Overview: Brandon Jennings and Earl Boykins combined for 36 points in a 110-90 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Samardo Samuels led the Cavs with 15 points on 11 shots.
This was horrible, let’s move on bullets:
Wow. Setback game. Ramon and Hickson combined to go 7-22. They are both in a tailspin. And they didn’t make up for it on defense, to say the least. I don’t miss Jamison. He was the player most responsible for the 26-game streak. Watching the Cavs play defense was genuinely painful. But he had skills that Samardo Samuels does not have. This is not surprising, as Jamison is a former All-Star and Samuels is an undrafted rookie. Still, the Cavs could really use a forward who could knock down an open jumper and pretend to care about defense. They’re not impossible to find, but the Cavs don’t have one.
Boobie’s back! Some threes, some nice playmaking. It would be great if he could return to his pre-injury form.
Honestly, I don’t want to spend much more time on this game. The team needs Baron offensively at this point, and there was no backcourt defense either. My apologies for the recap — think of this as an open thread. Onward and upward, hopefully.
As one of you commenters (I mean that affectionately) mentioned yesterday, ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote in his PER Diem column yesterday that Christian Eyenga exhibits tremendous potential on the defensive side of the ball.
I’m always a bit wary of these post-trade deadline “we were really close to making this trade” stories, but Yahoo! is reporting that the Warriors were very close to acquiring Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker. The Cavs would have gotten an expiring deal and a player who Warriors owner Joe Lacob “doesn’t care about as much.” It makes me profoundly sad that Louis Amundson will probably never wear a Cavalier uniform.
On The Twitters
“Baron’s grandmother Madea Nicholson, 89, raised him in LA, has been called most important figure in his life.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]
“Daniel Gibson tells me his quad is “about 80 percent.” #Cavs” [Scott Sargent]
Overview: Monta Ellis and Baron Davis combined to score 47 points in a 95-85 defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Baron Davis was the high scorer for the Cavaliers with 19 points off the bench.
And now there’s point guard controversy bullets:
So, Razor Ramon is completely unraveling before our eyes. In the three games Baron’s played in, Sessions has shot 13-42 from the field and hasn’t been passing the ball terribly well either. He seems to have completely regressed to the Ramon we saw at the beginning of the year. He’s forcing drives, he’s not looking to pass, and he’s killing the spacing. Having Samardo in the starting lineup instead of Jamison makes it easier for teams to collapse on Ramon, so that isn’t helping. Or maybe having Baron outplaying him and looming over his shoulder is throwing him off. Either way, I want this to end. I love Razor Ramon.
That said, Baron has looked pretty darn good. He’s making RYAN HOLLINS look like a legit big. And he’s making his shots. Watching Baron drain threes is like watching The Godfather again and seeing Sonny get through the toll booth safely, but I’ll take it. Baron’s swagger is at maximum velocity right now. Cavs were -15 in the 17 minutes Baron sat on the bench.
Samardo: chill out, dude. I think some of Scott’s comments may have gotten to his head. I like Samardo, but he should be thinking Jason Maxiell, not Paul Millsap. He was horrendous tonight — bricked jumpers, holding it way too long down low, turnovers, nightmare.
I am sure there are reasons for playing Alonzo Gee over Manny Harris. I am not sure what they are. Gee can rebound, but he’s not much of a defender and he can’t shoot. Manny should be getting those minutes.
Hickson: rough game. He’s not catching the ball, he’s not moving well without it. I wonder if the lack of spacing is having an effect on him.
AP: Too many one-dribble pull-ups. Eyenga: waaaaaaaay too many jumpers. I still have Eyenga as a part of the young “core,” but let’s just say his name is written in pencil instead of pen right now. He’s still very, very raw both in his skills and his approach to the game.
RYAN HOLLINS. GOSH DARN. If this was your first time seeing Ryan Hollins, you’d think he was a top-10 center in this league. He’s big, he can jump, he’s alive, and he can move. That’s often enough. The alley-oops you expect to happen when the right guy is throwing them. Some of the strong moves inside were a pleasant surprise. But the hard shows on pick-and-rolls? Where did that come from? If he can keep doing that, he’s more valuable than Eyenga is to this team.
Speaking of pick-and-roll defense, neither Samuels or Hickson were particularly good at it tonight.
As for the Warriors, they took the game when Monta started raining in threes in the third. With Ramon in the Twilight Zone, there wasn’t much the Cavs could do when the Dubs made their run.
