Archive for October, 2013

Preseason Recap: Cavaliers 104, Sixers 93

Monday, October 21st, 2013

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The Cavs travelled to Columbus to play Philadelphia’s merry band of tank artists Monday evening. Many players missed the game with injuries, including Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller, and of course, the maybe-maybe-not ready for basketball Andrew Bynum. Also not featuring were Dion Waiters and Earl Clark. C.J. Miles and Alonzo Gee got the starts alongside the core of Irving-Varejao-Thompson.

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Sizing Up The Northwest: The Oklahoma City Thunder

Monday, October 21st, 2013

imageIt’s hard not to be down on the Thunder heading into this season. For a team that features one (and often two) of the game’s transcendent talents, a team whose rise to contender-dom has been so studied as to have a rebuilding model named after them, a team that features so many cool backpack/bow tie/dark-rimmed prescription-less eye glasses, it’s tough to think that the bloom may already be off the rose. Of course, one (lingering) knee injury, a widely criticized trade, so-so coaching and general silence in the offseason can do that. Let’s check in with OKC:

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Preseason Recap: Cavs 79, Pacers 103 (or, couldn’t they end preseason games after three quarters?)

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

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Let’s see how this goes; despite having NBA TV, League Pass, and living in Indianapolis, it appears I will watch the Cavs – Pacers game via a sketchy online stream.  So, with kids up, and no pausing, this could be an intermittent recap.  This will be kept simple, with “Things I liked” and “Things I Didn’t”.

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Sizing Up the Northwest: The Utah Jazz

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

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If nothing else, this off-season showed us that there’s not just one way to blow up an NBA roster. When it’s time to hit the reset button, NBA fans, you don’t have to settle for seeing your franchise cornerstone get traded and watch while all the other contracts on the roster are flipped for dimes on the dollar. Oh, no. You could be like the Utah Jazz who proved, to only slightly misquote Gerard Manley Hopkins (yeah, English majors!), they also tank who only stand and wait.

Last Season: All season long, the Jazz dominated … or, at least, they dominated for the title of “most trade rumors involving your team’s two best players.” In the end, though, neither Al Jefferson and his 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds a game nor Paul Millsap’s 14.6 points and 7.1 boards were moved. As a result, the Jazz weren’t horrible at playing basketball well past the trading deadline, only falling out of the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot in the season final week. The Jazz finished a meh 43-39 behind the meh head coaching of Tyrone Corbin and were staring at a roster of equal parts developing young players and veterans that were either full-on meh or just a little bit meh. Where could all this meh be headed, you ask?

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Preseason (Photo Essay) Recap: Cleveland 74, Charlotte 92 (or welcome to Canton and preseason malaise)

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

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It’s official. After three games, the grind and meaninglessness of preseason has set in. With the Cavs kicking off the first of six preseason games in nine nights, most of the Cavs starters played as if this game didn’t matter at all (which it doesn’t). After racing out to an early lead of 27-16 at the end of the first quarter, the Cavs scored 47 points in the final three quarters, and gave up 75. In their defense, the Cavs were missing Varejao, Jack, Zeller, Karasev, and Felix, plus, Gee left after the first quarter.  It wasn’t pretty. Though the Cavs defense looked decent at times, the offense was atrocious and haphazard.

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Don’t Worry About Anthony Bennett’s Belly

Monday, October 14th, 2013

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A story about Anthony Bennett maybe/maybe not struggling with his conditioning is making the rounds this week. The Plain-Dealer’s Jodie Valade revealed in a story on October 10th that Bennett is slightly above his playing weight of 240 pounds and his conditioning is far from a finished product. This is standard fare for this time of the year, especially for players who used the summer break to heal injuries before the start of the regular season. When an athlete can’t play basketball for a solid quarter of a year, its reasonable to expect a refractory period and Bennett has been out since the workout phase of the annual pre-draft buildup.

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Links to the Present: Monday October 14th, 2013

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Hoopsworld’s Steve Kyler starts us off with a piece on the Cavs’ new attention to detail, and a two minute interview with Kyrie Irving, here.

“Offense will take care of itself. The attention to detail on the defensive end is what we’re really focused on this preseason.” -K.I.

Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld checks in too, with a Dion Waiters interview, and an article about how Mike Brown is determined to fix the Cavs defense.  There’s some really good stuff, here.

Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer posted a piece profiling would-be Cavaliers’ back-up center, Henry Sims, here.  Bob Finnan of the News-Herald posts an article with a similar theme and some Cavs rumors, here.

“I give him [Sims] a lot of credit for doing the little things that don’t show up in the box score. Little things offensively, just being in the right spot, moving without the ball and setting side screens and running the floor the right way. He did a lot of little things the last game that don’t show up in the stat sheet that make you appreciate him as a player.” -Mike Brown

Here, Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal chronicles the Cavs rebuilding plan, with specific emphasis on the fact that the Cavs still do not have an above average small forward.  Somewhere, Mallory Factor is nodding knowingly.

“We can have scoring from other areas. I don’t think your small forward has to be your leading scorer or a high-level scorer in order to win… I think a small forward for us has to be a guy who is a high-level defender who has some size and toughness.” -Mike Brown

John Michael of CavsTV chronicles Monday’s practice, including interviews with M.B. and Andy, here.  The small forward position was a topic in that post, too. Look for Alonzo Gee to get the start at the three on Tuesday in Canton.

Finally, over at Sports on Earth, CtB editor Colin McGowan, contemplates the virtues of the “three-quarter throttle” NBA preseason, and why both  players and fans need it.  Read the article, here.

The preseason is NBA methadone, which isn’t something I would recommend focusing on intently for evenings at a time, but in mid-October, it piques the interest of junkies.

Kevin’s Pseudo-Scientific 2013 – 2014 Projections, Part 5!!

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

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Building on the previous four of these, today a good case RAPM projection will be distilled.  I used the same minutes distribution and assumptions that transitioned the Win Shares projection from unbiased to good case.  For those without photographic memory, those changes were three:

  • Kyrie continues leaping towards superstardom, buoyed considerably by a massive improvement defensively from age 20 to 21.  His 3.2 RAPM mirrors Chris Paul’s Age 21 season
  • Andrew Bynum experiences relatively strong health; approximately 50 games.  His level of play approaches 90% of his prime (I guess his prime is behind him at age 25?).
  • Dion Waiters performs as a league average player.  In his case below, like Kyrie, that involved big strides on defense.

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Links to the Present: Appendectomy Edition

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

I’m suddenly getting an Omri Casspi flashback to last year!  Tyler Zeller has been felled for the next few weeks after surgery to remove an inflamed appendix, today. USA Today has the story, here. With no complications he should be back to playing shape in three weeks, but no timetable has been set. Get well soon, Tyler.

In other news, Grantland’s Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose previewed the Cavaliers, Friday.  The video is available, here.  Jalen picked the Cavs to make the playoffs, and Simmons’ predictions were more apoplectic: the Cavs give up by February, and Andrew Bynum only plays 15 meaningful games. Ouch! However, Bill does give a lot of stock to the idea that LeBron returns to his 30,000 square foot house in Akron. Click the other video for a Wizards preview, and an exploration of the rift between D-Rose and C-Webb.

Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer has a nice feature on Carrick Felix and his propensity for winning “50-50 balls,” here.

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal predicts big things for Kyrie Irving this year.

Oh, and from the I told you so department, Casspi is playing really well in preseason for the Rockets. I’ll bet a shiny new nickle that he has a better year than Earl Clark. On a golf course somewhere, I’m sure Byron Scott is stoically oblivious.

Preseason Recap: Cleveland 110, Orlando 105 (the time Anthony Bennet went all L.J. on the Magic)

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Early in the third quarter of this game, I was ready to write a recap about the folly of drafting an overweight, tweener power forward over a guard who’s a stat geek poster boy for offensive and defensive efficiency. I was ready to declare the Magic a prime candidate to deny the Cavs a playoff spot. Then Kyrie Irving woke up and joined Dion Waiters in the “oh yeah, I’m the best player in this arena” club.

Cleveland overcame a 16 point deficit, including a first quarter where they gave up 37.  The Cavs were keyed by a dominating run of 23-9 over the final 7:20 of the third quarter. Led by some defensive intensity from the starting unit, TT, Dion, and Kyrie scored 23 points in just under six minutes by forcing turnovers, getting on the offensive boards, and beating a path to the free throw line. Sergey Karasev tied the game at 11:07 in the fourth with a silky 23 footer, and then Anthony Bennett exploded for 14 points in the final six minutes, hitting his last six shots to close out the game and totally destroy my thesis.

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