Archive for December, 2010

Links To The Present: December 22, 2010

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

There have been a few murmurings here and there about how the Cavs could have acquired Al Jefferson this past summer when he was being shopped aggressively by Minnesota. Here’s a report by Bob Finnan as well as a take from Scott Sargent over at WFNY. There are two sides to this argument, from what I’m reading. The first argument is that the Cavs shouldn’t have traded for a guy who is merely a complimentary player on a good team; one who will push them into the 8-10 seed range in the East and out of the area where they could draft a potential franchise player. The second argument is that Big Al is good, young, and could have been acquired at a low price.

J.J. Hickson claims he has to “get back to the old J.J.,” which means converting on hustle plays like tip-ins and offensive rebounds. We’ll see if “old J.J.” actually makes any sort of appearance over the next couple weeks or if that’s an empty quote.

Here are a few Cavs/Hawks previews for tonight‘s game in Atlanta. Most interesting thing I gleaned from that articles: Byron Scott wants a big who can draw double teams in the post. Does Al Jefferson draw double teams in the post? I believe he does.

On The Twitters

“Joey Graham did not make trip to Atlanta. Stayed behind to rest leg. Leon Powe could be active tonight for #Cavs” [Jason Lloyd]

“Silver lining: #Cavs continue to be among the top 10 in assist percentage and are tied for league-fewest turnovers per game. #ballcontrol” [Scott Sargent]

On Knicks rumors

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

– So the news of the day is that if the Knicks don’t land Carmelo at the trade deadline, they might be looking to move Eddy Curry’s expiring contract for two Cavs players, namely Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao. The way I see it, the only players the Knicks would be able to sweeten the pot with are Anthony Randolph and Andy Rautins.

I’m one of the biggest Anthony Randolph apologists in the world, but even I’d have trouble mustering any excitement for him at this point. He’s not a rookie, he’s a poor finisher inside, he’s in love with a mid-range jumper he can’t make, and he takes too many plays off on defense to be the game-changer he should be on that end. And he doesn’t play without the ball enough. There’s a 90% chance he’ll never be anywhere near as good as Varejao because he doesn’t realize how an energy big should play, a 5% chance he’ll make up for that with his skills and be about as good, a 4.9999 percent chance that he’ll put it together and be a key to the future, and a very small chance that he will evolve into the ultimate weapon and break zone defenses with his mind. Also, the team already has one J.J. Hickson. Although a Hickson/Randolph frontcourt would certainly be intriguing. But bad. I need to stop thinking about this.

As for Andy Rautins, I do not think he will get this team back to the NBA Finals.

Suffice it to say that I don’t love this deal, especially with the Cavs being a less-than-attractive free agency destination right now, the Knicks having no draft picks to speak of, and nobody knowing what free agency will look like next season.  Until tomorrow.

Links To The Present: December 21, 2010

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

“I thought our guys were focused. I thought we played hard. But there were still too many mistakes defensively, and they took advantage of pretty much every one of them.” [Byron Scott via Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“The way they played, they pretty much plugged the paint up. They want you to shoot jump shots. We took what the defense gave us. I thought at times we still could have maybe made the extra pass or taken one more dribble to the paint to force them in a little more, but it wasn’t offense. It was just the fact that they did a pretty good job of clogging us up on the defensive end and it’s a part of our game that we have to continue to work on.” [Byron Scott on the Cavs’ 28 three-point attempts]

“Can the Cavaliers continue to take and convert double-digit three-point attempts to bear fruit?  During their three-game winning streak earlier this season, the offense was predicated upon shots at the rim (30, 22 and 23, respectively) with less focus on long-range.  But since December 15th, a night which may very well be a turning point in efficiency and effort, the Cavaliers are averaging only 18 shots at the rim compared to 25 three-pointers.” [Scott Sargent]

