Bonus Coverage: CtB Conversation on the Season Tipoff Game

October 31st, 2012 by Nate Smith

It’s been a stormy few days here at CtB.  Sandy has thrown a lot of our schedule into chaos, so last night’s tip-off game was definitely a port in a storm.  As you may or may not know, Mallory Factor is our resident New Yorker, and in exceptional times like these, it seems a little trivial to be caring about something as dumb as sports.  But sport, ingrained into American life as it is, can seem to bring a sense of normalcy to the sneak peaks at the Mayan Apocalypse, complete with Grease themed Sandy music videos.  We here at CtB have a “next man up” philosophy and have been trying to pick up Mallory’s slack.  We all had a lot to say about the game.  Though Kevin beat us all to the punch last night, we figured we’d throw some extra 2012 Cavs Tip Off Extravaganza coverage your way.

The best part of being on the staff here has definitely been trading thoughts, ideas, one liners, beer tips, video games strategies, and music playlists with some fellow intelligent, passionate Cavs fans.  And before you ask, the answer is no.  We’re not all bachelors.    And of course when the barley flows, so does the conversation.  After the game, the emails were flying fast and furious.

Nate:

I’d been waiting for this game for six months, so breaking the seal on Dundee Seasonal Variety half rack was certainly in order.  (At $12 it’s currently the best beer value in America).  Early on Hollinger tweeted a particularly caustic comment: “Nothing says ‘tanking in October’ like a Donald Sloan-Luke Walton pick-and-roll.”  But, as Dani replied after an unprintable rebuttal, “the P&R didn’t look half bad.”  Though the lineup was effective in the first half, I think the Wizards bench took offense to the it, and absolutely destroyed Sloan, Gibson, Gee, Walton, & Zeller to make a game of it in the late third and early fourth quarter.  With one rebound to his credit, I hope it’s safe to assume we’ve seen the last of the Luke Walton, power forward, which led to a ridiculous 14-0 run to start the 4th quarter.  Alonzo Gee had a lot to do with this run.  He looked like he was pressing a lot, and tired of being relegated to corner jumpers and offensive rebound plays.

Dion Waiters completely outplayed Bradley Beal.   My favorite things about Dion?  He never smiles, and he already looks 25.

So Dani, since you commented in the preseason podcast that the rumor was that Varejao had lost a step, what did you think of his overall brilliance tonight?  Is there another player in the league who could post a 9/22/9 box score?  I think not.

Dani:

Well, first of all, I have literally no recollection of saying Varejao had lost a step. But I’m willing to work with that. If tonight is any indication, Varejao has lost no steps at all. I think he’ll be great all year, but I also don’t think we should get accustomed to seeing Bill Walton-esque stat lines nightly. Still working with the unconfirmed rumor that I actually said Varejao had lost a step, I believe my point would have been more along the lines of: the man is 30 years old. Andy is going to slow down at some point, and his trade value has never been higher. If the Cavs aren’t in playoff contention at the deadline (and I hope to high heavens we are), I hope Chris Grant has the testicular fortitude to flip him for a few draft picks.

Regardless, back to the game. Dion Waiters is a baller. He hit that huge three near the end to slow down the Wizards’ surge, and played effective man-on-man defense the whole game, which is probably a bigger storyline. Three steals is nothing to laugh at, and I can’t wait to see Dion uncork that signature fast-break dunk a few times a game. Beal actually performed exactly to his draft-day profile. He’s clearly a good shooter, but we didn’t really see him create any shots for himself, and he seemed a little listless to me.

Also, KYRIE FREAKING IRVING. 29 points in 35 minutes. 11-20 shooting from the field. A lot of NBA writers had Kyrie as their breakout star of the year, and it was easy to see why tonight. He might be one of the most effortless scorers in the NBA when he’s on, and he was on tonight. Uncle Drew was draining threes and crossing over A.J. Price like it was a Pepsi commercial.

What’d you think of Tristan Thomspon? Not bad, eh?

Malory:

No power still!  Stupid Sandy!!!!  But I watched the game at a bar and loved every minute of it. Neon Dion looks great driving and his jump shot was falling fine. Andy is back, TT went to the rim with AUTHORITY! And Kyrie is amazing.  PRAY FOR POWER!

Nate:

I just remembered it was Mallory that said that about Varajao, but since he is, to use the words of Bruce Springsteen, “lost in the flood,” you can sub, Dani.  Dion is definitely a baller, and he got to the rack effortlessly.  He missed a lot of point blank shots that I attribute to nerves.  He could’ve easily had a 25 point outing — considering he was absolutely hatchetted and got no calls on a couple drives.  But as you said, his defense was good, and he looked absolutely fearless.  And yes, Kyrie Freaking Irving…  But.  He should be destroying A.J. Price.  The real story in this game was the Washington Generals bench destroying ours. Janerro Pargo and Earl Baron?  This is arguably the most depleted team in the league.  We should’ve won by 30.  Also, why didn’t Casspi play?  According to wages of wins, Casspi played better than anyone not named Luke Harangody in preseason, and he lost minutes to Walton?