Steph Curry is just flat-out good at basketball. He absolutely looks like a guy who had a ball in his crib and never really let it out of his sight. The ball-handling, the shooting, the way he understands angles, the confidence. What a special, special offensive talent. Although I LOVED seeing Baron post him up for a layup. How many guards do that anymore?
“As Davis is slowly integrated into the rotation — coach Byron Scott said he doesn’t anticipate starting Davis on Tuesday against Golden State, and is hesitant to name when Davis will be the starter — his teammates are learning that he’s a point guard with exceptional court vision.” [Jodie Valade]
“Every day I step out there, I feel I have something to prove. That was one of the worst things I had to go through. Going undrafted was tough for me. I worked so hard and it didn’t happen for me. Coming here to the Cavs, every day I have to give all I have. They gave me the opportunity to play in the NBA.” [Samardo Samuels via Bob Finnan]
“[Semih Erden] said he felt ‘rusty’ [in his debut against the Hornets] which was to be expected because it was his first appearance in a game since Feb. 22, when he was still a member of the Boston Celtics. Erden has been plagued by shoulder and groin injuries that aren’t going away.” [Jason Lloyd]
“Once [Chris Paul] got hurt, we seemed to take a big ol’ exhale like now the game was going to be easy. They’ve got a lot of veteran guys on that team, so we should’ve known they weren’t going to all of a sudden lay down.'” [Byron Scott via Jason Lloyd]
As John and a slew of other outlets have mentioned, Samardo Samuels has been playing well as of late. Byron Scott even went so far as to blatantly lie and call Samuels “more talent[ed] and… more athletic than Kevin Love.” (I’m aware we can debate the merits of this statement, but let’s just agree Samuels will probably never be as good at doing basketball things as Love.) This is minimal evidence, but in three games in March, he is averaging 16.3 PPG on 52.8% shooting in 32 MPG. He’s also getting to the line a little over seven times and pulling down eight boards per game. While those numbers will undoubtedly plummet, perhaps these numbers hint at what Samuels could become. Maybe he could be pre-knee injury Leon Powe: a slightly undersized power forward who shoots a high percentage, rebounds, and helps push the other team’s front line into foul trouble. That’s half extrapolation, half wishful daydream, but allow me my fantasy of Samuels being the ninth man on a Cavs championship squad.
For the first time since Anderson Varejao went out for the season with an ankle injury, the post-trade deadline Cavaliers have some depth in the frontcourt. They have two true (if not, y’know, good) centers in Hollins and Semih Erden; Byron Scott is switching Hickson and Samuels around at both the four and the five; and Luke Harangody is another body who can shoot with some efficiency from 15 feet. At the very least, we can be confident we won’t see DeMarcus Cousins backing down a helpless Skyenga at any point this season.
Not a ton of Cavs news today, so we’re going to briefly throw it over to the Schadenfreude Desk. The Heat appear in disarray. As Bill Simmons noted on his Twitter account, the Bulls didn’t even play particularly well yesterday, but they still managed to steal the game late in Miami. This loss makes the Heat 1-8 in games decided by three points or less. I know that in wake of his playoff shortcomings, Bron has been mislabeled a choker, but any Cavs fan who is honest with themselves has to concede: the guy was habitually terrific in the fourth quarter during his Cavalier career. This year: he’s shooting 43.9%, averaging 4.8 TO per 48 mins, and just 3.9 assists per 48 in clutch situations, according to 82games. To put those stats into perspective, those same numbers were 48.8%, 4.1, and 8.3, respectively, in 2009-10. (His free throw attempts per 48 are roughly the same in both years.) I blame Eddie House for LeBron’s clutch decline. I have no rationale for that assertion; I just really have it in for Eddie House.
Existential question: is it okay that I enthusiastically fist-pumped when D-Rose went up, around, and under LeBron and Wade as long as, three seconds after it was over, I was struck in the heart by a sensation of ambivalence?
On The Twitters
“Later today we’ll learn that yes, LeBron was crying, but they weren’t his tears. Someone sent them to him. #NBFFA” [Eric Knappenberger]
“The Cavs lost but I feel somewhat upbeat today. I wonder if it has to do with the Heat falling apart before our eyes? Probably does =0)” [realcavsfans]
Overview: The New Orleans Hornets outscored the Cleveland Cavaliers by 14 points after Chris Paul suffered a concussion in the third quarter of a 96-81 win. Baron Davis had 17 points off the bench in his first home game as a Cavalier, and David West led all scorers with 23 points.
