Archive for November, 2010

Links To The Present: November 23, 2010

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

As has been reported by myriad outlets, Joey Graham is set to leapfrog Jamario Moon into the starting lineup. Byron Scott has been frustrated with the hesitancy of Moon’s game, and he hopes the intensity Graham has displayed coming off the bench will persist even as his minutes increase. At the end of the above article, Bob Finnan clarifies that despite Antawn Jamison’s solid play, J.J. Hickson is expected to keep his spot as a starter.

Bill Lubinger’s Plain Dealer article also discusses Byron Scott’s decision to shuffle the starting lineup, but if you scroll down, you will see another interesting development: Ryan Hollins is a big, strong man. Having racked up a pair of flagrant fouls in the past two games, Hollins says that it’s his job to protect the rim, and he isn’t going to shy away from contact: “I’m going to get down there and bang and hit with people.” I respect his ethos.

Zac Jackson has a few thoughts about the Cavs’ road losses in San Antonio and Charlotte. He also emphasizes how much the Cavs need a win in Indiana tonight, considering games against Milwaukee, Orlando, and Boston are looming in the near future.

Fear the Sword has some stats to consider for tonight’s game against the Pacers. A bright spot in the wake of a two-game losing streak: the Cavs are only turning the ball over 12 times per game, which is good for second-best in the NBA.

Another brief preview of tonight’s Pacers-Cavs clash at Conseco Fieldhouse. A reminder to the Cavs on defense: cover Danny Granger. He had 34 points on 13-of-21 shooting when he visited the Q on November 13th.

On The Twitters

“Heat just waived Jerry Stackhouse to sign Erick Dampier, sources say” [Chris Broussard]

“For those asking about Heat and Power Rankings, will likely fall to No. 5 pending Hornets’ finish.” [John Hollinger]

“This K.State coach need some calm down juice! #WhySoSerious.. Nobody perfect.. Let Em Play! #Damnnn #55 Ballin” [Daniel Gibson]

Notes and Errata: November 23rd, 2010

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

– Just got in from watching the Clippers stun the Hornets. Did not see that one coming. Heckuva game for Blake Griffin, who had a huge game without being able to get to the rim at will or work much pick-and-roll — when great slashers like Griffin hit the boards, get out in transition, and hit their first few jumpers, the seas part for them.

– Also, I was convinced Al-Faroq Aminu was a terrible pick. Now I am not convinced. He will show you some serious signs. Remember in The Minority Report when Tom Cruise pulls the pre-cog out of the goo and she started freaking out all over the place and acted like she didn’t know where she was, but occasionally could see the future and saved everybody? Al-Faroq Aminu is Josh Smith plus that plus actual three-point range. He had 16 in the first half, 0 in the second half, missed a big transition layup, and committed a charge on a two-on-one fast break when the defender was standing at the dotted line. Also, he does not dribble in a straight line in transition. He runs knuckleball fast breaks. He’s a treat.

– [Insert Heat Schadenfreude]

– Seriously, though, people do realize that Wade has shot 26-80 from the floor in the five Heat losses he’s played in right? I can’t get over how well Wade made out in “The Decision.” Win, it’s your team. Lose, it’s the new guy’s fault. That said, how many LeBron-quality regular season games has he had through 14 games? 2? Also, the Heat were -15 in the 6 minutes LeBron sat for.

– Has anyone written a “Same Jack, New City” headline about Jarrett Jack yet?

– Toldja the Spurs were really good. Also, “Going to 11: Spurs top Magic, continue hot start” guy: you win at headlines. Until tomorrow, everyone.

Links To The Present: November 22, 2010

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The Cavs may not be the most talent-rich group in the league, but there are a lot of good to serviceable NBA players on this team. Perhaps that’s why the Cavs bench, led by Boobie Gibson and Antawn Jamison, averages 47 points per game.

More Cavs bench news: Bob Finnan has a story about Jamison adjusting to his role off the bench. Apparently, though his quotes don’t betray much discontent, Antawn has been pretty upset about being J.J. Hickson’s understudy, but he’s coming to terms with it.

