Tonight was rough for anyone who has watched the Cavs the past two years. There were lots of sequences where one player just dribbled the ball for fifteen seconds while every other guy watched him thinking, “dang, he goes between the legs really smoothly.” There were lots of pick and rolls where the Wine & Gold trapped, made the second rotation to stop the roll man, and then forgot that usually there is an open shooter in the corner if his defender is in the paint. There were a few times when the Cavs said to themselves, “hey, Derrick Favors won’t rebound his team’s shot if we stand here with our arms down.”
The Cavs trailed almost the entire game. They were behind 13 at the half and down as much as 16 in the third before bringing it to within one before the fourth quarter. With 6:22 left in the fourth, the Cavs tied it. They then battled back and forth with the Jazz until LeBron James forced the refs to call a foul when he was shooting a three pointer with three seconds left in the game. The L-Train barreled into the sanctity of the game of basketball by using a pump fake before leaning into a mid-air Derrick Favors, but he still made all three shots to tie the game. The Jazz then called a timeout and Gordon Hayward screamed to the world “BALL DON’T LIE” as he sank the game winner with no time on the clock.
The Cavs are heading to Utah to take on the Jazz. This game should be interesting because if the Wine & Gold lose there will be a lot of talk about their ineffectiveness so far this season. Everyone on the floor tonight should be playing their best game. Tristan Thompson will be trying especially hard to shut down Derrick Favors whenever he has a chance; shutting down Favors would bolster Thompson’s argument for a large contract after the season.
Interestingly, Derrick Favors’ PER of 28.8 is second among centers this season.
Utah also only has two players playing over thirty minutes a game, Gordon Hayward and Favors. I want to see how David Blatt uses the bench tonight to combat a Utah team that wants everyone on the wood fresh.
Keep an eye on Rudy Gobert who had a monster summer showing playing for France during the FIBA tournament. He may not be the not most polished NBA guy, but he’s huge and can definitely protect the rim.
Matty Dellavedova will be sitting this game because of a knee injury. Someone on the Cavs will need to step up and try to hustle on defense. I’m looking at Saint Weirdo, Mr. Dion Waiters, to do this. Prove your zero assists with three turnovers in 28 minutes last night were because you were plotting how you would shutdown Utah’s guards, please.
First, if you haven’t checked out Ben’s excellent recap of the Cavs/Blazers game, it’s right here.
And now: Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) It’s tough to believe, but these Cavs — the Cavs of the most highly anticipated offense in years coming into this season — are shooting just 42% from the floor so far this season. LeBron James continued a cold start to the season going 4-12 for 11 points against Portland. That included going 1-6 in the paint, a ridiculous number for a finisher as good as number 23.
Against Portland, though, everyone caught the cold hand. The team shot just 36.5% for the game. Kyrie Irving was 3-17 and (in a disturbing trend) was thoroughly outplayed by slumping-until-yesterday Damian Lillard. Dion Waiters was 3-11 and didn’t attempt a three-pointer. Only Kevin Love, who led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds, managed a remotely efficient offensive game.
I know it’s early, but the team’s stagnancy and passivity on offense is a little disturbing. There’s been precious little of the weak side action that we saw freeing up so many good looks in the preseason and the ball’s been more of a moderately warm potato than a hot one.
The Cavaliers traveled to Rip City for the first of a three game West Coast trip. Facing a Portland Trail Blazer team that relies heavily on their dominant starting lineup, the Cavs hoped to build on their overtime win against the Bulls. Instead, the Blazers offensive cohesion and strong play in the paint proved too much to handle. Early in the season, Cleveland will likely have trouble against teams with great continuity. After getting throttled by the Blazers at every position, the Cavaliers have nowhere to go but up.
West Coast action tonight, game starts at 10E/7P. The game will be on NBATV in addition to the local Fox Sports Ohio. If you haven’t already checked out Cory’s “The Case for The Decision” do so now – great read.
