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…)
Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
…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 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!
So the Cavs played their first televised game of the season… In the Hall of Fame City.
The city of Canton acquitted itself well with a near sellout in pre-season, and it was a beautiful 60 degree fall evening in the hometown of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ D-League affiliate, The Canton Charge. I took my daughter to her first Cavs game. Jackson High School’s Jacks and Jills choir sang the national anthem, and the boys in tuxes and the girls in gowns sat in my section and made it the social event of the season. I covered my daughter’s ears a lot.
There are no luxury boxes in Canton, and the Cavaliers Brain Trust was courtside, down with us littles, to take in the spectacle. They looked as bored as me by the late third quarter.
We were all reminded of why we love pre-season basketball for 7 minutes, and hate it for the next month. Cavs starters played well through most of the first half, though sloppy towards its end. Then the second half was a mess full of turnovers and bad bad offense, especially after the starters left. Midway through the 4th, the Cavs subs gave a token effort at coming back and did not succeed. My daughter was groaning to leave and I finally caved with a minute left. Let me know if I missed anything.
The best play in the game came early. Miles stole the ball on an entry pass, threw it ahead to Kyrie, who waited till the perfect moment to return it with a behind the back bounce pass right before getting fouled, leading to a Miles slam, and a freethrow for Kyrie.
CJ Miles looked every bit a starting NBA player with a really nice line: 22 minutes, 18 points, 4/7 from 3, 3 boards, 3 steals, and no turnovers. His three point shooting was impressive, especially because they came from the wing and the top of the key. He definitely had a nice matchup against Tobias Harris and the undersized Monta Ellis, and he took advantage of it. His movement without the ball was excellent. I’m hoping he was a steal.
Jon Leuer is a keeper, despite his game low -10 plus/minus, which was more a reflection of his many minutes on the floor without Kyrie. A 3/3 first quarter kept the Cavs in the game early, and he seemed to know where to be on the floor all the time. He had a couple decent moments putting the ball on the floor off the pump fake, and has a nice handle for a 6’ 10” power forward. His defensive rotations were solid, though he picked up some fouls that he shouldn’t have, and needs to work on keeping his arms straight up when he’s going after a shot. His six D-boards were the result of good positioning and strength. Given that defensive rebounding was a weakness of his last year, it was nice to see.
Kyrie was Kyrie. It looked like he played a pedestrian game, until I looked at the box score: 16, 5 boards, and 3 dimes on 5/11 and 6/7 from the line in 22 minutes. Sloppy with the ball, all 3 of his turnovers were due to dribbling errors. You know a guy’s elite when his ho-hum games beat everyone else’s best.
Aside from his funny bits on “Access Cavaliers,” TT was forgettable, but he definitely looks thicker. 7 boards and 1-5 and 2 blocks, but defensively, he got burned by Ilyasova a couple times, and gave up some buckets that were way too easy, but his board work was nice. With a bigger bum and broader shoulders, he should definitely pick up more D-boards.
Andy looks the same, and it was nice to see him scrapping with Drew Gooden who looks ready to braid his goatee into another Johnny. Despite rumors of Andy having “lost a step,” he looks the same to me, and when the games start I think he’ll be fine.
For Milwaukee, 3rd year power forward Larry Sanders was beastly on the boards and around the basket. He had several memorable putbacks. Tobias Harris looked solid, though his defense on Miles wasn’t very good. Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels give Milwaukee a couple of very solid options off the bench. Between them, Gooden, and Mbah a Moute, they can easily go ten deep. They look hard to get past for the playoff race in the East.
Kelenna Azubuike looked like an NBA player, and didn’t seem to be showing any ill effects of the knee injury that kept him out of the last two seasons. He scored with nice elevation on pull up bank shot and jumped pretty high for few high rebounds to go along with a 6 point first half.