Fear the Sword has some post-game quotes from the Spurs/Cavs tilt on Saturday. In reference to the Cavs defeats in New Orleans and San Antonio, Antawn Jamison had this to say: “We showed signs, but we’re just not consistent enough for 48 minutes to be able to compete against these two teams these last couple days.” Seems like this mini-road trip has served as a wake-up call.

A little recap of the Cavs’ failings in losses at San Antonio and New Orleans from The Cauldron. Samah Assad emphasizes a problem that’s plagued this team all year: their intensity tends to dip considerably in the second half of games, particularly the third quarter.

Some number-crunching from Neil Paine over at Basketball Reference reveals that the Cavs’ offensive game is exceeding expectations, while their defense is underperforming. I tend to look at stats to see if they match up with what I’m watching on the court, and that analysis seems about right.

The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto has a smattering of Cavs-related info. The most interesting factoid from the article: Jarmario Moon’s averages are 26 minutes, 6.2 points on 42% shooting, and 4.6 rebounds per game. Unless the Cavs start playing Jamison at the 3 (which I personally don’t think is a good idea), it seems they might have to accept some paltry production from the small forward spot.

On The Twitters

“Following tonights game, Ron Artest said that Michael Beasley is a better shooter than LeBron but “the smarts are not there.” #NBA” [Scott Sargent]

“For those wondering about my Christmas tree topper I went with a wine and gold trimmed angel and added an Andy Varejao style wig to it.” [RealCavsFans]

“RT @NBAonESPN: In Marc Stein’s (@STEIN_LINE_HQ) Week 4 Power Rankings, Southwest Division’s best soar to the top – http://es.pn/9fEWjy“[Marc Stein]

Recap: Spurs 116, Cavs 92 (Or, Holy crap the Spurs are good)

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

epic fail photos - Oddly Specific: Man, That's Cold

Overview: The Cavs played well offensively, but were no match for the red-hot Spurs, who shot 53%/48%/82% and had six players score in double digits.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

– I actually liked a lot of what I saw from the Cavs in this game. They shot nearly 50% from the field, scored a lot of points in the paint, and were able to get out and running. The only problem is that the now 11-1 Spurs were rolling on all cylinders, and that was too much for the Cavs to handle on the road.

– The Cavs were really aggressive and moved the ball well offensively. Antawn, Mo, and Boobie were all getting to their spots and knocking down shots, and that kept the Cavs in it early. The only real problem with the Cavs offense was that they got burned by turning the ball over or hunting for an offensive rebound instead of running back in transition, and Tony Parker and Co. took advantage nearly every time. The Cavs never really got stagnant offensively, but they gave the Spurs some windows, and that was all San Antonio needed on Saturday.

– Wow, that Spurs offense. It is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing. It’s hard to say what weaknesses the Spurs exploited, because they were incredibly dynamic and just about every look they tried worked. They pushed the break beautifully, played some drive-and-kick while moving the ball from side to side, and someone was always ready to receive the extra pass. They would go into pick-and-roll basketball with Parker/Ginobili and Duncan/Splitter and get great looks out of that. They didn’t go to Duncan in the post much, but they got some good looks out of it when they did.

They put pressure on the Cavs in the paint and were ready to kick out to their shooters if they had to — the Spurs got 100 of their 116 points from the paint, beyond the arc, or the free-throw line. That is freaking absurd. If you like pretty offense, there’s the Spurs, there’s the Lakers, and there’s everyone else. Watching this game was like having Penelope Cruz beat the living hell out of you. I’m still in awe. So many playmakers, so many shooters, and every possession involves five players with a plan.

