Archive for November, 2012

Cavs vs Hawks Recap

Friday, November 30th, 2012

AN ABSOLUTELY EXHILARATING WIN FOR THE CAVS!!!  WHAT. A. GAME.  Where to start, so many things to point out.  This game was like the most recent Batman movie.  A HOT MESS.  Stuff’s flying all over the place, heroes to be found everywhere, including some unlikely ones, and a downright breathtaking 4th quarter.   The Cavs finished the 1st and last quarters at a very high level.  They didn’t so much “close out” the middle two quarters as they did detonate their own dam and allow the Hawks to come rushing back in a tsunami torrent.  This game…man.  Ugly at times, spinning out of control at others, but a relentless effort from a scrappy ensemble GETS IT DONE.  Where to begin…

First Half:

The Cavs shot 50+50+90+, they outrebounded their opponent, and their bench actually sparked a run.  The scored 56 first half points against a Hawks team that had been playing pretty good defense up to this point.  And they trailed by double digits going into the locker room.

So how did that happened?

A couple of things.  First, the Hawks got a bit of boost from Abraham Stevenson.  The guy took 4 shots, all from beyond the arc, and canned them all.  Abraham Stevenson has an interesting NBA career.  He played in 2005, 2007, took some years off, and showed up again in 2011 where he punked LeBron, and is apparently here for the 2013 season after taking 2012 off.  In the gaps between a player named DeShawn Stevenson sometimes referred to as “Soldier Boy”, took his place.  Abraham Stevenson is a three point assassin, Deshawn a shameless liability (shameless because he keeps firing away).  [Seriously look this up]  Some of the 3s were contested, some weren’t.  The Cavs don’t close out well at all, and their defense is predicated on being super aggressive and running at people with the ball.  They almost lost the game because they didn’t contest a handful of wide-open 3 down the stretch (more on that later).  They need to work harder at that – running people off without being totally out of position.

J-shavmupoohmoove (it’s evolving beyond our control!) is a great player, and he had his way with the Cavalier front line.  Lots of easy fakes led to open bunny shots in the paint.  A few weak side cuts caught the Cavs front lines sleeping and Joshua brought the walls down.  Some guy named Ivan Johnson plays on the Hawks and I swear I thought this game was going to end in Sundiata Gaines fashion.  The guy scored 6 points and it felt like 16.  He finished with a game high +18. (in 8 minutes!)  Basically, he checked in, the Cavs D checked out, crazy shots started going in, and he hit wild 29 footer that left his fingertip with 0.2 second left to end an already awful close to the half.

The Third Quarter

The Cavs started out the half strong, cutting an 11 point lead down to 1 in the first 6 minutes.  Varejao was everywhere.  It’s amazing how these Moses Malone-esque nights are almost becoming a bit quiet.  He’s such an integral part of everything that he doesn’t stand out when he does great things – he’s ALWAYS doing something positive.  After a brief Hawks run, Omri Casspi put his mark on this game.  He was solid tonight.  He was getting out in transition, hitting threes, and making good things happen.  I loved the fast break where because he hustled as a trailer, he was able to grab the rebound on a contested layup and keep the fast break from being wasted.  Of course the quarter ended with the Hawks draining 3s.  First, a pair of them, and then Lou Williams drew a foul on a 3 and made all the freebies.  The inconsistency to close quarters might be a symptom of a young team.  Or poor coaching, or both.  Hopefully it’s just the youth.

The FINAL QUARTER

Oh this was beautiful.  With the exception of some lackluster close-outs late, this was as perfect of a quarter as the Cavaliers have had this season.  They turned the tables on the 4th quarter narrative that had been bubbling up.  You know, the one where the offense tightens up and no one can score or defend.  Not tonight.  The bench mob (too soon?) got it started with Zeller and Casspi making a few plays.  Zeller had a nice find to Gee on a 3 ball.  A Pargo layup here, a Gibson 3 there, the Cavaliers were scrapping.  Of note: Tristan Thompson was impactful.  He was all over the place.  He was winning possessions for the Cavs – at both ends.  He added value in more ways than just the rebounding – but you could actually see it.  The Cavs were chipping away and he was a major reason.  You could tell the Atlanta crowd (or lack thereof?) was getting tense.  The Hawks gently built their lead back up to 8 points and then the Cavs just start firing on all cylinders.  Boobie drilled a 3.  Zeller blocked ZAZA (the Cavalier killer no more!) leading to a Gee made shot.  The lead was now three.