Let’s all hope Chris Paul has a full and speedy recovery bullets:
-First things first: that was a scary moment when CP3 went down and had to be taken off on a stretcher, and it was good to hear that he “only” has a mild concussion. Concussions are fairly scary in their own right, so hopefully he’s back at 100% soon.
– It sure seemed like the Paul injury fired up the Hornets, and the Cavs didn’t really respond. The Cavs had been doing well because they were working hard on defense, pushing the ball well, and getting it inside. After Paul went down, New Orleans forced some turnovers, pushed the break themselves, and didn’t let the Cavs get back into anything resembling an offensive groove. You’d like to see this team play a full 48 minutes more consistently, but it looks like they’re getting closer and closer to forming an actual identity.
– More good stuff from Baron. He does a great job of creating angles and finding shooters for open looks, and he may be the most creative guard in the league on fast breaks. We can expect Baron to continue having success in those areas. The three-point shooting, though, is a huge fluke. We cannot pretend that it isn’t. There is an ocean of data that tells us he will stop making his threes very, very soon. The other shoe will drop. Baron is just good enough at shooting threes to be a danger to himself and others. We all know this.However, games like this should still be enjoyed.
Also, commenter “Ben” wins the Nostradamus award for this, which he wrote after the Knicks game:
Ever notice how many guys catch the ball in the back-court with 2 seconds remaining, take a dribble, wait until just after the horn and only then fire up the full court three? This drives me crazy, but any three point shooter is more concerned about his percentage than the off chance of actually draining the prayer. Boobie, Parker and LeBron are HUGE examples of the “make it look like I am trying to launch a bomb at the end of the quarter, but really, there is not a chance in hell I am going to hurt my numbers” shot.
Now, why I do I bring this up? Because Baron Davis does not do this. Baron heaved a prayer up without giving a crap about what it might do to his three point percentage, because it gives his team a shot. He does this a lot. He takes the forced end of shot clock bombs, fires up 50 footers when necessary and just doesn’t care about his numbers. I would say that this explains a lot about his poor 3 point shooting numbers considering it always seems like he makes a better percentage than is reality. This is an awesome trait.
I disagree with Ben that Baron’s clock-saving heaves are a “huge” reason why his three-point percentage is so bad — he is a mediocre outside shooter with terrible shot selection early in possessions, in the middle of possessions, and late in possessions. I also think the “Baron doesn’t care about his stats, he cares about his team!” dichotomy is a bit forced — he has shown himself to be very good at not caring about his stats or his team. Still, since Baron hit a 40-foot bomb at the end of the third quarter, this definitely deserved some attention. Well done, Ben. You win nothing.
There’s a lot to like about Samardo Samuels. Three blocks, at least one charge taken, some good work in the paint, and a lot of high-energy defense. Then again, he is not big, he is not skilled, and while he’s athletic, he’s not terrifyingly athletic. I really want to see more of Samardo, but I’m not completely sold on him yet.
Samuels being in the starting lineup is having adverse effects on Hickson. He spent way too much time too far away from the basket, and ended up going 5-15. Not good.
Alonzo Gee is missing a lot of wide-open looks that Baron is setting up for him. I’d like to see Manny and Baron get some more minutes together, although I don’t really trust any of our three wings defensively.
Semih Erden: Fairly energetic, very tall, alive. He didn’t show much more than that, but it usually takes big guys a bit of time to get in a groove.
Another really poor scoring game for Sessions. I’m starting to get worried.
That’s all for tonight. Strong effort, but the Cavs need to be cleaner for the full game to get wins. Until them.
Overview: The Cavaliers survived 70 combined points from Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire to win an insane 119-115 shootout in Madison Square Garden. Baron Davis had 18 points and five assists in his debut, and hit a clutch three-pointer with 10 seconds to go.
Let’s just play the Knicks every game bullets:
O-M-G W-U-T-T. What a strange, terrible, wonderful game. I don’t know what this game means, but this is definitely the first time in months I’ve sat down to do my recap and been legitimately excited. I’m not sure if this team is any better than the one that lost 26 games in a row. But I’m extremely anxious to find out. Onto the bullets:
– Baron Davis. With the ego and the awful shot selection and the extra pounds and the questionable attitude and the lack of hustle and everything else, you forget just how talented that dude is. I mean, I named my original blog after him, and I admit that I forgot what it feels like to watch him do his thing. The guy was put on this earth to run an offense.