On to some individual notes:

– Mo was on his game tonight. A lot of people define “mid-range” shots as being shots taken in between the rim and the three-point line. Personally, I think of “true” mid-range shots as shots taken in between the first defender and the help defender, and that’s where Mo lives. He was on-target with his pull-ups, runners, and floaters; since the Spurs’ defensive strategy is about running guys off the three-point line (Cavaliers not named Jamario only attempted seven threes on Saturday), Mo was able to have a lot of success. He couldn’t stay in front of Parker, but nobody can stay in front of Parker this season.

– Hickson and Varejao both looked really out of it again, which will happen against a team like the Spurs. Andy doesn’t look nearly as confident passing or shooting from the high post as he did earlier in the season, and that does change the spacing. J.J. looks to be in one of those funks young players go into. He needs a game against a cupcake defense to get some of his confidence back — he was really rushing in San Antonio.

– Jamison started the game 5-7 and finished it 6-12. Antawn Jamison’s game is a tribute to the law of averages.

– Gibson seems to love coming back to Texas — he looked like he knew everything he put up was going to go in. 17 off the bench for Boobie.

– Hollins gave some good minutes before getting tossed. Let’s try to stop committing flagrant-twos when down double digits.

– Not a lot of Ramon because Boobie and Mo were both on, but he was mostly looking to pass — good to see.

Bullets of Randomness:

– Lord, Manu Ginobili can flat-out play. Contested threes, some beautiful passes, serpentine drives on the pick-and-roll, and one off-hand finish in traffic after beating his man with a freaking Shammgod dribble.

– Tiago Splitter with his best game as a pro. He reminds me a little of Varejao with how well he knows how to move without the ball and finish from odd angles when he gets it down low. Also, the lefty hook he pulled out early in the game was very Jamison-like.

– DeJuan Blair and Leon Powe have to play closer to the floor than any other big men in the league.

– Danny Green ended up getting garbage-time minutes, but for a while there I thought his game was going to consist of 57 seconds of playing time and one “hey, thanks for cutting me” three. I’ll admit that was kinda funny in a “I needed something to laugh about tonight” kind of way.

That’s all for me tonight. Have a good rest of the weekend, campers.

Preview: Cavaliers at Spurs, November 20th

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

San Antonio Poster - Click to View Extra Large Image

Cleveland Cavaliers (5-6) vs. San Antonio Spurs (10-1)

Relevant Statistics:

Offensive Efficiency: Cavaliers 101.2 (22nd) vs. Spurs 107.8 (4th)

Defensive Efficiency: Cavaliers 105.3 (20th) vs. Spurs 99.6 (7th)

Pace: Cavaliers 95.3 (16th) vs. Spurs 98.3 (7th)

Notes:

– The Spurs are 10-1, and they’re doing it by playing fast, scoring in bunches, and getting a ton out of the Parker/Ginobili/Jefferson triumvirate. Duncan’s only averaging 14 a game, and the team is 10-1 anyways. This will not be an easy game, especially since transition defense and wing defense have been major issues for the Cavs.

– Hickson needs to get back on track tonight. He needs to be aggressive early and use his speed advantage on Blair to open things up — he might be tempted to shoot over him, but I think he’d be better served making Blair move.

– Tim Duncan might not be the featured guy on offense anymore, but he’s still the key to the Spurs’ defense. Cavs have to keep the ball moving, because Duncan still shuts down the paint as well as just about anybody. Some threes would be nice as well.

– Stopping penetration and locating shooters in transition aren’t easy things to do, but the Cavs are going to have to do them if they don’t want to get whooped against the Spurs. That’s all I have for now — check back here after the game for the recap.

Recap: Hornets 108, Cavs 101 (Or, attack of the killer transition threes)

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Overview: After falling behind by as many as 19 points, the Cavaliers were able to compete with the Hornets in the fourth quarter before New Orleans ultimately put the game away. David West absolutely decimated the Cavaliers with 34 points on only 20 shots, and Marco Belinelli added 20 more for the Hornets.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

This game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would indicate, but it could have been a lot worse. The Cavs were able to survive David West absolutely DECIMATING J.J. Hickson inside early because they were hitting their threes and the Hornets were missing theirs.

