From the Truehoop guru himself, Henry Abbott, a Skype interview with Kyrie Irving. They discuss Kyrie’s defense, and John Hollinger’s criticism of it. Kyrie freely admits how awful it was last year, but claims his issues on that side of the ball last year were mostly conditioning-related, and that he has already shown significant improvement. Anyways, some good stuff, and food for thought as the Cavs look to shut down a Brooklyn Nets team with one of the best point guards in the league, Deron Williams. Early on, Byron Scott has chosen a few times to stick Alonzo Gee on the star point guards, rather than watch Kyrie struggle. That may be tougher to do this game, however, as one would assume Gee will have to defend Joe Johnson. Here’s the link.
Posts Tagged ‘Kyrie Irving’
This year’s Cavaliers average 22.7 years of age. The oldest player on the roster is Anderson Varejao, and he’s only 30. Admittedly, Luke Walton is 32, but I’m doing my best to pretend he isn’t on this team. Regardless, the Cavs are a young team. Young teams make mistakes. Enter Byron Scott. Occupation: coach. Favorite mode of communication: yelling. Byron Scott is not known for going easy on his players, and he’s going to have plenty to get angry about this year. Just five games in, Coach Scott has seen it all: bad inbounds defense that leads to a game-winner, myriad turnovers, and Tristan Thompson’s insatiable desire to block mid-range jumpers, to name a few. In honor and respect of Byron’s ability to mold this young squad to his will, we’ll be highlighting the most debilitating issue this team faces semi-weekly, and speculating on what Coach will do about it.
Through five games, the Cavs’ biggest problem has been free throws. As a team, they’re shooting 61. 2 percent (74-of-121). That’s last in the NBA. Unsurprisingly, the main contributor to this debauchery of basketball fundamentals is the much-maligned Tristan Thompson, who’s hit on exactly 50 percent of his free throws this year. (The positive outlook on this: Shaq never hit his free throws either! The negative: Tristan doesn’t do anything effectively other than rebound on offense, and hasn’t improved from last year.) But to be fair, this is to be expected from Tristan. More alarmingly, Dion Waiters has hit only 6-11 free throws so far. As a player with a reputation as a shooter, that isn’t good enough, especially for someone who figures to be on the floor at the end of close games quite often. Even Kyrie Irving, the Anointed Son, is only hitting on 78 percent of his free throws so far. The average free throw percentage in the NBA usually hovers around 75 percent. If the Cavs had hit on 75 percent of their free throws this year, 16 more points would have been scored. That’s 16 points left on the table.
It’s safe to assume that approximately 10,000 free throws will be attempted in practice this week. Allen Iverson’s emotions on the subject notwithstanding (yes, I’m aware that reference is about three years past its expiration date), Coach Scott knows practice makes perfect. There isn’t much else to do, anyways, when it comes to free throws. As opposed to defensive rotations or the pick-and-roll, repetition is really the only path to improvement. Let’s hope things pick up. In the meantime, it makes me smile to imagine Dion Waiters shooting free throw after free throw while Byron stands and screams in his ear about FIFTY FOUR PERCENT. Practice is supposed to make perfect, but let’s just hope practice makes three of four.
The Cavs lost to the Wizards at home last night, 99-95. The Cavs kept it tight all game, and even had the lead after the half. I don’t think it’s that important (at all) that we lost. Given the proclivity for coaches to play rookies and bench warmers big minutes, preseason games can hardly be a legitimate indicator of regular season performance. However, preseason is the first time we get to see the Cavs play, and it’s definitely a showcase for players to impress and prove themselves.
From the get-go, Tristan Thompson was the most impressive player on the floor. He was aggressive on both ends of the floor, putting up 18 points, 10 rebounds (8 offensive!), 4 blocks, and shooting 6-7 from the free throw line. He was insanely active on the offensive boards, overpowering or over-jumping the Wizard boxing him out time and time again. Of course, that probably has something to do with the fact that the frontcourt he was going up against consisted of Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Shavlik Randolph. But, hey- 8 offensive rebounds is impressive regardless. By the way, I checked it out and Shavlik Randolph, does, in fact, appear to be a real person.
Kyrie’s jumper was off all night, as it has been for most of the preseason so far, but he partially made up for it with 7 assists, most notably a sweet alley-oop to Tristan that has the Q rocking. There was also a wicked spin move and floater off the glass, the kind of move Antawn Jamison used to fail at spectacularly on the daily. I’m not worried about his jumper in the slightest, and I don’t think anyone should be. The form is still there, and he should pick it up again soon.
Varejao gave the team what he always gives the team: 11 points, 10 rebounds, great defense and hyper-activity on both ends. I’ll understand if Chris Grant trades him, but he is so gosh-darn effective. Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles were both ineffective and unexciting, with a caveat or two: Waiter’s fast break explosion past Beal was fun, and Miles did shoot 2-3 on three-pointers. Alonzo Gee finally had a nice game, shooting 4-7 from the field for 13 points. But a single rebound isn’t going to cut it from him. Zeller, Gibson, Sloan and Leuer (sounds like a law firm, don’t it?) were all competent to some extent.
As a team, the Cavs looked fairly fluid offensively. Kyrie facilitated well throughout the game, unsurprisingly. Sloan played some decent ball backing up Kyrie. The Cavs had a great game down low, with 54 points in the paint. That was mostly due to Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao’s activity on the boards, and some nice interior passing.
The team defense was less pleasing. Rotations to the shooter were mostly awful, and as a result of that, Brian Cook scored 14 points. That’s unacceptable, much as Jan Vesely shooting 5-5 from the floor is unacceptable. Waiters, especially, needs some serious help in one-on-one defense. Bradley Beal put 14 points easily, and Dion often looked lost. Tristan seems to have grown defensively, though, and the added weight definitely helps. He looks quite a lot thicker.
Overall, it was a solid effort from the Cavs. Save Donald Sloan and C.J. Miles, the outside shooting was off all night, and that played a large role in the loss. 54 points in the paint will win you most games. Tonight just wasn’t one of them. With Byron Scott bellowing at them daily, I’m confident this team will start to execute and win some games.