Archive for December, 2010

Recap: Heat 101, Cavs 95 (Or, that could have gone much worse)

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

  LeBron James #6 Of The Miami Heat Watches

Overview: The Cavs put up a good fight against the Miami Heat, but had no answer for Dwayne Wade in the second half. Daniel Gibson had one of his best games of the year, finishing with 26 points on 10-16 shooting from the field. The Heat have won their last 10 games. The Cavaliers have lost their last nine.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

- If moral victories can exist in a nine-game losing streak, this was one. The Cavs were competitive throughout the game. They moved the ball on offense and spread the floor with shooters, keeping the Heat defense off balance and committing only eight turnovers. The latter was a big deal — the Heat weren’t really able to get out in transition, which forced them to rely on their inconsistent halfcourt offense. On defense, the team moved its feet, didn’t concede easy drives, and made the Heat shoot mid-range jumpers.

- In the second half, the Heat took the game over with an abundance of three-pointers and Dwayne Wade. The Heat relied on the three against the Cavs, going 10-23 from beyond the arc. Three of those 10 threes were corner threes from James Jones, and the product of good ball movement by the Heat. Four of those threes came from Mario Chalmers, whom the Cavs dared to beat them. And three of those threes were from Wade, who was absolutely on fire in that second half. Boobie was playing good defense on Wade, but he was having one of those nights. His crossover was evil, he was making incredible drives to the basket, and he made a lot of jump shots that you have to let him take.

The Heat still haven’t found offensive symmetry, and it can be rough to watch them play offense. Wade and James can nail threes off the dribble, but can’t make open catch-and-shoot threes. James hates moving when Wade drives. Bosh doesn’t attack the rim much. However, they’ve found a pretty good formula: tighten up the defense, attack in transition whenever the opportunity presents itself, and give LeBron and Wade chances to take the game over. It works.

Individual notes:

Can’t say enough good things about Boobie Gibson, who played like a man possessed. When he got an inch of space on a three, he hit it. He hit some beautiful pull-up jumpers from midrange. His floater, which never really worked for him last year, was money. Throughout his career, Boobie has stepped up when the pressure’s on, and it’s clear he put a lot of pressure on himself to win this game. I used to have a rule that prohibited giving Boobie a shirt in losses, but it’s time to revise that rule. Great game, Boobie.

boobie shirt

Mo had some nice floaters and did a good job running the offense, but it would be really nice if he could make threes when the team needs them. Not the best night for him to go 1-10 from beyond the arc.

Jamison kept the floor spread and hit some threes, but couldn’t do anything inside the arc — Bosh is a bad matchup for him. Jamison did do a good job of containing Bosh on the other end, though.

Great game for Andy, who was everywhere on both ends of the floor and was a menace on the boards. Does anyone doubt that Andy and Boobie are the team’s two best players?

Bullets of Randomness:

Just one tonight — Joel Anthony had a really good game, and his shot-blocking in the fourth quarter was huge. Maybe he wasn’t a terrible signing after all.

Links To The Present: December 15, 2010

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I’ll be watching tonight’s game through my hands, if any of you were wondering.

“Our concern right now is not [the Heat], it’s us.” [Mo Williams]

“The buildup and anticipation to this game is obviously much less than the buildup to James’ return to Cleveland on Dec. 2. That game was almost a relief to both James and his new teammates to just get it out of the way. But James still has deep emotions when talking about his old team. Asked if facing the Cavs is like facing any other team in the league, James said ‘not yet.’” [Jason Lloyd]

“James and Ilgauskas are fielding copious questions about the Cavs in advance of Wednesday night’s contest in Miami. Oddly enough, it turns out that Ilgauskas might not reciprocate those same warm fuzzy feelings for the Cavs organization.” [Eric Freeman]

“Gibson, who had been a bench player until this season, said the key is for substitutes to enter the game anticipating making an impact. Gibson has taken rookie guard Manny Harris under his wing, and has advised Harris to simply play like the hungry rookie that he is.” [Jodie Valade]

