Posts Tagged ‘Tristan Thompson’

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.

“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.

Speights Likely Gone

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Mo Speights, baller extraordinaire!

-The Morning-Journal thinks Marreese Speights is gone after this season, which is probably the case. For more evidence, note that Byron Scott is still starting Tyler Zeller over the former Grizzly. Too bad. I like Speights a lot, and his propensity to fall in love with his jump shot is offset a little by his mean streak and gritty offensive rebounding.

-Greg Oden actually sat in Dan Gilbert’s seats at the Memphis game, which is probably a good sign if you’re one of those people that wants the Cavs to sign him, and a bad sign if you’re not.

-Is Tristan Thompson an MIP candidate? Probably not; that award is a joke if it doesn’t go to Paul George or Larry Sanders.

-In case you missed it, WFNY has some great-as-usual draft analysis for your perusal. Come on, Otto Porter!

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.

GS 108, CLE 95

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

This trio combined for 78 points tonight.

The Cleveland Cavaliers played an intensely ugly game of basketball tonight against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors shot 53.6% from the field, the Cavaliers 42.9%. The Warriors shot 68.8% from three, the Cavaliers 22.2%. Those are the only numbers you really need to know. Golden State actually turned the ball over two more times than the Cavs, and had less points in the paint. But this is one of the best shooting teams in the NBA, and when you don’t play anything resembling team defense, as the Cavs are wont to do, games can get out of control. This wasn’t a fun game of basketball to watch. The Cavs seemed to be perpetually losing by twenty (no matter the actual deficit), and the whole event was rather low-energy; it basically consisted of Illness-Ridden Kyrie Irving and Co. clanking jumpers while Klay Thompson turned into Reggie Miller circa 1990. Still gotta pay the rent, though, so let’s go ahead and take a look at this game.

First Half:

The Warriors ran out to an early 13-4 lead. The Cavs did not look sharp early. But the Warriors were missing Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson hadn’t yet discovered that he’s the world’s greatest three-point shooter, and Tristan Thompson is decent at basketball, so the Cavs managed clawed their way back to a 23-23 tie by the end of the first. The second quarter, however was when Golden State Klay and the Warriors started making every shot they took. The Cavs continued their mediocre play, but it stopped being enough to keep the game tight. This one could have gotten out of hand if Dion Waiters didn’t play the role of Kyrie Irving tonight; at the end of the second, he started driving and scoring and dishing and scoring and dishing again. At the end of the half, the Cavs were down 11, 55-44.

Second Half:

In a surprising but not altogether unwelcome turn of events, Tyler Zeller started out the second half matching the Warriors jumper for jumper. But the third quarter was not pretty. Now, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters deserve a lot of grief for not sticking on Klay Thompson. He was left standing alone far too often. But it wasn’t just Klay Thompson. In the third the Warriors just started dropping buckets. Draymond Green, Jarrett Jack, hell, even Kent Bazemore got into it at the end of the quarter. Kyrie remained as off-kilter as he did the rest of the game, and the quarter ended with the Cavs down 16, 84-68. In the fourth quarter, it seemed like the Cavs might threaten a comeback, as they seem to have made a habit of recently. The Warriors cooled down, and the Cavs were only one Kyrie Irving explosion away from making this one a legitimate game. Sadly, that explosion never came. Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson scored a few more times apiece to end it, and the Cavs lost 108-95.

Notes:

- Kyrie was really awful tonight. The Warriors played a zone defense that he just couldn’t drive through and around. This, combined with the fact that his jumper was off (wayyyy off) made tonight an ugly one scoring-wise. But he didn’t really adjust to the way the game was going, ending up with only four assists and getting torn apart by everyone he tried to defend. Let’s write this one off as flu-related.

- Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller were pretty much the only Cleveland players capable of scoring tonight (18 for Dion and 16 for Zeller), and yet both of them got ravaged by whoever they were guarding, on any given play. Dion floated off his man all game, which is always bad but especially egregious when your man is Klay Thompson and he can’t miss. Zeller was just abused in the post all game by David Lee and pretty much every other big man on the Golden State roster.

- Tristan Thompson was a dominant force on offense, and a disappointment on defense. He finished powerfully all game, and ended up with 18 and 11 on 8-14 shooting. But he could not do a single thing to stop the Warriors front line. Sure, David Lee? David Lee’s an All-star. But Festus Ezeli is not, and even he got a few easy points.

BKN 103, CLE 100

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Deron Williams played shut down D.

I tried writing the beginning of this recap a hundred times before I had any idea what to write. I still don’t, really. The Cavs keeping piling up losses, but it’s not the W-L column that hurts. It’s the individual defeats. I know that every team in the NBA loses, and the close ones are supposed to hurt. But man, was this one tough.

