Archive for November, 2012

Recap: Cavs 108, Heat 110

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

I don’t know exactly what tact to take on this one.  The Cavs lost a tough battle in the closing seconds; a game they lead the whole way; a game that is annually circled on the calendar.  It is hard not to be deflated.  On the other hand, in night three sans-Kyrie, in a third game in four days, on the second night of a road back-to-back, Cleveland almost knocked-off the defending champs.  The rag-tag, starless Cavs, nearly sent Miami off their homecourt with their tails between their legs.  It is hard not to be proud of an effort like that.

Onto a recap:

Slargo has been slain; long live Jeremy Pargo!!

The first half was awesome.  True-to-form, Cleveland’s starters came-out blazing, with Andy nabbing rebounds at a ridiculous pace, and Alonzo Gee taking pole-position in the battle for the night’s best small-forward.  His nine first-quarter points came from a corner-three, a drive & bank-shot over LBJ and Battier, a pull-up fadeaway jumper, and a pump-fake drive for a nasty dunk.  Everyone’s favorite annual stocking stuffer, “Sports Illustrated’s Best of Alonzo Gee”, added some potential footage early in this game.  Cleveland leads 29 – 26 at the end of the first.

The second quarter saw the margin stretch to a dream-like 59 to 48.  Omri Casspi drained three triples in the half, and also hit Tristan for a fast-break dime.  The bench has not been disastrous lately and a large reason is Casspi.  When he came to Cleveland, his dossier included: being tall, running the court effectively, and hitting threes.  Finally, signs of success at the latter two activities.  Over the last five games, he is averaging 8 points per night on 75% true shooting.  Otherwise in the first half, Pargo continued his amazing run, finishing with 10 points and 5 assists, while Varejao tallied ten rebounds.  The Cavs’s ten first-half threes, combined with only four turnovers culminated in the double-digit halftime margin.

Things began worse in the third frame; the strong, early ball protection eroded, with six turnovers in the first six minutes of quarter three.  Pargo’s chariot briefly transitioned to a pumpkin: throwing away a pass, traveling, and being stripped from behind.  A 13-to-1 Heat run drew the game nearly even, but Cleveland escaped fourteen Lebron points to still lead 79 to 77.

Heading into the fourth, I assumed there existed a near-zero chance for a Cleveland win.  The Cavs’ closer sat in a suit with a hurt finger; Miami trotted out the reigning-MVP, at home, against a young and tired team.  But Cleveland hung tight. CJ Miles played his best quarter in the wine-and-gold; knocking down a three, driving for a tough lay-up, and threading a beauty of a behind-the-back fast-break pass.  Perhaps he was drugged during the season’s first ten games, but he seems to have turned a corner in the last week.  The quarter wore on; every time the Heat drew near, one of Cleveland’s Finest came through with a big play…Varejao with a tip-in…Waiters with drive & finish…Gibson with a four-point-play.  Boobie’s three with two minutes remaining left Cleveland up 108 to 101.  Then, the probably-inevitable happened.  Lebron drove for an easy finish; Ray Allen beat Waiters with a shot-fake and gained an and-one…Cleveland’s offense bogged down, with no one prepared to be The Man.  Then, hearts sank in the Hetrick household; Ray Allen open from deep…108 to 109 Miami lead, their first since early in the first quarter.  Instead of Dion, guarded by LBJ down the stretch, Cleveland auditions Jeremy Pargo for the role of crunch-time hero.  Despite a valiant effort, Dwyane Wade blocks the pull-up from seven feet, and Cleveland limps off, a 108 to 110 loser.

Without a doubt, a disappointing outcome, but ultimately something our young squad should be proud of.  Facing the defending champs, on the second night of a road back-to-back, they took the fight to twelve rounds.  If some combination of Pargo, Miles, Casspi, and Zeller continues contributing after Kyrie’s return; this team can still be as good as any of us expected.

A few extra bullets:

Prior to Wednesday, what I knew about Jeremy Pargo amounted to: he played four non-spectacular years at Gonzaga followed by two seasons in Europe; last year in his first NBA season, while struggling to crack Memphis’s rotation, he finished with a 4.4 PER; Memphis literally gave Cleveland a draft pick to take his $1 million contract off their books; and he turns 27 in March.

