Archive for March, 2012

Links to the Present: March 8, 2012

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

“I sat on my couch last night feeling completely confident that he was going to score again after the Denver Nuggets regained a one-point lead in the final seconds. After watching Kyrie Irving just convert two three-point plays prior to that last opportunity, there was no doubt in my mind that he had one more in him. Not just one more shot, or one more basket, but one more winning play than the other guy’s got. However many plays that calls for. Just as soon as I felt this air of confidence fall over me, for what felt like the first time in my Cleveland sports fan life, he raced from one end of the court, to the other, and scored again.” [Brendan Bowers]

“He wanted a better effort, for his Cavs to take the fight to the opponent and to play with the same type of hard charging, aggressive effort the Cavs gave so many times throughout the first half of the season. Wednesday night at Denver, Byron Scott finally got it – with another huge assist from rookie Kyrie Irving. Irving’s driving basket with four seconds left gave the Cavs a 100-99 victory and the top overall pick in last summer’s draft his fourth game-winning basket of the season in a wild game that had eight lead changes in the final 3:17.” [Jason Lloyd]

“With 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers called a timeout to draw up what would presumably be the final play of the game, Scott’s team down one point to the host Denver Nuggets. Rather than moving the ball 47 feet — without repercussion — to half court, as afforded by the irrational NBA rulebook that says teams can inbound the ball from a point that they had not yet reached merely due to saving one of their time-stopping elements for the end of a game, Scott chose to inbound the ball from underneath his own basket.” [Scott Sargent]

“Irving separates himself because, in addition to his driving and passing, he shoots 48.3 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three-point range. Not only is he better than his peers from the field, he is more than nine percentage points better from three. Rose is obviously stronger and Rondo probably quicker, but defenses cannot sag off Irving, so he has extra room to penetrate.” [Lee Jenkins]

And here’s the Youtube video of Irving’s game-winning lay-in.

Quick Recap: Cavs 100, Nuggets 99

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


I’ve been doing the quick “Daily Dime” recaps on Cavs games for ESPN recently, and I really should be posting them in their entirety here. Here’s what I had for tonight, with a few additional night and an awesome Gary Clark Jr. song:

MVP: Kyrie Irving. Irving was quiet for the first half, but erupted late, scoring 10 points in the last 2:35 seconds of the game to give the Cavaliers a 1-point victory.

LVP: Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari is clearly still trying to get his legs back under him after missing significant time with an injury, and shot just 1-7 from the floor while showing very little bounce in his step whatsoever. Hopefully Gallo will get back to 100% soon, because he’s an absolute joy to watch when healthy.
Defining Moment: With 15 seconds on the clock and the Nuggets leading by one, Denver decided to put full-court pressure on Kyrie Irving. It was, to say the least, a poor decision. Irving blew by the Denver defense, crossed over to his left, and finished at the rim to hit what would be the game-winning layup with four seconds left on the clock.
X-Factor: Kyrie was Cleveland’s crunch-time hero, but the Cavaliers wouldn’t have been in the game at all if it weren’t for Antawn Jamison. All of Jamison’s offensive tricks were working early, and he scored 26 of his 33 points in the first half on jumpers, flip shots, tip-ins to keep the Cavs competitive throughout the first half and ultimately allow them to get the win in crunch time.
That was…fun: The first 9 minutes of the fourth quarter were ugly, but the final minutes of the game essentially consisted of Kyrie Irving and Ty Lawson blowing by one another and converting on and-1s and reverse layups. Lawson ultimately came up one layup short of a victory, but the real winners were the fans who got to watch two hyper-quick and very skilled point guards go right at each other with the game on the line.

Additonal notes:

I’ll give Jamison credit: he was a major factor, and his bag of tricks was way too deep for Faried in the first half. Generally, Jamison regresses to the mean after a hot start and goes back to around 50% TS by the end of the game, but this time he cashed out and didn’t shoot much in the 2nd half.

I was president of the Nene fan club last year, so I’ve been disappointed by his season and was sad about this game. Since when did Nene settle for turnaround jumpers against Jamison? He got some easy baskets, but last year Nene’s game was ALL easy baskets.