Justin Holiday played some decent defense, hit a nice shot, made a nice dish, and looked like he was worthy of more run. He certainly played exactly like the book on him: defensive wing stopper with a passable 3 point game and a good midrange game. But we already have an Alonzo Gee. Speaking of…
Alonzo Gee’s line in 2 games: 39 minutes, 6 points. That is not getting it done for a starting guard. He doesn’t seem to be looking for his shot at all, and why he’s not getting post up looks (or even trying to) against Monta Ellis is either a coaching error or a player error.
Dion Waiters did not look good, and that’s being nice. His one field goal was on a sweet alley oop feed from Miles that he almost blew. On the ball, Saint Weirdo was 0-6 and his 4 turnovers were ugly. His 2nd quarter contested 3 with 20 seconds left on the clock was the kind of play that loses games. Such is the life of a rookie.
The options at the backup guard spot in general don’t look good. The offense fell apart when Kyrie wasn’t on the floor, and there seemed to be a general inability to feed the bigs at all, or get any shots off the ball when Pargo, Waiters, or Anderson were running the point. 38.5% field goal percentage for the game was evidence of this. By the end of the game, Eddie Gill was pressing every guard in the back court, and the good guys couldn’t get into their offense at all. I guess it’s Sloan’s turn again.
Tyler Zeller looked like a rookie: some decent plays, some bad ones, but he really looks like he’s lost out there sometimes, and that he needs to add some weight. The second half was underwhelming for him.
Boobie had some shooting woes and missed several wide open looks.
Milwaukee’s guards combined for 55 points. Tobias Harris had 11. To say that the on the ball defense, screen defense, and perimeter rotations were bad would be polite.
Benoh Udrih took a nasty fall in the 2nd off of a Pargo charge, and probably got a concussion. Hope he’s ok.
No Lukes, Smardo, Sloan, or Casspi. DNPs happen on a 20 man roster.
Michael Eric is very tall. Kevin Anderson is not. That is all I could discern from watching them.
Kevin Jones has an NBA body with a decent frame and some long arms despite being 6’7”. He also pitched an o-fer: no stats in 5 minutes.
I counted four turnovers coming out of timeouts or to begin quarters. No es bueno.
This is of course one game: over-analyzed because it’s the first time we’ve seen these guys since summer league and tankapalooza 2012. It is a ridiculous word count for a preseason game recap. But it’s been eight months since we’ve seen real basketball, and we’ve another month to go. We are hungry. Boxes of “Your Pizza” will not satisfy us (they had no DiGiornos at the Memorial Civic center). Until then it’s pre-season. We must find succor in the first five minutes of games, watch “Access Cavaliers,” play NBA 2K13, and pine for the days when third string point guards Do Not Play.
At this point, you’ve probably heard the talking heads on your favorite pundit show mention it at least five quadrillion times: the NBA schedule is going to be brutal this year. To put things in perspective, a normal NBA season—tumultuous in its own right—is 82 games over roughly six months. That’s about 13.5 games every thirty days. This season, NBA teams will cram 66 games into four months, which comes out to 16.5 games per month. This means more back-to-backs (which, especially when both games are on the road, are incredibly taxing), less practice time (many coaches will elect to rest guys over drilling them, especially during particularly hectic weeks), and, inevitably, more injuries. Here, we’ll take a look at the Cavaliers’ compact schedule, focusing on strings of games that will determine whether their record this season will be abysmal or something closer to .500 (baby steps, you guys).
The Cavs begin the season like this:
vs. Toronto (Dec 26th)
@ Detroit (Dec 28th)
@ Indiana (Dec 30th)
vs. New Jersey (Jan 1st)
vs. Charlotte (Jan 3rd)
@ Toronto (Jan 4th)
@ Minnesota (Jan 6th)
Last season, when the Cavaliers were at their fan-demoralizing worst, I would scan the schedule for bad teams that might help the Cavs snap their losing streak. Because the team was too horrible to entertain the idea that they could beat a championship contender like Boston or even an okay team like Atlanta. It just wasn’t happening. All I can say to about this opening slate of games is: where the hell was this stretch of schedule last season???
