Archive for September, 2013

Sizing up the Southwest: The San Antonio Spurs

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Last season: Evil triumphed over good, and the Spurs lost a HEART-BREAKING (but ridiculously entertaining) 7 game series to the Axis of Ego.  Had it not been for the gut wrenching disbelief that followed game 6 and into game 7, I’d have ranked this the best Finals since the Bulls once again denied Stockton and Malone that elusive NBA championship banner.  Had it not been for LeBron James’ epic bricks that missed so badly that normal rebounds didn’t apply, the NBA landscape, and championship paradigm, could look dramatically different today.  The Spurs should have defeated the most devastating collection of talent in decades with the following recipe: fundamental, unselfish offense, featuring mostly pick and rolls, help defense that rarely fouls, and (over)reliance on limited role-players.  They are the anti-Heat – a team predicated on physicality, drawing fouls, and defending with positionless, ultra-athletic (and long) players capable of switching everything.  Most importantly, they were assembled organically, like the underdog Hoosiers that won with coaching, unselfishness, a system, and just a smidge of Jimmy Chitwood star-power.  Ok, that’s a lie.  Even you, reader, probably agree that Tim Duncan is one of the top 5 PF/C (whichever way you lean) of all-time.  The thing is, you are probably underrating him.  Tony Parker too.  Only a few contrarians mention Parker each year as the top Point Guard in the league.  The Spurs like it this way.  Winning is all that matters – and each player assumes a critical role in a well-oiled machine of basketball purity.  Oh how I wish the Spurs had knocked off the Heat, while the talking heads obsessed over the right ratio of plays run for Dwyane Wade.

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Links to the Present: Varajao’s back! (and the cleanup file)

Monday, September 16th, 2013

The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto starts us out with some fantastic Cavs chatter, here.  First and foremost, Anderson Varejao has been cleared for Cavs training camp.  That is great news.  Secondly,

The Cavs top draft pick, Bennett has been in town. He is working out, playing some half court basketball with his new teammates. He appears fully recovered from his shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for the opening of camp. The other players have been impressed by Bennett’s mid-range shooting touch and his quickness driving to the basket for a 6-foot-8, 250-pounder.

Cavs great, Campy Russell, will be enshrined in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame come this spring.  Cavs.com has the story, here.

From the stuff we can’t believe we missed files, there’s this unbelievable picture of Tristan Thompson from Instragram… (after the break)

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Sizing up the Southwest: the Memphis Grizzlies

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Two weeks from today, across the country, the NBA kicks-off a new season with media day; finally, something substantive to distract us from football.  Until then, Cavs:the Blog continues our odyssey through the rest of the NBA.  The Eastern Conference featured several doormats to enhance Cleveland’s playoff hopes; the Western Conference houses few similar patsies.  Beginning the sojourn through that terrifying wilderness, today I look at the Memphis Grizzlies.

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Links to the Present: September 14, 2013 (the culled from Amin Vafa’s twitter edition)

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Two quick links today.  First, a great article by Jack Winter about Dion Waiters’ improvement in 2013 compared to 2012.  This is something that I refer to often via quick bullets, but Mr. Winter goes in depth.  This is required reading for Cavalier fans.

Also, something by Will Leitch, who covered Cleveland in an installment of his Leitch Across America Tour. He concludes the article stating, he “was blown away by the people I met in Cleveland. This is a proud city, full of fantastic people. I loved every minute I was here.”   The site, Sports on Earth, is also a location where our esteemed editor Colin McGowan frequently writes.

Sizing up the Atlantic: The Celtics and The 76ers

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

We need a name for the tank-off that will be the bottom third of the NBA this season.  “Wince for Wiggins?” “Subdue for Andrew?” “We won’t be sorry if we get Jabari?” “Forfeit for ’14?” “Start Royce to get the number one choice?” Yeah.  Nothing works quite as well as “suck for Luck…”

Both these teams took a wrecking ball to their teams in the off season, and we should fully expect that trend to continue as the coming season plays out.  Despite, that, they have talented veterans on their roster.  There should be trade demand as the season goes on for the likes of Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, and, of course, Rajon Rondo.  The rosters these teams start the season with will almost assuredly be very different by season’s end.  They will both do what they can to be very very bad.  It’s going to be fun to see some teams other than the Cavs be cannon fodder for a change.

