The Point Four-ward: Open Season

Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) What LeBron James did on Tuesday night was absolutely stunning.

I’m talking about more than finishing Game One of the 2016-17 NBA Season, a 117-88 thrashing of the new-look New York Knicks, with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists, a triple-double that moved him into sixth place all-time for that particular feat. I’m talking about the focus, the physicality and the bounce that James brought to the night that kicked off his fourteenth season. After the game, there was mention of a test James got that determined that the 31-year old had “the body of a 19-year old” which… okay, maybe. But seeing James run the court with determination, dunk the ball with power, while violently swatting away opponents’ shots (even if their ricochet happened to catch Channing Frye square in the face) set the tone for the game and, quite possibly, for the season.

James’s feistiness rubbed off on his teammates, as the Cavs racked up 12 steals and five blocks, which, for a team often accused of playing down to the level of its competition last year, was a tantalizing sight.

If James is going to bring it like this every night — or even most — he will win his fifth MVP award and his team, who played in a collective “chill mode” for much of last season, will be forced to follow the lead of the James we saw on Tuesday night. If that happens, it might be time to declare open season on the rest of the NBA.

2.) It was good to see the Cavs keep going back to Kevin Love, even after he started the game missing a couple of open looks. Love bounced back to finish with 23 points, second on the team behind Kyrie Irving‘s 29, on 6-15 shooting (2-6 from three) to go with 12 rebounds and two assists. Love was also active defensively, recording three steals, and finished the game with +24, second best on the team behind James.

At one point, with the Cavs on the defensive end, Love readily switched onto Derrick Rose. Rose sized up his opponent and then and drove at the man with a well-earned reputation as a defensive sieve.  As Love shuffled his feet ready to take on the challenge, I shook my head and muttered “Uh-oh… Looks like someone’s been watching video of The Stop all summer.” But then something miraculous happened. Much like with Love’s “stop” of Steph Curry in Game 7 of the NBA Finals (though with somewhat different stakes, for sure), Love kept Rose in front of him and prevented the score. Was that for real??

If this is a new age for Kevin Love, NBA champion, current holder of the late Ultimate Warrior’s WWE championship belt, who plays defense like, at least, a clogged sieve, count me as on board.

3.) In the NBA, one game — especially, when it’s the first game of the season — makes a poor snapshot for the entire season. So, while it may take a while for head coach Tyronn Lue to figure out exactly how he wants to use all of the players on his bench, I liked what I saw from off-season addition Mike Dunleavy Jr. Now, that’s not a big surprise. I expected to like Dunleavy and I think he could make a sneaky big impact on this team. But here’s what he did on Tuesday night: in just over 22 minutes, the 6-9 swingman/combo forward went 2-3 from the field for four points, with three rebounds and three steals… and his +/- was third-best on the team with a +19.

Dunleavy — playing most of his minutes in the fourth quarter with the starters out — always seemed to be in the right spots on offense and on defense. It’s unlikely he’ll ever cost the Cavs a game this season, but his heady play and knock-down shooting will almost certainly win more than a couple for them.

4.) With de facto backup point guard Iman Shumpert currently undergoing the league’s concussion protocol, the big question mark on the Cavs roster just got bigger… or smaller, depending on who Coach Lue decides to go with behind Kyrie Irving while Shumpert’s out. The “smaller” option, of course, is rookie Kay Felder, who is currently in the concussion protocol himself and wasn’t dressed for the season tip-off is expected to be available for the team’s weekend swing against Toronto and Orlando. Felder struggled against the Raptors in the preseason, though, so look for Lue to go big when Irving sits and give most of those minutes to 6-6 DeAndre Liggins, just as he did on Tuesday night.

The Cavs had already built a sizable lead by the time Liggins took over at the point, so his time on the court was fairly garbage-y. Still, Liggins played with noticeable poise and flashed some of the defensive chops that helped pave his way from the D-League to getting run with the defending champs. Liggins played 12 minutes on Tuesday night, shooting 2-3 from the field for four points, while adding three rebounds, three assists and one block.

If Liggins can continue his steady play, allowing Lue to mix up the former Kentucky Wildcat’s defensive chops with Felder, the more explosive offensive player, the Cavs might be able to show some patience as they continue to look for their back-up of the future… assuming he’s not already on the roster.

