 27 minutes.  He rode the pine for the entire fourth quarter.  (It was not the first time Love had been benched for the entire fourth quarter of a non-blowout: on December 26th, Coach Blatt, searching for answers, ran with an ultra-small lineup of LeBron-Delly-Dion-MMiller-TT in the fourth quarter and it worked – the Cavs outscored the Magic 27-14 and won by nine.)  Despite the fact that Markieff Morris (or as LeBron referred to him “one of the Morris twins”) torched King James in the fourth, Kevin Love’s lackluster defense and poor shooting was the story of the game, and the “Kevin Love’s Not Fitting In” theme was an undeniable reality of the young (but not that young) season. But ten weeks later, is that “theme” still even relevant?

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The Hinkie Letters — Part II: “Demagogues and Lemmings”

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Editor’s Note: Tuesday, we published Part I in this series of letters between Tom Pestak, myself, and reader/commenter, Mac on the state of team building in the NBA. The discussion veered off into some pretty unexpected territory: philosophy, generational tendencies, religion… The piece garnered some of the most thoughtful and interesting comments of any article at CtB in some time, and for that, I thank you all. So much has happened since we started these letters. First, the fateful day that Tom wrote us all and said, “Are we sure Mac isn’t Andrew Sharp in disguise?” Sharp’s piece in Grantland (a piece I’ve avoided reading), mirrored so much of what we were talking talking about that Tom and Mac wondered if he was reading our original comments section. The article actually pushed back the publication of this series. Additionally, the Sixers bought out Javale McGee for 100 cents on the dollar, and Sixers bloggers who more are blindly loyal than Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister praised the move. (I stole that Joke from Mac). Hoop76’s, Eric Goldwein wrote a piece that filled Mac with so much rage that he had to watch some old Lewis Black bits on youtube to remind himself “how unattractive it looks to be a goofy guy shaking with anger about some triviality.” Additionally, the first part of this series garnered so many great comments that I’ve even re-written some of my final passages to reference them. The effect may make my final response read more like an epilogue than an organic response, but you guys are too good to ignore.

From the desk of Mac:

Nate, I agree with you, if there is actually a process and it is a good one and it gets good results, nothing wrong with that. But too often these days calling something “a process” is a lot like declaring “it is what it is” . . . it is just a placeholder for having something useful to say.

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The Point Four-ward: More Rest For The Wicked?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Count me among those who were actually surprised to see LeBron James suited up for Monday night’s game against the Miami Heat. After tweaking his knee in Sunday’s game against Orlando, James, who has spoken publicly of his desire to get some more rest before the playoffs start, chose to stay in for this road contest against his former team (and, likely, because of that).

After a couple of months in which James has sat out the occasional game on occasion (most recently, at home against Portland and on the road against Indiana) in order to give his body a couple more days to get right, James played, only to aggravate a wrist injury (in a collision with Hassan Whiteside) for his troubles.

Cavs head coach David Blatt has stated his desire for the Cavs to hold onto the second seed in the East going into the playoffs, so it’s unlikely that James will take off as lengthy a stretch as he did in December into January. Especially with the team resting Kevin Love, the Cavs need James if they are to win enough games to give Number 23 a prolonged rest.

As of now, Love is expected to play tonight against the Brooklyn Nets, though nothing definite has been announced.

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