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. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Kyrie Irving’
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.