Tonight was a bad night for TV. The Bachelor is back, much to the horror of husbands nationwide – Notre Dame reinforced the nauseating SEC domination narrative, and the Cavs got blown off the court by the Bulls minus Derrick Rose. And knowing this Cavs team, if Rose had played it probably would have been a close game until the Cavs blew the last 2 to 6 minutes. The recap’s going to be a little different tonight. Feel free to love or hate the format as it probably won’t continue in this matter either way. Colin, Dani, and I were live-emailing each other during the game posting our thoughts. They are posted with whatever context is needed for the game. To give the voices an identity I’ll put D, C, T. Necessary context will be in italics.
<- 1st Quarter ->
D – The warm feelings are coming on early for me tonight. Kyrie seems to be playing more methodically, perhaps looking to repent for his turnover-fest last night. Tristan had an ugly turnover, but he also had a powerful drive to get an easy layup against Boozer, and Tyler Zeller had one HELL of a block! We’ve got a 13-9 lead, and I couldn’t be happier. Actually, I could- a win and Kyrie’s third-straight 30-point game would do it. Kyrie Irving finished the 1st quarter with a healthy 9 points and 4 assists. The Cavs led by 8 after a very solid all around effort from the starters. The 3s were falling early too (a season-long trend).
T – CJ Miles continues his strong 1st quarters. 2 of 4 from 3. Nice balanced scoring from the Cavs. Keeping with the laws of KyrieISOball the Cavs wind down the clock and despite a double team they get no open look for anyone as Kyrie forces as airball. This play was more egregious hero ball than most because the Bulls actually doubled Kyrie on the drive, not just once he got in the paint. He still didn’t look for a teammate. Fortunately, the Cavs intercepted the outlet pass off the airball and CJ Miles almost canned a 30 foot three at the 1st quarter buzzer.
C – C.J. Miles makes no sense. It’s a wonder he holds together at a molecular level. He should open a dry-cleaning joint where half the time they return your clothes brighter and cleaner than ever and the other times they just draw dinosaurs all over them with permanent markers. I think I hate him.
<- 2nd Quarter ->
C – Tristan Thompson has decided, against maybe the best defensive post pairing in the league (Noah and Gibson), to grab every offensive rebound he can get his hands on and finish it with finesse. Am I happy right now? Is this what joy feels like? Thompson had a nice first half. He finished with 12 points including 100% of his free throws and as Colin alluded to, he had 7 rebounds in the first half including 4 offensive boards. Unfortunately all the Cavs success dried up quickly in the 2nd half. TT finished with a productive 14 and 8 in 32 minutes on 50% shooting.
D – Tristan with another fantastic move! Get that Wild Thing bum outta here! [Edited due to logical fallacy]
T – Bulls are methodically scoring now. Cavs need to get some stops to keep this one from slipping away. Chicago took it to the Cavs early in the 2nd against the Cleveland 2nd unit before the Cavs seemed to stop the bleeding on offense. But they never really stopped the Bulls from scoring, especially inside. The Bulls picked the Cavs apart with passing and when the Cavs collapsed the Bulls always swung it to an open 3 point shooter. They finished the game 10-14 (!) from 3 and 5 of those came in the 2nd quarter onslaught. Tristan Thompson scored 8 of the Cavs 20 second quarter points and the Wine and Gold went into the half down only 3.
<- 3rd Quarter ->
The 3rd quarter started out a back and forth affair between the research triangle (Boozer 6, Irving 3, Zeller 2). At 7:05 left in the 3rd, Nomadic Nate Robinson came in and began an aggravating night. He dished out 2 dimes keeping the Bulls assist-train rolling. (They finished the night with 34 assists on 44 baskets!) The only lifeline was some inspired play by Dion Waiters – he scored 8 straight points to try and stem the Bulls offensive exploitation of Cleveland’s interior D.