I think we got the full Baron Davis experience in this game. On his first play as a Cavalier, he casually fired a perfect no-look alley-oop to J.J. Hickson from half-court. It was almost certainly the most spectacular play a Cavalier guard has made this season. On the very next possession, he jacked up a contested three and missed it badly. Still, when the ball is in his hands, he’s in control in a way that no other Cavalier is. It’s almost impossible to make him pick up his dribble, and he’s always creating angles with his dribble while looking for open three-point shooters or cutters. Ramon is a scorer who can play point guard. Baron is a point guard who can score.
There’s still plenty to be concerned about with Baron. The three-ball has always been Baron’s biggest vice, and that was what he was most effective with on Friday. Baron was 2-8 from inside the arc, and two of his four threes were of the ridiculous clock-saving variety. Baron can do things that no other Cavalier can do, but they will have to pay a possession tax, just like every one of his teams always has.
Let’s talk about that last three. The Cavs were up one and got the ball with 28 seconds left. The Knicks decided not to foul, which meant the Cavs could have run the game clock down to around 5 seconds before firing up a shot. Baron –a 29.6% three point shooter — decided to launch a contested three with 10 seconds left. And he drained it. Of course he did. Welcome to the resistance, Baron. All hail the grand viceroy of swag.
Speaking of, Samardo Samuels went to the wizard and GOT HIMSELF SOME SWAG. This is not the same dude who was up-and-under faking until the cows came home. Samardo was looking to mix it up inside and finish with authority, and he made an impact in the paint. Samardo may not be 1/20th of the player that Amar’e is, but he came into MSG looking to get the best of him and let him know about it. Love the athleticism, love the emotion, love the energy. And how about that game-saving charge? ALL ABOARD THE WAR WAGON OF THE JAMAICAN SENSATION!
Christian Eyenga went to the wizard and got himself a jumper. After missing nine straight threes, Eyenga has drained his last six. And Eyenga’s other two baskets were long twos. And he did a much better job on Carmelo than Gee did. I thought Eyenga’s poor outside shooting was a mechanical thing. If it was just a confidence thing, that’s a big deal.
Luke Harangody went to the wizard and got himself an NBA career. That jumper sure is ugly, but it goes in. He also made some nice cuts, and seems to know what to do when he gets the ball under the basket. We’ll see what he does against an actual defensive frontcourt, but this was a nice showing from a guy I thought of as a throw-in in the Semih Erden trade.
More solid work from Hickson. Active on the boards, active around the rim, and he got some of the easy dunks that he used get when LeBron was in Cleveland. He’s going to benefit from playing with Baron.
Razor Ramon had a disappointing game. He couldn’t really get into the paint, and he didn’t have passing lanes when he tried to press the action. Hopefully Baron’s arrival won’t mess him up too much.
Amar’e got his 41, but he had to work for them. A ton of his 32 shots were from the high post, and he wasn’t really getting his teammates involved at all. You can live with that kind of game from Amar’e.
Carmelo, on the other hand, was a house of fire. Poor Alonzo Gee had no chance. When that guy is on, he’s nearly impossible to stop. Whether he was posting up, driving to the hoop, or firing the jumper, everything he did led to a made basket or a foul.
HOW DID 38 TEAMS PASS ON LANDRY FIELDS? Great rebounder, can finish inside, moves without the ball beautifully, and doesn’t miss open threes. Every team in the league wants a guy like that. He’s already better at being Mike Miller than Mike Miller is.
Overall, the defense was not great. Zero weak-side help. Fortunately, the Cavs actually managed to overcome it this time. Like I said at the beginning of the post, I don’t know if this team is any good, but at least they might be fun. CATCH THE FEVER! Until next time.
Byron Scott thinks Baron Davis is a top five point guard when he’s healthy. Or at least that’s what he has told the media. One hopes this is Scott trying to put a positive spin on the Cavs’ acquisition of a player whose contract they are swallowing for a lottery pick because a.) Baron Davis will probably never again be fully healthy and b.) Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, and Chauncey Billups all play in the National Basketball Association. We’re in the midst of one of the biggest point guard booms the league has ever seen; I’m unsure if even 2007 Baron Davis cracks the top 5 of current point guards (and 2007 Baron Davis was terrific!), let alone this overweight, uninterested 2011 model.
“L.A.’s home, and it always will be for [Baron] Davis. But he also knows changes and new beginnings sometimes are necessary to achieve your goals, and often the greatest satisfaction in life comes from proving everyone wrong.” [Jodie Valade]
“[My injured knee]‘s not going to heal in three or four days, but I’m able to get out here and practice and do some things. Being able to watch a couple games so far gives me more comfortability with the team.” [Baron Davis vis Jason Lloyd]
“Let’s get this out of the way first: Baron Davis insists he wants to play for the Cavaliers.” [Sam Amico]
Another day closer to the beginning of Baron Davis’ time in Cleveland. I figure this is as good a time as any to talk about the Cavs’ rebuilding plan.
