The 2013-2014 Cavaliers are a silly team. Their silliness oscillates between comical and sinister at unhealthy speeds. One month, Andrew Bynum is acting like a full-on Wes Anderson villain and indeterminately throwing objects, and the next month Anthony Bennett is teasing DeMarcus Cousins, the first post-LeBron four game winning streak has everyone smiling, and Kyrie is starting an all-star game this weekend. This season is entertaining in the same way that eating three bags of cheetos in one sitting is entertaining: fun in the moment, but it might leave you with a body ache afterwards.
Overview: Led by 25 points on 12-16 shooting and 15 rebounds from Tristan Thompson, the Cavs were able to come back from an early deficit and outscore the Pistons 34-23 in the fourth quarter of a 93-89 win. This is the Cavaliers’ first four-game winning streak since March of 2010.
Well, that’s the way to go into the All-Star Break Bullets:
Definitely a game to write home about from Tristan Thompson. The Pistons’ pick-and-roll defense is some of the worst in the league, and Kyrie and Thompson used everything in their bag of tricks to exploit it. Thompson was absolutely wonderful out there–he was finding space, always moving, and finishing with both hands with confidence. He even sprinkled in a jumper from the baseline, but this was mostly about Thompson stepping up in Varejao’s absence — in fact, he looked more like LeBron-era Varejao cutting to the basket and finishing tonight than Current Anderson Varejao has in the last year or two.
Not Kyrie’s best game, but he didn’t do much crazy, and rarely strangled the offense. He really let the game come to him, and while he struggled with his shot, he was able to make some beautiful passes, got himself into the paint and to the line, and did put the Cavs up four with a pull-up 26-footer with 27 seconds to go, which was nice.
Very quiet game from Dion — not a lot of penetration from him, and just 9 points, as he made everything from inside the arc and none of his threes.
I liked that Deng was aggressive taking the ball to the basket. So did Detroit’s gigantic frontline. The results were ugly: four points in 36 minutes on 0-9 shooting from the field. Yikes.
No real time for the Dellavedova love corner tonight — Will Bynum was just too fast for him, and his abuse of Dellavedova early in the fourth quarter almost put the Cavs in a hole they couldn’t get out of.
Anthony Bennett’s breakout game didn’t have much of a follow-up, with him getting just two points in 15 minutes on 1-4 shooting. I think it’s safe to say that with Bennett’s sleep apnea and asthma, and his overall physical condition, that back-to-backs are not going to be Bennett’s strength this year. I’m willing to ride high on Tuesday’s performance going into the All-Star break.
I’m saying a lot of negative things, so just take this away: This was an ugly game, the defense was solid, and Thompson was really, really good. JONAS THAT.
Bullets of Randomness:
This is a Pistons team with some serious issues. As much as I’ve complained about Kyrie this season, Brandon Jennings is just kinda wandering. 3-14 from the floor, and 11 of his shots were threes. At least three of his shots were LAUGHABLY bad ideas. There’s no sense that he’s setting up any kind of an offense. Andre Drummond is a load and Monroe has skill, but there’s no spacing when they share the floor, and the pick-and-roll defense is horrendous. I was going to rip Josh Smith for his effort, but he played a team-high 40 minutes tonight, so is it surprising that he ran out of gas defensively in the fourth quarter? And he took some bad shots, but HE’S JOSH SMITH AND YOU KNEW THAT WHEN YOU SIGNED HIM AS A SMALL FORWARD.
WINNING STREAK! See you guys after the All-Star Break.
The Cavs played one of their best games of the season despite missing Anderson Varejao and C.J. Miles (or, #1 and #2 in terms of +/- this season). Pretty much everything that has plagued the Cavs was nonexistent tonight. They competed for 48 minutes, they were unselfish with the ball, they generated easy baskets at the rim, they spaced the floor effectively, they contained DeMarcus Cousins, Mike Brown trusted his lineups to play long spurts, Dion and TT finished at the rack, and Anthony Bennett looked, not “ok”, or “coming along”, but like a #1 draft pick, and an excellent fit on this team. [deep breath]
Real life drama is the underlying key to sports. Whether its from the last-second big shot, hail Mary TD, the blow-out upset (lookin’ at you, Seattle), or the chaos of the BCS rankings (RIP), drama, largely, dictates our sports-watching schedules. Sure, there’s always the intrigue of watching a guy like Boogie Cousin purely because of his talent level, but deep down inside we’re all hoping for some of his crazy to show. Just like I said…Drama!
