Fare thee well, Ryan Hollins. You’re in heaven now, infuriating fanbases with the angels.
Archive for March, 2012
Gooooooood morning everyone. I’m pleased to post our second podcast.
This time Colin, Ryan, and I discussed the Ramon trade, the general state of the Cavs, and TT. We also took the time to answer some of your questions.
We tried some new stuff out in the Podtcast – hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
You can download it as a file from the media fire link at: http://www.mediafire.com/?3483gdzwzdl5drl
To access it from our soundcloud, go to: http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/cavs-the-podcast-3-19-2012-the
Hopefully it’ll be on iTunes soon – I had some problems getting it to them the first time around, but it should work out this time.
Before I get to the game, quick aside:
I’m an idiot – I Could have and should have gone to this game. Tickets to the Nets are absurdly cheap right now – we’re talking $5 for first row in the lower bowl cheap. That’s currently the state of NJ Nets basketball.
What started as a sloppy blowout turned into a pretty fun game in the last couple of minutes. The Cavs lead by as much as 12 (or was it more? I can’t remember) points to begin with but, due to some crappy D and lots of turnovers in the second quarter, allowed the Nets to get back into the game. Thanks to some nice interior offense (and Mr. Fourth Quarter) the Cavs were able to hang on and beat a clearly inferior team.
Onto the good, the bad, and the rest —
Tristan Thompson’s Career Day – TT had his way inside, especially in the first half, where he had already set his career points high with 17 (he ended with 27!) When you’re going up against Sheldon Williams and Mr. Kardashian things will probably work out for the best. Tristan also had 8 O boards. Once the Nets adjusted and put Gerald Wallace on TT, he slowed down considerably. Still, nice game on offense TT!
Kyrie’s Fourth Quarter – I mean…wow…he was just BLOWING past the competition at the end of the game. The Nets literally threw everything at him – Deron, Wallace…yeah…that’s everything…Still it didn’t matter – he was hitting everything, inside and out. As usual, Mr. Fourth Quarter was the primary reason we won in the end.
Donald Sloan – True story, I kept forgetting who number 15 was. I wont anymore. The former D leaguer and newly jerseyed Cav had a great second game when Kyrie’s fouls took him out. Sloan ran the O really well and hit a couple of good shots (he had 5 in the fourth quarter). Even more surprisingly, he did a great job defending Deron Williams, which is quite the feat. Sloan finished with a +7.
Samardo – If he keeps playing like this, I think we’ve finally found that rotation PF/C. Lots of energy on both ends, took some smart shots. Really pleased with the way he’s played the past few games.
The Cavs D – There was almost none of it at the end of this game (or in the middle of it, for that matter.) In particular Kyrie and Jamison were just getting manhandled – Kyrie got BLOWN away by Deron on a crazy dunk, Jamison was getting killed by Mr. Kardashian and Wallace. (About Jamison – he literally lagged off Wallace by about two feet, daring Wallace to shoot a three, which he promptly drained. Jamison must be injured or something, because he doesn’t seem to be able to lift his arms up when people shoot the ball…) Even Gee got burned a few times. Playing such poor D will work alright against the Nets, but that’s not going to fly against pretty much any other team.
TT’s D Rebounding – This is seriously starting to worry me. He had FOUR (seriously…FOUR) rebounds and he played for almost 38 minutes. Thompson spends so much time up in the air while guys are shooting that he always seems to end up facing away from the basket when the ball bounces off. Mr. K and Sheldon Williams combined for 6 O rebounds – I’m attributing at least a couple of those to TT. Keep your eye on this, because if his D rebounding doesn’t improve, it’ll quickly become a major sticking point.
Boobie Gibson left in the 3rd with an ankle (?) injury. Since Sloan looks more than competent, maybe this means we’ll see some more Manny?
Speaking of Manny, he was inactive tonight.
Finally, a weird fact I did not know – turns out Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyrie played on the same high school team. Maybe that wasn’t the last time they’ll play together…?
Keep your eyes peeled for our next podcast, which I will post tomorrow (we recorded today).
All in all, an ugly game that turned into a decent game. Cavs get the Hawks on Wednesday (and then Magic on Friday). Until then, friends…
I have the privilege of covering the first post-trade deadline Cavs tilt. For a mid-season tussle between the sixth and tenth best teams in the East, this game includes some intrigue. Tristan Thompson starts at center for the first time, and Cleveland gets a look at D-League dynamo Donald Sloan, in his audition for back-up point guard duties.