So, I painted a picture of fairly low expectations for Monsieur Pargo.  After three games as starter, that assumption is changing though.  He looks fast, yet under control.  He seems to generally understand when to shoot versus the time to pass.  He tries on defense.  There was even one Kyrie-esque pick-and-roll with Andy.  During the Lester Hudson explosion of 2012; I always thought it was mirage.  With Pargo, other than the 45% three-point shooting, I think he’s the real deal to play back-up.  He finished with 16 points and 7 assists.  As a starter in three games, it’s 20 points and 4 assists per night.  Also, those three opponents are: 2012’s second-best defense, 2012’s eight-best defense, and the reigning-NBA-champs.

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For me, this may have been Dion’s least impressive game.  Not numerically, as those were fine, with 16 points on 51% true shooting and two assists against only one turnover.  Also, he offered-up some fine clutch offensive plays down the stretch.  But I thought he looked tired; more passive on offense than usual, and out-of-sorts on defense.  For one night, this is excusable.  I have already touched on the compression & strength of the recent schedule.  Add in that Dion lead the team in minutes and shots each of the games without Kyrie, and it makes sense for him to be exhausted.  He is a rookie that played twenty-five minutes per slow-paced NCAA game last year.

His defense was pretty bad tonight though.  Bad switches, flat-footed on the defensive boards, routinely losing his man away from the ball…not good.  Coach Scott benched him one-minute into the third quarter, after Dwyane Wade opened with four points in the first two possessions.  Unfortunately, fault for two critical late possessions also rests with Dion.  Ray Allen beat him baseline in isolation for an and-one, then somehow found himself completely wide-open with 18 seconds to go for the winning three.  Waiters let himself get stranded near the baseline, and Ray Allen, greatest shooter of all-time, does not need the benefit of that sort of defensive lapse at the end of a close game.

In the comments section of yesterday’s game, we briefly discussed the critical eye that Cavs:the Blog can turn towards Dion.  At least speaking for myself, that is because  hope & expectations for him are very high.  I like the skills that Dion shows, on offense and defense, but as is the case with all twenty-year olds, he can improve…alot.  While he is young, constructive critique seems warranted (same case for Kyrie’s defense every night).

Cleveland only gets one night off before another back-to-back in two cities, but even when completely spent, I am sure Dion will be learning immensely from these early experiences.

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I will note that over the last three games, the starting PG or SG have started the second and fourth quarter.  I just want to point out that there is zero reason this can’t happen once Kyrie returns.

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The Heat broadcast crew noted that Anderson Varejao tallied five of the NBA’s fifteen highest rebounding games of the early season.  Tonight did not quite reach those levels, but add another 15 boards, 10 points, 4 assists and 4 steals to his ledger.

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On offense, Tristan Thompson played the perfect game.  Not trying to do too much, when ‘garbage’ buckets came his way, he secured the ball and finished.  Thirteen points on 6 of 7 shooting for TT.  If this type of low usage, gimme-finisher is all he ever becomes on offense, I would be perfectly happy with that.  Do this every night Tristan, and otherwise master defense and rebounding.

Recap: Orlando 108, Cleveland 104 (Or it’s all about the little things)

Friday, November 23rd, 2012
Neon Dion: the Magic kept him slightly off balance.

Orlando and the little things kept Neon Deon just off blance enough.

Basketball is a game of little things: little things that add up up over the course of 48 minutes: a missed assignment on defense here, an offensive foul there, a bad shot choice with a minute left, a missed freethrow,  a blown call.  This game came down to the little things, and the Magic did more of those little things in order to win.

This game definitely lived up to CtB’s pregame billing: an interesting matchup, and a barometer on whether Jeremy Pargo can follow up the brilliance of his first start for the Cavs.  Pargo was controlled on offense, made very few bad plays, and was generally effective on drives and midrange shots, with a clutch corner three thrown in.  His defense, especially in the pick and roll was not nearly as good as it was against Philly.  In the pick and roll, he was ok…  But his biggest problems came on the weak side wing when he he was cheating to help Waiters on the pick and roll, and leaving Afflalo, Reddick, or Nelson way too open for easy 3s.   The Magic were willing to swing the ball to the open three point shooter, and absolutely  punished the overplays to the tune of 11-21 from 3 point land, one of the little things that led to a loss.  Every Cavs guard and wing defender had a problem staying at home.