ENTER JEREMY PARGO. Pargo converted his first of two SIID (screw it, I’m driving) layups, followed by a tough jumper and his second SIID (this one despite everyone in the arena knowing he was going to the basket), and finally, a riSICKulous shot (I’d be calling it a bad shot if Waiters took it) where he dribbled endlessly, looked like he might try to step back to his left and fire over, but at the last second did an up and under pivot off one leg to free himself on the right side of the defender.  Of course, he was in no position to shoot and I actually thought he might try to throw it off the backboard to himself a-la Kobe.  Turns out, he’s got TOO MUCH $WAG for that – he just line drove it in like it was something he worked on.  8 straight Pargos, and it was going to take a minor miracle for the Hawks to turn their ship around, the Cavs suddenly up 6 and Pargo making a case to be on the cover of NBA Live and Madden 2013.  But of course, the Cavaliers taketh, the Cavaliers giveth away.  And Jeff Teague got a generous and-1 whistle going right back at Pargo.  Remember I mentioned the Cavs not closing out?  A wide open Sweet Lou buried a 3 after a few empty possessions both ways to tie the game right back up…
And now we stand at the precipice of two narratives.  The Cavaliers have shown an uncanny ability to surrender hard fought leads in the waning minutes of games.  The last time Jeremy Pargo caught NBA Jam fire he led em home, and the Cavs were scrappin all night.  There were good omens here, but the game was in the balance with 1 minute left.

FINALLY! Dion Waiters makes an impact in one of these close games.  I’ve been pretty disappointed with how Waiters seems to have lost that edge he had the first week of the season.  Tonight, in white knuckle time, he demanded the ball, made a strong, decisive move to draw a defender, and hit a cutting (who else) Varejao with a perfect pass right in the slot.  Varejao, as it turns out, has added a GEORGE GERVIN FINGEROLL to his aresenal!   Yeah he splashed that ball into the net like a cube into a glass of scotch, on the run, off one foot, stopping short so as not to get called for charging, gently off his fingertips.  Dominique Wilkins had to catch his breath.  It got cold in that arena.  After a Hawks turnover, Waiters went strong to the rack and finished – putting the Cavs up 4.  I woke up my daughter, my wife is not happy.  But this is call for celebration – Dion Waiters just slammed the door.  Right?

Come on, you didn’t think it would be that easy did you?  A 4-point lead with 25 seconds means NOTHING to the Cavs defense.  Of course, hard to blame the Cavs defense for a Josh Smith 3 pointer.  Defenses usually BEG for that.  This led to a funny exchange between the “Godfather” of this blog, John Krolik, and I – he was peripherally watching box score updates.

John: [explicit], how did the game just get back to 1 point?
me: oh it’s simple
whatever amount of points the other team needs
they get
need an 8-0 run?
here ya go
John: I WAS ABOUT TO JOKINGLY ASK WHETHER OR NOT JOSH SMITH HIT A THREE.

ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  OK so the Cavs still got this.  They are up 1 with 18 seconds to play.  I started thinking: without UncleDrew and his 90%-ish FTs, I’m really not sure who I want taking this free throw.  As it turns out – ANDERSON VAREJAO HAS ADDED ICE WATER TO HIS VEINS PERMANENTLY AND NOW SWISHES PRESSURE-COOKER FREE THROWS. When. does. this. stop?  When does Andy stop putting out [yawn] 20-20 games with a healthy arsenal of clutch plays that he’s never had any business even ATTEMPTING.  This is fun.

A 3 point lead.  All you have to do is keep them from shooting 3s.   No threes guys.  I’m sure Byon Scott’s huddle was like this.  “Noooooooooooo Threeeeeuuhhhhhhhhssssssss”  Oh look, it’s Sweet Lou with another wide open corner 3 and no one rushing to close out on him.  I’m sure THAT won’t go in.

What did I JUST say?

uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  There’s still a chance right?  I mean, Waiters looks like a killer again, you’ve always got Andy doing cheat-code things, and Pargo is making a run at 1st Team All NBA.  There’s still a chance.  There’s no way the inexperience is going to creep in.  No way Waiters is going to settle for a bad hero shot after twice going strong towards the basket and making plays.  He reads Henry Abbott I’m sure, he knows it’s all about making the best basketball play…

Oh no, no he is..he’s going to hoist an awful contested 3 and there’s no chance it’s going in….none at all…I can already tell by the release and trajectory that this is doomed.  We are going to OT and Zaza Pachulia is not going to let a game against the Cavs end without elbowing someone in the throat.  This game has to go to OT.  That’s probably Mallory messaging me about to freak out.  There’s no way this shot is going in….not. a. cha

Problem Boxing out?

GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

What a game.  Let’s wrap up with some little personnel observations from myself and help from Nate the Great Smith.

Waiters is exactly who we are all saying he is – a guy that shows flashes where you can’t help but think “wow, he just made everyone else around him look very small/slow/weak” and he takes a lot of bad shots.   Right now he’s our little Josh Smith bobblehead.  He had some SIIIICK plays in the first half where he put it into gear, blew by a few defenders, forced the help to commit, and fed a cutting TT or Varejao for a dunk and a little flip respectively.  The Varejao one was especially noteworthy because the pass was essentially a 1-handed no-look where he never even needed to gather the ball.  PRETTY.  He made  some good shots, he missed some good shots, he made a bad shot, he epically missed a few egregious shots….  As long as he keeps showing me those 3-4 plays a game that bring me out of my chair I’ll keep coming back for more.

TYLER ZELLER EXPLOSION!
Whoa!  Where did that come from.  Tyler Zeller, all OVER the place.  Driving layups, mid-range Js, Free Throws (finally) and… A POSTER DUNK!?  YES PLEASE.  Zeller checked in with the Cavs in a rut with 6 minutes to go in the 1st and was a huge part of the reason they climbed out.  10 points and 2 blocks in 25 minutes – a very solid night for Zeller.  He’s got to work on his defense, that’s for sure, but his activity was tangible and we can finally praise him with something other than “he runs the floor well” or “he has good fundamentals”.  Tonight, he produced, and in a big way.  Let’s hope this is the jump start he needed.

[Enter Nate]

This was possibly Tristan Thompson’s best game of the year.  He was absolutely grinding: making smart fouls, scrapping for every rebound in the 4th quarter.  Yes Horford and Smith combined for 40 points, but TT and Andy dominated the boards.  Tigger also chipped in for 2 steals, a block, and a dime.  Ben Wallace 2.0?  Maybe.  He followed it up with a fantastic interview after the game.  I have to say.  TT is a total pimp.  He’s completely smooth and talked about how important it is to get some food in your stomach and stay hydrated when you’ve got a back to back tomorrow.  I think he was off to melt some hearts with his grin.

You guys worry about me too much.

And let’s be honest, the Cavs don’t win this game without going 21-22 from the line.  Yes, TT had no part of it.  But Andy 6-6.  If he’s challenging Horford for an allstar spot, he just won the heads up matchup.  Another crazy thing, he should’ve had the ball in his hands a lot more down the stretch.  Waiters does not give up the ball quickly enough some times when Andy’s open off the screen and roll.  GIVE IT UP AND CUT!  The one pass St. Weirdo did give it up early, Wild Thing converted a beautiful driving finger roll over Josh Smith, who was trying to take a charge. Seriously, get this man the ball.

Gee had a bad night on offense 3-12 from the floor and 6 turnovers.   His defense wasn’t great with 5 fouls, but he made up for it with 5 boards, 4-5 from the line, and the game winning play, a play that happened because of a complete and total brain fart by Josh Smith, who didn’t block out the weak side.  With Gee at the power forward, he was probably an afterthought for Smith. It’s hard not to like Alonzo Gee.

If you told me the Hawks would shoot 48%, 60% from three, and win the turnover battle 12 to 18, I’d tell you the Cavs most probably lost.

Casspi had a nice game, even though he was a team worst -10 in point differential (I attribute this to playing with Sloan who was -7.  I have no hard data to back up this assertion).  Omri’s still shooting lights out from three, rebounding well, taking smart shots, and playing good defense.  8 points, 3 boards, a dime and 2 steals in 13 minutes is a damned respectable line.  I’d like to see him take some of those minutes Sloan got, with Gee at the 2.

Boobie was struggling, but hit a couple big 3s late, and helped stretch the floor with the 3 guard lineup that ended the game.  I actually run this lineup in NBA2K13 sometimes, so it was fun to see in a game.  In typical Daniel Gibson fashion, he was 2-5 behind the line, and 0-5 everywhere else…

The Cavs D was ok… Those meltdowns at the end of the 2nd and 3rd were horrific, game losing stretches, and obviously letting the Hawks go 12-20 from behind the line was not good.  I thought they defended the paint fairly well, except for all the And-1s.  A couple of them were awful whistles though.  I almost wish TT was more vocal.  He gets called for some phantom fouls.