“Thankfully, the Cavaliers front office is not acting in an alarmist fashion and will continue to monitor the landscape for deals that they feel will benefit the team strategically. Despite Gilbert’s desire to emulate the 2004 Detroit Pistons, it has become evident that this team will need to focus more on the business model of the Oklahoma City Thunder who, by virtue of several years of losing basketball, acquired and successfully executed in the drafting of several lottery selections. [Scott Sargent]

On The Twitters

“Spent some time with Cavs this morning. Out of everything going on, this is major problem: they’ve been league’s worst def. team in Dec.” [Brian Windhorst]

“Brian Windhorst says that the best way for a Cavalier to be endeared by #Cavs fans would be to floor LeBron James tonight.” [Scott Sargent]

“Makes me wonder what #TheHickson can fetch on the open market. Sounds crazy but TWill makes JJ look like a rocket scientist” [Probasketballdraft]

Statistics and Dreamscapes: December 15th, 2010

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

- I’ll start things off with some “what is this team going to do at the deadline” conjecture. From where I’m standing, the team’s best trade chip is Boobie. He plays good defense, he’s a dead-eye shooter who knows how to get open, he can handle the ball and make some plays, and he doesn’t do dumb things. He’s also got an easy contract to live with, which you can’t really say about Andy. Every contender with an iffy point guard or no real backup should be calling to ask about this guy. Here’s the issue — when Boobie has been on the floor, the team has been mildly competitive/fairly bad. The second he steps off the floor, the team is downright abysmal. (Sessions has a promising +/- as well, but I attribute a lot of that to his garbage-time prowess.)

He’s also young, and has the aforementioned manageable contract. I don’t feel like any team would give up a lottery pick or legit long-term asset for Boobie, but he’ll definitely draw interest and give the front office a chance to blow the thing up — what do you guys think? Should the team be shopping Boobie, or should he be a part of the Cavs’ long-term plans? (Also, if we can sucker a team into giving up an actual asset for Mo, I’m absolutely on board.)

- So, the Cavs play the Heat again tomorrow! And the two teams couldn’t be going in more different directions! In their last 10 games, the Heat have outscored their opponents by 14.3 points per game. The Cavs have lost their last 10 games by an average of 16.5 points per game. That’s a difference of 30.8 points per game. I do not think this will end well, although the part of me that liked wrestling as a kid always telling me that something unexpected will happen in these kind of games. Probably not, though. Can we even call this a trap game for the Heat? It’s more of a “don’t trip over that old lady’s walker after you get done beating her” game. (By the way, the spread for this game has the Heat winning by 17.5 points — hat tip to Scott Sargent.)

- That’s all for me tonight. It sure would be a nice change of pace if the Cavs manage to win tomorrow — if not, all that happens is that they lose another game, right? At this point, that can’t be a very big deal.

Links To The Present: December 14, 2010

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

One of the few bright spots for the Cavs fans this year has been watching Anderson Varejao play basketball with reckless abandon. I love that guy for going out every night and working his butt off. I would hate to see him go, but his destiny is to be the sixth or seventh man on a championship team.

It’s sad when Mary Schmitt Boyer has to write articles about how the Cavs are coping with just how depressing their season has been. It’s like the Cavs’ locker room is an orphanage or something.

“No matter how Scott rearranges the pieces, this roster is riddled with holes. Every adjustment reveals a different flaw. The only way to really patch things up is to make additions, and the only way to make additions is to start cutting salary and cashing in on what value the roster has left.” [Rob Mahoney]

It turns out, as one you guys in the comment section pointed out, that when you start your best players, your bench gets worse. Weird.