With 25 points, Saint Weirdo was generally effective, though he seemed way too willing to shoot from 3, with 4 makes on an excessive 11 attempts.  His 5 assists and zero turnovers showed off his ability to run the point when called on.  The 2 steals were nice, and the Cavs were forcing turnovers like crazy in the first quarter and a half.  But general ineffectiveness on defense against the pick and roll kept coming up to bite him and the rest of the Cavs in the butt, with easy layups for Nelson.  And like everyone else, he gave up threes when guarding the off ball guard.  Still he had some big shots, and some dumb ones, including the head scratching long 2 point brick from the top of the key with a little more than a minute left in the game, another little thing.

Anderson Varejao is a master of the little things it takes to win ball games.  19 points and 17 boards and 3 assists do not describe the overall brilliance of his game: power dribbling to start a sweet fast break, little tips to himself for offensive boards and putbacks, and a couple of tip-ins that defied the odds of rotational physics.    One of the biggest problems with the Cavs down the stretch was the guards hesitance to pitch him the ball on the pick and roll.  The Magic were quick hedging the ball handler, and then rotating back quickly.  With most bigs, guards are trained not to pitch them the ball at the elbow when this happens.  This is no man’s land for most big men.  The Waiters and Pargo’s hesitance to give him the ball caused it to stick.  They should realize that this is a position where Andy almost always makes the right play.

The bench was good this game, and it was Casspi’s best game of the season.  He was solid from inside and outside of the arc, and played some good defense: doing the little things like tipping a ball to a teammate that led to possessions for the Cavs, leading to a well deserved +8 for the game to lead the Cavs.  Miles made a very brief appearence, totally only 3 minutes for the night.  Given Scott’s disdain for Casspi, I almost wonder if Miles got hurt.  Zeller was solid and continues to show a deft quick finish touch around the basket with both hands.  However, his jumper has not come around yet, and his missed 20 footers hurt.  He also missed some crucial freethrows.  He played OK defense, though in the second half Davis was giving him and the rest of the Cavs’ bigs fits.

The most curious bench player was the one who was not doing the little things.  It was obvious that Daniel Gibson was hurting and not very effective.  Taking only 4 shots in 25 minutes, and scoring his only 3 points on a terrible foul on a three point shot by Reddick, Gibson was not his normal self.  The trust that Scott was putting in Boobie by subbing him in for Pargo down the stretch was commendable, but it was also a bad decision — a little thing that helped lose the game.  Though Daniel did have 6 assists, the offense stalled without two ball handlers on the court, and the Cavs had a harder time scoring.  Also, his defense has been overrated this season.  The defensive breakdowns at the Game’s end were his fault as much as anyone.

Tristan Thompson continues to be an enigma.  He had a dunk that barely got over the rim this game.  I still think he put on too much weight, or hasn’t figured out how to play with the weight he had.  He needs to watch film of Zeller, and his ability to get the ball up quickly and have proper footwoork with either hand.  He got subbed out for Zeller late, who was rebounding better, but couldn’t contain Glen Davis.  But TT seemed… forgettable.

DAVIS SMASH!!!

In the end, it was a bunch of little things.  The biggest little thing was the officiating.  Yes, the Cavs couldn’t buy a call late.  Big Baby was getting every whistle on offense and defense and generally playing like he had been given massive strength by a gamma radiation accident and the refs were afraid to anger him.   On a crucial late play Hulk Baby Davis ran the ball handler, Gee, over on a pick and roll switch like he was a toadstool, and Gee flailed a shot up thinking he was going to get a call.  That call never came, and that was about all she wrote for the Cavs.  But… the Cavs let leads slip away, played poor 3 point defense, and put themselves in a position to lose to bad calls.  Only star teams should expect calls on the road.  Knowing and doing those little things are how ball games are won: free throws, limiting turnovers down the stretch, vets that know how to work the refs (the Cavs need one of these), and execution: the little things.

