Posts Tagged ‘Kyrie Irving’

Well, That Wasn’t Very Fun

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The 76ers throttled the Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.

Watching the Cavaliers play basketball is getting more and more emotionally deflating. This entire year was all about losing, and it has pretty much gone as expected. Lots of losses, a win here and there. But as the season comes to a close, the brand of basketball the Cavs play has become increasingly pathetic. Even that, arguably, was expected. After all, the third pick is more valuable than the fourth, and the second all the moreso. That doesn’t make it any easier to watch. The 76ers ran the Cavs right out of Wells Fargo Center today. The final score was 91-77, but anyone who watched the game knows that it was never in question, the winner never in doubt. Halfway through the first quarter, the 76ers had a 19-3 lead. In the third quarter they built the lead up to 28. A few garbage-time buckets cut the lead to 14, and that was all she wrote. Given the horrific nature of the “contest” that I’m sure about six people watched all of, I’m going to skip a full game action recap. Instead, some notes on the game and notable performances.

- Kyrie Irving played a very ugly 19 minutes, picked up five fouls, and was unsurprisingly left on the bench for the rest of the game. Kyrie looked uninspired on both ends, but he faced bad luck on a few layup attempts. The rim was not Mr. Irving’s friend tonight. It isn’t hard to see that Kyrie has tired of the incessant losing, and that’s what worries me most about the Cavs’ end of season record. As analytically-minded fans, it may be easy to grasp the concept that a few awful seasons is crucial to small-market success in the NBA. But that may be harder for a young star to internalize. No one likes to lose, and another season of it would undoubtedly create an embittered Kyrie Irving.

- Tristan Thompson continues to be blissfully unaware of the fact that the Cavs are tanking, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch. TT dropped 12 and 12 in 26 minutes, showing off that push shot he seemingly developed overnight. Unfortunately for his self-esteem, he was seemingly incapable of containing Spencer Hawes, who totally went off.

- Marreese Speights is a very talented player. When he avoids falling in love with mid-range jumpers, Speights can play at a near All-Star level; the aggression, skill and athleticism is all there.

- Kevin Jones plays hard, has 17-foot range, and can’t jump. He’s a solid end-of-bench option, and the Cavs should hold onto him.

- In a strange turn of events, Omri Casspi has seemingly made it out of Byron Scott’s doghouse in the final week of the season. Does this mean that the Cavs might extend the $3.3 million qualifying offer to Casspi this offseason, or is the increased PT simply part of the tanking? Whatever the case, he has looked very effective when he’s seen the floor recently, and I wouldn’t mind in the slightest a three-man SF rotation of Victor Oladipo, Alonzo Gee and Omri Casspi.

- Dion Waiters wasn’t very good at all, not that it matters. The time he missed from the knee surgery clearly threw Dion off-rhythm, ending a promising and often explosive rookie season on a sour note. By the way, Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis are the only players from last year’s draft that are inarguably more valuable than Dion.

- Damien Wilkins hit a lot of turnaround jumpers. Evan Turner still isn’t very good at basketball, and doesn’t have a position. Thaddeus Young is a baller. Jrue Holiday isn’t as good as Kyrie Irving, but it’s fun to see a young point guard play defense. A real treat for Cavaliers fans. It appears Arnett Moultrie is alive and well after falling in the draft, and then barely ever playing. Doug Collins is one of the few NBA coaches that I wouldn’t take over Byron Scott.

URGENT: Dion Waiters needs a nickname. “D-Wait” is lame and a near-homonym of D-Wade. Saint Weirdo, while fascinating, is despised by much of the Cleveland population. D.W. is a character from the children’s show Arthur. “Chubs,” as my friend calls Dion, is both derogatory, meaningless and insulting. Get to work, Cavs fans! Hit me up with suggestions at @dansoch. For serious nickname/nickname-branded T-shirt discussions, email me at danisocher@gmail.com.

Late Collapses are Kind of our Thing, Ya Know?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Paul George hit a few huge threes down the stretch.

IND 99 > CLE 94

Well, this was rather disappointing. The Cavaliers played three quarters of solid defense and opportunistic offense, gaining a twenty point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. And then it unraveled as it always does, the lead picked apart by George Hill fastbreak after George Hill fastbreak, topped off by a pair of Paul George three-pointers. People will complain about the calls agains the Cavs (the offensive foul call was a close one), but this one came down to a defensive collapse that doomed us against a suddenly effective Pacers transition offense.