“In 16 words, Byron Scott finally conceded Sunday night what the organization has hesitated to say since LeBron James left. The Cavaliers are rebuilding.” [Jason Lloyd]

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH MILK AND COOKIES IF YOU VISIT US THIS CHRISTMAS EVE” [Not Dan Gilbert]

On The Twitters

“I’m working on a project that is forcing me to read the players tweets… Gibson is sounding a lot like Creflo A Dollar.” [realcavsfans]

“Knicks say eddy curry didn’t practice because he has a cold.” [Barbara Barker]

“Shouldn’t we all be blasting Cliff Lee for leaving his team to join up with a bunch of superstars for a little less money?” [Kurt Helin]

Links To The Present: December 13, 2010

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Another quotestravaganza today, y’all. Sorry, it’s finals week and your loyal links editor is swamped. I should be out of the woods by Tuesday afternoon.

“Following the Cavaliers 106-77 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, head coach Byron Scott called out his recently depleted reserve unit (“slaughtered” was his exact term) for a 19-1 third-quarter run that would be the proverbial dagger in the evening for the Wine and Gold.  After the starting unit brought the game back to within 10, the second unit could provide little in terms of a roadblock as the Thunder never looked back.” [Scott Sargent]

“Scott repeatedly said this was the best team he had taken over, much better than his teams at New Jersey and New Orleans. But with the Cavs lugging a seven-game losing streak into Sunday’s game, they haven’t looked that way.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“As soon as one leak is plugged in the Cavs’ quickly sinking ship, another sprouts on the other side. Now the season is taking on water — fast — and Scott is running out of answers.” [Jason Lloyd]

“At some point, the Cavs need to designate a scorer for nights like Sunday, where nothing the offense is doing is going right and someone needs to create something! in order to get the defense to adjust.  That guy has to be Mo Williams, because he’s the guy who doesn’t have to wait for Mo Williams to pass it to him.  Which is why he can’t have an 8-point, 3-for-9 night like he did on Sunday.  Mo’s unwillingness to go down swinging when the team is slipping is just the latest proof that he’s an ideal 6th man, nothing more.  ” [Michael Curry]

On The Twitters

“Fan just hit half court shot for 20 grand. #Cavs could use someone with that range” [Jason Lloyd]

“#Cavs fans frustrated with play, note that with patience and lots of losing, the OKC business model is attainable.” [Scott Sargent]

“JJ didn’t like [Scott's criticism of the bench]: ‘Oh so he’s blaming it on the bench? If he feels that way then, that’s the way he feels. That’s his opinion.’” [Jason Lloyd]

Recap: Thunder 106, Cavs 77 (Or, Cash Cab is fake and this team sucks)

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Overview: The Thunder outscored the Cavaliers 30-13 in the third quarter of a 106-77 blowout. Four Thunder players finished with more points than any Cavalier player did. At one point, the Thunder broadcast team began to feel bad for the Cavaliers.

Bullets of misery and Russell Westbrook:

Yes, Cash Cab is indeed fake. Everything else you ever loved is also probably a lie. Onto the game:

- After playing shockingly competent basketball in five of the eight quarters they played since the starting lineup change, the Cavs went back to wire-to-wire awfulness against the Thunder. Right from the beginning, you could tell a blowout was coming. The Cavs didn’t keep the floor spread, rushed their shots, couldn’t find any cutters around the basket, and turned the ball over way too much, which led to easy transition buckets for the Thunder.

- Speaking of easy baskets, the Thunder got a lot of them. There were the transition baskets. There were the baskets that came after the Cavs would lose Kevin Durant on off-ball screens and give him a wide-open three or lane for a dunk. There were the times Russell Westbrook would effortlessly get into the teeth of the defense and find a wide-open man for a dunk or a three. There were the times the Cavs forgot that Jeff Green can drive to the basket. It was a horrifying, horrifying defensive performance, as well as the kind of defensive performance we’ve come to expect from this team. 94 of the Thunder’s 106 came from the paint, the three-point line, or the free-throw line. I remember when I pointed that stat out against the Spurs and thought splits like that would be a one-time thing. I was mistaken.

- The bench was horrifying: Hickson was a -30 in 24 minutes, and Manny Harris was a fascinatingly awful -27 in 16 minutes. Both guys looked completely lost on both ends of the floor, but neither of them were as bad as Jawad Williams, who played about as badly as it’s possible to play. I counted three airballs and two turnovers that led to easy baskets, and there were stupid fouls as well. I’d say it’s time to get Jawad out of the rotation, but that would mean relying on Joey Graham or Manny Harris.