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NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
1 year 8 months ago

THE SAME ( AS JMAY )–PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU / FAMILY

JMay
Member
1 year 8 months ago

Sad news about Frye’s mother. Best wishes Channing…

Elijah Kim
Member
1 year 8 months ago

I’m okay with whoever bringing up the ball when Kyrie sits as long as they can dribble to ball from the backcourt to the front court and doesn’t turn it over. The rest of the team figures it out.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
1 year 8 months ago

SOUNDS LIKE BOTH SHUMP AND “KILLER SHRIMP ” WILL PLAY TOMORROW NIGHT

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
1 year 8 months ago

AS IN THE EVER FAMOUS QUOTES BY THE EVER FAMOUS AARON ROGERS / AND COLS ” CHILL DON’T PANIC ” –WILL WATCH HOW THE PT GD ROLE PLAYS OUT / GIVE ALL CANDIDATES TO PROVE OR DISSAPOINT COME– JANUARY / FEBRUARY —TY / GRIFF WILL MAKE THE CORRECT DECISION / MOVE TO GET US PLAYOFF READY —UNTIL THEN RELAX AND ENJOY THE PROCESS

Johnny_Lately
Guest
Johnny_Lately
1 year 8 months ago
Speaking of Cav guards, last night something miraculous happened in Orlando, where former Cavs highlight reel and ball hog Dion Waiters was starting for the Miami Heat. Dion went 4-13 and mainly seemed to serve as a.) a useless decoy in the corner, and more often b.) as a churning vehicle for Hassan Whiteside dunks. (Whiteside, by the way, went a Drummondesque 0-4 from the line, and might have had more of a challenge had Biyombo not been suspended for technical foul in last season’s Eastern Conference Game 6 elimination in Cleveland). Anyway, in the third quarter last night Dion did his usual screaming of “And one!” after a contested basket and lo and behold he was whistled for a technical foul. I wonder a.) if Eric Spolstra paid off the ref at halftime in an effort to stop this horrible habit of Dion’s and b.) how long Dion Waiters will be able to restrain himself from yelling these two words in the general direction of officials. I also wonder if he will be playing 34 minutes a night (essentially trying to fill D-Wade’s shoes) if his defense is going to continue to be inattentive at best and his backup… Read more »
MikeO
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Dion is far from the only ‘and one!!’ hero in the NBA, but it’s annoying and stupid no matter who shrieks it. If I were a ref, I would give zero benefit of the doubt to that crap.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
1 year 8 months ago

I was skimming through someone’s list of the top 100 NBA players, and was astounded to see Dion somewhere around 70 or 80. I can’t see him being in the top 10 players on any of the top 20 teams, so I would rank him around 240 or lower.

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 8 months ago

In an era of increasingly positionless basketball… I find the narrative of needing to have a backup PG to be a bit overblown. The Cavs still had 31 assists as a team and seemed to have few problems running the offense (with the possible exception of the rash of turnovers in the second quarter). Granted, almost half of those came from LBJ, but I’m good with facilitator or “Magic Mode” LeBron…

The point is that most of these guys can handle a basketball just fine and can bring the ball over the timeline… and defensively, they’re better off using larger wings to guard tougher opposing PGs (like Kyle Lowry tomorrow)…

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
1 year 8 months ago

All of you guys are making solid points. I think we need a larger sample size though, especially since the Knicks suck.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
1 year 8 months ago

I disagree on this one for several reasons. One is that if you don’t have an expert PG, teams will always full court press you, and you will make tons of turnovers.

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 8 months ago

Very few teams full court press other teams that often in the regular season…

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
1 year 8 months ago

They would start to if you don’t have anyone who can break it.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 8 months ago

Or in the playoffs. And it’s not like we had a backup PG besides Mo last year that could handle a full court press anyways.

Merkaderka
Guest
Merkaderka
1 year 8 months ago

I think a lot of the concern about our backup PG position is mostly centered around our real concern which is not over-using Lebron. He’s the de facto backup PG and those minutes when he is primarily handling the ball should result on few hits to his body, but they do also run up the odometer too. If we had a backup PG we could trust, it would result in more rest for LeBron which I think would make everyone more confortable.