“I know that the Princeton offense is predicated on offensive players taking what the defense gives. I just can’t believe that the only way to beat the Utah Jazz is to keep firing up 3-pointers and hope they go in. Surely the nine teams that have beaten the Jazz so far this season have done more than that. I also can’t believe that after the performance Anderson Varejao put on against the New York Knicks on Saturday he’s a complete afterthought on Monday. Yes, the Jazz defend a lot better than the Knicks, but the problem I see is that the Cavs never seem to do the same thing well for two games in a row _ never try to do the same thing well two games in a row.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“Hickson was the one guy who was not going to be traded, the one Cavalier who is young and gifted enough to be an impact player. Handed a chance to start in front of veteran Antawn Jamison, Hickson discovered what life is like for most NBA players. The easy layups and dunks left town with James. The soft approach in the dressing room departed with Brown.” [Terry Pluto]

No Twitter today. I’m currently in a train station with terrible wi-fi after having been on a train from Chicago to NY for 15 hours. Take pity on me, dear readers.

Recap: Jazz 101, Cavs 90 (Or, Back to losing)

Monday, December 20th, 2010

epic fail photos - Product FAIL

Overview: The Cavs had their one-game winning streak snapped by the Utah Jazz, who made 10 of their 23 three-point attempts over the course of a 101-90 win. Deron Williams had 17 points and 10 assists for the Jazz, while Daniel Gibson led the Cavs with 29 points on 8-9 shooting from beyond the arc.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

– The Cavs’ current game plan seems to be to take a lot of threes, allow a lot of threes, and hope for the best. The team puts four guys at the three-point line, runs a lot of screens out there, and has Andy look for cuts. Sometimes Mo or Boobie try for a floater, Jamison puts it on the deck and throws up one of those weird runner/scoop shot things, or AP does that jab-step/one hard dribble/pull-up midrange jumper he does, but a lot of the time the possession ends with the Cavs firing up the first good three they get a look at. Considering that the team is starting four good shooters and zero people who are good at taking it to the basket off the dribble, it’s probably the best strategy.

– Defensively, the Cavs still have major issues. The Jazz let the Cavs off the hook in the first half by settling for a surprising amount of mid-range jumpers, but eventually they started making extra passes, getting open threes, and knocking them down. Jamison also had no chance when Millsap faced him up from the mid-post, which allowed the Jazz to essentially score at will from inside and out. The final says the Cavs only lost by 11, but it wasn’t really that close — this one was essentially over after three.

Individual notes:

– Daniel Gibson: 7-8 from beyond the arc, 1-7 from two-point range. That’s a strange line right there. Still, the guy was on fire, plain and simple. Whether the Cavs decide to keep Boobie and/or Varejao, who could contribute to any team in the league, or try and move them at the deadline is the biggest Cavs story of the next few months.

– On that note, who else saw Andy shut Al Jefferson down when big Al tried to pull out the up-and-under? Anderson Varejao is a monster.

– Mo Willams’ True Shooting is down nearly 10% this year. The best thing about his game is that he can make any jumper at any time, but he really needs to start displaying better shot selection. That goes double for Antawn Jamison.

– Hickson with a nice game: 3-4 from the field, team-high 9 rebounds. Hopefully he can build on that.

– Man, Paul Millsap is good. I love when undersized forwards use their speed and skills to their advantage without floating to the perimeter — he takes it at the high post and either goes around you or pulls up for an easy mid-range jumper.

That’s all for me tonight. Until later.

Links To The Present: December 20, 2010

Monday, December 20th, 2010

“There were some nasty accusations flying around during the 10-game losing streak when observers wondered if the Cavaliers were giving maximum effort.

However, no one ever pointed their finger at center Anderson Varejao.” [Bob Finnan]

“In Saturday night’s win over the New York Knicks, Cavs center Anderson Varejao notched his seventh double-double of the season – 42nd of his career  – by tallying 14 points on 7-13 (.538) shooting and a season-high 17 rebounds.  If that was not enough, the man they call “Wild Thing” added two steals and a career-high four blocks just for good measure. It was Varejao’s third game with at least 15 rebounds in the last four contests, a span that has seen the big man average 13.5 points on .538 shooting, 13.5 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.8 blocks.” [Scott Sargent]

