Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category

Sizing up the Southwest: The San Antonio Spurs

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Last season: Evil triumphed over good, and the Spurs lost a HEART-BREAKING (but ridiculously entertaining) 7 game series to the Axis of Ego.  Had it not been for the gut wrenching disbelief that followed game 6 and into game 7, I’d have ranked this the best Finals since the Bulls once again denied Stockton and Malone that elusive NBA championship banner.  Had it not been for LeBron James’ epic bricks that missed so badly that normal rebounds didn’t apply, the NBA landscape, and championship paradigm, could look dramatically different today.  The Spurs should have defeated the most devastating collection of talent in decades with the following recipe: fundamental, unselfish offense, featuring mostly pick and rolls, help defense that rarely fouls, and (over)reliance on limited role-players.  They are the anti-Heat – a team predicated on physicality, drawing fouls, and defending with positionless, ultra-athletic (and long) players capable of switching everything.  Most importantly, they were assembled organically, like the underdog Hoosiers that won with coaching, unselfishness, a system, and just a smidge of Jimmy Chitwood star-power.  Ok, that’s a lie.  Even you, reader, probably agree that Tim Duncan is one of the top 5 PF/C (whichever way you lean) of all-time.  The thing is, you are probably underrating him.  Tony Parker too.  Only a few contrarians mention Parker each year as the top Point Guard in the league.  The Spurs like it this way.  Winning is all that matters – and each player assumes a critical role in a well-oiled machine of basketball purity.  Oh how I wish the Spurs had knocked off the Heat, while the talking heads obsessed over the right ratio of plays run for Dwyane Wade.

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Sizing up the Atlantic: The Celtics and The 76ers

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

We need a name for the tank-off that will be the bottom third of the NBA this season.  “Wince for Wiggins?” “Subdue for Andrew?” “We won’t be sorry if we get Jabari?” “Forfeit for ’14?” “Start Royce to get the number one choice?” Yeah.  Nothing works quite as well as “suck for Luck…”

Both these teams took a wrecking ball to their teams in the off season, and we should fully expect that trend to continue as the coming season plays out.  Despite, that, they have talented veterans on their roster.  There should be trade demand as the season goes on for the likes of Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, and, of course, Rajon Rondo.  The rosters these teams start the season with will almost assuredly be very different by season’s end.  They will both do what they can to be very very bad.  It’s going to be fun to see some teams other than the Cavs be cannon fodder for a change.

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Sizing up the Atlantic: The New York Knicks

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

There’s a really fun piece of speculative(ish) fiction by Jim Cavan over at The Classical that imagines Jim Dolan in all of his breast obsessed, navel gazing glory on the night the Knicks dealt for Carmelo Anthony. Dolan is presented as a man who knows precious little about how to build a competitive basketball team but, luckily, has precious little interest in doing so. Knicks fans love to overvalue their team (as, to be fair, most fans do), but they, unlike fans of certain other New York sports franchises, are sympathetic because, largely, they overvalue to cope. So, for every Knicks fan who tells you how “Carmelo has figured it out” or that “J.R. Smith is really starting to mature as a player” or that “Mike Woodson’s gonna make a 3-4-5 combo of Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani a match-up nightmare” know that what’s behind the bluster is something else: the real, stark, terrifying reality that Jim Dolan still owns the team and that (in a truly Clevelandian sentiment) Dolan will always find a way to screw it up. Bless you, our brothers and sister in dread. Bless you. (more…)

Sizing up the Atlantic: The Toronto Raptors

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Every NBA-team is in a semi-permanent state of transition, but creating a team identity and team stability matters for the purposes of creating continuity, or the illusion of continuity, between different groups of players. It is a necessary divining of order from chaos. The Raptors have been a man without a country since Chris Bosh left, but there’s finally rational reason to believe help is on it’s way at last. Semi-native son Masai Ujiri is back to GM this aimless ship full of dinosaurs somewhere. With the reigning EOY calling shots and an intriguing if not vague roster, Toronto won’t be boring.

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Sizing up the Atlantic: The Brooklyn Nets (or NYC-B)

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Another day, another team.  This time around we’re heading to the Big Apple to discuss everyone’s favorite New York team…Oh…No…Not those guys; we’re talking about the Brooklyn Nets!

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Sizing up the Southeast: The Atlanta Hawks

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Last Season: The Hawks finished the season a respectable 44-38, but lost in the first round to the stingy Indiana Pacers (4-2).  They defended well, finishing 13th overall in defensive efficiency, while landing at 15th in offensive efficiency.   They shared the ball (2nd in the NBA in Assist rate) and shot the ball efficiently (9th in TS%).  However, they were plagued by a lack of rebounding (26th overall) and coughed it up a little too much.  All in all, they were your prototypical average NBA team.  (We’ve come to expect this from the Hawks.)  They got out to a fast start in 2012 and then stayed afloat just long enough to earn the 6th seed in the East before getting bounced.  Rumors of a Josh Smith exodus permeated the franchise, and after the season ended, Danny Ferry hired former Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer to replace Larry Drew after 3 seasons of 40-win basketball.

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Sizing up the Central: The Detroit Pistons

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Closing out this week’s review of the Central Division is the Detroit Pistons.  Unlike the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers, who are absolutely expected to make the playoffs, and unlike the Milwaukee Bucks, who probably got a whole lot worse by losing Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Pistons, like the Cavs, fall somewhere between bad and semi-relevent.  What does all this mean?  Welcome to your 2013-2014 7-8 seed competition!