First Quarter: Brook Lopez, master purveyor of the flat-footed hook shot, dominated Tyler Zeller, he of the weak chest and propensity to be pushed around. Dominated to the tune of 19 points. Kyrie was out of sync early, and this one looked real ugly until C.J. Miles started raining threes. BKN 34, CLE 24

Second Quarter: Kyrie Irving remained mediocre. C.J. Miles, thankfully, remained supernova. His jumper has looked decidedly silky as of late, hasn’t it? The defensive effort by the Cavs in these 12 minutes was nothing short of horrendous. Jerry Stackhouse was hitting open jumpers, Marshon Brooks was getting gifted all sorts of open looks–hell, even Andray Blatche hit a three. BKN 61, CLE 53.

Third Quarter: Ew. The third quarter basically consisted of the Cavs and the Nets both missing a ton of shots, until the Cavs missed a few less shots near the end and somehow ended the period only down by five. But hey! Kyrie Irving hit two free throws, just in case, you know, you forgot he did anything other than miss contested jumpers over Deron Williams. Also, Gerald Wallace is a lot of fun to watch play basketball. He just kind of runs around and bangs into everyone, all the time. Also, Luke Walton is Bizzaro Gerald Wallace in every sense. The two of them exist to be polar opposites Neither can live while the other survives. BKN 79, CLE 74.

Fourth Quarter: Tristan Thompson and C.J. Miles were heroic, picking up the slack we sorely needed while Kyrie uncharacteristically continued to suck. They combined for 19 in the fourth, and seemed like the only Cavs interested in winning the game. Tristan, especially, showed fantastic effort on both sides of the floor, all the while rebounding like a maniac. His tip-dunk with a minute left cut the lead to three was unbelievable, and would have been Andy-esque, if Andy could jump that high. At the very end, Kyrie hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. Joe Johnson hit a pair, and Kyrie’s last heave rimmed out. BKN 103, CLE 100. Ballgame.

Player of the Game: Tristan Thompson had 17 and 15, with a pair of blocks and only one missed free throw. He was fantastic, and the big games have been coming often enough recently to convince me that he’s a really valuable piece for the future. He’s not nearly as good as J.J. Hickson, though…JOKE.

Highlights: Alonzo Gee continuing to get one breakaway steal-to-dunk a game, Tristan Thompson being a total beast, C.J. Miles unleashing high-volume efficiency on the Nets, Tyler Zeller on offense, did I mention Tristan Thompson?

Lowlights: Tyler Zeller on defense, Kyrie Irving on defense, Kyrie Irving on offense, Reggie Evans suddenly becoming an effective offensive weapon, Byron Scott’s rotations.

General Notes: In case you hadn’t noticed, Byron Scott lives to confound Cavs fans with his unfathomable, ridiculous Kyrie Irving Playing Time methodology. As much as Kyrie sucked this game, there was no reason for Scott to hold him out for the first five minutes of the fourth. Our offense is stagnant without Kyrie in there, and the non-Kyrie effect is larger by several orders of magnitude in the final frame, when defense buckles down. Now, should our 20 year-old star be playing 40 minutes a game? No, but there are ways to stagger minutes, and I’d much rather have Kyrie miss a few minutes earlier in the game, if it meant he could play more of the fourth. We would have been down by a lot more when he came in if it weren’t for a few unlikely Jeremy Pargo plays. C’mon, Byron.

Also: Luke Walton was one of only three players to post a positive +/- for the night, but he didn’t pass the eye test. Everyone raves about his passing, but Walton tries a little too hard to thread the needle, and often passes up good looks to further his Steve Nash-without-foot speed impersonation. 30 minutes? C’mon, Byron.

Trade Machine Fun

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Those uniformss look a little strange, somehow...

With a couple of slow days for the Cavs coming up, let’s have some fun with the ESPN Trade Machine! I spent some time kibitzing around with the Machine, and came up with a few potential trades.

Trade #1

http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=ajxmwrf

Anderson Varejao and Jon Leuer to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb and Toronto’s lottery pick. (Explanation of the pick’s protection)

This trade has a real shot at happening. While it’s unclear if the Thunder have directly expressed interest in Varejao, we all know Sam Presti is willing to do the unexpected. Andy would be a perfect fit in OKC, and Perkins has become an offensive liability and slowed on defense. As for the Cavs, this might be one of the few trades that could really tempt Chris Grant into trading Andy. Jeremy Lamb is an extremely talented offensive player, and everyone knows we need more offensive play-making off the bench. Perkins is a decent stop-gap option at center, and that Toronto pick is immensely valuable. Obviously, this would hurt us short term. But Jeremy Lamb and a lottery pick is nothing to sneeze at, and Kendrick Perkins is a decent starting center.

Trade #2

http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=d4rs4h6

Anderson Varejao and Omri Casspi to the Houston Rockets for Carlos Delfino, Terrence Jones, and Chandler Parsons.