Then Marco Belinelli hit some threes in transition and semi-transition, and things escalated very quickly. West and Jason smith hit jumpers, Paul got to the rim, west destroyed Hickson one more time, and before you knew it the Hornets were up by 19. The Cavs were never really back in it after that, but give them credit for pulling it together a little bit after some moments when it looked like the Cavs were getting ready to check out. (Two flagrant fouls on David West in one quarter, letting Belinelli drive to the rim after he got the defensive rebound.)

The Cavs moved the ball until the bitter end, and actually managed to cut the lead to single-digits when they hit a few threes, but it was too late.

Some individual notes:

– I don’t want to lead with a negative bullet, but this was a major setback game for J.J. Hickson. He provided absolutely no resistance to David West whatsoever, and David West ain’t Pau Gasol. When West wanted to score on Hickson, he got layups every single time except for two — Hickson “forced” West into taking a type of floater once (he made it), and West decided to pull up and drain a jumper over J.J. once. The rest of the Cavs didn’t do a great job on West, but at least they provided some resistance. A performance I’m sure J.J. and coach Scott are very eager to forget.

– Good game from Sessions, who definitely avoided doing too many Evil Ramon things against New Orleans. He drove when there were actually lanes, pushed the break, and made some really gorgeous passes, including a lob to Jamison in the post that was an absolute work of art. I have never been more confused by an NBA player than I am by Ramon Sessions on a game-to-game basis.

– Mo looked tentative, and Chris Paul is not a good guy to be tentative against. Five turnovers in 21 minutes of play is not a good thing.

– It took a while, but Emeka Okafor is a force in the paint. He made some really good contests on the Cavs’ big men early, and they didn’t look comfortable under the basket for the rest of the game. Jamison was 2-7 from inside the arc, Hollins was 1-5, Hickson was 2-8, and Andy was 4-14. Again, not good stuff. Some of the shots inside were ones the Cavs’ bigs normally convert, but you could see visions of Okafor and the rest of the Hornets’ bigs dancing in their heads. Give credit where it’s due — this New Orleans team knows how to defend the rim.

– Everybody realizes that Chris Paul has made both Rasual Butler and Marco Belinelli look like legitimate, even good, starting NBA shooting guards, right? How amazing is that? Belinelli sure does love all the open looks he’s getting because of Paul.

– Chris Paul is so good. I thought the Cavs did an amazing job shutting down the high pick-and-roll, but he got his 15 and 10 by forcing turnovers, pushing the break when it was there, feeding David West, and never losing track of his shooters. I think the Cavs did about a good a job on him as you can do in the half-court, and he still did damage.

– Jamison was great from beyond the arc, but one bad thing about his signature wonky shots from the paint is that some of them aren’t very high-percentage looks, but there’s no way he can actually realize that because he has to shoot them so fast. I love the flip shots from right around the basket, but sometimes I wish he’d be a little more patient and use his feet to set up shots a bit more.

– Bright spot: Joey Graham, who once again looked very solid before getting tossed.

Preview: Cavaliers at Hornets, November 19th

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Cleveland Cavaliers (5-5) vs. New Orleans Hornets (9-1)

Relevant Statistics:

Offensive Efficiency: Cleveland 101.2 (22nd) vs. New Orleans 107.0 (8th)

Defensive Efficiency: Cleveland 105.0 (20th) vs. New Orleans 98.1 (4th)

Pace: Cleveland 94.8 (18th) vs. New Orleans 92.7 (25th)

Notes:

– This one could get bad. Mo still out (edit: he’s expected to play tonight), team on the road, Hornets playing really great basketball. The Cavs are currently .500, but according to Hollinger’s rankings they’ve had the easiest schedule in the league thus far. Now it’s time to see what this team is really made of.

– There’s no real way to stop Chris Paul. He’s too fast, too good of a ballhandler, too good of a shooter, too good of a passer, and too good of a finisher to shut down. The best the Cavs can do is show hard on those pick-and-rolls and then recover back to the bigs like their lives depend on it — even if they do that, they’ll need some luck to stop Paul from killing them. Paul is my clear MVP choice at this point in the season, and there’s a reason why.