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Sizing up the Central: The Indiana Pacers

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Hi, Central Division. Haven’t seen you for a while. Looks like summer’s been treating you well. I mean, everyone except for you, Milwaukee. But for everyone else, yeah, summer lovin’ totally had us a blast.

As we slog steadily toward September, we here at Cavs: The Blog thought it might be good to check in on our mainly geographically linked rivals in the NBA’s Central Division. Just as Cavs’ fans are (mostly) all bonging the Bynum Kool-Aid, each of the other teams in our division, our de facto rivals, have done some thing(s) to give their own fan bases, to quote Bonnie Raitt on this blog for what I truly hope is the first time, something to talk about. Have the Cavs bettered or worsened their chances in the Central? We won’t know until the ball gets tossed, but let’s start by looking around The Division with the Pace Cars of Indianapolis, Indiana.

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NBA Schedule Released!!

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

The NBA released the 2013-2014 schedule yesterday evening; only 84 days until the Cavs return!!  Here is the Cavs slate.

A few items to note:

  • The season kicks off October 30th in Cleveland, against Brooklyn.  Looks like the Nets championship aspirations start poorly.  A huge game, including Shaun Livingston’s return to Cleveland; Karasev vs Kirilenko…no wonder the game is nationally televised on NBA TV.
  • November and December prove more tame this year than last.  Thirty games in 63 days, half at home and half on the road, with zero four-in-five-nights.  The first ten games feature Charlotte twice, Philadelphia twice, and Minnesota twice.  The table is set for a strong early push towards the playoffs.
  • Games eleven and twelve bring battles against Washington, an exciting early test of the Kyrie / Waiters versus Wall / Beal backcourts.
  • No Christmas day game, with Cleveland playing home against Detroit on the 23rd and Atlanta on the 26th.  Enjoy a nice holiday with your families, guys!
  • In January, the team embarks on a 5 game, 8 day West Coast trip, traveling to Utah, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Portland, and Denver.   Two wins from that voyage is easily realistic, probably one coming from Mike Brown, Andrew Bynum, and Earl Clark returning to face the Lakers..
  • Immediately following that stretch is five at home: Dallas, Chicago, Milwaukee, Phoenix and New Orleans from January 20th to the 28th, with no back-to-backs.  Nice stretch there to pick up momentum heading towards the All-Star break.
  • After the All-Star break (February 13th – 18th), the schedule begins getting difficult.  In late February, the Cavs face their first four-in-five-nights stretch: Toronto; at OKC; Utah; at Memphis.  My opinion…much of the regular rotation should sit the Memphis game.
  • The gauntlet of fifteen March games includes: Memphis, San Antonio, the Knicks twice, Golden State, the Clippers, Miami, Oklahoma City, Houston, the Nets, and Indiana.  Whereas the month began with the completion of a four-in-five nights stretch, it ends similarly.  Houston, New York, Toronto and Detroit from March 22rd to the 26th.  This month will be a huge test for a young squad battling towards a playoff berth.
  • If they survive March, April provides a nice tune-up for that inevitable first round series against the Heat.  A seven games in 17-night stretch, with only one game against a contender, and that is the season finale against Brooklyn.  Could be meaningless for the Nets.

There it is.  Next season is almost here, and the schedule shapes up pretty well for a strong showing from the Wine and Gold.  Clearly, league-wide interest in the young Cavs is picking up with nine nationally televised games this year: three on ESPN, one on TNT, and six on NBA TV.  I’m ready.

What Happens In Vegas… is an admittedly tired joke

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

…and is of little lasting consequence, but, kids, it is still technically competitive basketball.

Tomorrow, the Cavaliers kick off their 2013 NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas. In an attempt to manufacture some meaning beyond “player development”isms, this year’s games will culminate in tournament play between all the participating teams. So, yes, there is still the chance that Samardo Samuels will lead some team to a championship… of sorts.

The Cavs play the Knicks Friday at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. EST) then play the Grizzlies on Sunday at 5 p.m. and the Pelicans on Monday at 3 p.m. Cavs: The Blog will be reporting live from the Grizzlies and Pelicans game and, from what I understand, there’s no telling who you might run into at Summer League.

The tournament starts on July 17 and will crown its winner on Monday, July 22. Dion, bring the trophy home, baby!

Summer Lovin’…

Summer League is a fickle mistress. She both gives (most of these guys we’re watching are/will be NBA players, after all) and takes away (viewers are constantly reminded how little success on the Summer League level means to the games that count). But, hey, we just spent months watching highlight reels for guys who got drafted by other teams so, really, Summer League gives us cause for two things: 1.) We now have a team with “Cleveland Cavaliers” on their jerseys. This is no small matter. Mid-July is the first opportunity we’ve had to cheer for such a collection in a while. There’s no reason not to enjoy that. 2.) Many of those guys we developed our draft-crushes on will be there as well. So, Vegas is our chance to say our good-byes to the Otto Porters and Ben McLemores of the world, to let them let us down easy with a slew of 3-17 shooting nights or to keep that fire going with some amazing displays of skill, athleticism or shooting touch. This is Summer League and Vegas; this basketball’s got “consequence free” written all over it. Lap it up!

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