Tristan Thompson did nothing.

In some ways, I’m glad that Kyrie has made some bad late-game turnovers lately, because it allows us to appreciate fourth-quarter performances like this instead of locking him into the binary “CLUTCH OR NOT CLUTCH” argument that makes sports discussion dumber. He’s young, he’s fearless, he’s polished, and he put the team on his shoulders when it mattered tonight. He won’t do it every night, but he’s a guy you want on the floor late in games. That’s good enough for now, and it should be good enough for later for rational fans.

Fun and/or depressing fact: the Cavs have won 3 of their last 11, and all 3 of those wins have come by exactly 1 point. Without Andy, this is not a good basketball team. At least there’s Kyrie, and at least we’re hurtling towards the lottery. I’m not sure I can write about this team anymore without being bitter about no Jonas. This is not schtick — it’s legitimately painful to imagine how much better the team would be in the future with Jonas starting at center next season instead of Tristan Thompson hopefully becoming the second-best undersized left-handed Canadian big man with no offensive game to speak of in the league. Until next time, campers.

Links to the Present: March 7, 2012

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

“Kyrie Irving, the future and face — despite consistent attempts to the contrary — of the franchise is the likely option. With all of 32 professional basketball games under his belt, the kid shows all the markings of a leader, placing his team squarely on his still-developing shoulders in countless fourth quarters. But taking the reigns via quick, cunning moves to the rim is wholly different than yanking on those of his teammates, all of whom have spent more time on earth as well as more let alone on an NBA floor.” [Scott Sargent]

“Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant announced on Tuesday that Luke Harangody and Christian Eyenga would be sent down to the Canton Charge. This is one of the perks of owning a D-League team. The Cavs have the luxury of sending down players whenever they please.” [Conrad Kaczmarek]

And you can click this if seeing pictures of Cavaliers in ’80s garb is your thing.

Before Emergence

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

When we talk about Tristan Thompson, we’re tracing the outline of an idea not yet formed. His gestating game is still obscured by the glow of inspiration; we can make out a lanky frame soaring toward—where, exactly? Ruin. Transcendence. A career as a middling defensive stopper. Using words to describe him is like giving the most illogical voices inside one’s head a megaphone. Are they singing or shouting? He gives you a nonsense riddle. Here are some combine measurements and a Youtube clip of me jumping very high. What will my PER be when I’m 26? And it’s a sort of freedom, knowing no one expects you to have an answer. Else, it’s a source of anxiety.

Sport can broadly be classified as entertainment, and it’s entertainment that frequently relies upon anxiety. The unpredictability of the outcome of a given contest is fundmental to our enjoyment of sports. A tight final period is considerably less interesting when we know which team is going to win, and the anxiety produced by the uncertainty of an outcome compels us to slump forward on our couches and feel a languorous thrill. But when we watch a single game there’s an endpoint in sight. Our curiosity is satisfied after the final buzzer sounds, and most of our questions can be answered by a quick glance at the box score.

Questions about a player’s development are answered in winding hypotaxis that ends nowhere particular. We tend to announce an athlete’s realization of his potential by saying he has “arrived,” but arrival suggests a specific location. An athlete progresses toward abstraction. Excellence. Greatness. Success. Terms with subjective definitions. We often define one of these slippery terms (“greatness,” for example) by which players possess it (“Kobe is great”) because we can’t stake out its exact parameters. There’s no point in time at which a player becomes great; it’s just something with which his name is associated enough times that we accept it as truth.

The objective truth created by competitions (wins vs. losses) and the subjectivity with which we evaluate competitors (how “good” a player is or will become) is part of what makes sport fun. We can argue about Steph Curry’s development as a point guard in a way we can’t about the Warriors’ win-loss record. But something has to inform our argument. When we’re talking about players, we’re rarely espousing shallow affection. We’re usually utilizing a theory of value based on box score statistics, advanced metrics, intangibles, and/or a preference for a certain style of play. To navigate the murky subjectivity of talking about players, we develop personalized rubrics, so we’re not stuck in facile arguments about the abstract “good/not good-ness” of a certain player.