Some quick draft thoughts, which should absolutely be taken with a grain of salt since I don’t really watch college basketball:
– I figure that if the Cavs have a chance to draft Irving, they should do it. He projects as an above-average NBA point guard, and everyone else in the top five is a massive question mark. “Intriguing” forwards will break your heart with stunning regularity, and a power forward’s first job is to be a defensive lynchpin. Sullinger is probably the guy the Cavs will go with if Irving is off the board, and I’m fine with that, although I wonder if he can show on pick-and-rolls hard enough or hit enough jumpers to succeed at the NBA level.
– With the second lottery pick, I like Barnes. He’s inconsistent, but he has more talent than anybody else in that range, and he’ll give the Cavs a much-needed scoring punch. Also, the Cavs currently have a starting SF controversy, and Alonzo Gee is involved.
– This is how I’ve talked myself into the Baron trade: I would take Jimmer Fredette over Mo Williams tomorrow. Mo has proven that his only elite NBA skill is spot-up three-point shooting and his only other passable NBA skill is playmaking. Jimmer will likely go several picks after the Cavs’ pick. As for the money, it’s not my money, and no top free agents are coming to Cleveland anyways.
That’s all I really have on that. Onto the grander rebuilding plan. I think there are three general team-building plans with current NBA models. Here they are:
Model #1: The Miami/New York model
The idea here is to use cap space and the allure of a big market and/or a great climate to lure superstar free agents and become an instant contender. This will not happen in Cleveland unless the Cavs turn their trade exception into downtown Hong Kong.
Model #2: The Oklahoma City Model
Draft a transcendent scorer, keep him from being too good in his first two years, use high draft picks to draft another great offensive player and a solid supporting player, activate transcendent scorer in his third year and unleash his fury upon the league. Fill the rest of the team with solid role players and character guys. Be successful as both a great defensive team with decent offense and a great offensive team with decent defense in consecutive years for no apparent reason. A good model, but it’s tough to bank on hitting two absolute home runs in the span of a couple years.
Model #3: The Chicago Model
My favorite one. Derrick Rose is a great player, but let’s be honest, he’s no LeBron or Dwight Howard. You can’t plug him into any lineup in the league and guarantee at least 50 wins. Chicago’s success is all about the defensive system.
Get a player who can create shots and run an offense, get a guy with a real defensive vision, and find players who are going to fit into that defensive system. Chicago doesn’t need top-level talents to put around their superstar, just guys like Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson. Compare the amount of talent the Bulls have needed to become contenders to the amount of talent the Suns needed to become contenders. Kinda crazy, huh? There is no way the Cavs are going to become relevant again unless they are more than the sum of their parts. One unit, one system, focused on defense, with every player having a part in that system. If that happens, this team won’t need to wait for the next LeBron or Durant/Westbrook to become competitive again.
“They did a good job. Alonzo did a good job of taking the challenge and coming out and understanding what we need to do on both ends of the floor. He had a pretty good game. Samardo, obviously, career high in points and rebounds. Now the trick is to see if we can duplicate that on Friday [in New York] and be consistent on both ends of the floor. Both those young guys played well tonight.” [Byron Scott via Mary Schmitt Boyer]
“As Samardo Samuels prepared to make his first NBA start on Wednesday, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott had seen enough of the undrafted rookie to declare he could play in this league for the next decade.” [Jason Lloyd]
“[Alonzo] Gee attributes a lot of his improvement to practicing outside of team-orchastrated activities, especially an increased focus on his jump shot and decision making skills. Several times in the game against the Spurs, Gee passed up three-point attempts early in the shot clock to either facilitate Scott’s offense or create a shot attempt closer to the rim.” [Scott Sargent]
“Head coach, Byron Scott, announced today that Baron Davis will likely play for the first time in wine and gold when the Cavaliers take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, this Friday night. Davis is averaging 12.8 points and 7 assists per game but also looks to bring valuable veteran leadership to one of the youngest teams in the league.” [Conrad Kaczmarek]
“At first, I was confused but this is going to be great for my career. Coach [Byron Scott] told me I was going to get some playing time and a chance to prove myself.” [Luke Harangody via Al Hamnik]
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @cadavalier.
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