“If I’m GM Chris Grant I’m unloading this roster as fast as I can. I wouldn’t even worry about what I get in return. Draft picks — first round or second round — will do just fine.” [Nick Carrabine]

“Asked about the beauty of Sloan’s system, Williams said, ‘You’ve got to guard all five guys. A lot of teams in this league run a lot of sets where it’s a two-man game or a three-man game. A lot of times in their offense, five guys are moving at one time and whoever’s open is going to get the ball.'” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

On The Twitters

“Rashard Lewis looks real happy to be in Washington -http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/7439/capturegi.jpg” [realcavsfans]

“RT @jjbareapr: Good meeting with Rick Pitino he might be the next Puerto Rican national team coach good stuff” [Marc Stein]

“When asked if he can count on Andy Varejao for another 40 mins tonight, Coach Scott smiled and said ‘He had a nice little rest yesterday.'” [Scott Sargent]

Recap: Cavs 109, Knicks 102 (Or, HOLY CRAP THE CAVS WON.)

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Overview: The Cavaliers broke their 10-game losing streak with a 109-102 overtime win over the New York Knicks. Mo Williams led the Cavs with 23 points and 14 assists, and Anderson Varejao grabbed 17 rebounds and held Amar’e Stoudemire to 8-19 shooting from the field.

OH MY GOD WE WON Bullets:

– Wow. That was awesome. It didn’t look good for the Cavs, especially since the Heat pulled a win out of their behinds just before the end of regulation — that was a bad omen, considering the concurrent streaks. But they pulled it off. Let’s break it down.

– It looked like the Knicks were on the verge of blowing the game open in the first half. They were pushing at every opportunity, capitalizing on every Cavs turnover, and making their threes. The Cavs stayed in it by pushing the break themselves and matching the Knicks shot-for-shot. The team looked comfortable in the full-court game, and Razor Ramon and JJ even had their moments.

– In the second half, the Knicks stopped making their threes, and their spacing got out of whack. Just like they did on Friday night, the Knicks responded to offensive adversity by relying on Amar’e isolations. On Friday night, Joel Anthony was able to stop Amar’e in isolation. On Saturday, Anderson Varejao made Stoudemire’s life a living hell all night long. Amar’e got his 23 points, but he needed 19 shots to get them, and he committed eight turnovers in the process. As bad as the Cavs have been defensively this season, Varejao has been bringing it all year. Not many teams run their offense through their center anymore, but every team that’s tried it against the Cavs has had serious trouble scoring on Varejao.

– While Varejao carried the defense, Mo Williams carried the offense. He hit the game-tying basket with three seconds to go, racked up assists, and absolutely carried the team in overtime when he smelled victory. He wanted this one more than the Knicks did, and now the losing streak is finally over.

– Props to Jamison and Parker as well — they were scoring from everywhere on the floor, and the Cavs needed both of them to keep up with the Knicks’ relentless offensive pace.

– That’s really all I have right now. The Knicks were a perfect matchup on a back-to-back, but even still it feels really, really good to win. Let’s see if the Cavs can actually start a winning streak now.

Recap: Pacers 108, Cavs 99 (Or, It would be great to get a win sometime soon)

Friday, December 17th, 2010

epic fail photos - CLASSIC: Multiple=

Overview: The Cavs were outscored 34-25 in the second quarter of a 99-108 loss to the Indiana Pacers. The losing streak is now at 10. Danny Granger led all scorers with 30 points on 12-22 shooting from the field.

The Cavs have not won a game since November 27th bullets:

– Danny Granger goes off again, predictably. The Cavs haven’t been able to guard good wing players, guard the three-point line, or play transition defense all season. Granger is dangerous off the dribble, a dead-eye three point shooter, and runs straight to the arc in transition. That’s a bad combination, and that allowed Granger to break out of his slump against the Cavs.

– So, Boobie followed his best game of the year with his worst one. That’s what happens when I give him a shirt in a losing effort. I blame myself.

– Better effort overall, especially defensively, but the losing streak continues.

– Jawad was a -14 in 13 minutes. Impressive failure.