Cavs put Ewing Theory to Test Tonight

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Hope you all had a happy turkey day.  In case you missed it, the Cavs picked up one of their most implausible wins in the last couple years Wednesday night.  Beating the 76ers, 92-83.  The game was a confirmation of the reason we watch sports, just when all seems lost, and we’re facing the existentialist dilemma of “Googling Pictures of Tanks” and calling the season in November, something amazing and unexpected happens.  Thinking his last name was Lin, Jeremy Pargo played one of the best games by any guard in a Cavs uniform this season.  More importantly, the Cavs played their best defense of the year Wednesday night.  The Cavs held the 76ers to 36% shooting, and played good shot defense on a team that gave up only 7 turnovers.  The good guys collected 40 out of 51 possible defensive rebounds.  While they were not forcing turnovers, they were playing very solid individual defense, and getting back on defense, holding Philly to only 6 fast break points.

Where did this come from?  Could this be the vaunted Ewing Irving Theory at work?  Could the Cavs play better without Kyrie Irving (and Daniel Gibson)?  With a shortened rotation of 8 players, C.J. Miles and Omri Casspi played  possibly their best games off the bench, and the rest of the starters had solid contributions.  In watching the game, one thing was clear.  Jeremy Pargo played better defense than Kyrie Irving has all year.  And the Cavs defenders as a whole were not running all over the place compensating for Irving.  But, let’s be honest,   The 76ers missed a lot of 3s, and the Cavs hit a lot (4-17 and 13-23, respectively), and it could have just been a bad shooting night for the 6ers.

True, Philadelphia is not an offensive juggernaut, ranked only 28th in the league with an 89.8 points per game scoring average.  Tonight’s matchup, The Orlando Magic, don’t fair any better at 29th, and 89.5 ppg.  So a very similar game could be in store for the Cavs.  But it will be interesting to see if Pargo can keep channeling his inner 2011 Lin.  Suddenly, the Orlando game is one of the most interesting games on the Cavs schedule.  Who thought the play, Waiting for Pargo, could be so compelling?

You are Well Below Par(go)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Unbelievable. That’s the word for it. An out-of-the-blue win for the Cavs, after losing leading scorer Kyrie Irving to injury. Jeremy Pargo, first of all, deserves most of the credit for the win. This third-string point guard, this young, unproven player who Byron Scott only promoted to starter the day of the game, showed some serious offensive chops. He hit jumpers from all over the floor, got to the rack with ease, and set up his teammates fairly well all game. Final stats: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. He also played great defense, going hard in man-on-man D when matched up with Jrue Holiday or Evan Turner and racking up a steal and a few tipped balls. The other, less surprising, star of this game was Anderson Varejao. He locked down the post, grabbed nineteen boards (7 offensive!) and was generally awesome as usual. Dion Waiters played alright, if inefficiently. He only shot 7-22 from the field, but Dion also put up 6 assists to 2 turnovers and played solid defense. However, the Cavs have had some great individual performances this year in losses. Remember the game in Brooklyn? What made this one different was the bench. C.J. Miles and co. had their best performance of the year by far. Details later. Some bullet points on the game:

- Jeremy Pargo could be the backup point guard the Cavs have been looking for. Obviously we can’t expect him to score like this on a nightly basis, but anything near this type of offensive punch might be just what the Cavs need off the bench when Kyrie comes back. His jumper was clearly falling tonight (4-8 on 3-pointers) at an unsustainable rate, but that’s not really what matters. He was getting to the hole with remarkable consistency against a solid defensive team, and an athletic backcourt. That type of penetration led to open shots on the perimeter for the Cavs all night, and it made a huge difference for the second unit. The open 3-pointers were a world apart from the contested fade-aways that the Cavs had been getting with Donald Sloan on the floor. Let’s hope Pargo keeps it up.

- C.J. Miles may have just broken out of his slump in a big way. The release on his jumper still seems a little slow, but he was hitting it with regularity tonight, and he looked much more comfortable in the offense. If his perimeter play can remain close to this for the rest of the season, the team will be helped tremendously. Omri Casspi also looked decent, though he’s clearly still dealing with some shaky nerves. He seemed to lack confidence in his dribbling and shooting. In short, he played much like I did on the 7th grade basketball team. Needless to say, I played sparingly. As does he. I think that Byron Scott hasn’t been entirely fair in his treatment of Casspi, and while Kyrie is out, I would like to see him get some actual run.