Also, TT was very solid.  He played good to great  defense and was generally active.  Would like to see him get more run with the second unit to work on his post-up game.  Zeller had a couple nice moments, especially in the first half, where he was throwing his body into Okafor.  He’ll be just fine.  The Wizards are so bad, it’s hard to take away a lot from this game other than St. Weirdo was not a wasted draft pick, Irving is an effortless scorer, and Varejao is one of my all time favorite basketball players.

Mallory:

I definitely never said he’d lost a step – just that I’d read that there were concerns about him potentially losing it due to injury.  But that’s obviously not the case!!!

I unfortunately didn’t get to watch the game closely since I was at a bar (side note: literally every bar in my neighborhood is packed post-Sandy.  Huhhhh????) but I can tell you that Kyrie is a baller and so is Neon Dion.  BOOM (goes the dynamite)

Dani:

Well, Nathaniel (can i call you that?), I think a lot of the blame for Washington’s comeback has to fall on the shoulders of Byron Scott. He waited far too long to put the starters back in the game, and let Luke Walton initiate offense (if you can call it that) for what seemed like hours. I understand resting your starters in a game when you’re up by 10 or 15, but once the Wizards came within five, and Donald Sloan was back to losing the game for us in his usual floppy, discombobulated, anti-efficiency mode of offense, Kyrie should have come back. The Wizards are a truly bad basketball team without John Wall and Nene, and obviously the Cavs’ effort was enough tonight. But if Scott hesitates to let his starters play the fourth quarter too often, he’ll find himself losing games.

I have literally no clue why Omri Casspi didn’t play. Doesn’t seem fair at all to me, and it’s not like C.J. Miles was lighting it up out there. On a side note: C.J. Miles should shave his head and ditch the headband. Immediately.

I loved Tristan tonight. He was active on both ends of the floor, which is something we’ve come to expect. But he was also going up with the ball quickly and strongly, something he didn’t do nearly enough last year, and playing legitimate post defense, albeit against  the likes of the Czech Dunking Ninja (Jan Vesely, in case you aren’t familiar with this) and Trevor “I’m Not Very Good At All” Booker.

Varajao: all time favorite basketball player? A little effusive there, no? My all-time favorite player is Kyrie Irving. Already. To each their own, I suppose.

Nate:

Dani, no, you may not call me Nathaniel.  It’s not even my given name. The only person that was ever allowed to call me Nathaniel broke my heart, stole my Basement Tapes CD, ingested my goldfish with a shot of Barenjager, and married my best friend.  (Ok, only two of these things are true).  Anyway, I said AV was ONE of my all time favorite players, the others being Kevin McHale, Zydrunas Ilgauskus, Larry Bird, and Reggie Lewis (I may have a thing for tall, gangly, awkward post men).  I thought your Bill Walton comparison was a good one for him.  But, there may have never been another player like Andy.  He and Pau are currently the best passing big men in the league, and no one plays defense quite like Andy.  How many offensive fouls did he draw that game?  Three?  Four?  I know he took two off of Booker two plays in a row.  Because charges get the ball back 100% of the time, they’re definitely worth more than blocks.  Some advanced statistical analysis of charges drawn versus fouls given that lead to free throws might cast some doubt on that rubric, but I doubt it.  As for trading him, who are you going to trade him for?  He has one of the most underpaid contracts in the league, he’s ridiculously efficient, and he’s a joy to watch.  The only way I trade him is a top 3 (ok, maybe top 5) pick or as a package for a superstar.  But the thing about him is, he only makes sense on a playoff team, and a playoff team isn’t going to give you a superstar or a good draft pick back…  Teams that he makes sense for are limited too.  Portland?  Atlanta?  Phoenix?  Denver?  Would you do it for a Josh Smith package?  Marcin Gortat?  Javale McGee?  Wilson Chandler?  Andre Iguodala?  None of those guys really fits…

As for Scott’s coaching, I don’t blame him at all.  He was doing the Phil Jackson thing where he tries to let the guys play through the problems and learn from it.  Kyrie had the “I got this” look on his face from the moment he came back in.  I don’t think he, AV, and Waiters ever had a doubt.  When Waiters figures out how to finish just a little more consistently, he’s going to be deadly.  Kevin was right that he had some really good passes that led to big men getting sent to the line.  Though I don’t agree with the assertion that he’s a better passer than Kyrie (I think someone had that in the comment board).  But should he be the backup point guard?  I don’t know.  I certainly think that bringing in Miles and Casspi as the first group off the bench and letting Waiters and Gee play a lot of the second unit minutes isn’t a bad idea.  Hey…  Shaun Livingston is available.  And I KNOW he’s a better player than Sloan.

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