T – Really a terrible possession by Kyrie there. Irving received a screen from Thompson at the top of the key in which Tristan switched sides at the last second. It was a very effective screen and it gave Kyrie a healthy amount of free space. He could have easily pulled up from 15 (he was wide open) but choose to keep pounding it until the help came. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad but there was only a few seconds left on the clock when TT set the screen. Kyrie’s clock awareness was not there and he picked up his dribble with no one open to pass to as his pass attempt was tipped out of bounds by Chicago with the clock about to expire. Rather incredibly, with 0 seconds showing on the shot clock, the Cavs inbounded the ball to a leaping Zeller who tipped it in off the glass to save the possession.
D – Tom, you’ve been hating on Kyrie a lot recently. I agree he goes to isolation too quickly and too frequently, but when C.J. Miles and Tristan aren’t moving, and his other options are a Dion Waiters brick or a Tyler Zeller turnover….This is a great point, and turnovers have plagued the Cavs. More analysis on this comment in the closing remarks.
D – If Dion wasn’t heating up right now the game would be a lost cause. I hate Carlos Boozer.
C – Waiters really is improving at the rim, which will hopefully encourage him to rely on drives as his primary weapon on offense. Waiters was 6/6 from the line and was attacking often.
T – Yeah he has looked more comfortable finishing which is much needed.
C – It’s strange to watch the Bulls without Derrick Rose because they’re a slightly less effective team that’s in some ways more fun to watch. Their bigs move the ball really well and it gets them easy buckets near the rim. (Get well soon, D-Rose; I love to watch you play, etc., of course.) Watching the difference between the Bulls and the Cavs offensive sets is jarring. The Bulls waste no energy, make crisp, effective passes, and swing the ball from side to side. It goes without saying they have more talent and experience as the Cavs as well.
D – OMRI CASSPI SIGHTING. DION WAITERS AIRBALL. WOOHOO. Casspi checked in with 3:05 left in the 3rd.
C – “Obligatory Dion Waiters Airball” is a troubling meme.
T – I call it “another Dion Waiters Airball” – Obligatory implies a quota of 1.
D – Despite the huge deficit, Byron Scott will leave Kyrie out of the game until there’s 6:00 left in the fourth and we’re too far back to win anyways. Horrific third quarter; stagnant offense, stagnant defense. Sixteen points down. Gentlemen, take your bets: what’s your call for the final score? Cavs 101 Bulls 98 At the end of 3 the Cavs trailed 88 – 72, meaning Dani needed a 19 point 4th Quarter differential for his prediction to hold true, harking back to the Mike Brown Era.
C – Cavs: Silent Eternity, Bulls: Quiet Decimation, Colin: Beer
<- 4th Quarter ->
C – What is this lineup, by the way? Kevin Jones, C.J. Miles, Omri Casspi, Shaun Livingston, and Tyler Zeller? Who scores? (Rhetorical question, obvs. No one does.)
T – I like this lineup. Plus FREECASSPI!
C – Tom’s going to every Cavs game this year to sit in the upper deck and yell, “WHY WON’T YOU PLAY ONE OF THE CHOSEN PEOPLE?” at Byron Scott the whole time. On Cue, Omri had a nice pumpfake, 1 dribble, that led to a sweet mid-range J. He followed it up with a strong drive and a pretty feed to a cutting Shaun Livingston, cutting a once hopeless 22 point deficit to 16 before the Bulls called timeout.
D – If Omri Casspi gets us back in this game I’ll move to Israel.
T – I love this lineup. DISCERNIBLE OFFENSIVE SETS. Players receiving and passing out of the paint. Casspi pump faking people into shots, dribble drive n kicks, and no one dribbling repeatedly. I took this opportunity to reflect on what an actual offense with passing and cutting looks like – this brief few minutes was it. Unfortunately, running what looks aesthetically like a real offense is mutually exclusive with getting stops. And the Bulls quickly destroyed all hope out of the timeout.
T – Good ol Nate Robinson and his Sam Cassel Cheshire Cat Smile.