Hopefully the Cavs give Sloan some decent minutes over the rest of the season. If there has been an “opportunity lost” this season, it’s not trying out random young guys. Within the re-building process, there are (ideally) only a couple of seasons to let unproven players strut their stuff. Last year is not for duplication; but Eyenga, Gee, Harris, Samuels and Harangody all saw significant floor time, and Cleveland found a player in Gee. Why the Cavs didn’t draft someone at #32 and #54 and why Manny Harris has only played 19 minutes this season is lost on me; did we need to see if Irving, Gibson, AND Sessions could make it work on the court at the same time? Or did Luke Harangody need to play back-up small forward for two games? Finally, most perplexingly, why is Ryan Hollins still in the NBA? Between Harris, two second round draft picks and now Sloan, maybe another unexpected rotation player could have been unearthed. With Sloan and Manny, there’s still a chance. In the near future, hopefully there aren’t any rotation minutes available for “walk-ons”, so might as well do it now. There’s actually been a pretty big NBA success story by a resurgent D-Leaguer this year…I can’t think of his name right now…he got a little press…Jeremy something. Anyways, hopefully Mr. Sloan proves capable of leading the second unit for a few months (or years). If not, the stakes were low.
The next month and a half could be painful. The Cavs have played the least games in the NBA; what that means obviously, is that they have the most left to play. Twenty-five games in forty days, with fourteen on the road, for a young and increasingly less-deep team is problematic. Who guessed that day-to-day respectability for Cleveland would hinge on Donald Sloan?
Regardless of how it goes, it’s only six weeks. Irving, Varejao, Gee, Thompson, one mid-lottery pick, three other top-forty selections (hopefully two rookies contribute next year) and a couple of solid free agents should have the Cavs battling in the East next year. Better things are on the horizon.
Now, onto today’s game…Things started poorly, as the starters took the Cavs to an early 11 – 19 deficit. When Jamison is missing (0 for 4 in 1st quarter), this unit just doesn’t score enough. The Hawks kept the ball moving and found a lot of open shooters, finishing the first frame five of seven from long range. Irving and Gee scored 15 of the Cavs 19 points. Irving was the real bright spot, registering 8 points without missing a shot, to go with 3 assists and no turnovers. The second quarter featured more of the same. Irving and Gee provided the only reliable offense, Joe Johnson looked too big for Gee to handle, and the Hawks were on fire from deep, leaving the half ahead 59 – 45. Irving and Gee combined for 26 of those 45. In the third, Atlanta’s long range bombing returned to this planet, and Cleveland actually chopped their deficit to 6 points late in the quarter. Irving moved the ball expertly, setting up shooters from deep and at the rim, largely benefitting Antawn, who tallied eleven points on the quarter. Unfortunately, the Cavs’ preferred second string today was Gibson, Parker, Casspi, Samuels and Thompson. That lineup is not going to score against NBA defenses; Atlanta started the fourth quarter on a 12 to 4 run and never looked back. No amazing fourth quarter heroics from Kyrie, and the Hawks won by a final score of 103 to 87.
Onto some bullets:
• Kyrie Irving had great command of the offense: 19 points on 14 shots with 10 assists and 2 turnovers. The “smoothness” of the Cavs offense drops by approximately 372% when point guard duties change from Irving to Gibson. With Gibson as PG, the Cavs completely function as a jump shooting team. For two stretches, the Cavs backcourt was Gibson, Parker, Casspi. These players all have a role in the NBA; unfortunately it’s all the same role – spotted up in the corner, waiting to drain an open three. Trying to run an NBA offense through those three is not possible (it didn’t help they were teamed with Thompson and Samuels).
• This brings me to Donald Sloan. I’m intrigued by Sloan. After four years at Texas A&M, he won MVP of the pre-draft Portsmouth Invitational in 2010. Apparently he’s an aggressive, scoring minded combo-guard, but he also exhibits decent court vision. Last year, in 54 D-League games he averaged 11 points on 50% field goal shooting, but also had a 2.5 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. In 8 games this year, his numbers increased to 22 points per game, still with 50% shooting (80% free throws) and 7.4 assists. Daniel Gibson should not be the back-up point guard; hopefully Sloan starts seeing 15 minutes a game ASAP. There is zero risk in letting this happen.
• Along the same lines of thinking; someone please explain Anthony Parker playing 34 minutes. We do know that Manny Harris and Donald Sloan are alive; they played one minute and twenty-one seconds of garbage time. Manny scored four points and Sloan assisted on one of those buckets. I don’t know how Parker’s 6 points on 3 of 10 shooting makes sense for the present or the future.
• Alonzo Gee tied a career high in scoring with 20 points to go beside 9 rebounds. He’s awesome. I counted at least three Sportscenter worthy dunks as part of his scoring onslaught.
• I’ve tried to be optimistic about Thompson…he’s twenty…he’s athletic and plays hard…etc, etc, etc. In nine March games though, he’s averaging 5 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes per game on 28% field goal shooting. There hasn’t been a ray of sunshine from TT in a while now. My expectations have always been relatively controlled, something like “great third big man on a contender”, but it would be outstanding if TT could roll out a double-double here soon. Ya know, make me remember that he’s capable of contributing.
