The Hawks are a good team. With a healthy Al Horford, a Spursian offense, and one of the best starting 5s in the East, this figured to be a tough challenge for the Cavaliers, who miraculously survived a much-less-talented Celtics squad last night. The Cavs made their first six threes but could seemingly do nothing to stop the Hawks’ dribble penetration. With three minutes left in the quarter the Cavs led just 24-21, despite converting 6/6 from downtown. LeBron was involved in everything. Then Coach Blatt sat LeBron down and I thought “this is gonna get ugly”. It did. For the Hawks. The Cavs went on a 41-8 run, threw a lead anvil on the gas pedal, and started setting all-time records.
Posts Tagged ‘Kyrie Irving’
Recap: Cleveland 122, Boston 121 (or “Once We Start Playing Defense, We’re Really Going to be Something.”)Saturday, November 15th, 2014
The title quote was by David Blatt after an amazing comeback win by the Cavs last night. Let’s get to it.
First Quarter: This one started out with Love on the left block on offense, and then devolved to a frenetically paced post-pattern drill, highlighted by numerous Kevin Love touchdown passes, including one over two Celtics that would have mad Brian Hoyer proud. LeBron caught it and two step flushed. A full court alley-oop dunk is coming before the end of the season. Unfortunately, Cleveland was giving up more than they got and by halfway through the quarter the Cavs were down by 17-11. A David Blatt timeout ensued.
That whole meme about LeBron’s lack of “explosiveness” seemed like a story from eons ago, as James looked like he was shot out of a canon every time he took off down the floor, and his pace matched the game’s. At one point in the first, a Celtics-Cavs-Celtics field goal sandwich took about 10 seconds as Brandon Bass scored, LeBron beat the camera down the floor to find TT for a layup, and then Rondo returned the favor to Kelly Olynyk. This whiplash inducing sequence prompted Austin Carr to prophetically comment that at this pace the game was going to be in the 120s.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the rebounding prowess of the Cavs. They finished with a 52-42 edge in rebounding, dominating a good frontcourt despite fighting through the second night of an exhausting back to back.
The words from “The Letter” came back to haunt LeBron James and the Cavaliers in this game: a game that no one in Northeast Ohio thought the Cavs could lose. LeBron looked nervous. David Blatt looked overwhelmed. And the Cavs looked like they’d bought stock in the seriously ill-conceived “big three” narrative. Honestly, there could have been about a dozen more subtitles to this recap. Examples include: “Andrew Wiggins would have blocked that shot,” “LeBron has terrible games too,” “Defense matters,” “That crowd sucked,” “Go back to Hollywood, Biebs,” or “Oh that’s right, Carmelo Anthony’s pretty good.” Ultimately though, the Knicks just played with more energy, intelligence, and focus. The energy that had infused the entirety of the city of Cleveland throughout the day seemed to drain the Cavs instead of fuel them.
One more day! The NBA tipped off last night, and the Cavs tip off tomorrow. Our summer of waiting is almost over. In that spirit, we asked five Cavs the Bloggers to answer five questions about what this team will look like to start the season.
Tipoff is Thursday! What are you most excited about as the Cavs open the regular season?
Cory Hughey: I look forward to the inverse of LeBron’s first return to Cleveland with Miami. The emotion will gather like condensation on the outside of a cold beer mug. For those fortunate enough to be there, they will share a two-hour moment that transcends normal consciousness with 20,000 strangers. Instead of venom, there will be love. Instead of Samardo Samuels there will be Kevin Love.