- Tristan Thompson was pretty awful, unfortunately, but his line wasn’t anything remotely surprising. He rebounded well, played solid defense, and shot 1-7 from the field. We won, so I’ll try and keep this positive. He made 2-3 free throws! Someone call Rick Barry! Tyler Zeller was slightly worse, but I think he wore his gas-mask a little more jauntily than Tristan, so props to him. Any ideas for nicknames as long as they still both have the masks?

- Alonzo Gee dropped 14 points and shot 5-9 from the field, 4-6 from 3-point range, and played some truly spectacular defense. in particular, there was a fastbreak block that needs to be seen to be believed. Really, exactly the kind of game Chris Grant payed him for. If he can keep putting up numbers like this, and playing defense the way he does, we can all pretend like we’ve never heard of Nicolas Batum before.

-Luke Walton did not play tonight. Hallelujah. Byron Scott, thank you.

Jeremy Pargo, Woohoo

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Jeremy Pargo, offensive maestro and passer extraordinaire, will be starting at the point guard position tonight, the Plain Dealer reports. Apparently Byron Scott considered slotting Boobie in at the 2 and giving Dion Waiters a shot at point guard, but he made the safe choice, and went with the player who’s averaged 2.7 points and 1.3 assists for his career. Ah, well. Here’s the link.

P.S. Seriously, though, I don’t want to take anything away from Jeremy. I’m sure this means a lot to him and his family, and I wish him the best.

P.P.S.  More seriously though, CtB is fairly convinced that tonight marks the start of a hall-of-fame career for Mr. Pargo.  The fact that Memphis literally gave Cleveland a second-round pick to take him from them will go down in infamy, on a level similar to when they traded Gasol to the Lakers.

Jeremy Pargo!!  28 points!!  Cavs win!!

Googling Pictures of Tanks

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

We spend a lot of time waiting for things, especially for the end of things: workdays, commutes, lines, dull conversations. It’s an experience that ghosts beneath the other things we’re doing. You’re reading this article perhaps while waiting for some water to boil or for the UPS man to drop off a package. So you’re only sort of reading this article. You let your mind drift between the words you’re reading and the thing you’re waiting for. You hit a button on your phone to check the time, then finish the rest of this paragraph. You feel slight aggravation. You might not even be waiting for anything particularly important or desirable; it’s just preferable to what you’re doing right now, which is waiting, and what you’re waiting for most is for the waiting to be over.

Cavaliers fans and Kyrie Irving acolytes will wait at least a month for him to return from a fracture in his left index finger. Irving will return sometime in December or January to the starting lineup of a team that has stopped trying to win games. Then we will wait some more. Irving will probably spend some curiously long stretches on the bench during the fourth quarters of close contests. I’ll be googling pictures of tanks for game recaps. We’ll try to make light of it—Waiting for Godot is kind of a funny play when you can ignore the part about existence as a bus stop regularly visited by death—but there’s only so much fun one can have while constantly glancing at the clock.

Waiting is a quarrel between parts of your consciousness. The rational part of your brain has a conversation with the emotional part—the part that just wants to do and have stuff right now—and overrules it. Young children are terrible at waiting, which is why they occasionally throw temper tantrums in the aisles of supermarkets, but adults aren’t much better at it in the sense that a lot of us are bad at living in the moment (or barring that, distracting ourselves) so that we don’t feel the aggravation that waiting causes. It’s just that we better understand the social contract that we’d be breaking if we were to throw a temper tantrum in the aisle of a supermarket. We endure the pain, and we’re marginally less unpleasant about it than the average three-year-old. If you’ve ever commingled with a drunk, ornery crowd at a concert where the headliner is late, you know what I mean.

Cavs fans are like the drunk, ornery crowd at a concert where the headliner is late. I wasn’t of the mind that this team could or should compete for a playoff spot, but, even with my low expectations, I was looking forward to watching the Cavs play some intermittently exciting basketball this season. That likely will not happen over the next (approximate) month, because Dion Waiters is going to be playing the role of de facto point guard while Irving is gone, which probably means a lot of ugly possessions. Or it means Jeremy Pargo will run the offense for twenty minutes per game, which will carry all the thrill of watching a pair of slugs copulate.