One of my many manifestations of maladaptive behavior is that I force myself to see things from another perspective. It’s a time consuming chore and I regularly lose sleep over it. The ultimate goal is finding true objectivity for better or worse, and making a final judgment independent of emotion and societal moors. We are weaned from childhood to find a moral of a story. There is always something positive to be found even in the worst of situations. Every Tuesday, I will present a Cavaliers-related event that was a catalyst leading us to this moment in a different light. To get this one out of the way, I present a topic that I lost plenty of sleep over, the case for The Decision.
Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson are the Cavs bench. Big T is even pushing starter minutes and Matty D is finishing fourth quarters, while both Shawn Marion and Mike Miller are failing to log just fifteen minutes a game. TT has played around 55 minutes this season while Anderson Varejao has played about 56 minutes. Delly finished the game against the Bulls playing more time than Dion Waiters, and he has the best plus/minus of anyone on the Cavs this season. He’s +21 for the year and other people, at least people outside of the Cavs:The Blog writing staff, are noticing. Jason Lloyd penned a piece for the Akron Beacon Journal with lots of praise for the Australian wonder after just two games.
Delly is in many ways the perfect complementary piece to the Cavs’ Big Three. He is a chameleon who can fit with most any other player on the floor. He keeps the ball moving offensively. He’s a gritty defender (something the Cavs sorely need right now) and he doesn’t feel an overwhelming need to shoot. In 48 minutes, he has taken just six shots (four 3-pointers).
Mrs. Whatsit – Mrs. Who – Mrs. Which, by far the oldest “Big 3″
The season is finally underway. The Cavalier faithful finally (FINALLY) got to see their beloved team in action. Preseason seemed hardly characteristic of the main 82 unless David Blatt really is planning on giving Joe Harris as much burn as Kyrie. Hopefully the opening night celebration for the prodigal son wasn’t characteristic either. LeBron aggregating three more turnovers than field goals is a rare occurrence for him (although it’s extremely common when you filter by Octobers coming immediately after Decisions). David Blatt inserting just eight players better be a rare occurrence or injuries are going to strike like a thief in the night.
So with all these caveats making it difficult to take stock in the overall state of the new look Cavaliers, I decided to task a handful of our Cavs: The Blog interns to churn through game footage in our state of the art Augmented Reality Coaching Center (ARC2). The ARC2 slices and processes using a massively parallelized datacenter. We actually have content in 4D, so the interns can feel the heat from the scoreboard flamethrowers, sense the thud of a dead spot on the sideline, or take a whiff when LeBron rips one at half court.
So instead of trying to microanalyze two games worth of basketball, well below the sample size threshold of most valuable analyses, I asked our interns to uncover any new wrinkles previously unseen during the 4-year-long basketball recession.
The Cavs won! They survived NBA-JAM-FIRE Kirk Hinrich, and Tristan Thompson had a Dagger OBoard+Flush in the waning moments of OT. LeBron looked bad and still 100x better than last night. Derrick Rose sprained his ankle, stayed in the game, left later, and never came back.
The Cavs look to rebound from their discombobulated opening game. They face a formidable Chicago team that may prove to be a conference rival for the foreseeable future. David Blatt thought he did a poor job of utilizing his bench in game 1. We’ll see how he and the rest of the team responds tonight. Catch it on ESPN.
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.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at email@example.com or @cadavalier.
Benjamin Werth is a Staff Writer. He was born in Cleveland and raised in Mentor, OH. He now lives in Germany where he is an opera singer and actor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cory Hughey is a Staff Writer. He grew up in Youngstown, the Gary, Indiana of Ohio. He graduated from Youngstown State in 2008 with a worthless telecommunications degree. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @coryhughey on Twitter.
David Wood is our Links Editor. He is a 2012 Graduate of Syracuse University with an English degree who loves bikes, beer, basketball, writing, and Rimbaud. He can be reached on Twitter: @nothingwood.
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John Krolik is the Editor Emeritus of Cavs: The Blog. At present, he is pursuing a law degree at Tulane University. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @johnkrolik.
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