If I must make an obligatory nod to Miller brewing company and “Miller Time,” (as every Northeast Ohio sportswriter is tempted to do, tonight) let me just remind everyone that High Life is the champagne of beers. Now that we have that out of the way, the Cavs beat the Nets in an ugly one that saw Kevin Love go 1-10 and still have one of his best games as a Cavalier. David Blatt successfully pushed the right coaching buttons by starting Mike Miller and moving Shawn Marion to the bench. Miller scored 21 on 7-8 from three point land, while Marion added a much needed eight points off the pine. Cleveland outrebounded the Nets 44-37 and went 24-29 from the free throw line. Cleveland overcame Joe Johnson’s 26 points and 69% True Shooting and a 47% to 40% field goal percentage disparity. LeBron added some clutch fourth quarter play, and the Cavs overcame some bad crunch time offense to outlast the Nets and notch a much needed home win.
Mike Miller could be back tonight for the Cavs. It will be interesting to see if they bounce back after that humiliating loss to the Hawks. The Nets are 10-14 and the Cavs are 14-10. The Cavs took over the second half against the Nets in Brooklyn a few games back.
Let’s talk about it here!
1. Who has pleasantly surprised you?
Nate: Tristan Thompson has been a revelation. The guy has the serious hops back. As Tom noted, he’s finishing almost 8% better inside of five feet. His five to nine foot stuff needs work, but those shots will start falling. Yes, he the beneficiary of playing with LeBron, and yes, his defensive rebounding is down (whose wouldn’t be with Love), but the explosiveness difference is noticeable. He’s getting higher on his dunks, blocks, and rebounds. He’s back to being “Tigger” (the unfortunate nickname some here wanted to bestow upon him during his rookie year). His block percentage is way up too, and he’s done this without increasing his foul rate. Canadian Dynamite’s improved play may put Griffin in a bind next summer. He really ought to be starting over Andy right now, and when he does, it’s going to make Tristan’s contract demands that much stronger. Griff and Gilbert probably should have extended him. The contracts next summer are going to be bananas.
If you can believe it, this game was knotted at zero for more than two minutes. Slowly, both teams started to see their shots trickle in. The Cavs then went on a 19-6 run prompting tweets like “that escalated quickly.” As the 1st quarter clock wound down, LeBron elicited wild reactions after he “broke” Thabo Sefalosha’s ankles and hit Matthew Dellavedova on the right wing for three. Brendan Haywood, AJ Price, and Kyrie Irving were shown in a goofy delirium and both teams went back to their respective benches. Longtime Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer handed each one of his boys a P-Wing, Star, and Tanooki Suit and they each swallowed them all at once and chased them with ten 5-Hour Energys (giving them 50 continuous hours of super power energy). The Cavs waddled back and forth like koopa troopas before getting their shells flipped the heck upside down and kicked into oncoming Bullet Bills. Here are the highlights:
Last time the Cavs completely blew out the Hawks – raining fire down from the heavens. They held Kyle Korver to zero 3s if I remember correctly. The Hawks just seemed demoralized by about midway through the 2nd quarter. They were missing DeMarre Carroll (a Tom Pestak favorite) at the time and they’ve been pretty good this season although they’ve had an easy schedule. Should be a tough game!
Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Two separate reports Tuesday could have bearing on the Cavs’ current search for a perimeter defender. First, Chris Haynes from Northeast Ohio Media Group (via The Plain Dealer) reported that the Cavs had moved on from attempts to trade for Minnesota swingman Corey Brewer. The Timberwolves, hit with injuries to key wing players Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio, are now reticent to move Brewer, their best perimeter defender (though Andrew Wiggins might have something to say about that soon).
The other bit came from Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, who reported that basically the entire New York Knicks roster has been put on the trading block. While the Knicks would prefer to part ways with J.R. Smith (Really?? Nooooo….), the Knick who might actually be a good fit with the wine and gold is fourth year shooting guard, Iman Shumpert.