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Sizing up the Atlantic: The New York Knicks

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

There’s a really fun piece of speculative(ish) fiction by Jim Cavan over at The Classical that imagines Jim Dolan in all of his breast obsessed, navel gazing glory on the night the Knicks dealt for Carmelo Anthony. Dolan is presented as a man who knows precious little about how to build a competitive basketball team but, luckily, has precious little interest in doing so. Knicks fans love to overvalue their team (as, to be fair, most fans do), but they, unlike fans of certain other New York sports franchises, are sympathetic because, largely, they overvalue to cope. So, for every Knicks fan who tells you how “Carmelo has figured it out” or that “J.R. Smith is really starting to mature as a player” or that “Mike Woodson’s gonna make a 3-4-5 combo of Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani a match-up nightmare” know that what’s behind the bluster is something else: the real, stark, terrifying reality that Jim Dolan still owns the team and that (in a truly Clevelandian sentiment) Dolan will always find a way to screw it up. Bless you, our brothers and sister in dread. Bless you. (more…)

Sizing up the Atlantic: The Toronto Raptors

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Every NBA-team is in a semi-permanent state of transition, but creating a team identity and team stability matters for the purposes of creating continuity, or the illusion of continuity, between different groups of players. It is a necessary divining of order from chaos. The Raptors have been a man without a country since Chris Bosh left, but there’s finally rational reason to believe help is on it’s way at last. Semi-native son Masai Ujiri is back to GM this aimless ship full of dinosaurs somewhere. With the reigning EOY calling shots and an intriguing if not vague roster, Toronto won’t be boring.

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Link to the Present: September 10, 2013 (Third Point Guard Edition)

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

The Cavaliers signed Matthew Dellavedova to a non-guaranteed 2 year, $1.3 million contract.  In June, I excluded the young Aussie and St. Mary’s grad from my top sixty of draft prospects, but also loosely compared him to Steve Nash.  According to draftexpress, he created more possessions from passes out of pick and rolls than any other player considered for this year’s draft.  Compared to drafted players, his Pure Point Rating ranked 4th of the 2013 class.  He’s big, standing 6′ – 4″ with a 6′ – 4″ wingspan, and he reliably hit 36 – 38% of his threes during four years of college, while hoisting nearly six per game.  I hope he makes the roster, then spends most of 2013 – 2014 scintillating Charge fans with dimes galore (before doing the same in Cleveland, once Kyrie starts resting for the playoffs).

Sizing up the Atlantic: The Brooklyn Nets (or NYC-B)

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Another day, another team.  This time around we’re heading to the Big Apple to discuss everyone’s favorite New York team…Oh…No…Not those guys; we’re talking about the Brooklyn Nets!

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Links to the Present: International Edition

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Team Canada bowed out of FIBA Americas tournament, Sunday, after a promising start, losing to Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Argentina over the last three games to seal their fate in second round play.  Tristan Thompson was solid throughout the tournament, on the boards and at the line, averaging 10 boards a game, and 78% from the free throw line.  And yes, he was shooting right handed.  From the field, he was a pretty lackluster 40%.  Having not watched the games, other than highlights, it’s hard to tell the kind of looks he was getting, but TT was shooting at a pretty high rate.  He finished the tourney as the No. 2 rebounder, behind Uraguay’s Esteban Damian Bautista Hernandez.

Canada’s wing scoring and perimeter defense were lackluster throughout the second round of the tourney.  From the the highlights I saw, Tristan and the rest of the Canucks were not exactly committal about closing out shooters.  Luis Scola rained jumpers all the way out to the three point line against the Canadian front court for 28 points in the final game.  While TT, Andrew Nicholson, and Corey Joseph made up the core of the squad, Andrew Wiggins’ absence seems to have been felt quite acutely.  (He’s currently preparing for his freshman year at Kansas).  I’d be pretty pissed if I was part of the Canada Basketball program and Wiggins was the reason I wasn’t playing in the World Cup next year.  Instead, Argentina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico rose to join the U.S. (which has an exemption from the Olympics) as the Western Hemisphere’s representatives in the World Cup, next summer.  Team Canada will have to wait for Olynyk, Wiggins, and Bennett to join the squad, to try to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

For Tristan’s stats for the tourney, click here. For the scintillating stats of Nate favorite and permanent Tyler Zeller benchmark, Andrew Nicholson, click here.

At Eurobasket, incoming Cavs rookie, Sergey Karasev had been faring poorly, with inconsistent playing time for 0-4 Russia, who played Turkey in their final game, Monday.  He’d average 4.3 points and four boards in 18.3 minutes a game (in only three games), shooting 44% from two, but only 1/6 from three.   Then Sergey went and totally redeemed himself.

Karasev had a monster final game yesterday, scoring 25 points on 70% true shooting in 33 minutes to lead Russia to an 89-77 defeat of Turkey, who finished the tourney 1-4.  For Sergey’s box score, click here.  For his tourney stats, click here.  I’ll leave you with a Karasev interview interspersed with highlights of Sergey’s silky smooth jumper.