Archive for January, 2011

Links To The Present: January 3, 2011

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

“For now, the Cavaliers must find triumph in the little things. Like Christian Eyenga’s first NBA game, as the rookie was called up from the NBADL just before tip-off. Ramon Sessions had a third consecutive strong outing while the guard rotation has thinned because of injury. Newcomer Alonzo Gee and rookie Manny Harris provided a youthful lift the Cavaliers have been searching for all season.” [Jodie Valade]

“Jamison has been saying for weeks how it’s the short stretches that ruin any chance the Cavs have at a victory. It was a seven-minute stretch Saturday night at Chicago, when the Cavs failed to score a basket from the floor. It was the first seven minutes on Sunday, when the Mavericks built leads of 8-0, 12-2 and 17-9 before the Cavs could even gain their footing” [Jason Lloyd]

“The Cavaliers never got blown out, but they also never really had a chance to win.” [Rick Noland]

“All things considered, the Cavaliers, despite losing back-to-back contests to the Bulls and Mavericks, are showing the occasional flash of brilliance that can give one some hope.  A month ago, the Cavs were losing games by 20-plus points.  Though losing 17 of their last 18 games, the last batch of losses were in games where the Cavs were either winning at one point or were at least within spitting distance.” [Scott Sargent]

“I thought he did pretty well. To be honest with you, I thought, Christian, Manny and Alonzo, our young guys, played with a lot of energy. They made some mistakes but it wasn’t because of lack of effort. We’ll just keep working with those guys every day, get them a little bit more comfortable with what we’re doing on both ends of the floor and I think all three of those guys are going to be pretty good. We just have to get the same type of energy from everybody else. That’s the biggest thing. I thought all three of those guys did pretty well tonight.” [Byron Scott on Christian Eyenga]

“Eyenga, the Cavaliers’ 2009 first-round draft pick, spent 15 games with the BayHawks. Specifically, Eyenga was sent to work on his defense. Every time the 6-foot-5 swingman talked to coach Byron Scott while he was in Erie, he had a standard comment: ‘I’m just concentrating on my defense.'” [Jodie Valade]

On The Twitters

“Time for Rehab to get this leg right.. Sittin on the sidelines I feel like the bad kid stuck in class while everybody else @ recess.. SMH” [Boobie Gibson]

“10 of the 14 Cavs’ games left this month are on the road. Could be looking at a losing streak not seen since the 02-03 season.” [realcavsfans]

“Ramon Sessions is the first #Cavs player in franchise history to tally at least 19 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists off the bench.” [Scott Sargent]

Recap: Mavericks 104, Cavs 95 (Or, New Year, Old Rookies, Same Result)

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Overview: The short-handed Mavericks easily handled the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night. All five Dallas starters scored in double figures, and Antawn Jamison had a season-high 35 points to lead all scorers.

Losses by less than 15 points don’t really even feel like losses anymore bullets:

– Well, the Cavs definitely missed Andy on Sunday. Tyson Chandler was able to bully the Cavs in the paint, easily grabbing rebounds over Leon Powe and dropping in baskets every time he caught the ball inside. It’s been a season of comically futile basketball for the Cavs, but watching the 6-7 Powe have to try and battle Chandler on bad knees was one of the clearest illustrations yet of just how outmatched the Cavs are on a given night. But if the Cavs did have Varejao in this game, they would’ve been able to stop Chandler and Marion from scoring at will inside and had a real shot at a win. And all the Mavericks were missing was their starting small forward and a leading MVP candidate! CATCH THE FEVER!

– You’re not going to believe this, but the Cavs had no answer for the Mavericks whenever they pushed the ball in transition or made multiple passes to open three-point shooters. Just kidding. The Cavaliers are terrible at defending both of those things, and the Mavericks did a great job of pushing at every opportunity, making quick decisions with the ball, and knocking down open threes. On a related note, Jason Terry does not miss jump shots.

The Mavericks were able to punish the Cavs in the paint and on the perimeter despite the fact that none of their guards played all that well — Kidd never really got in sync with the rest of the Mavs, and Dominique Jones and J.J. Barea ran the offense with all the patience and calm of people who had been set on fire. Also, watching DeShawn Stevenson rain in open threes was kind of the final indignity, although I suppose I should just be happy he didn’t do the “I can’t feel my face” gesture.

