Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA…
1.) As recently as last year, people were describing LeBron James as being one of the fastest players in the NBA. While perhaps not tops in terms of sheer speed, James’s ability to cover large swaths of the court in precious few strides made him one of the quickest players his size ever. That’s why so much is being made of the relative snail’s pace of his play this season. What Cavs fans have seen thus far is one of the most athletic players in league history running and jumping like he’d added 20 pounds in the off-season rather than dropped it.
After a lackluster two and a half quarters, the Cavs really poured it on the New Orleans Pelicans in the final 16 and a half minutes, outscoring them 49-33 and earning a quality win against an upstart young team. LeBron James had a monster game, tallying his first triple double of the season and 38th of his career: 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Kyrie Irving was his full blown offensive-wunderkind self, scoring 32 points despite playing the role of distributor for most of the 1st half. At times he was completely unstoppable. Kevin Love came alive in the 4th quarter, draining four 3-pointers, and finishing with 22 points on 13 shots. The Cavs survived a 32-point scare from Ryan Anderson (cloaked in NBA JAM Flames), who drained eight 3s.
The Cavaliers are finally back home, after what seemed like an eternity. With Dellavedova out for 4-6 weeks and Waiters questionable with a back contusion, who will David Blatt lean on tonight to shore up the backcourt? Could we possibly some see really “big” lineups with LeBron handling the ball as a de-facto guards?
Brian Windhorst posted a video previewing the Cavs matchup against the Pelicans for ESPN. He touches on the obvious stuff about the Wine & Gold needing to pass the ball and play defense. However, he brings up a very interesting point about covering Anthony Davis. Who on the Cavs can do it? Will LeBron James be forced to cover the Brow if the game is close in the fourth quarter?
Tristan Thompson is toast if AD drags him out of the paint and makes one pump fake, and Anderson Varejao will get really tired if he is forced to cover the blocking machine the entire game on pick and rolls and regular possessions. And, Kevin Love would need some of AD’s love in order to avoid being posterized. The Pelican’s Omer Asik is also a handful to boxout. No matter what, the Cavs bigs will have a tough night to keep Davis from tiring out the box score writer’s hand.
The video post is titled “Cavaliers Building Chemistry.” Chemistry wasn’t really talked about, but after watching the video, I can conclude that chemistry for the Cavs is going to be all about James covering the opposition’s best guy or any effective guy Love has to cover. Makes sense, who doesn’t want to be around a guy that does the dirty/hard part of their job? Read the rest of this entry »
In fantasy basketball, there is almost always a silver lining to be found on the NBA’s bad teams. On even the worst teams, someone has to score the points, grab the rebounds and fill up even the most uninspiring of box scores.
A great example of this right now is Tony Wroten of the Philadelphia 76ers. In spite of the Sixers’ 0-6 start, Wroten has been fantasy gold turning in 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7 assists in 33.8 minutes a game. Wroten is benefiting from the same quick Sixers pace that buffed Michael Carter Williams to a shine last season, as well as from being the only Philadelphia starter (my apologies to former Cav Henry Sims) with even the slightest track record of putting a ball through a basket.
As historical context, think what kind of numbers Ricky Davis would have put up on the 2002-03 Cavs if the rest of his team had been composed of slightly-better-than-D-Leaguers instead of…
Okay, maybe not the best example. Still, if you were out in front of Wroten-mania, you’re sitting back and reaping the fantasy benefits at least until MCW returns (he’s practicing now). Even then, it’s likely that Wroten will continue to be a useful fantasy player because… well, historically teams have occasionally fielded more than one effective player at a time.
Dion Waiters has been one of the more interesting human beings to follow since he was drafted. Out of Syracuse he was billed as a talented scorer with as much upside as anyone not named Anthony Davis, and was favorably compared to Dwyane Wade (by both Chad Ford and Byron Scott). Former Cavs: The Blog editor and friend Colin McGowan anagrammatically foretold the coming of “Saint Weirdo” in a post-draft prophesy, and Waiters has mostly fulfilled the moniker.
His brashness strikes me as a defense mechanism—it’s what allows him the single-mindedness that makes him great at basketball—and when it’s punctured, he retreats inward. I think that’s what happened at SU: Boeheim shouted him down a few times, and Waiters didn’t initially respond well because he felt naked and embarrassed.
The Cavs won. There will be no three game losing streak and no mass media panic about the state of the team. The King looked exactly like the best player in the game does. He did whatever he wanted the whole night. During the first quarter, he wanted to get guys easy shots, so he passed to get six assists. During the second quarter, he wanted to score a little bit. He played some iso ball, missed shots, and finally scored four in a row. During the third quarter, he wanted to keep the Cavs momentum going, so he made two layups. One of them utilized a spin move, which mesmerized the Nuggets so much they relaxed defensively. In the fourth quarter, Kevin Love was tired, so whenever it was possible LeBron switched onto Love’s man and defended anyone posting up. He then sealed the game with two layups at the end to make sure the Nuggets couldn’t win. The King finished the game with 22 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. He made sure the Cavs didn’t trail at all after going up by two points in the beginning of the first quarter. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cavs travel to the Mile-High City tonight to take on the Denver Nuggets. The game starts at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time and is being shown on ESPN.
Denver is using an 11 man roster right now. Seriously, 11 guys on their team are averaging more than ten minutes a game, and they are trying to run their way through a mountain with fresh legs to find wins. They have the second fastest pace in the league behind the Warriors, which makes perfect sense since their thin air tires teams. Are the Cavs up for this matchup?
LeBron James has never played with a high-level true point guard before. Dwyane Wade was the closest thing he had to a guy who could function as a high-level creator next to him, but since Wade is secretly a 6’4 power forward without the rebounding, Miami got away with an inverted situation, having LeBron function as the primary creator, Wade slashing to the basket off the ball, and Bosh providing the floor spacing despite being the tallest of the three.
That’s not going to work in Cleveland. This is evidenced by the fact that it is currently not working in Cleveland. It’s early, but the Cavs currently rank 19th in offensive efficiency, 22nd in True Shooting, and dead-last in assist ratio. The defense is a larger issue, as only the Lakers (bless these horrible Lakers) and the Jazz have a lower defensive efficiency than the Cavs. For those of you keeping score at home, the second-worst defense in the NBA held the Cavaliers to four assists last night.
The Cavaliers need to run an honest-to-god offense, and they need to start running it soon. For that, two things have to happen: Kyrie needs to have a come-to-Jesus moment and LeBron needs to find an effective middle gear.
Make sure to check out my recap of the Cavs Vs. Jazz here.
Brian Windhorst is reporting that LeBron James had words with Kyrie Irving not only after the game against Portland but also after the game against Utah. The King is upset that Irving isn’t playing like a point guard. He acknowledged the fact that Kyrie hasn’t had an assist in more than forty-five minutes.
“There’s a lot of bad habits, a lot of bad habits been built up the past couple years,” James said to the media moments after the exchange. “When you play that style of basketball, it takes a lot to get it up out of you.”
Irving said this about the Utah game:
“For us, it was a growing process that we have to go through,” Irving said Wednesday. “It sucks right now. For us, we’re still young, and I’m still learning what’s going on.”
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
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