Glass Half Full View of the Season (or, how consistently wrong can I be about this team?)

March 18th, 2014 by Kevin Hetrick

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I have a vague theory.  Every time I write pessimistically about the Cavs, they immediately embark on a hot streak.  If I take an optimistic tone, an ensuing 30-point loss becomes inevitable.  Seriously, look it up (Edited Note:  I began writing this on Sunday evening.  Within an hour, Kyrie had injured his biceps).  Sum up the team’s record in the two games after each negative article I write.  It is the equivalent of the 1996 Bulls.  Combining every set of two games following a positive article, they resemble the current 76ers.  Most recently, after offering a thumbs down, the team won twice on the road against Western Conference playoff contenders.

So far, this season has not gone as planned.  The Cavs made three big free agent acquisitions this past summer and selected two first-round draft picks, including #1.  This season’s salary commitments for those five players approached $23 million, and due to Bynum’s odd deal, counted nearly $30 million towards the 2013 – 2014 salary cap.  At gotbuckets.com, we recently created a RAPM-based wins equivalent, SWAgR.  Through March 10th, Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev combined for negative 1.5 SWAgR.  Based on that stat, replacing their minutes with available, reference level players like Alonzo Gee, Nazr Mohammed and Darius Morris wins the Cavs 1.5 more games.  And that is not meant as a complement to the latter three guys.

That is a rotten summer and a wasted season.  But this is not a negative article.  Balancing last week’s piece, here are silver linings from the 2013 – 2014 season.  But don’t worry, I have taken special considerations to ensure I don’t jinx the Wine & Gold!

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#CavsRank! At number 7, it’s Terrell Brandon

March 17th, 2014 by Tom Pestak

Brandon SI Cover

Ben Cox of WFNY gives us a wonderful profile of one of the most underrated players in Cleveland history.

“Brandon (and his era of Cleveland basketball) is routinely overlooked. In fact, how little people knew of Brandon was one of the main takeaways from the famous Sports Illustrated piece.

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#CavsRank:

#20: Mo Williams & Nate Thurmond by Carter Rodriguez, Real Cavs Fans.
#19: Craig Ehlo by David Zavac, Fear the Sword.
#18: Lenny Wilkens by Jacob Rosen, WFNY.
#17: Bingo Smith by Scott Raab.
#16: Ron Harper by Ben Cox, WFNY.
#15: Andre Miller by Kirk Lammers, WFNY.
#14: Jim Chones by Ryan Mourton, Fear the Sword.
#13: Campy Russell by Ryan Mourton, Fear the Sword.
#12: Shawn Kemp by Robert Attenweiler, Cavs: The Blog.
#11: Hot Rod Williams by Kevin Hetrick, Cavs: The Blog.
#10: World B. Free by Scott Sargent, WFNY.
#9:  Anderson Varejao by Andrew Schnitkey, WFNY.
#8:  Kyrie Irving, Mallory Factor, Cavs: The Blog.
#7:  Terrell Brandon, Ben Cox, WFNY.
#6:  Austin Carr, Cleveland Jackson, Stepien Rules.
#5:  Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Kirk Lammers, WFNY. Nate Smith, Cavs: The Blog. Tom Pestak, Cavs: The Bog.
#4:  Larry Nance, Robert Attenweiler, Cavs:The Blog.
#3:  ???
#2:  ???
#1:  ???

Links to the Present: Traditions Edition

March 17th, 2014 by David Wood
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He can play in a mask, but can he play in a sling?

Every year at several points during the Cavs season, I find myself furiously searching “Kyrie Irving Injury.” I thought this year was going to break that tradition, since Irving has made it more than half of the season missing only three games. It seems I’m wrong again. Read the rest of this entry »

Recap: Los Angeles 102, Cleveland 80. (Or, The City of Angles).

March 16th, 2014 by Patrick Redford

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I’m wary of “killer stats,” the kind where a broadcaster will glance at a stat sheet from an assistant, look at the score, do two seconds of math and say something like: “Well the Cavaliers have 13 less second chance points than the Kings and that’s the difference in the game, otherwise it’d be a dead heat.” These quick equivalencies fail to take into account the many coeval facets that go into winning and losing a basketball game. That all being said, the Clippers assist/turnover ratio was 6.4, compared with the Cavs’ 1.1. The Cavs couldn’t hold onto the ball, and their offense was sludgy tonight, while the Clippers were efficient and generous, which the A/T ratio disparity captures succinctly. A 3-0 west coast trip against playoff teams was probably a bridge too far anyway.

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Recap: Golden State 94, Cleveland 103. (Or, Pass the Mic)

March 14th, 2014 by Patrick Redford

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One of the best Cavs wins this year? One of the best Cavs wins this year. The Cavs lent the Warriors plenty of shovels to help dig them into a big 20-4 hole, but they battled back and ended up coasting to an easy finish. Spencer Hawes and Dion Waiters stood our tonight, but the defense over the last 3/4′s of the game sealed the win

The Warriors are one of the most energetic teams in the NBA, and this year, they’ve managed to balance this on an inner mantle of tough defense. Tonight, they seemed to establish their quick lead without really doing much besides shoot well and position themselves to pounce on Cavs mistakes. The only Cavs points were two Luol Deng jumpers that came on improvisations, not within the offense. Kyrie didn’t look aggressive, and the Warriors continually ran under screens, which compacted the paint and forced turnovers when the Cavs tried to move inside. Cleveland started out not making necessary adjustments, and they couldn’t deal with the Warriors’ pace.