First Quarter: For what the first time in what seems like forever, the young Mr. Irving started out this game on fire, knocking down jumpers and feeding Tyler Zeller for easy buckets. But the Pacers did what the Pacers do, playing ugly and effective basketball to hold off the Cavs. Tyler Hansborough in particular has perhaps the least aesthetically pleasing game in the NBA. He sort of flails around everywhere, throwing elbows with reckless abandon. And in perhaps the upset of the day, Omri Casspi played in the first quarter– and played well. He defended Paul George as best he could, and even scored. IND 29, CLE 26

Second Quarter: Kevin Jones did his best to usurp Luke Walton’s job as the second-string power forward, showcasing an offensive versatility reminiscent of Bernard King in his prime (joking, calm down). Shaun Livingston hit another midrange jumper. He’s money from 10-15 feet. Lance Stephenson got to the line a few times, and David West scored a few. Kyrie dished some nice passes at the end of the first, and the Cavaliers were up five at the half. CLE 53, IND 48

Third Quarter: The third frame started out with two straight Lance Stephenson offensive boards, followed by an easy putback. That’s gotta be a failure on the part of the Cavs frontline. Tyler Zeller continued to ball out, hitting his jumper with ease. However, his rhythm from midrange pulled him out of the paint, leading to only three rebounds for the game. Tristan Thompson looked good out there, but he was only 4-12 from the field. I honestly thought he played much better than that, but you can’t fight the boxscore. The Cavs controlled the quarter on both sides of the floor, opening up a huge lead by the fourth. CLE 84, IND 64

Fourth Quarter: Ugh. The Cavaliers were flat on offense, lazy on defense and seemingly okay with losing the game. The Pacers chipped away, and when Kyrie re-entered the game with six minutes left, Indiana had whittled the deficit to 15. Kyrie started scoring, but he gave it right back on the other end. George Hill was getting easy buckets in transition, and he’s not exactly Penny Hardaway– the issue was that no one felt like getting in front of him. The intensity disparity between offense and defense for Kyrie is truly remarkable. He has to be one of the worst defensive players in the NBA. Paul George hit a three to give the Pacers a two-point lead, and then Kyrie got whistled on a very, very, very close offensive foul call. As close as it gets. But after review, the call went against Cleveland. Pendergraph then hit one of two at the line, and Ellington back-rimmed a three pointer to end the game. IND 99, CLE 94

I don’t have any specific complaints about Byron Scott tonight. For the first three quarters, he had the Cavaliers scoring well, defending better and running the Pacers out of the gym. But once again, it all fell apart in the fourth. The players quit this game, and that has to come back to the coaching. NBA teams should not give up 20 point leads in nine minutes; that’s for March Madness. Kyrie Irving, in particular, needs to start trying on defense if he wants to earn that top-12 player status that ESPN assigned him in #NBArank. For all the talk about Scott’s ability as a point guards coach, he apparently has no idea how to convice Kyrie to defend. That was a crucial factor in this loss, as George Hill dived to the rim without resistance again and again. Disappointing loss tonight.

P.S. This was not tanking. The Cavs didn’t try to lose this game.

Des Liens vers le Présent

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Good ol' Byron...

- Kyrie Irving didn’t exactly take a bullet for Byron Scott when asked about the coach’s future with Cavs. Instead, he declined to speculate at all. He sounded decidedly unenthusiastic, which is in direct contrast to Tristan Thompson’s passionate defense of his coach. What worries me is not Kyrie’s dispassionate response- I don’t like Scott much, either. The greater worry is the clear difference in Tristan and Kyrie’s opinions. A locker-room split could mean real trouble.

- Chad Ford has the Cavs drafting Otto Porter 4th in his first mock draft. That would be great. A 6’8″, lockdown defensive player who provides off-ball scoring? Count me in.

- Kyrie is currently undergoing perhaps the worst shooting slump of his career. Here’s a nice piece on the slump, and its possible causes.

“Whatever Happens, Happens.”

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The Cavaliers were decimated by the Nets Wednesday night.