What will happen most assuredly is that the Cavs will lose almost every game Irving misses, and as they fall to the basement of the Eastern Conference, Chris Grant and his staff will decide the best decision is to stay there and draft Nerlens Noel or whomever. The Cavs will again be intermittently exciting once Irving returns, but if they get too exciting too often, Byron Scott will introduce some wonky substitution patterns that guarantee the Cavs one of the worst records in the league. Phantom injuries might play a part; maybe the front office flips Andy Varejao for some assets. If you’re reading this, you likely know the drill. If you’re somehow new to this, it involves a lot of misery and useless speculation.

All of this is fine with me in theory, where I have convinced myself the real Cleveland Cavaliers live. The assemblage of middling castoffs that fail repeatedly this season are only part of what the Cavaliers are—the other part is what they could be. I’m essentially Sam Lowry at the end of Brazil, hallucinating an alternate reality in which I’m not being tortured. We all have our coping mechanisms and the lies we tell ourselves, else we’d be unable to wait.

The reality, of course, is that Nerlens Noel or whoever isn’t a championship promise, and waiting is sometimes just slow time-murder. Life doesn’t really begin anew when the UPS guy finally comes, it just seems that way for a moment, and then you realize you should’ve sprung for the 40-dollar blender because this 25-dollar one is just not getting the job done re: the hummus you’re trying to make. That blender was supposed to heal you, but now you taste nothing but disillusionment and ill-ground hummus.

We put our hope in things we don’t yet have because it’s all we can do as sports fans. Or we call up a radio show and go on some indignant rant about how Chris Grant had better know what he’s doing or else there will be some very harsh consequences, none of which will be of any actual solace, but dammit, something must be done. Better to rouse ineffectual anger than stare blankly into the void.

But the void is there, at least for another season. We’re all now waiting for things—because we’re clearly not yet in the presence of the ones we need—and especially the end of things, because the Cavaliers’ season doesn’t need to last more than another month or two for us to learn everything we can, despite the fact it won’t end until April. Whether Dion Waiters is a 40-dollar or 25-dollar blender is up for debate, but he’s clearly not all the Cavaliers require. What the Cavaliers require may never come, but we keep telling ourselves its out there—like alien life and loving, functional family units—because if there’s dissatisfaction, there must be something like the opposite of it. We’ll find it tomorrow, maybe.

Thoughts on James Harden Part II: What Does the Thunder’s Crisis Mean for the Cavs?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Given that the Cavs odds of winning in the next month probably just flushed down the proverbial crapper, I thought it a good time to start looking ahead and continue my series, “Thoughts on James Harden.”  I  didn’t mention the bearded one till the end of my article, a couple of weeks ago, when I referenced the “Daryl Morey/James Harden moment.”  This moment, the Harden Trade is touchstone in NBA history.  It will go down with Wilt, Kareem, and Gasol to the Lakers, Shaq to the Heat, KG to Boston, Barkley to the Suns, and Harangody to the Cavs as among history’s most game changing NBA trades.  Having established a 26 point scoring average, Harden is currently the fourth best shooting guard in the league.  The better ones?  Ginobili, Wade, and Kobe Bryant.  Harden is 7 years younger than the youngest of that group, Wade, and may eclipse any or all of them this year, if he hasn’t already.  Anyone who thought that Harden wasn’t a max contract player was, well, ignorant.

The Cavs have been purportedly following the “Thunder Model” of NBA success and have nailed the first part of the formula: be a very bad team and get incredibly lucky in getting a transcendent player that is far and away the best player in the draft.  They got Durant, and we got Kyrie Irving.  The next phase was drafting well.  The Thunder traded a 26th pick for Sefalosha, drafted Ibaka 24th, and hit gold with their other two top five picks, drafting Westbrook and Harden, but this is where the magic stopped.  The Cavs have to learn this lesson: the Thunder should have never put themselves in a position to lose Harden.

The Harden trade is a game changer because it is the first example of the 2011 NBA lockout out was all about: not letting teams collect an unlimited amount of highly paid assets.  This is what the NBA wanted: competitive balance, and this trade is an example of it.  A player who by the end of the season might be the league’s best shooting guard (at least on offense), is now on a team that was trapped in NBA no man’s land: just missing the playoffs.  It’s also a game changer because of how Houston pulled it off.  They followed the “Celtics model”: collect a bunch of “assets” and trade for a superstar.  NBA Supergeek, Daryl Morey was widely panned for failing to get Dwight Howard by constructing a team of tradeable assets that contained 12 power forwards.  As Wages of Wins wrote, “He’s tying to make lots of moves in the hopes of landing a star.”  Which he actually ended up doing.