- Varejao had a great rebounding game and fought for every missed shot. Very few other good things happened.

Bullets of Randomness:

- This team looks completely different than it did last season, and it’s entirely because of Russell Westbrook. I know Durant finished with 25 points, but almost all but two of his buckets were assisted and he only shot four free throws. Everything is running through Westbrook, and that’s freed up Durant to run the break, slash to the basket, and make open threes. For all the SKILLS SKILLS SKILLS! talk that’s always surrounded Durant, his best attributes are that he’s a powerful finisher who can get to the basket in two dribbles and make any open shot. The truth is that he’s more like a better version of Kevin Martin than Kobe (and that’s not an insult), and the Thunder are learning to integrate his talents into an actual offensive system. Once his shot comes around, it’ll be scary.

- Good lord, Russell Westbrook. His court vision is insane, he can make home-run passes as well as anybody else can, he’s fallen out of love with that tweener pull-up jumper, he’s a better finisher, and he seems to be a more confident outside shooter, even if the numbers don’t bear that out. He took complete control of this game from the opening tip in every way — passing, shooting, making steals and pushing the break, getting offensive rebounds. He’s a legit MVP candidate. When the “LeBron vs. Durant” stuff was happening this off-season, who would’ve thought that KD would be more of a #2 guy on the Thunder than LeBron is on the Heat?

- When Harden looks good, he looks really good, but he’s one of those guys who plays off of his outside shot, which makes him a bit streaky. That said, HOLY CHRIST DID HE BAPTIZE HICKSON. Did anyone know he had that kind of athleticism?

On that note, I’ll leave you. Until tomorrow.

Recap: Rockets 110, Cavs 95 (Or, Our hopes are slimmer than Kevin Martin, and worse at basketball)

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

epic fail photos - Superior Pineapples

Overview: Kevin Martin dropped a season-high 40 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, with 22 of those 40 coming in the first quarter. As a team, the Rockets shot 12-26 from beyond the arc.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

The good news is that the Cavs’ starting lineup has something resembling an offensive philosophy. The Rockets are almost as bad as the Cavaliers are on defense, but even so there was a lot to like about what the Cavs were doing. They had four three-point shooters on the floor (Gibson/Mo/Parker/Jamison) on the floor for most of the time, ran a lot of high screen-roll action for Mo and let him work in the middle with the floor spaced, and were able to get some nice pick-and-roll type dives to the basket. There were a lot of open threes and open lanes for Mo, and the Cavs were able to remain competitive in the first half despite the Rockets hitting everything they threw up.

About the Rockets’ offense in the first half. It was crazy. First of all, Kevin Martin was an absolute house of fire.  The Cavs’ defense wasn’t quite as bad as it has been for most of the losing streak, but that didn’t really matter with Martin, who’s always been something of a Cavs-killer. In transition, Martin ran to the three-point line and knocked them down. When the Cavs relaxed for a second in the half-court, he’d fling that funky shot right up and drain it in somebody’s face. When they reacted to the shot-fake, he’d blow by them or draw the foul. There was no answer for him — he had the most success against Manny Harris, but nobody was really able to throw Martin out of sync. When Kevin Martin is on, he’s one of the more efficient and ruthless scorers out there.

Outside of Martin, the Cavs didn’t allow too many easy looks — Battier was mostly left alone from beyond the arc, and Scola did a very good job working on Andy in the post, but outside of that the starters did a decent job defensively. Of course, doing a decent job defensively against everyone but the guy who scored 40 points on 19 shots isn’t all that great, and the Rockets got some easy ones once the game broke open. 96 of the Rockets’ 11o came from the paint, the three-point line, or the free-throw line, in case you were wondering.