The Cavaliers are not a very good basketball team. The Cavs lack in star talent and depth at nearly every position other than point guard, and the remarkable Herculoids have faded down the stretch. However, no NBA team should lose games as badly as the Cavs did last night. The final deficit was only 18, but anyone who watched the game would tell you that the game was much worse than that number would indicate. The Nets led by around 30 for much of the “contest,” and the action consisted mostly of wide-open jumpers, the monotony occasionally broken by free throw attempts for Brooklyn. I’ll keep the game action recap brief.

First Half:

The Nets outscore the Cavaliers by eight in the first quarter. Marshon Brooks makes it clear that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for Andre Toney’s jumper. Deron Williams also plays well. As the second quarter starts, the slaughter begins. Seven minutes into the quarter the deficit is 17, soulless Marshon continues to dominate, and Jerry Stackhouse dunks all over the Cavaliers. By the way, he’s 38. Deron Williams scores 11 in the last three minutes of the second, and the Cavs trail by 30 at the half. BKN 66, CLE 36.

Second Half:

The third quarter starts out a little bit better, thank God(s?). Kyrie dishes a few assists, devilish Brooks finally misses a few shots, and with 7:50 left in the quarter the Cavaliers have battled back to within 27. Brooklyn hurriedly calls a timeout, as the panicked Nets snipe at each other about defensive rotations and missed shots. The young Cavs snarl, smelling blood. The chase is on. Unfortunately, at the end of the third the lead remains 27. The fourth quarter is the definition of bad basketball. Tornike Shengelia (That’s a real person, I promise), Mirza Teletovic (Didn’t the Cavs look into signing this guy?), Chris “Funny Ears” Quinn, and Omri “Am I Even On This Team Anymore?” Casspi all make appearances. Final Score: BKN 113, CLE 95.

The pervading storyline from this game will be Byron Scott’s future, or lack thereof, with the Cavaliers. Losses are expected, accepted and perhaps beneficial this late in the season. However, no one wants to see the Cavs get run out of their own gym, and home losses this bad usually come back to the coach. After the game, Scott said “The energy, the effort wasn’t there — for whatever reason.” I agree with him– Cleveland looked flat and uninspired all night. But whose fault is that, if not the coach’s? Byron Scott may be on the way out of Cleveland. As he said regarding his job, “Whatever happens, happens.” If that’s how Scott feels, than he should by all means allow the Cavs to keep losing like they did tonight. But if he has any interest in coaching Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson in the playoffs next year, he’d better make some adjustments.

Links to the !!Present!!

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The Cavaliers will be without Kyrie Irving against the Pacers.

-The Cavs host the Pacers tonight. The Pacers haven’t exactly been on a tear lately, so a pre-March Madness upset special is a real possibility.

-On the other hand, an upset might be tougher without Kyrie Irving’s late game exploits, as Jodie Valade reports. One aspect of Kyrie’s game that I particularly appreciate is his steals on help defense. He’s become quite proficient at sneaking up behing small forwards and big men for steals, leading to some timely fastbreaks.

-The Cavs are in the 50% of the leage that use the SportVU camera tracking system, and it’s pretty cool. Jodie Valade, AGAIN!

-Is Byron Scott the coach of the future for this team? Jim Ingraham, writing for the New-Herald, thinks the Cavaliers’ issues with consistent effort all come back to Coach Scott. I happen to agree with him, although I think Scott’s rotations are a larger issue. His insistence on allowing the Cavs to hemorrhage points for half of the fourth quarter before bring back the starters has cost the team quite a few wins.  It leads to ten-point deficits, and that leads to Kyrie Irving hero-ball, which works about one in four tries.

-Mary Schmitt Boyer is intelligent and opinionated, and she podcasts. It’s your lucky day.

Links Here

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Woah there, Andy.

- Our very own, very talented editor Colin McGowan wrote a nice piece on Anderson Varejao for the Classical. Check it out.

- ESPN Insider continues the Kyrie love-fest, and I couldn’t be happier.

- A fantastic article from the Shadow League on black superstars, Kyrie Irving and the ephemeral idea of  NBA “street cred.”

- Also, this is funny as hell.

Cavaliers 118, Magic 94

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Kyrie helped lead the Cavs to an easy victory against the Magic.