If the Rockets are fighting for a low playoff seed near the trade deadline, Daryl Morey may feel the need to pull the trigger on a deal to get them closer. An Asik-Varejao front-line would be devastating on the boards. The Cavs would be snagging one of the brightest young small forwards in the league in Chandler Parsons, a player averaging 15, 5 and 4 in only his second year in the NBA. He also has a reputation as a great team player with a ton of heart. Terrence Jones was a lottery pick last year, and could slot in nicely as a backup to Tristan Thompson with a dash of star potential. Carlos Delfino is, well… Carlos Delfino. This is a wild-card in the Varejao-trade scenarios, as an option most people haven’t been talking about. But everyone in the NBA loves Parsons, and Andy (#alliteration) is exactly the type of looks-even-better-in-advanced-stats player that Morey loves. I actually prefer this to the OKC trade. Parsons wasn’t a lottery pick, but he’s producing like a future star. (Watch this.)

Trade #3

http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=bt4zztm

Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller for Demarcus Cousins.

Keith Smart and Boogie Cousins are not looking like a healthy partnership right now, and Sacramento needs a culture overhaul. A trade seems to be necessary. If the most recent incident isn’t going to cause a move, the next one will.  Zeller and Thompson are both high-character guys that could provide some mental stability in an organization that needs just that. Meanwhile, the Cavs could be just what Cousins needs. Byron Scott’s tough but fair (sometimes), and Kyrie Irving is a young superstar who leads by example. If that isn’t enough, Anderson Varejao exemplifies what every young center should aspire to. The hardest part about this trade would be condemning Tristan and Tyler to the black hole of sorrow, despair and Maloofian greed. But when it comes down to it, Demarcus Cousins is a star. He’s putting up 17 and 10 despite all the fighting. He’s putting up 17 and 10, basically without a point guard. These are the kinds of moves that make championship teams. High risk, high reward.

Let me know what you think, or tell me how stupid I am!

Comment below, or yell at me @DanSoch

You are Well Below Par(go)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Unbelievable. That’s the word for it. An out-of-the-blue win for the Cavs, after losing leading scorer Kyrie Irving to injury. Jeremy Pargo, first of all, deserves most of the credit for the win. This third-string point guard, this young, unproven player who Byron Scott only promoted to starter the day of the game, showed some serious offensive chops. He hit jumpers from all over the floor, got to the rack with ease, and set up his teammates fairly well all game. Final stats: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. He also played great defense, going hard in man-on-man D when matched up with Jrue Holiday or Evan Turner and racking up a steal and a few tipped balls. The other, less surprising, star of this game was Anderson Varejao. He locked down the post, grabbed nineteen boards (7 offensive!) and was generally awesome as usual. Dion Waiters played alright, if inefficiently. He only shot 7-22 from the field, but Dion also put up 6 assists to 2 turnovers and played solid defense. However, the Cavs have had some great individual performances this year in losses. Remember the game in Brooklyn? What made this one different was the bench. C.J. Miles and co. had their best performance of the year by far. Details later. Some bullet points on the game:

- Jeremy Pargo could be the backup point guard the Cavs have been looking for. Obviously we can’t expect him to score like this on a nightly basis, but anything near this type of offensive punch might be just what the Cavs need off the bench when Kyrie comes back. His jumper was clearly falling tonight (4-8 on 3-pointers) at an unsustainable rate, but that’s not really what matters. He was getting to the hole with remarkable consistency against a solid defensive team, and an athletic backcourt. That type of penetration led to open shots on the perimeter for the Cavs all night, and it made a huge difference for the second unit. The open 3-pointers were a world apart from the contested fade-aways that the Cavs had been getting with Donald Sloan on the floor. Let’s hope Pargo keeps it up.

- C.J. Miles may have just broken out of his slump in a big way. The release on his jumper still seems a little slow, but he was hitting it with regularity tonight, and he looked much more comfortable in the offense. If his perimeter play can remain close to this for the rest of the season, the team will be helped tremendously. Omri Casspi also looked decent, though he’s clearly still dealing with some shaky nerves. He seemed to lack confidence in his dribbling and shooting. In short, he played much like I did on the 7th grade basketball team. Needless to say, I played sparingly. As does he. I think that Byron Scott hasn’t been entirely fair in his treatment of Casspi, and while Kyrie is out, I would like to see him get some actual run.

- Tristan Thompson was pretty awful, unfortunately, but his line wasn’t anything remotely surprising. He rebounded well, played solid defense, and shot 1-7 from the field. We won, so I’ll try and keep this positive. He made 2-3 free throws! Someone call Rick Barry! Tyler Zeller was slightly worse, but I think he wore his gas-mask a little more jauntily than Tristan, so props to him. Any ideas for nicknames as long as they still both have the masks?

- Alonzo Gee dropped 14 points and shot 5-9 from the field, 4-6 from 3-point range, and played some truly spectacular defense. in particular, there was a fastbreak block that needs to be seen to be believed. Really, exactly the kind of game Chris Grant payed him for. If he can keep putting up numbers like this, and playing defense the way he does, we can all pretend like we’ve never heard of Nicolas Batum before.

-Luke Walton did not play tonight. Hallelujah. Byron Scott, thank you.

Byron’s Problems: Edition #1

Friday, November 9th, 2012

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.

(Stats from:

http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2012/11/cleveland_cavaliers_free-throw.html)

Cavs vs. Wizards

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Waiters serving the Wizards.

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.

Shavlik Randolph.

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.