The Cavs didn’t really break until they put their second unit in — once the Cavs couldn’t keep the floor spread and the ball stopped, things got ugly fast. Hickson stops the ball and really doesn’t belong right now — it’s a definite present/future question for Byron Scott with him. Ramon needs to rediscover passing or be out of the rotation — theoretically, he should thrive in this type of system, but that hasn’t happened. And Leon Powe is very useful in some situations, but he is not an uptempo player. Once the three of them checked in in the back half of the third, the game went from being somewhat close to being yet another blowout. At least the front office should know what types of players to target at the deadline. Until next time.

Links To The Present: December 10, 2010

Friday, December 10th, 2010

It seems that because of the ineptitude of the veterans in front of him in the rotation, Manny Harris is finally going to see some minutes on a semi-regular basis. Of Harris’ performance against the Bulls, Byron Scott said that Harris “played particularly well.” Scott has also stated that he intends to keep the rotation he used in Bulls game, which means players who saw significant minutes over the first 20 games of the season (possibly Moon, Hickson, and/or Sessions) will probably see a steep decrease in their playing time.

Meanwhile, J.J. Hickson has seemed lost for much of the past month or so. He has, at least temporarily, lost his spot in the starting lineup and only played nine minutes against the Bulls the other night. While Hickson has by no means played well, he did put up 18 points against Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Having been relegated to the bench, he seems confused about his role on the team and his relationship with Byron Scott seems strange. When asked what he thinks he needs to do to win back the starting spot, he stated: “I guess rebounding and play harder, which I did [against Philadelphia].” I’m officially raising the Scott-Hickson relationship from threat-level “Something We Should Keep an Eye on” to “Cause for Concern.

WFNY talks Jamison, Hickson, and their respective trade values. There are some good reminders and analysis in the article. Namely: Jamison’s contract is pretty awful.

Oh, and the Cavs are dead last in Basketball Reference’s Power Rankings.

An item I neglected to post yesterday: Mary Schmitt Boyer talks lineup changes, hypothetical trades, and the team’s battered psyche.

On The Twitters

“Do. Not. Leave. Ray. Allen. Yet it happens all the time.” [Kurt Helin]

“If it weren’t for that play where he spins out of the post for a lob, LaMarcus Aldridge would be shooting about 14% this year.” [John Hollinger]

And Christian Eyenga watches one of the greatest films of the decade: “Whatching STEP UP 3″ [Christian Eyenga]

Enjoy your weekend, guys.

Links To The Present: December 9, 2010

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

(Herm Edwards voice:) WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!!! (Maybe.)

“The Cavaliers will use Wednesday’s 88-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls as a stepping stone toward securing a win that has eluded them for six games, a stretch of futility that the franchise hasn’t endured since 2007. The loss was the first time in five games that the Cavaliers have contended down the stretch, the first time they have held an opponent to less than 100 points in that same span.” [Jodie Valade]

“The Bulls played a terrible brand of basketball offensively, couldn’t hit their free throws, and threw the ball all over the court in such a fashion that the 16 turnovers doesn’t give justice to how bad it was at times.

However, in the end, we have Derrick Rose, and they no longer have LeBron James.” [Doug Thonus]

“‘We didn’t get the outcome that we were looking for, but that’s something to build on, because I thought our guys played hard for the first time in a while,’ said Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott.” [Richard Bauer]

“On the positive side for the Cavs, all five starters finished in double figures for the first time this season, as Jamison had 21 points and Parker had 10. On the negative side, their bench, which entered the night averaging a league-high 46.2 points, scored eight on 3-for-15 shooting.” [Rick Noland]

“The Chicago Bulls did to them what the Cavs used to do to so many teams. They showed up and played defense. The smothering, suffocating type of defense that resulted in the Bulls’ 88-83 victory on Wednesday night. The Cavs have now lost six in a row, but this one didn’t sting quite as badly.” [Jason Lloyd]

On The Twitters

if/when he plays that card, interesting ? RT @bnr1986 so if melo tells den he will only go to nyk, do they just take whatever knicks offer?” [Ken Berger]

“Win, lose or draw if the Cavs play with this type of effort I’ll keep watching.” [realcavsfans]

“Hickson officially must have family in attendance. Now yelling that Byron Scott is a ‘hater.’” [Scott Sargent]

Recap: Bulls 88, Cavs 83 (Or, it was like a win in the sense that the Cavs lost. Wait, that’s not right.)