The Cleveland Cavaliers romped to a blowout against the Orlando Magic tonight, as Kyrie & Co. dished dimes and dropped buckets to the tune of a 24-point victory. The Cavs bench actually scored 59 points. Guess who else scored 59 points? The Cavs starters. That, ladies and gentlemen, is called a balanced attack. This balance, combined with some spectacular highlights, made the Cavs look like an elite team- which, to say the least, is a rare occurrence.

1st half:

The Cavs started off hot, and had a great first quarter. Kyrie Irving’s jumper is silky as hell. But it wasn’t just #2. Alonzo Gee started off hot as well. When Gee is hitting midrange shots, you know it’s a special night. Also, for the record, Marreese Speights has an underrated nasty streak. He absolutely loves throwing his body around in the paint and dunking on people. The second quarter was a little more up and down. Sure, the Cavs were scoring, but they were also allowing all of the following players to get buckets: Kyle O’Quinn, Dequan Jones (?), Beno Udrih, Aaron Afflalo, Andrew Nicholson. Yeah, yeah, Afflalo is underrated and Nicholson is a blogosphere darling.Who cares? The defense was truly awful, and the half ended in a tie. CLE 51, ORL 51

2nd half:

Alonzo G33 started off the half with five straight points in under a minute, and it was awesome. If he scored at that rate all the time, he could average 180 points per 36. Wow! The Cavs generally kicked ass in the third quarter, which is to be expected when the offense if being run through E’Twaun Moore. Also, who is Daquan Jones? Does anyone know? Anyway, the Magic hit a few shots to end the quarter down seven. Immediately after the fourth quarter started, C.J. Miles starting bombing from deep. He has a gorgeous stroke when he’s on. Within minutes, the Cavs were up fifteen and Kyrie (from the bench) started grinning ear to ear. The Herculoids were out in full force in the final frame, with Marreese Speights bullying everyone in the post.  Also, Luke Walton should play back up point guard, for comedy’s sake and for comedy’s sake alone. Kevin Jones sighting! He has a nice jump shot. The Cavs ended this one smirking, with a 24 point victory. CLE 118, ORL 94

Highlights:

- Kyrie mostly played the facilitator tonight, which was a nice change of pace. We don’t usually see 12 point, 9 assist lines from him. And that off the backboard alley-oop to Alonzo was sweet. (Cue people saying that they can’t wait until it’s Lebron receiving those passes.)

- Alonzo and Tyler Zeller tie for player of the game honors, wherever such honors are handed out. Both of them played well on offense, and managed to shut down their assignments on the offensive juggernaut Orlando Magic.

- Dion: 5/16 from the field. Ugh.

- The Herculoids won this game. Shaun Livingston, Luke Walton– revelations. Wayne Elligton was solid.

- Tristan was pretty godawful tonight. He kept rebounding, though.

Links to the Present

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

According to the Israeli web site, Walla Sports (don’t bother clicking unless you can read Hebrew), Omri Casspi is attempting to negotiate a buyout with the Cavaliers.  HoopsHype originally linked/translated this story.

Via Twitter, Mark Spears of Yahoo Sports reports that Daniel “Boobie” Gibson has been excused from the team to attend a personal matter, and did not travel to Orlando.

Cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer’s Jodie Valade discusses Kyrie Irving’s increasing popularity among NBA fans.  Fans voted to put the Cavs on national television for the second time in a week, picking Tuesday’s game at Chicago for NBA TV’s Fan Night Matchup.  Also included: Byron Scott on Jerry Buss.

LaughingCavs previews tonight’s match-up against Orlando, link here.

Linkage of Kyrie’s Arrival

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Kyri3 Swirving!

In case you didn’t hear about All-Star weekend yet, here’s a Kyrie-centric recap: 32 points in the Rising Stars game, a three-point contest trophy, and 15 points in the All-Star game itself.

Sam Amick wrote a great article about Kyrie’s All-Star experience and how Kyrie feels about the Lebron-returning rumors.

Kyrie straight-up owned Brandon Knight when they went mano a mano at the end of the Rising Stars game.

And, for anyone who expected to see Uncle Drew this weekend: “No. I already have enough to do. That makeup would take four hours out of my day, man. I don’t think I have time for that.” Bummer. (source: cleveland.com)

Trade Kyrie! Zeller is the Future! SAS 96, CLE 95

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Tyler Zeller, future MVP and franchise star.

Kyrie Irving was horrendous, the Cavaliers played the best team in the NBA…and somehow, they only lost to the Spurs by a single point. How on Earth did that happen? Let us delve into the details.