Morey also realized that Harden was a superstar playing on the bench.  More than one source has documented this, but let’s just note that Harden had a 66% true shooting percentage last year, the highest among guards playing over 30mpg, and averaged over 4 assists per game with a fairly low usage rage.  Oklahoma City’s team played better 14 points per 100 possessions with him on the court (and 6 points worse on defense).  Obviously, kudos to Morey and the Rockets for pulling off the trade.  The next question is, did the Thunder get good value?

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Kyrie Irving Has a Broken Finger

Monday, November 19th, 2012

He’ll be out for roughly four weeks. It’s your team now, Jeremy Pargo.

0015 – Is It Summer Yet?

Monday, November 19th, 2012

It might be early in the season, but six straight losses have us feelin’ a little blue.

On today’s podcast Tom Pestak, Nate Smith, Dani Socher and I spent some time talking about what we’ve liked and haven’t liked so far this season.  Topics we touched on were the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bench, Tristan Thompson’s game, Kyrie Irving’s passing, Dion Waiter, Tyler Zeller, and why the heck we keep getting blocked so much.  Plus much, much more.

As always, we’re on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cavs-the-podcast/id528149843

Also, you can find us on SoundCloud at http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0015-is-it-summer-yet

Keep on the look out for more podcasting fun soon!

UPDATE: I need to fix the intro – it’s time to mix it up a bit.  Any musicians/DJs/Etc. interested in helping me make a new intro song email me at Malloryfactorii@gmail.com or tweet at me @malfii – I’ll feature you on a podcast in exchange!

Recap: Sixers 86, Cavs 79

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The Cavaliers came up short against the Sixers in a physical affair while Colin McGowan juggled various bootleg streams that provided all the clarity of looking through a beer bottle that’s spent several weeks in a ditch. (In other words, I caught the game in dribs and drabs and in terrible definition. I’m going to keep this one short and let you guys discuss the finer details in the comment section.) Let us recap:

–Tough night for the Cavaliers’ starting backcourt. Nothing was working for Dion Waiters—he struggled both at the rim and from distance—who finished the game with five points on 2-for-13 shooting, no assists, and three turnovers. Byron Scott stressed that he didn’t want to call Saint Weirdo’s return to Philadelphia a “homecoming” for fear of putting undue pressure on the rookie, but one wonders if Waiters was a whit too eager tonight. Kyrie Irving’s night was better in the way a broken ankle is preferable to a punctured lung. Jrue Holliday and the Sixers’ interior defenders did a great job of smothering him when he got to the rim (Philly racked up nine blocks), and Irving’s jumper was uncharacteristically poor. The young tandem also combined for eight turnovers. A night best forgotten.

–Tristan Thompson had his best game of the season. The refs allowed a lot of contact, and he used that to his advantage, throwing his weight around when guards drove into the lane. Both he and Varejao were really active on the boards (28 combined rebounds, 13 of which were offensive), which played a large part in keeping the Cavaliers in the game (they shot only 35.7%). He got a lot of garbage buckets around the rim off put-backs, which are exactly the sorts of high percentage shots you want him to take. This was the sort of game we dream up for TT in our most hopeful moments.

–Tyler Zeller was rock solid off the bench (six points, seven rebounds). Now that he’s back among the living, it’s apparent how sizable the gap between him and the Cavs other substitute big men is. I still want him to hit the weight room, but he’s a pretty good athlete for his size and has a soft touch around the basket. Keep that face intact, Tyler.

–In case you were wondering if C.J. Miles’s waking nightmare concluded tonight, it did not. He had three points on 1-for-8 shooting. He split minutes at the backup small forward spot with Omri Casspi, who was unremarkable but not necessarily bad (I mean, he hit a three and a couple free throws) in 13 minutes of floor-time.

That’s all for me. The Cavs host this same Sixers team on Wednesday. Until tomorrow, friends.