– Sessions and Hickson continue to be terrible, and that’s the connundrum. The only way to actually win games is to have them get it together, but they’re the biggest reasons the team is getting killed.

– Gotta give Mo some props for having a great night both shooting and passing the ball — hopefully the team will step up when Boobie and Mo have games like the Heat and Pacers game.

– That’s all for me tonight. Please let this streak end.

Links To The Present: December 17, 2010

Friday, December 17th, 2010

In the ongoing saga that is Byron Scott trying desperately to find a lineup combination that doesn’t struggle mightily, he claims he’s going to shorten the rotation considerably over the next week or two. As Mary Schmitt Boyer observes: “[Scott] used just eight players at Miami. The only reserves who played were J.J. Hickson (19 minutes), Joey Graham (16) and Ramon Sessions (11).” That trend will apparently continue, and if Scott is in the business of winning games, it’s probably his best option considering this team possesses a small number of players who are good at basketball.

Unsurprisingly, no Cavalier is coming close in the All-Star voting. You’re telling me Boobie Gibson isn’t a top 4 point guard in this league? Well, then you are a very reasonable man, sir.

Joey Graham tweaked his quad against Miami and will be a spectator for tonight’s game against the Pacers.

Let’s Talk About Our Feelings

Since there is a rather paltry selection of links today (a lot of Cleveland blogs and newspapers are talking Browns and Cleveland State basketball at the moment), I thought I’d engage you guys in the comment section a bit. Let’s talk about the enigma that is J.J. Hickson.

In the Cavs’ first eight games, he averaged 16.5 PPG on 52.1% shooting and was getting to the line 5.3 times per game in, on average, 27.6 minutes. Byron Scott’s criticisms of his rebounding are supported by the numbers, as even when we remember him as “on his game,” he was pulling down only about 6 rebounds each night, and his defense remains either “a work in progress” (optimistic) or “pretty awful” (pessimistic).

Since then: woof. You don’t need me to crunch the numbers. On offense, he’s forced things, disappeared for large stretches, and generally done little but throw down a dunk or two per game. On defense, he’s regressed, if that was even possible. His responses to Scott’s motivational tactics have not been positive; it seems like he just doesn’t get it. Scott tells him to work harder on the boards and the defensive end, and either: a.) he is trying as hard as he can and is simply unsuccessful, or b.) he literally doesn’t know what that means.

So what is J.J.’s future with this team? Does he have one? Do we hold out and hope he starts putting up 19-7 by the time he’s 24? What kind of trade offer would it take to send him packing? Please answer using only quotes from Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim. (But seriously, answers of any kind would be much appreciated.)

My abbreviated take: I have serious doubts that Hickson will ever grow into a player who can be a starter on a really good team. His basketball IQ just isn’t there, and he seems to have a confidence (arrogance?) about him that is detrimental to his development. If some GM or scout has been watching Cavs games and thinking “That guy is a tremendous talent who just needs a change of scenery,” then let’s see what they have to offer in the way of draft picks and talent. I don’t think the Cavs should move him for cap space/late-first round draft picks and a bag of potato chips simply because Hickson is 22 and we know he can play really well, if sporadically.

On The Twitters

“The significance of Graham’s injury is he’s someone who could guard Pacers forward Danny Granger.” [Bob Finnan]

“The problem with watching games and having my 2-year-old in the room: The KIA hip-hop hamsters ad comes on and we have to watch it 5 times.” [Kurt Helin]

In reference to the “Morgan Freeman is dead” rumor that lasted about 45 seconds: “Sorry for that guys. Technology is really great… until it isn’t.” [Jason Lloyd]

Notes and Errata: December 17th, 2010

Friday, December 17th, 2010

– Unless something crazy happens (and something crazy can always happen) the Cavs have three good chances to get a win before 2011. Friday’s game against the Pacers is one of those chances. Let’s hope the Cavs show up.

– Fun with playoff odds: The Cavs are one of two teams with a 0.0% chance to make the playoffs. I assume that means they did not make the playoffs once in 5.000 computer simulations. And the Cavs have been healthy. Also, according to the odds, there is a 79.6% chance that the Heat, Celtics, or Spurs will win the championship. If one of those teams ends up pulling it off, it’s time to admit that Hollinger is on some next-level stuff. Actually, it probably already is.