First Half:

Kyrie bricked a deep three to start the game, and it was all downhill from there for him. In a rare turn of events, though, just about every other Cavalier was productive and efficient in the first half. The Cavs looked energetic on defense for once, running around and trapping like demons. Alonzo Gee got a few breakaway dunks, and Tyler Zeller simply looked like a different player from the indolent young man who’s been missing layups and clanking 17-footers all year. And Dion BALLED OUT. Slicing and dicing through the Spurs defense, dumping passes off to open big men, this was the player Chris Grant envisioned when he drafted the young sixth man from Syracuse. The second unit stepped up as well. Luke did Waltonian stuff (pass well, defend poorly) while Shaun Livingston nailed that funky turnaround jumper a few times. Kyrie Irving simply sucked. The only facet of the game he contributed in was distribtion. He fed the big men for some easy buckets, and found C.J. Miles on a beautiful cut (layup was blown).  But man, was his defense awful. Tony Parker simply ran by Kyrie to the hoop, over and over and over again. Not to mention no. 2 couldn’t hit a shot to save his life. Still, a positive half for the Cavs. It ended with an eight-point lead! CLE 54, SAS 46.

Second Half:

Ugly start for the Cavs in the third quarter. They missed a lot of shots, and the Spurs did all the things Gregg Popovich asked them to do. And he’s a genius, so that generally works out well for them. Tony Parker simply ravaged the Cavaliers tonight. If it weren’t for Dion Waiters, this game might have been over before the fourth quarter started. He dropped 10 in the third- all on drives- and was awesome. Kyrie continued to be awful on defense and offense. Then the fourth quarter came, and Cavaliers Nation readied themselves for the entrance of the second unit, the mighty group known as the Herculoids. For all the flak Marreese Speights gets about only shooting jumpers, the man has some great second jump-ability when offensive rebounding. He just hops around until the ball gets in the hoop. The offense was sub-par, but the defense was great. Shaun Livingston is worlds apart from Kyrie when it comes to man-up D. The game went back and forth in the fourth, and when Kyrie hit a pair at the line (giving him a whopping six points on the night!), the Cavs were up 93-90. And then Gary Neal hit an absolute dagger, tying the game. He’s an assassin. Kyrie had a big steal, setting the Cavs up with a chance to take the lead. He wisely got out of the way as Dion calmly drained a 22-footer for the two-point lead. And then the next possession….ugh. An AWFUL decision by Dion to over-help on Tony Parker penetration led to a wide-open Kawhi Leonard corner three….money. With two seconds left, Kyrie managed to slip, commit a carrying violation (no call) and miss a one-handed, falling-down “jumper.” Ballgame. SAS 96, CLE 95.

Notes:

-Maybe the worst game of Kyrie Irving’s young career. I can’t remember him ever looking this out of sorts on offense. 2-15 from the field, six points, five fouls. Sadly, we’re all used to seeing him looks this out of sorts on defense. Tony Parker is a great point guard, but he went to town on Kyrie tonight. Utter decimation.

-Tyler Zeller: 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one block, and fantastic defense on Tim Duncan. Timmy D was helpless most of the night, as Zeller’s length and speed were the perfect remedy to the Big Fundamental’s collection of slow hooks and turnaround jumpers.

-Dion was sublime. If he starts to play like this on a regular basis, the rest of the NBA had better watch out. He is an absolute terror on offense when he decides to be aggressive, and is a very solid passer. A lot of his attributes as a player remind me of Monta Ellis, which is not necessarily a negative comparison, and certainly not one that should bother Cavs fans. A stronger Monta Ellis with a higher basketball IQ would be a force to be reckoned with.

-Ideal Alonzo game. Seven points on five shots, and a few rim-rattling dunks.

-The bench as a whole was very solid. C.J. Miles and Shaun Livingston in particular played very well. Speights shot a little poorly. Wayne Ellington was only OK, and is losing ground in the battle for the official “mediocre three-point gunner who only sorta plays defense and only drives once a game” title to Miles.

-Tony Parker PUT DA TEAM ON HIS BACK.

-The Spurs are a great team, and a one-point loss to them is the definition of a moral victory for a team as young and thin as the Cavs.

P.S.

Does this Nerlens Noel injury make him more likely to fall to the Cavs?