Byron Scott with the quote of the game on the final play where Dion airballed a 3 and Gee rebounded and put it back.  “I guess I gotta be more specific and say, ‘try to get to the basket.’” Also, on the mind numbing Lou Williams 3 that tied the game.  “I told them, we’ve got 4 smalls in.  Got to switch everything… and we don’t switch and he gets wide open.”  It was nice to see him with a smile on his face, though.  [Exit Nate]

And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Santa gave Cleveland Varejao++ for Christmas this year

Strategic Resting?

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Today’s NBA hub-bub focuses on Greg Popovich’s decision to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli home, one day before the conclusion of a long road-trip.  TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott discussed the rationale and medical benefits behind San Antonio’s somewhat routine decision to bench their stars.

Cleveland has two more four-games-in-five-nights stretches in December.  In the Cavs’ most recent game, also a fourth game in five nights, Dion Waiters suffered a minor hand injury.  Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao regularly battle the injury-bug.  Kyrie Irving has missed time on five occassions in less than two calendar years.

Cavs fans, what do you think; should the team periodically rest players during compressed periods in the schedule?  Maybe everyone on the team should voluntarily sit out one game between December 11th – 15th and December 18th – 22nd.

I would support this.

Our Mascott is Gone

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

So long and thanks for all the cash!

The Cavs waived Luke Harangody, unofficial mascot of CtB, today, in order to make room for Kevin Jones of West Virginia who averaged 27 points and 13.7 rebounds in 3 games with the Charge.  Here’s the link.  By receiving a restricted free agent qualifying offer from the Cavs last summer, Harangody will make over $1.05 million guaranteed this season.  Recently sidelined with knee surgery, Harangody did not play in any regular season games this year.  We’ve had our fun with him, but I’m sure it sucks to get hurt and be cut.  In all seriousness, good luck, and Godspeed.  I hope this is not the last we’ve heard of Luke Harangody.

Update: Here’s a link to Colin’s fantastic piece on Harangody from February.  Thanks to CtB commenter, Richard, for the reminder.

Neon Dion – The First Month

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

David Thorpe has assessed the rookies after one month and Dion didn’t make his top 10.  Here’s what he had to say about Waiters:

Dion Waiters, Cavaliers — Nov. 23: Waiters still looks like a more dribble-happy version of Marcus Thornton with a bigger upside. His raw numbers looked good against the Magic — he scored 25 points and dished out 5 assists with no turnovers. But I counted him shooting 3-for-10 on bad shots, meaning he missed seven times when he had far better options than what he chose: step-back 3s with time on the clock, a one-on-three transition drive and “hope” shot, and forced long jumpers.

During Cleveland’s recent five-game stretch, he made five shots per game and missed 12 per game, which is tough to swallow when Cleveland lost four of those games by close margins. If Waiters learns the value of good shot selection, he’ll see his shooting percentages go up while his team wins more games.”

Thoughts?

Dion Waiters, Cavaliers — Nov. 23: Waiters still looks like a more dribble-happy version of Marcus Thornton with a bigger upside. His raw numbers looked good against the Magic — he scored 25 points and dished out 5 assists with no turnovers. But I counted him shooting 3-for-10 on bad shots, meaning he missed seven times when he had far better options than what he chose: step-back 3s with time on the clock, a one-on-three transition drive and “hope” shot, and forced long jumpers.

During Cleveland’s recent five-game stretch, he made five shots per game and missed 12 per game, which is tough to swallow when Cleveland lost four of those games by close margins. If Waiters learns the value of good shot selection, he’ll see his shooting percentages go up while his team wins more games.

1 through 5

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Five Cavs questions for the writers – all in one place.



1. Explain your game-time experience in full.

Dani: It usually begins with dinner. Once I’ve cooked up whatever cheese-related dish (I’m a vegetarian, so it’ll usually be a noodle-cheese combo of some type) I’ll be eating the night of the game, I sit down to watch the game on Fox Sports Ohio. Oh, and I always have iced green tea with the game. Two and a half hours later, the Cavs are usually down by double-digits in the 4th, my dishes are getting crusty, my nails have been bitten to the point of causing intense pain, and my family is wondering why I’m so angry at people named Byron Scott and Tristan Thompson. And I’m too angry at the Cavs to do any of my homework.