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 8 months ago

LBJ played 32 minutes in the opener… And I would think passing and being a facilitator actually takes less out of him than banging inside, running around off the ball or throwing hammers down with regularity…

Mike Schreiner
Editor
1 year 8 months ago

I 100% agree EG.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 8 months ago

Except a backup PG does nothing to LeBron’s minutes. What would do something though is a scoring guard who can keep the team afloat while LeBron is chilling. Hence Dunleavy, RJ, Felder, and McRae.

JoeyB
Guest
JoeyB
1 year 8 months ago

A back up PG, if not reducing LBJs minutes literally, will reduce the impact of those minutes. Also, what about nights when LBJ sits because of back to backs, etc. Its Irving and then…turnover city. Or if Irving gets injured? Its too much to ask of a 32 year old that we need to be the best player in the world at 100% in June.

NBA Champion Matthew Dellavedova, for all his shortcomings, can run the offense with or without LBJ on the floor, held his own against other point guards (Westbrook excepted), and almost never turned it over. He was incredibly valuable for the regular season minutes load on LBJ and Kyrie. He was less useful in the playoffs, because that’s when you ride your stars hard. In the 82 game grind, however, you need someone to let the other guys rest who won’t implode the offense.

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 8 months ago

For the record, in the opener…

Kyrie: 0 turnovers in 30 minutes
JR: 0 turnovers in 25 minutes
Liggins: 1 turnover in 12 minutes
Shump: 2 turnovers in 14 minutes
LeBron: 4 turnovers in 32 minutes

Not bad for the guys handling the ball…

Obviously this can change, but again all of these guys can handle the ball without hemorrhaging it away on a regular basis…

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 8 months ago

Yep.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 8 months ago

Yep. The Cavs are just fine. In fact, they are better this year than last year when they were the best team in the NBA. Backup PG has become this weird totem.

MrManager
Guest
MrManager
1 year 8 months ago

The Pelicans have had 4 years to build around Davis, and they’d probably swap their starting lineup for our bench if they could… I feel like they’re making every mistake we did building around Lebron originally, but somehow even worse. I think all the bad luck they’ve had is comeuppance for trading Nerlens (N’awlins!) Noel for Holiday in their sprint for the 10th seed.

Nick P
Guest
Nick P
1 year 8 months ago

Liggins just has to hold steady, not try to do too much, and “fit in.” I think his stat line was perfect… take a couple high percentage shots, grab a few boards, make some good passes, hold the ship until we can get Kyrie back in the game. I’ll actually take that over what Mo Williams was giving us — hucking up low percentage shots and not being able to guard a chair.

Cols714
Guest
Cols714
1 year 8 months ago

Once again, Shump will be fine. No need to panic after one game.

Mike Podracky
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Shump played too much out of control before he banged his head, and I sure hope he can improve over last year. Mabye Liggins will surprisingly be the answer, as I believe we will be typing http://www.pleasestopdribblingShump@com too often this year.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
1 year 8 months ago

SAID WHEN THEY SIGNED HIM ( DUNLEAVY ) THAT WOULD GO AS THE BIGGEST —-UNNOTICED FREE AGENT SIGNING —-LIKE YOU MENTIONED –HE WIL NEVER LOSE YOU A GAME AND WAIT UNTIL HE STARTS HITTING A BARRAGE OF 3’S —-LIGGINS PLAYS WITHIN HIMSELF/ SELDOM FORCES THE ISSUE ( MAMBA SHOULD TAKE SOME LESSONS IN THIS ) COULD HE POSSIBLY BE THE ANSWER –TIME WILL TELL —I KNOW HE IS A ” HUNGRY ‘ PLAYER READY TO SHOW HE BELONGS ON THIS STAGE —-HE MIGHT GET A HUGE OPPORTUNITY THIS FRIDAY VS DEROZEN

Simmo
Guest
Simmo
1 year 8 months ago

Agree NOMAD. I may have been errant, but Dunleavy was the player I was most worried about when we faced Chicago last season. A bellweather for the Bulls, much like JR for the Cavs, if Dunleavy played well we would have been in trouble. He failed to have the effect I was concerned about. Looked at his stats after the season finished, he seemed to perform well but sporadically. I think he will be great off the bench but still serve well if situation requires him to play more minutes.

JMay
Member
1 year 8 months ago

About point 4, after Shump went out I was wondering if this would light a fire under Griff to try and find another backup PG since the options aren’t clear if something happens to even one of our guards. However, if you’re right and Liggins can produce even slightly below average as a backup PG, we could hold off until the trade deadline and see who is selling.

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