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Overview: With Daniel Gibson and Antawn Jamison in the starting lineup, Manny Harris in the rotation, and Joey Graham and Ramon Sessions both getting DNP-CDs, the Cavaliers actually managed to compete with the Chicago Bulls before getting outscored 28-15 in the fourth quarter and losing by a final score of 88-83. Derrick Rose led all scorers with 29 points.

Cavs-Related Bullets:

- Well, that certainly sucked less than it usually does. Byron Scott had the idea to play his best players a lot more than his worst players, and that ended up working pretty well for some reason. The offense didn’t look great, but keep in mind that the Bulls are an elite defensive unit — every time the Cavs tried to set up anything intricate with screens, the Bulls would shoot right through the screens, get up in the ballhandler’s face, and generally mess up the set. The Cavs were able to get some decent looks by putting four three-point shooters on the floor at once and keeping the ball moving, but they were never really able to get into the teeth of the defense. When a team shoots 30 three-pointers and 18 free throws in one game, it means they were having trouble getting inside, but the offense was decent enough.

- The two guys who really flourished offensively with the new lineup were Varejao and Parker. I actually really liked how Parker looked at the three — he’s so much slower than every other starting two in the league, and isn’t particularly effective as a three. But with Mo and Gibson keeping the pressure on the defense and moving the ball, Parker has a chance to get more open looks at three and put the ball on the floor when the defense isn’t paying attention. When he can do that, he’s not bad — he’s an extremely intelligent player when he can actually manage to get a step on the defense, and he showed that with a beautiful slip pass to Andy on a pick-and-roll during crunch time.

- Varejao also got more chances to finish plays, but he was also playing like a man possessed. I don’t know what it is about Noah, but he brought something out in Andy. He drilled some mid-range jumpers, almost killed himself for loose balls, and put a freaking dream shake on Noah successfully at least twice. When Andy has confidence, he’s a surprisingly skilled basketball player — it’s just very easy for him to lose that confidence in his skills.

- Jamison had a decent enough night. He’s a volume shooter. That’s what he does at this point in his career. A few nice mid-range jumpers, a few threes, some shots inside, and some forced shots from all areas as well. Jamison is pretty much Jamison. By the way, he went 3-7 from the line, and the Cavs could have REALLY used those four points.

- Manny Harris — hmm. He’s long, he’s athletic, he has three-point range, and he does seem to make things happen. On the other hand, he seems to have gone to the Ramon Sessions school of “driving to the rim with no real plan.” I’d like to see him stay in the rotation over Graham, if only because he might be able to help the team out on defense.

- Okay, let’s talk about the defense. It wasn’t horrible! A lot of that was because Sessions, an atrocious defender, didn’t play, and Hickson, who has been destroying the defense for years, only got 9 minutes of burn (about 2 minutes after he checked in, Taj Gibson got an easy dunk.) Graham, who tries defensively but is horribly unathletic, didn’t play. Parker matched up against a 3 instead of a two. Boobie, who is probably the best perimeter defender on the team, got major minutes. This poop is not rocket science. My caveat here is that the Bulls are not a good offensive team — they settle for mid-range jumpers, have no idea what to do with Boozer at the moment, and don’t seem to have any plays outside of running a double-screen for Rose. Still, the Cavs were actually getting up on guys, contesting shots, and forcing the Bulls to take shots they didn’t want. That’s a very, very big deal. Hopefully it continues.

- The end of the game was pretty simple: The Bulls have Derrick Rose, and the Cavs don’t. At the end of the game, Rose seemed to say “instead of setting up a play or looking for a teammate, why don’t I just blow by Mo Williams and get to the basket? That’s very easy for me.” It was, and he was able to make the key plays at the stretch while the Cavs had to rely on outside shots. That was the difference. Tough loss, but certainly a promising one. Until next time.