Tom: Varies.  I sort of loathe the idea of tweeting during games but I love doing it.  Fun to watch someone catch fire or throw down a dunk and see how everyone else is reacting.  I keep a box score, usually yahoo’s (a habit I started when I played fantasy bball there years ago) open while I watch.  I send texts to buddies when crazy stuff happens or when the game is tight.  I am more intense than I’m comfortable reflecting on afterwards.  I generally watch by myself since I got married and the Cavs started sucking.  None of my casual-fan friends are much interested in watching with me anymore.  Back in the day I’d have a much more extensive game day ritual/music/clothing/location thing.  Now it’s me in front of a laptop.  Last game was the first time I tried to watch with my newborn and she threw a fit after Tristan’s 4th missed shot, so I was sort of watching peripherally between pat-a-cakes (the advanced +/- lullaby didn’t soothe her).

Kevin: I have two little kids, so typically game-watching doesn’t start until their bed time.  I record the game and watch it.  Most of the time, I catch up by the end.  This works out really well actually, because viewing time gets halved.  Often times, my wife is there and asks questions like, “They play again?”  Is my life as glamorous as everyone imagined it?

Nate: Ideally, I like to Tivo every game and start them about an hour late.  This way I can fast forward through every commercial, but catch up to the game by crunch time.  I can avoid the BS, but don’t have to ignore my phone until after the game is over.  I’m usually on my couch, and ideally have a cup of coffee or a beer in hand while I’m arguing with every call and coaching decision.

Mallory: Step 1 – couch.  Step 2 – Beer, preferably something Ohio made (Fat Head IPA anyone?!) Step 3 – eyes glued to TV and twitter simultaneously.  Step 4 – in the fourth quarter, go on gchat and bitch about immanent loss to Tom, Nate, and/or Colin.  Step 5 – Cry myself to sleep.  Sigh…I’m not negative!

2. What’s the biggest pleasant surprise of the Cavaliers 2012-2013 season thus far?

Dani: Anderson Varejao turning into an All-Star center. Cavs fans are acting like he’s always been this good, but that’s simply not the case. Andy used to be an eight and eight type of guy. Now he’s averaging fourteen, boards and points alike, and shutting down opposing centers regularly. Basketball writers all around have started to notice this remarkable season Wild Thing’s putting together, and I love it.

Tom: The otherworldly play of Anderson Varejao.  A no-stats all-star is in the top-10 in player efficiency rating.  On most nights he has been the best player on the court and his career arc in general is remarkable.  I love the way he plays the game and he’s taking it to an entirely new level.  I hope he retires a Cavalier.

Kevin: Anderson Varejao peaking at age 30.  It is really amazing.  I mean; 15 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals?  That is complete beast mode, like he has a cheat code.  I don’t think anyone foresaw dominance for Andy this season, but he is a constant factor in all aspects of the game through the early part of the season.

Nate: The biggest surprise of the 2012-2013 season is Omri Casspi.  Tied for 5th in the league in 3 point percentage, and a 15 PER, he’s also been one of the Cavs better defenders (which isn’t saying much), and passable at putting the ball on the floor.  After starting out slow, he is one of the Cavs best bench players.  I think his and Boobie’s Numbers have been dragged down because of the extended time early on sharing the floor with Sloan and Walton: possibly the two worst players in the NBA.  When Casspi gets consistent minutes he’s been even better. The other surprise?  …Scott’s inability to see this and the fact that he often plays Miles in front of him.

Mallory: It’s gotta be Andy right?  I mean, we knew he was good, but did anyone see this coming?  Dude has a PER of 23.9, is averaging 15 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals a game, and has his hand in almost any good thing that happens to this team.  Andy has been unstoppable and unbelievable.  God bless this man for playing out of his mind.

3. Do you make anything of all the little Byron Scott / Dion Waiters (non?)stories?

Dani: Not really. There have, admittedly, been a profligacy of stories about Dion and Coach Scott. But I don’t think any of them hold much meaning or previously unknown knowledge about coach or player. The stories pretty much always confirm two things we already knew: Dion Waiters is a rookie, and Byron Scott is a hard-ass.

Tom: I found it interesting that the Coach was willing to go out on a limb and say that Waiters was the guy he wanted after the selection.  He took a lot of pressure off Chris Grant at least among some people when that information was made public.  Since then he seems to hold Waiters to a different standard than Irving, and he seems to be giving him the rookie treatment.  I like how Waiters is responding – I think he is mentally tough and hopefully B Scott will get the most out of him.

