On the back of a dominant 20 point, 10 rebound, 5 block, 3 assist (and a few hockey assists) effort from Andrew Bynum, the Cavaliers defeated a feisty Chicago Bulls squad to get back into the win column. Kyrie Irving struggled from the field but played with reckless abandon at both ends. His energy jump-started the Cavs early and his attacking of the basket netted him 19 points. Dion Waiters had perhaps his most efficient game of the season, finishing 8-10 from the field for a team high 20 points.
Archive for November, 2013
With the full assortment of Cavs:the Bloggers wrapped up in varieties of travel and holiday festivities, no one volunteered to recap tonight. That is probably for the best. In the first half, the Celtics hit easy shots. In the second half, they hit tough shots. I included their third quarter shot chart above. Of the four three-pointers, two were by Jared Sullinger, and one was banked in by Brandon Bass at the buzzer. Almost everything else was a long two. Sullinger hit four three pointers on the game, adding to his previous ten career bombs from deep.
This was not the Cavs night. Cleveland was frequently a perverse comedy of errors. Players falling down. Airballing three pointers. Banking in three pointers. Throwing the ball to unoccupied space. Fighting each other for rebounds and losing the ball out of bounds.
Cleveland started the game behind on a 22 to 4 run, as the Andrew Bynum thing is not working. He was minus-25 in 15 minutes. The first half highlights involved Kyrie going off for 15 points, and Varejao nearing a double-double with 8 & 10. Cleveland trailed 39 to 55 at the break. The second half included even fewer positives. Dion got aggressive and did some damage, but much of it in relative garbage time, as after Boston scored the first bucket of the third quarter, the deficit never got closer than 18.
Kyrie finished with 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting, with 3 assists and 4 turnovers. Dion tallied 21 points on 7 of 18 shooting, with 6 assists, but also 6 turnovers. Andy finished with 10 & 12 and wins MVP for the night. His energy level was solid, and the Cavs actually outscored Boston by three points during his 26 minutes. No one else did anything noteworthy, at least not in a positive sense.
I don’t know if the plan is to sit Bynum tomorrow against Chicago, but maybe it should be. Until then.
“Expectations are premeditated resentments” –The Alcoholics Anonymous “big book.”
Many of the Cavs’ problems, and our problems as fans, stem from expectations we formed before this season started. Entering the fourth year of rebuilding since the LeBrocalypse, many of us thought the Cavs were poised to become a playoff team or even a winning team (which aren’t the same things in the Eastern Conference). The source of those expectations came from Kyrie Irving’s preternatural development as a young point guard. Buoying that hope: a handful of top 4 picks, two more top 20 picks, and the accumulation of solid veterans. At last June’s draft lottery, Dan Gilbert expressed the expectation of “not being back,” to the lottery after the 2013-2014 season.
But so far, the Cavaliers have failed to live up to most expectations. It’s not just the losing. It’s how they’re losing: blowout losses, mounds of turnovers, horrible shot selection, and half-assed effort and execution on both ends of the floor. What’s causing this? Could it be that that these guys just can’t play together? Is Mike Brown a lousy coach? Do they just stink? Could it be that many of the problems with effort, consistency, and chemistry have stemmed from players failing to live up to their own expectations and those of Cavaliers management and ownership? Too many Uncle Drew commercials? Space aliens? The answer is more likely that we all had really ridiculous expectations, and our resentments are causing us to miss the reasons the Cavs are bad — because we really should have seen this coming.
Overview: LeBron James, who used to play for the Cavaliers, outscored the Cavaliers’ entire starting 5 en route to a 95-84 win for the Miami Heat, who have only lost to the Cavaliers once since James left the team in free agency. Dion Waiters was the bright spot for the Cavaliers, scoring 24 points off the bench, while Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley scored 22 and 17 points for the defending champs.
All Things Considered, That Honestly Could Have Gone a Lot Worse Bullets:
— Let’s start with the good news, because there’s certainly no shortage of bad news. Apparently trade rumors agree with Dion Waiters, because that’s about as well as I’ve ever seen him play. All but one of his shots came from the paint, the free-throw line, or behind the arc, and he was aggressive all night — this is the guy the Cavs thought they were getting with the 4th overall pick. Waiters is a good spot-up three-point shooter, and can get to the basket seemingly at will, especially when he goes to his left hand. His two main problems are that his shot selection is usually horrendous, and he has trouble turning his ability to get to the rim into actual points for the team.
The former issue wasn’t a problem on Wednesday, and he managed to be effective in attack mode, as he was 3-5 from inside the paint and got to the line 11 times. Free throws have been a problem all season, and that continued tonight, with Waiters bricking five of his 11 attempts from the line, but that’s something you just have to hope improves. If this Dion keeps showing up, trading him would be a mistake — having trouble converting opportunities at the rim into points is an issue, but it’s not a fatal issue for a player as young as Waiters — it takes some time to adjust to the size of NBA shot blockers, and a lot of young guards figure it out after initial struggles.