– The Hornets flat-out play defense. They love to collapse on you at the free-throw line area, and only Orlando allows less buckets at the rim per game. (Kind of a fun fact, when you consider that Howard and Okafor helm both paint defenses). The Cavs have to move that ball and hit some shots from outside — no isolation, and please limit the Sessions-ball.

– The Cavs’ advantage over this team is speed — Ariza’s a great athlete, and Paul is a freak, but if the Cavs swarm and recover on defense and move, move, move, move on offense, they could frustrate the Hornets and bridge some of that talent gap. I’m just hoping for a tough performance from the Cavs tonight, but this is basketball and anything can happen — remember Boston? See you after the game.

Links To The Present: November 19, 2010

Friday, November 19th, 2010

While I’m as pleased as anyone with Cavs’ 5-5 start, only one of their wins has been against a legitimate contender (Boston), and they have lost to Toronto, Sacramento, New Jersey, and Indiana. Four of the Cavs’ next five games come against 2009-10 Playoff teams. As the cliche goes “We’re going to learn a lot about this team over the next week.” First up: two road games in New Orleans and San Antonio.

I have wondered over the past couple years whether or not Chris Paul played a significant role in Byron Scott’s firing as the Hornets head coach because of this Bill Simmons article (4th paragraph) from 2008, but they are ostensibly on great terms. Paul refers to Scott as “[his] guy” and it’s possible the two shared dinner Thursday night.

Brian Windhorst did an interview with DSN Cleveland’s “The Gloves are Off” on Wednesday talked about LeBron’s performance in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals and how he’s acclimating to Miami. WFNY does a good job of recapping some of the major revelations from the interview, and you can find the whole interview here.

Here’s a good overview of Byron Scott’s coaching style and what’s motivating him this year. He’s mad as hell, and he’s not gonna take it anymore going to try to coach the Cavs into the playoffs.

Appearing on your Cleveland Cavaliers 2010-11 All-Star Ballot: J.J. Hickson, Anderson Verajao, Antawn Jamison, and Mo Williams.

Here’s a feature published yesterday in Bloomberg Businessweek about Dan Gilbert, his approach to building a championship team in the Post-LeBron Era, and the financial forecast for the Cavs in the coming years.

For all you stat-geeks, David Berri has a heavily-statistical breakdown of whether or not the Cavs’ current record is a mirage.

On The Twitters

The lack of NBA action last night meant the NBA Twitterverse was sparsely populated, but everybody loves a good dunk: “Eric Gordon’s “I’m Home” dunk http://dlvr.it/8psym #PBT #NBA” [Kurt Helin]

Welcome Colin McGowan and other things

Friday, November 19th, 2010

– I’d like to give Colin McGowan, our new links editor, a formal introduction. First of all: there were a bunch of applicants for the position, and I’d like to personally thank each and every person that applied. There is little doubt in my mind that everyone who applied for the position was fully qualified for it, and it really hurt to have to choose only one person out of all of you. I encourage you to keep reading, keep commenting, and to continue looking for places to write. What put Colin ahead of the pack for me were some pieces he’d written for a music website that really blew me away — he has the kind of mind-set, style, and ideas that made me want to be in business with him. I encourage all of you to find places that will let you publish those kinds of pieces.

– Random thought: I don’t really like Miami LeBron that much. A part of me was kind of excited to see what he’d do alongside teammates like Wade and Bosh, but he seems way too tentative so far. He’s not looking to drive enough, and seems to be deferring to his new teammates instead of really taking advantage of them. Also, the Heat are still way too dependent on jump shots — even in that blowout win over Phoenix, they were doing most of their damage from the perimeter. Finally, I love that Big Z is doing so well with the Heat offensively, but man was he a liability on defense — the Heat were playing 4-on-5 when he was in the game.