Hi, it’s me. Thick in the middle of law school finals (had one today, have another tomorrow, and the last one on Friday), so time hasn’t been my friend of late. I still wanted to get in on this little bit of absurdity. The fun starts at the 2:22 mark of the video above (props, as always, to @DawkinsMTA)
Off a Kemba Walker fast-break layup, LeBron grabs the inbounds pass, gets into a full quarterback stance, and heaves the ball from just inside the Cavs’ free-throw line to Kyrie, who made a ridiculous layup in traffic. (I’m fairly sure Kyrie makes more layups off damn near the top of the backboard than anyone else in the league.) Oh, and LeBron threw that with his left hand.
It’s pretty well-known at this point that LeBron does everything but shoot a basketball left-handed, and his ability to drive and finish with his left hand has always been a vital and underrated part of what makes him great, but that’s freaking ludicrous.
As has been mentioned, LeBron’s pretty clearly past his physical prime — he’s not the holy-christ jumper he used to be, and, more importantly, he doesn’t have enough in his legs to compete on both ends for the full game the way he used to. This began in earnest last season (I said as much on this CBS.com podcast! Don’t listen to the part where I say Golden State was dramatically overvaluing Klay Thompson. Just focus on where I say LeBron is past his physical prime. I am so often wrong.), especially the defense part, but nobody really noticed it because people are slow to change their opinions on how good perimeter defenders are (even GMs — seriously, guys?), and the Heat’s offense got LeBron the ball in positions where he had a deep post-up or an outright layup or dunk, minimizing the need for him to slice all the way through defenses like he did in his first stint with the Cavs.
The point here is that even though LeBron’s crazy dunks are probably gone, he’s still a player capable of doing insane, insane things, and we should appreciate them.
(I’d say I’d like to see more of the kind of action we get at the 2:10 mark of the above video, where LeBron gets an easy layup after catching Lance Stephenson cheating a screen, but that play was entirely thanks to Al Jefferson. His man is setting a screen, LeBron is basically scratching his back, and he’s just standing still and staring straight ahead, thinking about muffins. Never change, Big Al.)
The Cavs exploded out of the gate to a 21-0 lead, the largest such start in the NBA since…well LeBron was a rookie…uh, Facebook didn’t exist, Anderson Varejao avoided mid-range jumpers like the plague (or, the stomach bug that caused Delly to lose 7 lbs!)… It was a historic start to a game. The Hornets woke up and outplayed the Cavs for about 24 minutes, but the Cavs put them back to bed with a late 3rd quarter run that re-established the proper predator/prey relationship in the Eastern Conference food chain.
Forces in tension – something’s gonna snap.
1.) LeBron’s last six games versus Charlotte: 35.7 points on 68.4 percent shooting!
2.) Charlotte’s last five games versus Cleveland: undefeated.
3.) Cavs last 5 home games: undefeated.
4.) Both Kyrie and LeBron set career highs in scoring in their last game against Charlotte.
5.) Hornets 3PFG% in last 10 games: 26%
6.) Charlotte opponents during same stretch: 44%
Given all this information, my prediction: The Cavs barely break 90, LeBron and Kyrie shoot a combined 6 for 30, Charlotte shoots 15-15 from 3 and 15% from the immediate basket area. (HEAR K LOVE ROAR!) And Joe Harris’ 34 gives the Cavs the edge in triple overtime: 90-89.5 Cleveland Wins. I dunno, what do you guys think? Grab your Ecto Cooler from the mini fridge and let’s talk about this athletic contest!
A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at how a couple of former Cavalier point guards — Jarrett Jack and Mo Williams — were fairing in fantasy this year.
Not to be outdone by the attention to Jack and Williams, several other former Cavaliers are coming out to join the 2014-15 Fantasy Roster Viability Party, specifically former backup big men Tyler Zeller and Marreese Speights.