— Now, the bad news! There’s a lot of it! First, and most importantly, Kyrie is completely lost out there. He didn’t create angles, and had more turnovers than assists. He forced low-percentage jumpers and drives to the rim alike. It’s Kyrie vs. the world right now, and that isn’t a recipe for winning basketball, especially when it’s your point guard.
— One way to fix that problem would be to have Kyrie come off of some type of action to set up a secondary pick-and-roll with either Jack or Waiters being the primary ballhandler, but that’s not happening, because Jack and Waiters are both shoot-first guys and Mike Brown’s offensive system sure as heck isn’t going to cover up their deficiencies.
— As for who Kyrie’s pick-and-roll partner would be, well, there’s no good news on that front either. Tristan Thompson wasn’t particularly close to finding the rim with either hand around the basket, going 1-for-6, and he was being guarded by Rashard Lewis and Michael Beasley, neither of whom is known for being a rough-and-tumble defender. And as sad as it is to say, the Anderson Varejao who would set the pick, fly through the lane, catch it at full speed and flip it in from whatever angle without breaking stride might be gone. At 31, he’s clearly lost a step, and that is very bad news for a player who relies on his athleticism as much as Varejao does.
— Andrew Bynum started the game wonderfully, then went completely silent for the last 3.8 quarters of the game. That’s less than ideal. And the Cavs’ other two lottery big men were DNP-CDs. Also less than ideal.
Bullets of Randomness:
— The Cavs were able to stay in this game because Miami’s ludicrously good floor-spacing didn’t make the trip to Cleveland with them. Shane Battier was out with the flu, Bosh didn’t make a shot from outside the paint, and the 3-heavy Heat offense went just 4-19 from deep.
— LeBron finished with a workman-like 28/8/8, but the Cavs didn’t do a bad job on him. Miami wasn’t able to get LeBron the deep post touches he likes, and he had to work for pretty much all of his points that didn’t come in transition off of Cavalier miscues. (By the way, the Cavs were way, way, way too sloppy with the ball against a Miami team that turns live-ball turnovers into points as well as any team in the league.)
— Wade had one of those games where you just have to throw your hands up. He was making the mid-range turnarounds, the floaters, the everything. When his knees are under him and his mid-range shots are falling, there’s simply no way to keep a player that quick from slicing you apart.
— Jeez, does Michael Beasley look born again. 17 points on 10 shots, he finished the game for Miami, and he didn’t even hit a shot from outside the paint. This is a guy who Phoenix paid to go away and never come back in the off-season. Just goes to show the difference great players and a great team culture can make.
That’s all I have for today, campers. The big story is that Dion looked really good, and everything else looked really bad, but good on the team for holding its own, for the most part, against a team as good as Miami. This upcoming Boston/Chicago/Denver stretch should tell us a lot about whether the Cavs should cling to hope of a respectable season or if we should start watching Wiggins, Randle, and Parker a lot more closely.
Question 1: What’s the most surprising thing about the Cavaliers’ season thus far?
Tom: Everything about the Andrew Bynum experience has surprised me. I’m surprised he’s already playing, surprised at how depressed he seems despite playing (and being on track for all his contract incentives), surprised at how serious he seems (I thought he was going to be goofy in a Manny Ramirez kinda way), and I’m surprised how little his presence is moving the needle for the Cavs. (more…)
It is possible that Saturday night’s effort by the Cavaliers makes this whole article a waste of my effort, basically only serving as a means to process my own fears & anxieties about the Cavs. If the performance against the Spurs didn’t reinforce this enough though, make no mistake, the early parts of this season are horrible for the Cleveland Cavaliers mission to build a contender. This early stretch of games has seen a regression during key developmental years for all of the Cavs’ core youngsters. Obviously that doesn’t help the on-court product, but it also hinders the franchise’s ability to find a way out, destroying trade values and disintegrating hope of a reasonable 2014 free agent haul. A vast deterioration of player development and player compatibility, on and off the court, is at hand. Things need to get better. Fast.
Recap: San Antonio 126, Cleveland 96 (or, “It must be nice to make that much money and be that bad at your job.”)Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
The title quote comes from my wife, who does not watch the Cavs most nights and had to sit through this abysmal game. Now she knows what it’s like to root for the Washington Generals. 26 minutes in, Cleveland was down by 43 points. They had no chance, and they played like they knew it.
Tonight offers an opportunity for Cleveland to rebound from a mostly embarrassing midweek tilt against the Wizards. And what do you know? The one player that wasn’t a complete disaster in that game gets to start. Undrafted rookie Matt Dellavedova supplants injured CJ Miles and Dion Waiters…remember, I compared him to Steve Nash* first. Now, onto tonight’s affair against the vaunted New Orleans Pelicans.