• The Hawks shot way too many open threes in the first half. During this time, Josh Smith mainly dribbled unobstructed, drew an extra defender and kicked to an open shooter. In addition, Jamison was 6 of 22; this was definitely a bad Antawn game.
That’s it for now. Cleveland plays every day from now until the end of April. Just kidding, but they do play at New Jersey tomorrow. Maybe we’ll get to see D-Sloan abuse D-Will. Here’s to wishful thinking.
Here we are: clothed in soot; scavenging for water; locating the injured by following, like hounds, the sonic trails of muted wails for help. Somewhere a few thousand feet in the distance, embers catch a ruptured fuel line. An orange shape blooms like a rapidly inflating balloon, and we feel heat on the tips of our noses. Those who have perished will not be attributed names. They are part of this new wasteland, some literally fused to it—their skin has melted and coagulated with pavement, steel, and brick. The history of this day will be related in shrieks and gravelly whispers.
Or not exactly. The Cavs traded their backup point guard for a draft pick, the opportunity to move up in next year’s draft, and a couple of mediocre white guys, one of whom has a bloated contract that expires in fourteen months. It’s a half-move, informed by prudence. I think those wondering if the Cavaliers front office thought the team could mount a legitimate playoff run have their answer: no pieces were added and an important rotation player was moved. Those looking for the team to be sold for parts are only partially satisfied. Cavs fans will know more of the front office’s intentions if and when an Antawn Jamison buyout arrives, but as constituted, this team is likely to finish somewhere around tenth in the Eastern Conference.
I like the trade itself; it’s Prestian in its ethos: ship out what you don’t need, take on money in the short-term to improve your position in the draft, and if you finish with a worse record in the process, so be it. A lot of experts are calling this a coup for the Lakers, but I think a lot of experts haven’t seen Ramon Sessions play much basketball. He’s a good backup and a subpar starter, certainly better than Steve Blake or Derek Fisher, but the gap between him and Kyle Lowry is lake-sized. He can score, sometimes in bunches, and he’ll have the odd game where he racks up double-digit assists. He’s ball-dominant, totally capable of having a five-turnover nightmare of a game, and asking him to check a talented guard is like putting duct tape over the mouth of a geyser. I think he’ll be fine in LA, and they’ll be happy to have unburdened themselves from Luke Walton’s albatross-ish contract, but getting a first-rounder and moving up some eight spots in next year’s draft is more valuable to the Cavs than any contribution Sessions would have made over the coming years. (If he even elected to stay in Cleveland, for that matter.)
After one and a half seasons, I’m beginning to get a feel for Chris Grant’s front office philosophy. I think a very specific concept of value is often in the forefront of his mind. We see this more in the moves he didn’t make than the ones he did. There’s no way teams haven’t been inquiring about Anderson Varejao for the past month. Until his injury (which will be healed soon), he was playing the best basketball of his life; he’s a good enough player to turn a fringe contender into a threat, and a threat into a champion. But all the teams that would want Varejao—the Heat, Clippers, Lakers, etc.—don’t have assets of sufficient value. Varejao’s value is probably something like a pick in the mid-teens, and the Cavalier front office can’t stomach trading him for a selection ten spots higher. Nevermind that he’s 29, nevermind that trading him would cause the team to lose more games, and in its own way, produce a sort of value by improving the Cavaliers’ lottery odds. Anderson Varejao is a good player, and he’s going to stay a Cav unless another team offers to send back some legitimate assets.
Following this reasoning, I don’t think Chris Grant and company will make the decision to buyout Antawn Jamison. (Though we will soon find out, obviously.) Unless there were absolutely no offers for ‘Tawn that didn’t involve taking back an egregious contract, they must have had the opportunity in the past couple of weeks to trade him for something. So why would they pay him to do nothing? It seems antithetical to everything else Grant has done in his short tenure as GM. And that’s without taking into account the whole “Dan Gilbert might be terrified that Jamison would sign with the Heat” problem.
So here we are: somewhere between no man’s land and oblivion; outside of the playoff hunt, but not Bobcat-like. I think this is where Chris Grant believes the Cavaliers should be almost one year removed from one of the worst seasons in franchise history. He’s not pressing down the plunger on a detonator or harboring delusions of a first-round playoff upset. Apart from a fanbase divided by virulent theism and atheism, he leans agnostic. And so here we are, here are we because of him.
Alright all, now that we know the long and short of this trade deadline, a couple of us bloggers are going to record a new podcast this weekend.
I figured it’d be cool to give you guys the ability to suggest a couple of topics/prompts for us to discuss during the podcast.
In the comments section, please post what you guys would like to hear us talk about – I’ll pick a couple and pose them as questions to everyone involved.