Whew. We got that out of the way. Tom Pestak and I tag teamed the recap on this lovely basketballiday. Bill Simmons’ 2016 presidential candidate, Brad Stevens (yes he’s over 35) had his scrappy Celtics squad as prepared to face Goliath as they could be, and the Cavs still covered the -12 point spread with a B- game. Once the emotions and nerves of the significance of the game settled in the second quarter the Cavs went on to out-score Boston 86 to 69 the rest of the way.
Posts Tagged ‘Tristan Thompson’
Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) This time last season, I couldn’t have expected I’d be uttering the following statement: the two Cavaliers players I most enjoy watching this season are Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.
Now, sure, even before Wednesday night’s Kyrie-a-thon, that’s not the craziest thing in the world to say. It’s not like saying I’m tuning in just for the chance to see three glorious minutes of Mike Miller or James Jones. But this time last year, I was firmly on Team Dion and was more than open to criticizing the highly-susceptible-to-criticism play of Irving and Thompson, a.k.a. Team Buddy Ball.
But here we are now…
The Cavs finished off a Staples Center Sweep with another high scoring affair. With Kevin Love a late scratch with back tenderness, Tristan Thompson rejoined the starting lineup at the power forward spot. LeBron James in his third game since returning from injury(rest) approached a quadruple double. But is was Kyrie Irving who shone the most brightly on an evening full of stars(I might like Billy Crystal more than Jack Nicholson). Transition defense was a rarity as the teams combined for 56 fast break points. Let’s get to it.
Kevin Love scored 27 points on 15 shots, Dion Waiters came alive in spurts, and the Cavs came back from an early double-digit deficit to get a gritty road win against the struggling Hornets. They shrugged off a terrible shooting night from Kyrie Irving (8-27) and survived a take-your-breath-away scare when Kevin Love’s knee seemed to buckle early in the third quarter. Both teams shot horribly, but the Cavs took care of the ball and the Hornets didn’t. The Cavs scored 23 points off turnovers and only coughed up seven points – more than enough to account for the diff.
Recap and Podcast 57: Hawks 109 Cavs 101 (Or, moral victories may not be anything but they sure beat the hell out of getting embarrassed)Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
Check out the podcast that Nate and I recorded tonight. It’s available at Soundcloud , and iTunes. (CtB Episode 57!) Here’s a short and sweet recap to supplement your insatiable desire for Cavs analysis. The Cavs moved the ball well in the first quarter and played the Hawks to a draw. They completely choked when the Hawks turned up the intensity in the second quarter and then Kevin Love left the game with back spasms. The Cavs, without LeBron, Love, or Marion, started the second half by watching Kyle Korver drain a couple of threes to push the lead to 17. It looked like the Cavs were going to get blown out of the gym. But they fought back behind the wizardry of Kyrie Irving, the power and relentlessness of Tristan Thompson, and some gutsy-if-not-quite-effective defense throughout the contest. They were within striking distance throughout the fourth quarter in a back and fourth affair where they cut the deficit three on three different occasions, and to two with 4:43 left. The Hawks absorbed the blows and settled into some two-man action between Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, eventually putting the Cavs away.
Kyrie Irving finished with 35 points and nine assists (and almost none of his shots were easy looks) but he coughed it up eight times in a game where the referees refused the blow their whistles for three quarters without a coroner on the scene and flipped the switch in the fourth – needing little more than pantomime routines to stop the action. Irving looked a lot like he did last year – dribbling through double teams, taking a lot of those “why not” 3s from five feet behind the line, and of course, finishing at the rim from impossible angles.
Tristan Thompson had a really nice game. His energy, offensive rebounding, and finishing abilities infected the Cavs in the 3rd and 4th quarters. His alley-oop execution of Jeff Teague was a sight to behold. He finished with 18 points on 12 shots and 13 rebounds. He was old-man-at-the-gym’d by Paul Millsap all night long with the help of the referees, but he played a valiant game.
Dion Waiters and Kevin Love didn’t show up, figuratively speaking, and since LeBron James and Shawn Marion literally didn’t show up this game tested the Cavs’ depth. Joe Harris was 3/4 from beyond the arc and had a few heady plays (and a gut-wrenching layup attempt that licked every inch of the rim before willing itself out).
Someone put on James Jones’ jersey and a Mission Impossible 2 mask because at least three times I had to double take “wait…James JONES just rejected Paul Millsap at the rack!?” He missed a bunch of wide open 3s and was supremely active on defense. Not your mother’s James Jones. Over/under on the number of days until JJ has three steals and two blocks again? I’m going infinity days.