Yet, even with all the in-game excitement that we anticipate, none holds a candle to my favorite yearly holiday, occurring nine days from today. The NBA trade deadline. The intrigue! The deceit! What other day, mid-season, holds such potential for a complete redo? In nine days, the scape of the NBA could look vastly different. The possibilities are endless!
Originally this was going to be a long, wordy argument for why Kyrie Irving, the only Cavalier all star since the departure of he-who-shall-not-be-named, needs to remain well past this deadline and, hopefully, past this decade. But why stop there? With the Cavaliers playing well these past two games, interim GM David Griffin said the Cavs will be buyers this deadline. Buy buyers can’t buy without something to barter with. So who or what well the Cavs be sending out in order to improve? Lets examine:
Five Cavs questions for the writers – all in one place.
1.) How would you describe Chris Grant’s approach to team (re)building?
Tom: Chris Grant seemed determined to avoid the challenging circumstances that the Danny Ferry-era front office encountered. Ferry ran out of draft picks and cap space and was stuck trying to shuffle overpaid role players in and out according to the Cavs matchup needs. (Take a moment to remember that the 2010 Cavs failed because LeBron choked, not because of any team building failure.) Chris Grant, conversely, stockpiled draft picks, refused to commit long-term resources to role players, and hoped his core, if given ample opportunity, would blossom into a big-3 at just the right time to make a splashy acquisition. Filling in the role-player blanks seems like it was a “cross that bridge when we get there” afterthought.
The Cavaliers escaped with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies over 53 minutes of ugly, ugly basketball, with both teams shooting under 40% from the floor and generally not moving the ball at all. Kyrie Irving finished with a game-high 28 points, including a game-tying layup with 19 seconds left in regulation, and Dion Waiters punctuated the game with a vicious crossover and one-handed dunk to put the Cavaliers up six points with 41 seconds left in overtime.
Tonight is the first game sans Chris Grant. A moment of silence, please. Pour some liquor on the curb.
Ok. Let’s be strong. We need to carry on.
Entering tonight’s action, the Cavs hold the league’s longest losing streak. And while Luol Deng will miss the game with a flu, I’m not even sure that’s a bad thing anymore; it is becoming apparent he may be a Chicago Bulls spy, performing secret espionage against Cleveland. On the bright side, Kyrie will suit up after reportedly being sick earlier. And so it begins…Irving vs Wall…Waiters vs Beal…surely, the starting backcourts in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals.
Earlier, we covered why the Cavs need a Commander-in-Chief of basketball. But who should that person be? Let’s take a look at the candidates for Cavs GM.
The Unusual Suspects
These are guys that might not come to mind immediately, but the who Cavs might want to consider — the “outside the box” people.
Jonathan Givony: President, DraftExpress.com. Jonathan runs the premiere publicly accessible website and database for the NBA Draft and pro basketball prospects around the world. He and his staff have as much knowledge as anyone when it comes to global basketball talent. He was the first person I thought of when I was thinking of unorthodox candidates who might be able to come in and take over the personnel moves for a franchise in the same way that John Hollinger went from ESPN to VP of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. Jonathan Givony was kind enough to respond to a few questions via email.
Who’s in charge of the Spurs?
Who’s in charge of the Heat?
Who runs the Celtics?
Who runs the Pacers?
Who saved the Corleone family?
If you’re any kind of NBA fan, you answered Greg Popovich, Pat Riley, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, and Michael (far left) all within milliseconds of reading the questions. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind who’s in charge of those organizations. Heck, I bet there’s only one owner you can name out of those four teams. If I asked you two days ago, “Who’s in charge of the Cavs?” who would you have said? Chances are you would have thought about it for a minute, and said, Chris Grant, Mike Brown, or Dan Gilbert. And therein lies the problem.