Because incoming rookies are less easily comprehended by statistics and because predicting potential is like plotting a moon landing without a calculator, we utilize a unique evaluative method for young talent. One aspect of that evaluative method is the player comparison. Most NBA Draft analysts compare prospects to current NBA players. In addition to describing Brandon Knight as a solid athlete who can score in bunches, the draft expert pegs him as having the potential to be a Chauncey Billups-like scorer. It’s useful shorthand, but it also shapes expectations. Young players aren’t evaluated according to a measuring stick so much as a chalk outline. They arrive in the NBA not as having potential, but having the potential to become NBA Player X. Tristan Thompson is exactly the player that confounds this form of evaluation. His Draft Express page predicts his best case scenario as “Tyrus Thomas (with better intangibles).” I know what that means, but also: what the hell does that mean? Kyrie Irving is trying to become the next Deron Williams; TT is filling the shoes of Notions from 2006 About What Tyrus Thomas Could Have Become. Thomas himself was, in a perfect world, supposed to be “Stromile Swift with Ben Wallace’s attitude.” And Parallel Universe Stromile Swift is basically Hakeem Olajuwon.

Thompson illuminates that attempting to placate our uneasiness about an unknown future with speculation can get sort of silly. There is no theory of value that “solves” how “good” Steph Curry is, and trying to figure out who an athletically gifted, exceptionally raw talent like Thompson will develop into is like trying to discern the eye color of a zygote. But human beings are fundamentally curious; it’s why we invented science and why every pre-schooler’s third sentence is a question. Most of us get uncomfortable in the face of not knowing stuff.

No matter the nausea it induces, we don’t know Tristan Thompson. We will measure his progress using whatever methods we prefer, but 30 NBA games is not long enough to start charting his development. He is, at present, a hyper-athletic forward who plays hard and has no offensive game outside of three feet. His potential is too amorphous to map. He suggests an endless chain of hypotheticals. If he learns how to defend. If he gets a jumper. If he develops a back-to-the-basket game. If he becomes Kyrie Irving’s favorite pick and roll partner. If he puts on 15 pounds. Hypotheticals obviously determine the route any athletes’s career follows, but Thompson has hypotheticals bristling from him like a conifer. And there are no predetermined routes for him to trace, really. Just a searing whiteness in the middle of the page. As fans, we will wait, and we will watch. The searing whiteness will fade or perhaps grow bright blue veins. The riddle Thompson asks will grow longer and less vague. Until it becomes something specific enough that we can disagree about it.

Links to the Present: March 6, 2012

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

“With Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott attempting to find the right combination of players and the schedule only getting increasingly more difficult in the coming weeks, what was once a dream is slowly becoming a delusion. On the tails of a reeling and aging Boston Celtics team prior to the All-Star break, the Wine and Gold have now dropped six straight games — a season-long losing streak — with the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets (a combined winning percentage of 63.4) looking to extend the skid even further.” [Scott Sargent]

“Grant was always going to do what’s best for the Cavaliers’ long-term future. But with his club in freefall and the trade deadline set for March 15, management no longer needs to worry about  disappointing players or a segment of the fan base. He doesn’t have to think about conveying the wrong message to young players if a Ramon Sessions or Antawn Jamison gets moved.” [Tom Reed]

Big Z will be working with Tristan Thompson this offseason. I just got visions of TT taking methodical 18-foot set shots off of pick’n'pops.

Dan Diamond discusses the phenomenon of Kyrie Irving PER-ing his age.

And Irving won’t play for the Australian national team in the 2012 Olympics. (He was born in Australia.) He will instead focus on making the 2016 US Olympic team.

Recap: Cavs 100, Jazz 109

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

(Chin up, Kyrie – next year you wont even have to score in the first half – you’ll have Kidd-Gilchrist to do that for you)

Well, there goes our last shot for a win for a while.  For better or worse, the Cavs now face three straight playoff bound teams.  The story here is pretty much the same as always – inability to do much inside, lack of scorers, slow first three quarters, etc. etc.