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Random Thoughts on Player Freedom, Mortality, and Collective Bargaining

March 14th, 2014 by Nate Smith

It’s been a strange week in Believeland. Saturday, at Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ retirement celebration, a jubilant reunion of players and figures from the Cavaliers teams of the late aughts occurred at the Q. Shortly after, Jason Lloyd, penned a piece about how, “It was all the intricate planning of the former general manager, who was the architect for this ceremony and James’ role in it months ago.” The plan? “Perhaps the first gigantic step toward James’ return to this franchise.” But in light of Chris Grant’s firing and the Cavs instability, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst posted about how the “chances he [James] suits up for Cavs again fading fast.” This comes a couple weeks after Windhorst’s an article entitled, Could the Cleveland Cavaliers lose Kyrie Irving? Forgive my diction. I’ve been hooked on True Detective and my wife has been binge watching The Tudors while I write. But, it’s enough to make my head spin, these sordid dramas of American royalty: billionaires and their exchequers trying to control the lives of millionaires. It all seems so comically overwrought

Really? That was the plan? Lure James back with a jersey retirement ceremony? God, forgive me for ever doubting Chris Grant’s genius. He’s clearly a Machiavelli in a league full of Gerald Fords. Oy. Way to put a damper on a lovely ceremony.

Seriously, if LeBron James wants to come back to Cleveland, he should come back. If Kyrie Irving wants to go play somewhere else, he should go do it, and the Cavs should find a way to make that happen. This is America, not Tudor England. One should not be required to say and do one thing, and desire another. Life is too short to waste it wading through the manure produced from all these ridiculous machinations. So this summer, when the opportunity presents itself, the team and the city should simply ask, “do you want to be here?” Of course, we and the Cavs should tout our virtues, first, and do our best to make the team and the city a fulfilling to play for, but after those efforts, the question should be simple. And once a decision is reached, everyone should move on with a modicum of expedience and dignity. Until then, please, just play basketball. I’d like to watch some good games without having to spend each possession thinking about the playoffs, the summer, the futures of all the principals, and the next four years. Life is too short. Enjoy its moments.

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Recap: Phoenix 101, Cleveland 110. (Or, I Don’t Wanna Be Right; Just One More Night)

March 12th, 2014 by Patrick Redford

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Tonight, the Cavs looked like what we thought they would before the season. They spread the ball around to all their talented young players and they shot and executed their way to a solid win. During the preseason, it looked like the Cavs were going to be built around the inside out play of Kyrie Irving and the seemingly deep frontcourt, a formation conducive to spacing opportunities. Kyrie led the team, but instead it was Spencer Hawes playing interior fulcrum and Luol Deng who took advantage of their passing to put up an efficient line. The season hasn’t been what Cavs fans expected, but the team is 3.5 games back of a fading Atlanta team, and it’s reassuring to see them still fight for their playoff lives and play productive offensive basketball for a night. The ‘13-’14 Cavaliers may or may not be doomed, but two months ago we wouldn’t have been assured of this resilience.

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Links To The Present: They Probably Won’t Make It Edition

March 12th, 2014 by David Wood
Luol Deng once looked amazing with Nate Robinson running the point.  What does that say about Kyrie Irving?

Luol Deng once looked amazing with Nate Robinson running the point. What does that say about Kyrie Irving?

The Cavs have been off since Saturday, and to be completely honest, I have to say nothing is going on with them basketball wise.   They are not a good team by their record, 24-40.  When you see them play, they often look worse than that record.  These three days off have been filled with contemplation by writers across the world, and  they’ve determined that the Cavs probably won’t make the playoffs, that Kyrie Irving should leave, and that LeBron James coming back is a possibility. Read the rest of this entry »

10:30 Remaining in the 4th Quarter

March 11th, 2014 by Kevin Hetrick

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Remember early in the season, when I started writing a series comparing the 2013 – 2014 season to one game?  No?  Fair enough, seeing as I skipped the 2nd and 3rd quarters.  Well with the Cavs entering the final frame, things look bleak.  They are down by twenty, and the other team’s starters are checking back in.  Every brief bright spot is quickly followed by harrowing darkness.

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Get ready for it! At number eight in #CavsRank, it’s Kyrie Irving!

March 10th, 2014 by Mallory Factor II

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I’m in a tough spot: on the one hand, there’s no question we all know just about everything there is to know about the amazing Kyrie.  We’ve all seen him play. We’re acutely aware of his elite skills (and, in the case of his defense, deficiencies), and we can all probably remember at least one spectacular thing Kyrie has done.  On the other hand, how can one possibly summarize a player who has just begun to scratch the surface of his career?  Therein lies exactly what makes Kyrie so special to Cavs fans; while the tenure has been largely awesome, sometimes average, and at times truly awful, the story has barely been written on what is generally expected to be a special career.  A career that, if all goes accordingly, will be one for the Cleveland ages.

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