– It really sucks that Yao is out for the rest of the year, and may be out indefinitely. With how hard that guy has worked his whole life, and his package of skills, and the way he approaches the game, and the fact that he’s a once-in-a-generation genetic product, how can you say he didn’t deserve success? Really tough to see.

– I’ll admit I took some time off from watching hoops tonight to watch the last WEC card, and I’m very pleased that I got to watch Anthony Pettis’ kick as it happened. If you haven’t seen it, holy crap. I’ll make a larger point here about what separates professional athletes from the rest of us. This happened in the 24th minute of a dead-even fight, and easily the most important fight of either of these guys’ lives. Pettis was probably, but not definitely, going to win if he played it safe. More importantly, he was standing directly across from a trained, high-level athlete who was trying to hurt him very badly. What went through his head? “You know, if I run to the cage, ninja walk on it, and flying head kick this guy with the same foot, I think it’ll work.” AND THEN HE DID IT. And it worked. That kind of physical creativity and mental fearlessness is what separates high-level athletes from the rest of us as much as any physical gifts do.

– On that note, Manu Ginobili is insane. The guy is incredible. He does moves that seem like they would take decades to learn and decides to do them faster than most people can blink. Also, I will continue my Spurs love here — it’s not just that they move the ball so well, it’s their patience. Everyone on that team seems to know the shot-clock, the situation, and the percentage of a possible shot at any given time — instead of taking a semi-contested mid-range jumper with 14 seconds on the clock, they kick it back out and wait for a potential dunk or open three. It’s like watching a really, really good NBA 2K player. Gregg Popovich seems to have solved the issue of individual desires getting in the way of a perfect system. I like the Spurs a lot.

– Manu Ginobili is awesome. Landry Fields is awesome as well. Every draft pick is a chance at rebuilding.

– Here are the latest future power rankings. Cavs are not last. Hooray.

Links To The Present: December 16, 2010

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

$20 says this guy can’t tell me where Mario Chalmers went to college.

I’m ambivalent about the news coverage that’s followed the Cavs defeat last night in Miami. Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I saw last night, for the most part. But it’s sad that the Cavs have sunk so low that they’re spoken about in the same terms one might use to encourage a six year old tee-ball player. “Good job, guys! Good effort!” It’s indicative of a depressing reality. Anyway, here is that media coverage, for your perusal.

“Give them the nod. Mad props this morning go out to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Head Coach Byron Scott. Last night, they rolled into Miami on an eight-game losing streak to take on the red-hot Heat, winners of nine straight. This was a true case of two teams going in opposite directions.” [TD of WFNY]

“Although the Cavaliers lost to the Heat, 101-95, in American Airlines Arena, extending their losing streak to nine games and falling to 7-18, they went down fighting every step of the way.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“They succumbed to the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena, 101-95, but went down fighting.” [Bob Finnan]

“There may be few moral victories in the NBA, but the Cavs knew they had played their best basketball in weeks, no doubt fueled by playing against their former teammate LeBron James. Despite their best efforts, though, the Heat’s talent was eventually too much to withstand for the entire game.” [Surya Fernandez]

“What is that feeling? First let us put that on hold for a second, as we preempt this feeling by saying, it was good to see the Cavaliers give a more physical effort – or any effort at all – in Wednesday night’s loss to the Miami Heat by a margin of six points.” [T.J. Zuppe]

And as always, here’s Mary Schmitt Boyer’s weekly podcast. She discusses Jamario Moon, Leon Powe, and who the best player on this team is, precisely.

On The Twitters

“#Cavs coach Byron Scott gave his starters the day off, but was pleasantly surprised they all showed up on the bus for practice anyway.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“As for the game itself, it has slipped out of the Cavs reach, but tonight was a great effort from this team. No shame in the way they lost” [RockWFNY]

“By the way, there’s been virtually no contact between LeBron and ex-teammates tonight. Not even eye contact.” [Brian Windhorst]