Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

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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LeBron is Back & Thoughts on the Buckeyes

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Even Damon Jones is Happy

Honestly, this post is just an excuse to post the above picture of LeBron surrounded by much shorter humans (including Damon Jones, and a man on the left with a glorious mullet). While I’m at it, I’ll share the news that despite being a “game time decision,” tonight, most expect Mr. James to play in Phoenix. I’d be shocked if the King gallivanted around the country with his entourage after two weeks of rehab, and then didn’t play tonight.

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The Point Four-ward: Wait(ers) No More

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

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

1.) Speaking purely from that place where we sports fans can still grow attached to players in purely sentimental ways, I will miss Dion Waiters very much. He was the first professional athlete I ever interviewed face-to-face and I’ll always be a sucker for his unique personality which always seemed to be running on those parallel tracks of inflated self-regard and never feeling properly regarded.

I was firmly in the camp that thought Waiters could experience a real break-through in his this season, his third. But I was also one of the people (along, apparently, with the crossed fingers of everyone else on the Cavs) who thought Waiters would be able to adapt to playing with LeBron James, becoming more of a catch-and-shoot player who could focus on being a stout defender with the starters and sate his appetite for dribble-driving against second units. That, it turned out, wasn’t Waiters game.

So, I thought he could be an offensive spark plug off the bench… and sometimes he was. But if his long-two jumper wasn’t falling, the positives that the team got from Waiters dropped off a cliff. I’d defended Waiters for his whole Cavs career, but even I found myself saying to a friend over the weekend, “This might just not be working [with Waiters].”

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The Case for Saint Weirdo

Monday, January 5th, 2015

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One of the more divisive topics here at CtB, is former writer Colin McGowan’s brilliant article on Pete Beatty’s anagram nickname of “Saint Weirdo” for Dion Waiters. If you aren’t familiar with anagrams, it’s a word play that dates back to Moses, in which you rearrange the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase using all of the letters exactly once. The goal of a skilled anagrammatist is to produce an anagram that reflects upon the subject-Saint Weirdo achieves that on multiple levels.

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The Point Four-ward: New Year’s Daze

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic

 

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

1.) A lot of what I’m going to say here is anecdotal rather than analytical. These are points and ideas born from conversations I’ve been having over the last couple of holiday weeks. They are more temperature-taking than anything else but, as with other recent Cavaliers seasons, I’ve found it useful to see exactly at what point the fan base (and myself) go completely off the rails. That point could well be now.

The overriding feeling of those I’m talking to is the same as mine: these Cavs just aren’t any fun.

And it’s not looking to get any more fun if, as reported today, LeBron James misses the next two weeks nursing a holiday cookie tray of injuries (or, more precisely, diagnosed strains to his ailing knee and back).

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