This swath of games—all winnable except for a tilt in Indianapolis against a Pacers team that I think is going to be quite good—is something of a double-edged sword. Yes, the Cavs have a chance to start the season 5-2 or 4-3 against some sub-par teams, and they only have one set of back-to-back games to deal with, but they need to come out of the gate strong because by the middle of January into February, the schedule becomes unrelenting. From January 20th to February 8th, the schedule looks like this:
vs. Chicago (Jan 20th)
@ Atlanta (Jan 21st)
@ Miami (Jan 24th)
vs. New York (Jan 25th)
vs. New Jersey (Jan 27th)
@ Boston (Jan 29th)
vs. Boston (Jan 31st)
@ Orlando (Feb 3rd)
vs. Dallas (Feb 4th)
@ Miami (Feb 7th)
vs. LA Clippers (Feb 8th)
All of those teams are either good or great with the exception of New Jersey, so it’s possible the Cavs will lose all of those games. Throughout the rest of February and March, the team plays a more balanced schedule, until this oasis of bad teams in the beginning of April:
@ Milwaukee (Apr 4th)
@ Toronto (Apr 6th)
@ New Jersey (Apr 8th)
vs. Charlotte (Apr 10th)
If the Cavaliers are going to establish any kind of winning momentum, it’s going to happen on these nights because the team concludes the season, starting with the Charlotte game on the 10th, with 12 games in 16 nights, a stretch of schedule that an exceptional team like the Thunder or Bulls would have problems with, let alone a rebuilding Cavs squad.
I mean, I’m not sure how much of an impact this condensed schedule will have the on the Cavaliers’ record at the end of the season. They’re a young, undermanned team that will likely finish with one of the league’s worst records. More importantly, the compact schedule might begin to wear on Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson by March. Cavs fans will want to keep an eye on how the rookies hold up against the grind of playing so many NBA games in a short amount of time. I think Byron Scott will limit their minutes later in the season if they start to break down. He knows (he has to know, right?) that this year is about improvement, not wins, and so there’s no point in running these guys into the ground just because they’re two of the best seven players on the team, and he’s hungry for a couple extra Ws.
Also, a caveat: I have no idea what’s going to happen on a game-to-game basis, which makes it difficult to figure out what the Cavaliers’ win total will be this season. That probably seems obvious, but the level of unpredictability in this season is going to be higher than in others. Games are going to be disjointed and sloppy for a few weeks as players knock the rust off and teams learn how to integrate rookies, free agents, and trade acquisitions. A couple of teams’ seasons are going to be completely murdered by injuries; other squads (the Spurs will probably do this) are going to take it easy, rest their starters as much as possible, and try to squeak into the playoffs with the healthiest roster they can assemble. Those games against Boston I said the Cavs were going to lose? The Celtics are talented, but their rotation is incredibly shallow, so perhaps Kevin Garnett’s knees will need a night off or Paul Pierce will be nursing a knock he picked up a week ago in his fourth game in six nights, and the Cavaliers will have a better shot at victory. I honestly have no clue. It’s going to be a weird season. I advise you to watch the rookies develop, root for entertaining losses, and watch a little college ball to keep your spirits up. Life seems a little less bleak when every outstanding college player is a hypothetical Cavalier.
And we’ll be with you all season. I’ll have news and some longform-y stuff each week, and we’re gonna gangtackle this schedule so we have recaps of every game for you. Kevin has plans to write a series about the Cavs’ outlook moving into the 2012 and 2013 seasons. And there’ll be other stuff, I’m sure. We’re a bit like a busy kitchen at the moment—pans clattering, audible obscenities, a splotch of tomato sauce in our hair—but we’ll figure it out.
Happy holidays. Go Cavs. One.