Kevin: If anything, I just hope that Coach Scott treats Kyrie similarly about his defense, because Kyrie is definitely a larger liability at that end that Waiters.  No special treatment for superstars was the mantra after Lebron left…

Nate: Not quite sure what the stories/non-stories are supposed to be, but I could definitely see them butting heads. I think that Byron is trying to do some tough love at times, and trying not to let Dion Develop bad habits, especially when it comes to getting on the bad side of refs, and with shot selection. What worries me, and what annoys me is how much of this is because Dion’s “a rookie” and how much of it is because Byron is singling him out.  Kyrie, whose defense is atrocious at times, seems to get a pass from Byron, as does Thompson whose offense is atrocious.  I’m wondering how much teaching is going on and how much scolding is going on.  I don’t mind being tough on players, but I want fairness.

Mallory: Scott was/is a disciplinarian right?  Dion is a young hot shot (at least that’s probably what he thinks) who has some bad habits (jacking threes, lapsing on D once and a while) and a stained past (issues with Boeheim) – that sounds like a recipe for butting heads.  Now, do I think Scott is really that hard on anyone?  I doubt it – have you ever seen him get after a player during a TO or a stupid play?  I haven’t.  (He mostly just stands there with his arms crossed)  I assume this is just largely a media creation.  But we’ll see.

4.  Have we learned anything meaningful, or is all the rejoicing and hand-wringing silly given the small sample size?

Dani: I think we’ve learned that the Cavs’ bench simply is not good enough to make the playoffs, no matter how well Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao play. No team in the NBA can survive and succeed with a bench that hemorrhages leads like this second unit. They are truly an eyesore.

Tom: I think I’ve learned that individual player analysis for role players can be a fools errand.  I had high expectations for CJ Miles, Jon Leuer, and Omri Casspi last season.  I’ve had high hopes for so many players the Cavs have gone after in the Dan Gilbert era.  So often they look promising and then come to Cleveland.  In a lot of ways I think how a team fits together can make a huge difference.  The ’09 Cavs team won 66 games despite lots of injuries because they just fit so well together.  Many of those players weren’t nearly as effective without [insert any high usage shot creator that draws attention] .  Some guys like Larry Hughes were WORSE with LeBron and just needed an uptempo system to flourish.  Some guys like Lamar Odom need a beach.  I don’t know what Miles needs, maybe a trip to Africa with Dave Chappelle to clear his mind or something.   Unfortunately, we haven’t learned anything new about Kyrie or Tristan.

Kevin: As far as sample size; Cleveland has battled a tough schedule.  Through Tuesday, they were tied for most games played and most road games. The combined winning percentage of their opponent’s is ninth-highest in the league.  They already made one of two west-coast trips for the season. This has not been a fortuitous schedule for the NBA’s fourth-youngest team, who have now played without their starting point guard for one-third of the season. With all that said; Dion is going to be good.  He gets to the rim alot, he’s a good passer, and he takes care of the ball well.  He collects quite a few steals, with minimal fouls.  He turns 21 next month.  Eventually, his shots at the rim will start to fall, the schedule will lighten up, and he will mature, and he and Kyrie will form an awesome backcourt.

Nate: Have we learned anything?  Yes.  The Cavs are not going to be a playoff team.  Their bench is not good enough and they don’t have enough veterans.  The question now, is are they going to improve measurably?  The only Cavs who’ve done that so far are Casspi, Andy, and Gee.  Gee’s numbers on offense aren’t great, but he’s expanded his game, especially from the freethrow line.  The handwringing?  That’s on Tristan Thompson.  I think he needs another offseason to get rid of his bad habits with the ball around the basket.  In addition to stopping his habit of keeping the ball to low and mechanically gathering, he needs to learn to keep his shoulders parallel with the backboard and to shield off defenders.  He also needs to learn how to dunk with one hand.  One of the biggest reasons he has his shot blocked so much is that he opens up to the defender way too much.  This is coachable.

Mallory: Honestly, and I know I’ll be attacked for this, I think we have.  First, Scott is definitely not the guy we thought he was.  Kyrie, in a VERY small sample size, seemed to have modestly regressed (PER, FT%) while not improving his D (his biggest flaw, obviously).  Don’t even get me started on Tristan.  The only player who has improved under Scott is Andy – you really think that’s because of him?  Second, so far at least, I’ve come to believe that Chris Grant either 1. Intentionally built a bench that would be sub-par so he could have us tank or 2. He’s not a great evaluator of known talent.  Either way, that’s a cause for concern.  Other than that?  Jury is still out.