The Good:

Kyrie and Antawn – They were our point leaders.  Is anyone surprised by that?  That being said, it, again, took Kyrie a long time to get into the game.  I know most of our readers wouldn’t agree with me, but it’s somewhat worrisome that Kyrie doesn’t seem able to turn it on until late in the game – his first basket didn’t come until the third quarter.  If he was able to get it going early, maybe we’d have a shot? (pun intended)

Alzon Gee – He looked a little more lively than he has the past few games.  Maybe he’s coming back into his own?

The Bad:

Interior D – I realize Utah really doesn’t have a ton beyond it’s 20 centers (or however many they have…4?) but Al Jefferson absolutely had his way with us.  Milsap played nicely too.  The lack of interior D, of course, opened the door for…

Our inability to stop Gordon Hayward – He was on fire (8-11 including 2-3 for three point land).  We basically let the 12 year old do whatever he wanted, and he literally did whatever he wanted.

Our ability to score in the 2nd and 3rd quarters – Maybe if we didn’t have to claw our way back in the fourth we’d be more in these games.  Not sure how the Cavs can fix this, but something’s gotta change.  I realize we almost closed the gap, but this is a terrible precedent to have.

The Rest:

Don’t forget about the first Cavs: The Blog Podcast, which you can download from;

http://www.mediafire.com/?t9xv6qdx32d3egz

and you can stream from:

http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/cavs-the-podcast-03-04-2012

Until next time…

Links to the Present: March 5, 2012

Monday, March 5th, 2012

“While a move for Jamison seems unlikely – despite recent rumblings I remain convinced the Cavs will buy out Jamison’s contract after the trade deadline – the Mavericks may present the Cavaliers with an option. The Mavericks are desperately trying to rid themselves of Shawn Marion’s contract.  Marion is due $18 Million over the next two seasons, and if Dallas can get out of that contract, they would be able to pursueDwight Howard and/or Deron Williams this Summer.  If the Cavs were to offer Jamison for Marion and disgruntled Maverick Lamar Odom, the Mavericks would jump at the offer.” [Michael Curry]

“I know that Byron Scott is not ready to start Tristan Thompson (although he might as well, Ryan Hollins andSemih Erden both suck). Regardless, don’t you think he should be at least playing 30+ mins per game? When he gets the minutes, Tigger is essentially a lock for a double-double. That’s what I want to see tonight — lots of Manny, lots of Kyrie, and lots of Tigger. Even if we lose, those three guys playing good minutes will make Conrad happy.” [Conrad Kaczmarek]

“Cavs coach Byron Scott made two significant changes to his starting lineup for Saturday’s game. He benched struggling forward Omri Casspi in favor of forward Alonzo Gee. The other move wasn’t as dramatic, as center Ryan Hollins replaced center Semih Erden. Casspi was given a lot of leeway since he was the mainstay in the J.J. Hickson trade with Sacramento in June. Gee had 11 points and five rebounds on Saturday in his first start at small forward. The Cavs kept waiting for Erden to snap out of his slump, but it never happened. He had three points and three rebounds in 10 minutes on Saturday. Erden just never seemed to be playing hard. That won’t be tolerated by Scott. Erden didn’t play on Saturday. Hollins had 15 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes, all season highs.” [CBS Sports]

Cavs: The Podcast

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

I promised everyone something exciting, and here it is.  I’m proud to unveil the first (and certainly not the last) Cavs: The Blog Podcast.  Right now we’re not on iTunes (it takes some time to get it cleared by Apple) So you’ll have to download it off MediaFire for now.  In the future I’ll just link it up so you guys can download it straight to your iPod.  Here’s the link to the mediafire:

http://www.mediafire.com/?t9xv6qdx32d3egz

Unfortunately Colin couldn’t be with us today, so it’s just Me, John Krolik, Kevin Hetrick, and Ryan Braun.  We cover a wide variety of topics such as last night’s name, the state of the current Cavs roster, potential trades, and Kyrie’s nickname.  Do your best to listen to the end – it’s worth it.  We realize it’s a little on the long side, but it’s our first foray into podcasting, so we’ll perfect the art next time.