– You know what makes me feel awful about the Greg Oden news? That this injury will be an opportunity for some people to say “I told you so.” Yes, he’s been injury-prone. Yes, this does make Durant look like the far better pick. But the bottom line is this means a potentially great player and a true center may never get to achieve his potential. That sucks. Root for whomever you’re going to root for, but please don’t root for injuries.

– I’m going to say this — A few years ago, Buzz Bissinger said that blogs were addicted to cruelty and addicted to speed. I think a lot of that can now be said about twitter. You can say this about news in general, and it’s been said before, but every day it feels a little bit more like nuanced journalism is being replaced by people trying to have the loudest/most extreme opinion on a given issue or person. Bissinger managed to paint a complete, nuanced, and ultimately scathing portrait of Odessa’s football culture a while ago, and he did it without having to call anyone a “douche juice.”

Marshall McLuhan said that “the medium is the message,” and I worry that these new mediums are making really good journalists feel like they have a responsibility to send messages that don’t meet the standards, nuance, and intelligence of the work they’ve done in mediums they grew up writing in. 140-character blasts of attitude may be the thing du jour right now, and by the time I start having kids the preferred form of journalism might be .2 second blasts of light and sound beamed directly into your cortex, but I believe that really good, thought-out writing will always have a place in journalism.

– Not promising to see Eyenga getting sent to the D-League. This team’s wing play has been abysmal, and Eyenga still isn’t ready to give 10 minutes a night? Maybe this will change if the Cavs start playing like the Hollinger Power Rankings says they will (the Cavs have faced the weakest schedule in the league so far), but playing guys like Parker, Graham, and Jawad over Eyenga either means that Eyenga is pretty darn bad or the Cavs haven’t come to terms with the fact that they’re rebuilding.

That’s all for tonight. See you guys tomorrow, and get excited about Colin coming aboard.

Links To The Present: November 18, 2010

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

According to Byron Scott, he has developed a somewhat combative relationship with J.J. Hickson because “[Scott sees] so much in him–maybe more than he sees.” It’s unclear whether or not Hickson is responding well to this tough love approach. He has said of his extended time on the bench: “I’m trying to win. I don’t know what [Scott]‘s trying to do.” We’ll keep a close eye on the Scott-Hickson relationship throughout the season.

Mary Schmitt Boyer discusses Jawad Williams’ struggles, the chances of Jamison cracking the starting lineup, and Boobie Gibson’s surprising early-season success on this week’s podcast.

Joey Graham is a fascinating guy. And Byron Scott says he’s going to see more playing time in the near future. No official word on who he will replace in the rotation, but I agree with Jason Lloyd: Jawad Williams, who is battling a groin injury and a case of ball-stopper-itis, will probably see his minutes decrease.

It has been stressed by Scott, the media, and Cavs broadcaster Austin Carr: the Cavaliers offense operates at peak efficiency when the ball moves with great frequency. WFNY’s Scott Sargent delineates just how true this is.

Byron Scott confirms that he will not, indeed, be “staying out all night getting drunk” when he returns to New Orleans for the first time since he was fired in November of 2009. This is good news because I always find it difficult to gameplan for Chris Paul while throwing back shots of Patrón

A little methadone for Cavs nation: LeBron is worse off in Miami! (Sort of.)

I know a lot of Cavs fans have been pulling for OSU alum Greg Oden to get healthy, but it appears he has suffered yet another massive setback, as he will undergo a second microfracture surgery, this time on his left knee. Kevin Pelton weighs in on what’s next for the Blazers big man.

On The Twitters:

It appears Eyenga is, as most assumed, a year away: “Christian Eyenga headed to Erie, Pa., today for D-League assignment.” [Bob Finnan]

“Quote of the Night: Chris Bosh wants to chill http://dlvr.it/8kNNq #PBT #NBA” [Kurt Helin]

“Was thinking to self that Tony/Eva’s personal life none of my business. Then realized I had four windows open with stories about it. *sigh*” [Ken Berg]