All in all it was nice to see the Cavs dig deep when the dam was about to burst and make a game of it. The Hawks are a really good team and will be a formidable playoff foe. Their offensive talent was too much for the Cavs to stop in the waning moments of the game. Ultimately the Cavs need to play like this every night (a scrambling defensive effort for 48 minutes) and at full strength they will win more than they lose.
Some very bad news, via ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst:
This has become sadly commonplace for the beloved big man — in the past four seasons, Varejao has played only 31, 25, 25, and 65 games, and it looks like he will only play 26 games this season, with no real guarantee that he will come back at 100% from this injury by the start of next season.
Obviously, this is a bummer, as Andy’s presence on the floor made LeBron far more comfortable due to the pick-and-roll ESP the two share with each other and Andy’s growing set of tools, including a nice passing game and an ugly but effective mid-range jumper he’d finally gotten comfortable with.
The pressure is now on Tristan Thompson and David Griffin. Thompson will take over Varejao’s starting spot, and while +/- numbers that say the Cavaliers have been significantly better with Thompson on the floor than Varejao this season, that hypothesis will now be fully tested. As for Griffin, the Cavs were thought to be in the market for an additional rim protector before, with Kostas Koufos and Timofey Mozgov being the names most often linked to the Cavs — the Cavs will now desperately need an extra center to have a chance at being serious finals contenders, because I don’t see this thing working with Lou Amundson and Brendan Haywood getting significant minutes. We’ll see how this shakes out in the coming weeks.
If I must make an obligatory nod to Miller brewing company and “Miller Time,” (as every Northeast Ohio sportswriter is tempted to do, tonight) let me just remind everyone that High Life is the champagne of beers. Now that we have that out of the way, the Cavs beat the Nets in an ugly one that saw Kevin Love go 1-10 and still have one of his best games as a Cavalier. David Blatt successfully pushed the right coaching buttons by starting Mike Miller and moving Shawn Marion to the bench. Miller scored 21 on 7-8 from three point land, while Marion added a much needed eight points off the pine. Cleveland outrebounded the Nets 44-37 and went 24-29 from the free throw line. Cleveland overcame Joe Johnson’s 26 points and 69% True Shooting and a 47% to 40% field goal percentage disparity. LeBron added some clutch fourth quarter play, and the Cavs overcame some bad crunch time offense to outlast the Nets and notch a much needed home win.
Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Two separate reports Tuesday could have bearing on the Cavs’ current search for a perimeter defender. First, Chris Haynes from Northeast Ohio Media Group (via The Plain Dealer) reported that the Cavs had moved on from attempts to trade for Minnesota swingman Corey Brewer. The Timberwolves, hit with injuries to key wing players Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio, are now reticent to move Brewer, their best perimeter defender (though Andrew Wiggins might have something to say about that soon).
The other bit came from Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, who reported that basically the entire New York Knicks roster has been put on the trading block. While the Knicks would prefer to part ways with J.R. Smith (Really?? Nooooo….), the Knick who might actually be a good fit with the wine and gold is fourth year shooting guard, Iman Shumpert.
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA…
1.) As recently as last year, people were describing LeBron James as being one of the fastest players in the NBA. While perhaps not tops in terms of sheer speed, James’s ability to cover large swaths of the court in precious few strides made him one of the quickest players his size ever. That’s why so much is being made of the relative snail’s pace of his play this season. What Cavs fans have seen thus far is one of the most athletic players in league history running and jumping like he’d added 20 pounds in the off-season rather than dropped it.
In fantasy basketball, there is almost always a silver lining to be found on the NBA’s bad teams. On even the worst teams, someone has to score the points, grab the rebounds and fill up even the most uninspiring of box scores.
A great example of this right now is Tony Wroten of the Philadelphia 76ers. In spite of the Sixers’ 0-6 start, Wroten has been fantasy gold turning in 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7 assists in 33.8 minutes a game. Wroten is benefiting from the same quick Sixers pace that buffed Michael Carter Williams to a shine last season, as well as from being the only Philadelphia starter (my apologies to former Cav Henry Sims) with even the slightest track record of putting a ball through a basket.
As historical context, think what kind of numbers Ricky Davis would have put up on the 2002-03 Cavs if the rest of his team had been composed of slightly-better-than-D-Leaguers instead of…
Okay, maybe not the best example. Still, if you were out in front of Wroten-mania, you’re sitting back and reaping the fantasy benefits at least until MCW returns (he’s practicing now). Even then, it’s likely that Wroten will continue to be a useful fantasy player because… well, historically teams have occasionally fielded more than one effective player at a time.