D – There might be nothing more depressing than watching Nate Robinson shoot your team out of a game. Nomadic Nate came out of the Bulls timeout and promptly drained 2 threes right in Dion’s eye all while taunting him. Robinson and Marco Belinelli had eerily similar (and dominant) stat lines tonight. Both were 5-8 from the field including 3-4 from distance, and both were +24 in 24 minutes. Bulls bench >>> Cavs bench.
T – Wait does the ref not realize that the unnatural leg kick is just part of Dion’s shot?! Dion looks to get an AND-1 on a 3 and although my sound was muted at that point, he was called for an offensive foul. Maybe it was for a previous push off that I didn’t see. If it was because he kicked his leg out, then this applies.
D – When Lebron or Kevin Durant beats you, at least it doesn’t seem shocking and demeaning all the way through- you know it’s coming. When Nate Robinson wins games, it’s like a baby beating the hell out of you with a toothpick.
And that about wrapped it up. The Bulls (this is not a typo) went 12-14 in the 4th quarter, and the 12 included 3 And-1s (in other words, fouling didn’t stop them), 3 triples, and 2 other long 2s. Total domination against Casspi, Leuer, and company.
T – Anyone think B Scott put Casspi and Leuer out there tonight to fail just to give CtB the finger? I do. I don’t.
And that concludes this live-email recap. I have one concluding remark. The Cavaliers do not trust their offense. Quite often, they will run a set, an entry pass will get tipped or a role player will fumble the ball away. And that’s that. They go away from it and revert to isolation hero-ball (for lack of a more creative term). They need to trust the system and make the necessary adjustments. There is nothing gained by giving up on trying to execute more complex plays and sticking to isolation and a two-man game on a team that is lottery bound.
Nate and Dani offered their post-game thoughts as well.
-Fantastic first quarter from Kyrie. He came out firing and passing, and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. Ugly final three quarters from Kyrie. I’d be more disappointed with him, but the Bulls defense will do that to you- they have a tendency to turn every NBA offense into an iso-happy-mid-range-miss-fest
-Dion really turned it on in the third to keep us in the game when the Bulls started scoring, but he didn’t do much else. The ugly step-back jumpers continue, and they continue to suck. When he drove to the basket, good things tended to happen. Nice passing, though- he had a few inside feeds that took your breath away.
-Zeller was terrible. He kept on throwing the ball right to Luol Deng. Who knows why. Maybe he owed him several favors?
-Tristan was the beast we’ve grown accustomed to over the last few weeks. In the first half. After that, the Bulls interior D clamped down, and he responded meekly.
-Everyone else, well….whatever. Alonzo was a mixed bag as usual, although his defense was pretty awful tonight. Kevin Jones looked solid, although he continues to be very small for an NBA power forward. Omri Casspi sighting! He played well in garbage time. Maybe Byron will let him play next game? Over Luke Walton? That’d be nice. Coach Scott’s rotations continue to be unfathomable.
-So there’s nothing like jumping up 10 points on a team in the 1st and still losing by 26.
-Nate Robinson: +24 in 24 minutes — or, there’s a reason Shaun Livingston was on the waiver wire.
– Cavs need a guy not afraid to put an elbow in Boozer’s grill. Preferably he’d have the last name Gund.
– Tyler Zeller is softer than the Stay Puff (sic) Marshmallow man.
-Will Cleveland lose by more or less than the Irish? I’m betting less. (Good bet. The Cavs lost by 26, the Irish by 28. What an AWFUL night for TV)
-Do the Cavs have to pay individual postage for mailing this game in, or can they just mail in the entire season in bulk?
-Tristan’s developing post game: a nice development, but the Bulls have already snuffed him out. He needs a counter off the hook shot — even if he is ambidextrous.
-Who’s the next Tom Thibodeau (sic – as in he might be feeling sick right now), and how do we find him?
-So the Starting Five for the all time Cavs hate team has to be Rasheed, Boozer, LeBron, DeShawn Stevenson, and Jordan, right? Throwing this one right to the commentariat. Who’s the Cavs all-time hate team?