5. What’s the Cavs’ biggest “storyline” going forward?

Dani: What, exactly, is Anderson Varejao worth? I can’t imagine any team will offer the kind of value we would need in return for such a unique, talented player, but what if? What would do it? A top-3 pick? Rudy Gay? Regardless of what Andy’s trade value is, it’ll be fascinating to find out, come trade deadline time.

Tom: If the Cavs are going to win (or even compete for) an NBA championship in the next decade, Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving are both going to have to become all-stars.  We’ll watch them progress and overanalyze the hell out of them.  In 2 years’ time we’ll know if this core has the potential to get it done. That’s the “biggest” story. The most interesting is going to be the organization’s dedication to patience. I get the sense that Dan Gilbert believes in the formula. I also think he’s an emotional guy that takes losing as hard as we do. This next FA class is not very good or deep, how much patience does the organization really have? Meanwhile, we will be busy debating how much they should have.

Kevin: Easily, the growth of the young guys.  When will Kyrie start showing the necessary effort on defense?  When will he play 50 games in a row?  When do Dion’s shots start falling in the paint?  Where does Tristan peak?  That question has a huge range of possibilities.  Will taking off the mask help Tyler start hitting more than 48% of his freebies and 20% of his jumpers?  Part of his allure was his skilled shooting, but so far it has been a complete liability.  Can he add 10 pounds of muscle and play with some fire?  Also, I guess, “what will the Cavs do with $20 million of cap space?”.  That’s a pretty big storyline, too.

Nate: The Cavs biggest storyline?  Anderson Varejao being one of the best players in the league.  It isn’t just the hustle, the crazy finishes around the basket, and the drawing charges, it’s the overall brilliance of his floor game.  He passes brilliantly, puts the ball on the floor as well as any big man in the league, and is among the greatest pick and roll forwards I’ve ever seen.  His jump shooting and post moves have been a pleasure to watch.  He hit a buzzer beater and had a Hakeem-esque dream shake against Memphis the other night.  Unbelievably, he’s playing the best ball of his career at age 30.  He’s also in the perfect offense for him.  Also amazingly?  The Cavs don’t give him the ball enough.  If Carlos Boozer hadn’t screwed us, I’d say rip up his contract and give him a new one.  He’s so good right now that we owe it to him to put a great team around him to compete as soon as possible — hopefully starting in 2013.  Will it be the spring or the fall?

Mallory: Winning.  Honestly, despite what the pro-tank collective thinks, the Cavaliers organization is at a dangerous point of potentially losing fans long term – that means fewer season tickets sold, fewer jerseys sold, etc. etc. etc.   All that means less money for the Cavs and trouble for the future.  Remember, we’re all hard core fans who wont stop watching just because of a few bad years.  But most people don’t see the game like we do; unless we’re at least competing – and I don’t mean winning a ton, just more than 3/15 games (which by the way means ~16 wins this year) – I think the organization may be in for some trouble.  Of course, we’ve had a hard schedule – if we can at least start to get things back on track, we’ll be fine.  But that’s asking for a lot considering what we’ve seen so far.

Commentariat, how would you answer these?

We’re Coming for You, Shabazz

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

I miss this.

PHOENIX 91, CLEVELAND 78

Well, if we can take one  positive out of tonight, it’s that Anderson Varejao is amazing. That’s about it. Every other Cavs player mixed whatever good they did with a healthy helping of bad. A few were perhaps quasi-effective, but the individual performances tonight did not add up to a winning team performance. Not even close, in fact. This Cavs-Suns tilt was ugly on both ends of the floor, and it hurts my brain to even attempt to attempt at establishing a narrative for the game other than “Wow, the Cavs without Kyrie suck a little more than the Suns.” As such, I’ll go ahead and talk about the game by way of bullet point.

– Tristan Thomspon wasn’t impressive. Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola are a solid post duo, but they looked like Sampson and Olajuwon when defending Tristan down low. He has no offensive repertoire to speak of. Tigger shot 1-7 from the field for 5 points, and had no blocks or steals. However, I’d like to point out that he shot 3-4 from the free throw line. That’s not bad at all.

– Alonzo Gee was solid. He played some good defense, though that sort of thing is hard to quantify against the Suns, especially in a game like tonight’s- either they were scoring every time down the floor on an array of difficult shots, or they were missing an unconscionable amount of layups and corner threes. But we got the kind of ball we’ve come to both expect and treasure from Alonzo: 3-7 from the field for 12 points, a killer dunk, and a few steals and assists to go along with his constant flight around the floor. All NBA D-League players should take notes from Alonzo on how to make the NBA. The main thing is to play harder than anyone else on the floor.