Jamison was, indeed, feeling it in this game. He made everything he threw up, both inside and outside, and Jamison and Sessions were really the only reasons the Cavs weren’t blown out. He did spend a lot of time inside, which is the right thing to do against Brian Cardinal, and seemed to be a little more patient down there than he usually is. As always, Jamison didn’t hesitate to take an open catch-and-shoot jumper when it was there, and he made most of the ones he took. A few more of these performances, and somebody just might want Jamison at the deadline.

I’ve spent a lot of time ripping on Ramon Sessions this off-season. I am very aware of his physical and mental shortcomings as a player. That said, it’s clear to me that Ramon Sessions should be this team’s starting point guard. He is clearly the most gifted passer on the team — he’s had more perfectly timed passes that led to a dunk or layup this season than Mo or Gibson combined, and he’s better than either of them at putting pressure on the defense with his ability to penetrate.

Austin Carr was talking about how Ramon is learning to play the point during the broadcast, but when you look at his career stats, it’s clear he came into the league as a true point. He’s spent most of his time on the floor trying to be an instant offense-type guy this season, but I feel like that’s a product of his role on the team and some correctable bad habits — there’s a point guard buried underneath all those ill-advised forays to the basket. When Ramon Sessions is picking his spots on drives and finding cutters, the Cavs’ offense looks like a real live offense capable of creating high-percentage looks. It’s time to see if he can galvanize the starting unit. Again, what does the team have to lose?

Another shocking development: Hickson followed up a promising game with a miserable one. He was passive, settled for too many jumpers, got destroyed on the boards, and was invisible for most of the game. I’m not ready to call J.J. a lost cause yet, but it’s been two and a half years now, and he still doesn’t appear to be very close to putting it together.

Eyenga had a very Jamario Moon-like game — one great fast-break dunk, missed open threes, some breathtaking rebounds and almost-blocks, and some very bad defensive moments. He looked a little eager to shoot that three, but you can see just how smooth and explosive of an athlete Eyenga is. Hopefully he will not suffer Jamario’s fate. I’m cautiously optimistic.

That’s all for me tonight. Hopefully we can get a win in 2011.

Recap: Bulls 100, Cavs 91 (Or, starting the new year out with a bang immediately followed by a fizzle)

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Overview: The Cavaliers scored 61 points in the first half before scoring 30 points in the second half of a 91-100 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose led the Bulls’ comeback charge with 28 points and 11 assists, with 12 of those points coming in the pivotal third quarter.

Don’t call it a comeback, we all knew that would happen bullets:

Considering that the Cavs are the worst team in basketball, were missing their three best players, and were playing a very good basketball team, that could have gone a lot worse. The Cavs did everything right in the first half — they hit deep jumpers whenever they were left open, they pushed the ball at every opportunity to keep the Bulls from setting up their half-court defense, and they generally outhustled the Bulls all over the court. Jamison made some tough shots, Powe had some crazy buckets inside, Ramon caught the Bulls off guard a few times with drives, and Manny Harris thrived in the open court. In short, everything went absolutely perfect.

In the second half, Derrick Rose decided he’d had enough and decided to completely destroy the Cavs. When he wanted to go to the basket, he blew past his man and eluded the help defender with a series of ridiculous acrobatic displays. When he took a three, he hit it. When the Cav collapsed on him, he found the open man. The difference between having a superstar and not having a superstar is so huge in this league — once Rose started doing his thing, the Cavs didn’t know who to give the ball to, and the game completely fell apart. If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it’s that having an Alpha dog really matters.

The other big storyline from this game is that JJ Hickson finally got his confidence back. He was the recipient of some nice interior passes and dunked them, had some nice drives, and even found the mid-range shot that has eluded him for so long. I worry that that mid-range/pull-up game is fool’s gold for JJ, because he’s so effective at the basket and has been extremely inconsistent on the perimeter, but maybe he can build on this performance.

Here’s  a somewhat random note: we have to talk about the Cavs being the bizarro version of the Heat. The Cavs were improbably decent for the first part of the season, and the Heat were unfathomably average. Then they played each other, and we all know how that went. Since that game, the Cavs have won once and the Heat have lost once. The Heat’s loss came two days after the Cavs’ win, and the Heat needed a miracle comeback to avoid losing on the same day the Cavs won. Today, the Cavs played a perfect Heat while the Heat got shellacked, then collapsed in the third quarter as the Heat destroyed the Warriors in the third. This is weird, right?

That’s all I really have for tonight. Anthony Parker is not going to shoot well when he’s asked to create offense, Jamario Moon is bad at basketball, and I wonder why Hollins was DNP-CDed. Until later, everyone.