Yesterday, we ran Part I of this series, reviewing January through June of 2013. Today, we take a look at the second half of this past year, a second half that has been filled with optimism, disappointment, and comedy.
Robert: July saw me trade in the oppressive heat and humidity of the right side of the country for the dry, punishing sun of the desert as the Cavs headed to Las Vegas for their annual toe-dip into the Summer League pool. First off, everything you’ve heard about the Vegas Summer League is true. It’s a veritable petting zoo of current and former players/coaches/etc. You may have to squeeze between Mark Price and Tyronn Lue to get to your seat (happened). You may have Tristan Thompson tell you that he won’t speak to you unless you go through the Cavs’ PR people first (also happened). … But, mostly, you just get to geek out at the yearly event that gives the Sloan Conference a run for its NBA geeky money. Oh, and you get to talk to Anthony Bennett, Carrick Felix, Tyler Zeller, and most entertainingly, Dion Waiters about getting into shape, working on his game, and jawing with the refs.
Several of the Cavs got an extended stay in Vegas, though. The Team USA Select Team scrimmage featured Waiters, Tyler Zeller and Kyrie Irving (and began the nasty run of “Kyrie wants out of Cleveland” rumors that kept us extra warm during those dog day months). Nate had an excellent recap of the action here. It’s good, at this point in the 2013-14 season to look back at a game when saying it “turned into the Kyrie Irving show” was a wholly good thing. Oh, and July saw Andrew Bynum, Earl Clark, and Jarrett Jack become Cavaliers.
Patrick: August, the Cavs had finished up with summer acquisitions and we were in the dog days of the NBA summer. Robert took a long look at the Kyrie-Irving-is-gone rumor mill that was in full motion at the time. He dealt with a lot of the paranoia Cavs fans feel for Uncle Drew and laid down a level-headed approach to moving forward without losing it and dissolving into fatalism. It’s hard as a fan to accept powerlessness and still fully invest yourself. He offers that we “don’t freak out,” advice we should all heed. This season has been trying, but Kyrie is still an elite player who the Cavs depend on.
I was also brought into the fold in August and I wrote the second of Cavs: The Blog’s ‘Sizing Up’ series, on the team’s Central Division foes, Chicago. Expectations for both of these teams were fairly high, with most Cavs: The Bloggers picking the Cavs to make the playoffs and most people pencilling Chicago into a top three seed in the East. The Cavs may yet still be on that track, but the loss of Derrick Rose after such a short return has been the biggest bummer of the season, even if it means the Cavs vault the Bulls in the standings. I wrote that the matchup to watch was Rose vs. Irving, and they did meet once this season. It was in fact the first meeting the two have ever had, but it didn’t live up to it’s high billing. Each star point guard only scored 16 on sub-.400 shooting as the Cavs lost handily 96-81.
Nate: September is probably the slowest month of NBA coverage. TT and Sergey were involved in international play, and we continued our “sizing up” series, examining all the NBA teams. Little did we know that the pic to the left would become a symbol of the NBA’s Eastern Conference this season, and that highlight of the month was the signing of the Cavs’ most productive rookie, a 6’4″ point guard from Australia by way of Saint Mary’s, Matthew Dellavedova. It was practically a footnote at the time. The month closed with Media Day, including this scary photo.
Nate: October began the first training camp of the Mike Brown era mark II. Meanwhile, the Indians made it to the first round of the ALCS before falling to the Rays. I opined on how much I enjoyed the end of their season, and that how enjoying the process of a players’ career, a season, a game, or a single moment in a game transcends winning, and means that nothing is “All for Naught.” October also saw Anthony Bennett’s only good game as a Cavalier, a pre-season win over the Magic… The preseason slogged on, and Kevin offered us a 7 part series of pre-season predictions, culminating with these 45 predictions, including gems like “Andrew Bynum plays 45 games and 1178 minutes,” and “[Dion] will shoot too many 20-footers off the bounce with 12 seconds left on the shot clock…” October closed with a rousing introduction to the Mike Brown mark II regular season: a surprise start by AB21, lock-down D by Kyrie, and Varejao’s new lethal jumper which contributed to a season opening win to the (yeah, we didn’t realize they were as bad as they are) Brooklyn Nets. Robert recapped optimistically.
Tom: In November, It didn’t take long for expectations to be tempered severely, nor for pleas of patience. Kevin began what appears to be a series displaying time left in a basketball game as a tool of perspective on the length of the NBA season. Patrick titled a post “Expectations” while Nate combined the concepts of tempered expectations and patience with a post titled “Age and Expectations” and included a screenshot of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy cover with the famous tagline: “Don’t Panic”.
The gang got together for a roundtable and Robert wa sable to describe the Cavs as a “pu pu platter of lack”. One of the defining moments of the early season was the Cavaliers losing at home tothe Wizards in which the culprit appeared most vividly to be a total lack of effort. Fortunately, the Cavaliers undrafted rookie, MatthewDellavedova, (
or Delly, or SuperDOVA for short) earned folk hero status and seemed to inspire the rest of the roster to at least play hard.
Kevin: Oh, December. Things were so much more carefree before the season started. Did all these things really happen in one month? Early on, the Cavs were roaring, with wins over Denver, the Clippers, New York and Orlando, and relatively encouraging losses against Miami and Portland. Andrew Bynum looked strong, Dion Waiters was a great bench spark plug, and Kyrie began looking like a star again. Then, everything came unglued. An embarrassing home win and road loss against ridiculously depleted Milwaukee and Chicago squads, then a massacre at home at the hands of the Pistons. Now mired in a five (six?) game losing streak, the promise present at the ides of December became of lump of coal by Christmas.
The story of the month was obviously Andrew Bynum. Most prescient article goes to Robert, discussing the distracting impact of Bynum’s depression (?) on the entire team. By the end of the month, he was gone, hopefully taking any negative energy with him. A flurry of articles followed, offering hope where perhaps there was none, Brews and Bruises, and a look at the Cavs’ perplexing penchant for small lineups. Meanwhile, the losses have piled up.
As it relates to Cleveland sportsdom, thank goodness 2013 is over. This New Year has to be better.