– Jeremy Pargo played like Donald Sloan. 3-12 for 8 points. 5 points, 5 turnovers. Against Goran Dragic, who isn’t exactly a lock-down defender. He also had 5 fouls, playing the point guard position. How is that even possible? Let’s just move on.

–  C.J. Miles straight-up dominated a 35-second stretch of this game, dropping six straight points. Unfortunately, it was the last 35 seconds of the game, and he sucked for the rest of the game. He missed a bunch of jumpers, and didn’t do anything else particularly well. It’s hard to believe that Byron Scott continues to play him over Omri Casspi, who looked at least mildly effective in 13 minutes and hit a couple of shots.

– Anderson Varejao is a monster, 20 points, 18 boards. The fifth straight 15+ rebound game in a row for Andy. He was  on fire in the 3rd quarter, when he hit a flurry of mid-range jumpers on his way to 14 in the quarter. Without Wild Thing, the Cavs would have lost this game by 30. At the beginning of the season, I was all for trading Andy. But he’s played himself out of trade talks. There’s nothing of equal value that we could get in return.

-Dion Waiters actually had a decent game, despite another mediocre shooting night (7-20 from the field). He dished out 7 assists, and some of them were beauties. His play-making ability seemed almost Harden-esque at times, as he put the ball on the floor and whipped cross-court passes with ease. When Dion learns how to finish at the rim and hit his jumper regularly, he’ll be a real star in this league.

– Pretty much everyone else on the team sucked. I would love to blame this loss on Luke Walton, but he didn’t play. It was weird to see Tyler Zeller playing for the Suns. Or was that his brother, Luke? I couldn’t tell. Tough loss. Goodnight, folks.

Cavs: The Podcast 0017 – A Dark (Not-So-Stormy) Night

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Tonight we lost to Memphis in the waning minutes.  Tom, Colin, and I all were a little ticked off, so we jumped on a podcast and recorded our thoughts.  Basically…We discussed Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, the Cavs’ D, and the value of Anderson Varejao.  Among a bunch of other things.

SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0017-a-dark-not-so-stormy

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cavs-the-podcast/id528149843?mt=2

Enjoy!

Kevin’s Summer Project is Moving

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Part Three of my investigative articles on pre-draft measurements will be posted tomorrow morning at hardwoodparoxysm.com.  Most of my writing will still be at Cavs:the Blog, but please visit our fellow TrueHoop network site around 9 am on Tuesday to see how shooting guards stack-up.

For a sneak peak;

Q: Is it a problem that Dion is 6′ – 4″?

A: No

Cavs: The Podcast 0016 – The Return of Raab

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

For those who have read “The Whore of Akron” it should come as no surprise that Scott Raab wants to see this Cavs team winning again (although, lets be honest, anyone reading this blog probably wants to see the Cavs as winners.)  On today’s podcast Scott and I got into some real nitty gritty conversation about what direction this Cavs team is headed in.  Specifically, we discussed the development of Tristan Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Tyler Zeller, and of course, Neon Dion.  In addition, we got into the bench (which hasn’t looked QUITE so terrible recently), Byron Scott as a head coach, and a little discussion on the other two Cleveland sports franchises.

As always, SoundCloud at http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0016-the-return-of-raab

And iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cavs-the-podcast/id528149843

Also, for the sake of civility, lets try to keep this comment section nice.  Keep in mind that everything on this podcast is opinion.  That being said, let us know what you think about what is discussed.

Refs Not Seeing Dion?

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Dion Waiters hasn’t been getting many calls this year, or so he thinks. The rookie believes that the referees have missed some calls when he feels there was a foul, the Plain Dealer reports. Byron Scott isn’t necessarily supportive of his rookie’s whining, though. He said, actually, “I take that with a grain of salt.” Now, there have been several no-calls on shot attempts by Dion, or so it seems. But while one always wants a coach to stand up for his players, there’s inherent wisdom in Byron Scott not fully agreeing with Waiters. He’s a rookie, and the NBA is a meritocracy. You start to get calls when you start to achieve. Whether or not that’s a fair system, that’s how it is, and Dion should get used to it, and not allow it to affect his game. If anyone is interested, his statistics, including free throws per game, are here:

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/waitedi01.html