Tonight’s preseason game between the Cavs and Bulls was the first in a series that should lead to an intense rivalry come playoff time. Both teams came into the game looking at it as dress rehearsal for the regular season, especially the Cavs who will probably be resting LeBron James during their final preseason game against Memphis. This game oscillated between stellar ball movement, great individual play, and transition basketball for the entire 48 minutes. Derrick Rose seemed like he’s back, but Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao didn’t let that stop them from having great games as well.
LeBron James has come out and stated that he thinks the Bulls are the more battle tested team in the East. While some may think LeBron is admitting that he believes the Bulls are a better team, that is not really the case. Brian Windhorst reported on LeBron’s thoughts today.
“[The Bulls] are a team that’s much better than us right now just off chemistry,” James said. “They’ve been together for awhile, we’ve got a long way to go.”
“You’ve got to go through something to create a bond; that means for the worse,” James said. “We’ve got to lose ballgames that we think we should’ve won, we’ve got to get into an argument every now and then just to test each other out.”
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Well, the bloom is officially off the rose. The Cavaliers have lost. All the tiny cracks and fissures Cavs fans have seen in their team over the first four preseason games finally busted open full and wide in the team’s 108-102 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The turnovers. The consistently inconsistent implementation of David Blatt’s new offense. The porous defense. The less-than-fully-active roster. All of those were on full display and, in the end, the result was predictably not in the Cavaliers’ favor.
Now (he says for about the millionth time), most of this is just preseason stuff. Coach Blatt is clearly choosing to have his club ready to begin the season physically, even if that means making sacrifices in cohesion that result in all of the above. Friday was Kevin Love’s and Shawn Marion’s turns to sit, meaning Blatt hasn’t had his full roster to play with in-game since the Cavs’ preseason opening win against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
LeBron James versus the Dallas Mavericks. Some Cavs fans had to remind themselves to cheer against Dirk Nowitzki and the Cuban-ators now that ‘Bron has made his celebrated return home. It’s been more than three years since Rick Carlisle’s genius and Dirk’s brilliance took down the Heatles’ first iteration for the title. The Mavs 2011 championship squad will forever have a slightly confused place in Clevelander’s hearts.
Easing the transition from residual warm feelings to mild disgust was new Maverick and Cavalier nemesis Jameer Nelson(really anyone from that dreaded 2009 Magic squad would do the trick).
The Central division should be called the crippled division. At the start of the past two seasons, this division has appeared to have two of the top three teams in the East; however, injuries have kept that from actually happening. Derrick Rose missed the past two seasons and kept the Bulls from playing their best, while the Pacers played like the top team behind only Miami. The bad luck continues for the Central division entering the 2014-2015 season. During the offseason, Paul George injured his leg in a FIBA Team USA intrasquad scrimmage and is facing a long rehab and recovery process.
This year the Cavs will surely be the best team in the East, and the Bulls will probably be the second best. The Pacers could have been the third best. The central division looks to be one of the best in the league going into the future, and it will only continue to get better as Detroit and Milwaukee turn their franchises around with new coaches and young talent.
The Cavs will be left out of this preview, so that they can be dealt with properly in their own piece in the coming weeks. Read the rest of this entry »
In many ways, this was a perfect preseason victory. The starters and rotation guys played into the late third quarter and led 76-59 before fourth quarter scrub time erased that lead. Then the end-of-the-bench Cavs totally redeemed themselves and eked out an ugly victory. One thing I really like about this preseason is how well prepared and well-coached the last guys on the roster have been for the Cavs. David Blatt and his coaching staff are to be commended. Since this game celebrated all of Ohio by taking place at Cincinnati’s Xavier University, let’s hand out some Ohio themed player grades.
LeBron James: If there’s a way to coast to 26 points in 24 minutes, LeBron found a it. The economy in LeBron’s game is amazing right now. He worked himself into the post again and again like a hulkier 90s Michael Jordan. He scored with turnarounds, hooks, baseline spin moves, and yes, a Kareem-esque skyhook. LeBron was 9-12 from the floor 2-3 from three, and 6-7 from the charity stripe, and he made it look easy. After the game LBJ had a fantastic quote on forgiveness in response to a question about how he forgave Dan Gilbert. “There’s fine line between pride and progress. I’m not on the pride side. I’m on the progress side.” Grade: A comic sans lettered coffee mug that says, “the greatest basketball player in the world.”
In a game that saw three of the Cavs’ presumptive starters sitting out — Kyrie Irving (ankle), LeBron James (rest) and Tristan Thompson (shoulder) — the pressure was on its remaining two, Kevin Love and Dion Waiters, to step up and fill the void. The void was filled all right; filled up like the basket on one of Love’s five three pointers in seven tries on an evening where he scored 25 points in just 20 minutes on the court. It was filled up like Waiters on his way to 23 points. It was also filled by having to play a Milwaukee Bucks team that was missing regulars Larry Sanders and Brandon Knight and, well… you know, is the Bucks. Still, it was nip and tuck for most of the way, with the Cavs bench putting it away late to improve their preseason record to 3-0 with a 106-100 win at The Q.
Save for a Cavs mini-run in the first quarter that put the team up by 11, the game remained close throughout. Yes, Love and Waiters were the main story — and we’ll get to them — but here was the lineup David Blatt went with for much of the fourth quarter with the game’s outcome still in doubt: A.J. Price, Joe Harris, Chris Crawford, Shane Edwards and Alex Kirk. The Bucks, meanwhile, rode their regular rotation through the tight fourth — Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, John Henson, rookie Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, starting at point guard for the first time — and still couldn’t quite get over the hump.
The Atlantic Division – the teams here are filled with greatness, with history, with winning…except in 2014. What was once a division held to the highest of standards – Larry Legend! Dr. J! Walt! Vince Carter! (haaaa) – is now replete with mid-level mediocrity. To make matters worse, unlike their Eastern brethren to the south and west, the majority of Atlantic teams won’t see substantial improvements in the upcoming years. In short, don’t expect much from the Northeast this year. Lets examine…
LeBron James was feuding with Chris Bosh and the Heat. The Cavs and Heat were even trying to avoid each other in Brazil; furthermore, Bosh said LeBron is hard to play with, and ultimately, feelings were hurt. Feelings are miraculously unhurt now. Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel witnessed a true show of affection between the former Heat player and Chris Bosh.
James squashed the thoughts of their strained relationship with a hug at midcourt before Saturday’s tip-off between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers at HSBC Arena. The players supposedly were feuding once James announced he was leaving the Heat to return to the hometown Cavs. Both denied any rift.