The podcast drops a couple of times due to some recording issues, which I apologize for – we’ll do our best to fix those in the future.  Otherwise, enjoy it guys – we had a lot of fun making it and hope that you guys have fun listening to it.

Enjoy!

EDIT: HERE IS OUR SOUNDCLOUD LINK: http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/cavs-the-podcast-03-04-2012

Recap: Cavs 98, Wizards 101 – And we’re FREEEEEEEE….

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

….FREEEEEE FAAALLLING!  Things aren’t looking great right now, my friends.  We’ve now dropped five straight, and this one was to the second worst team in the NBA.  And it wasn’t pretty.

Washington’s back court absolutely obliterated ours.  John Wall was able to drive any which way he wanted, and Jordan Crawford was draining three like he was possessed.

Here we are with the good, the bad, and the rest:

The Good:

Uh….Ryan Hollins?  He looked pretty darned comfortable and actually did a nice job finishing inside.  His D wasn’t half bad either.  I feel like we’ve gotten half decent performances once in a blue moon from Erden and Hollins, and then the flip it around and play like crap the next game, so many we should start Erden on Monday and just accept what we’ve got.

Ummmm….Jamison had a good first few quarters.  But yeah, he doesn’t seem to be able to finish games anymore.  Tired much?

What else…Gee kind of played decent.

And Kyrie Irving had a nice fourth quarter…on offense at least.

The Bad:

Anthony Parker – First off, he should never ever take a game tying three.  Ever.  Particularly not if he’s being closely guarded.  He shouldn’t have even been in the game.  Parker’s D on Jordan Crawford was embarrassingly bad, and his poor shooting meant the Wizards had one less guy on offense to worry about.  Talk about Byron having to make a change in the starting lineup…but who would he even go to????

Kyrie’s D, and his ability to shoot in any quarter other than the fourth – I’m glad Kyrie is clutch and all, but when you spend the rest of the game coasting, it’s not exactly a good sign.  His effort was just too little too late.  I realize he was sick, but if he can turn it on in the fourth, he should’ve been doing that three quarters earlier.  Also, words cannot describe how badly he defended Wall, who basically spent the game speeding from coast to coast.

Our second team versus theirs – Roger Mason, Maurice Evans, and Jan Vesley all had decent games.  Enough said.

The Rest:

It’s pretty clear we need some scorers, and fast.  We need everything, but our scoring is just a mess.  One either Kyrie or Jamison goes cold, things tend to fall apart quickly.

I had a bad feeling this result was coming.  Monday marks our last opportunity for the next few games to even stand a chance against our opponent.  After that it’s against Denver, OKC, and Houston (who has been pretty decent).  Watch out, ’cause it could get very, very ugly.

I really have not liked what I’ve seen out of Kyrie, and even to a lesser extent Tristan, the last weeks.  I’ll dip more into that on Monday, but lets just say it’s not going to be a rave review.

In other news, keep on the look out for something very, VERY big coming from this blog within the next few days.  I don’t want to divulge too much information, but it’s going to be super awesome and super different, at least for us.

Until next time…

Recap: Bulls 112, Cavs 91

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

…And it wasn’t as close as the score indicates. I have only three takeaways:

–Manny Harris played 18 minutes and looked competent (kinda maybe sort of good, even). Can we give this guy a real contract at the end of the season? He has a cool name, is athletic, and can probably be an 11th or 12th man in this league. I’m totally fine with that being the entire rationale for my Manny Harris fixation.

–There’s not really a second thing. Samardo Samuels isn’t very good, huh? I feel like we already knew that, though. Did you know the Bulls shot 50% from behind the stripe in this game? Would you be comfortable with that being the second bullet point? I’m going to move on anyway.

–Luke “Terry Banks” Harangody makes things happen when he’s on the floor. He was a plus-seven in six minutes. If we extrapolate that data, the Cavs would have won this game by 56 if he had played the entire game Wilt Chamberlain style. They’re called statistics, Byron Scott. Maybe you should examine them sometime.

The Cavs have the Wiz tomorrow; it’ll be a good opportunity to snap this losing streak. Until tomorrow, friends.