Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rolling Five Deep

The NBA season is now more than two weeks old and some pretty clear trends have developed that pretty much sum up what we've seen so far. With the added importance placed on advanced stats almost anything that happens on the court can now be digested by fans and what they're seeing can be supported by data.

Watching the Cavs this season, a pretty accurate understanding of their strengths and weaknesses jumps out at you without much of a need for a check of their +/- numbers. But seeing those numbers sure are staggering and is a great way to truly put in perspective just how big of a divide this team has between the play of the starters and the bench.

The five-man starting lineup of Irving-Waiters-Gee-Thompson-Varejao has a league-best +/- of +55 this season.


And it's not even close between the Cavs starters and the second place Heat and Lakers starting lineups. Both of those teams are considered to be favorites to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy at the end of the year.

The Cavs are not.

The Heat and Lakers starting five's have a +/- of +33. Miami is off to a 7-3 start and L.A. currently sits at 4-5 after the Mike Brown debacle. The play of their starting five's will carry them deep into the playoffs.

For Cleveland(2-6), the play of its starters will eventually come back towards league average and with no bench help in sight it shows just how hard it is for the Cavs to compete for a playoff spot this year.

Still, those numbers sure are encouraging going forward and as the Irving-Waiters backcourt continues to develop more excitement is to come. Average play from the bench would have added a few more wins already this season but optimism for the future should be sky high.

By the time this team is really ready to compete the Walton's, Sloan's and Casspi's will hopefully be long gone and quality NBA-caliber players will be there to spell the starters when they need a break.

Tonight the Cavs take on the Mavericks at The Q and with Dallas missing its star Dirk Nowitzki Kyrie and Co. will look to build up an early lead that the big, bad bench wont be able to knock down.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Down Goes Gody

Cavs forward and Deep in the Q favorite Luke Harangody underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee today and will be sidelined for the next six week.

Harangody's knee had apparently been bothering him for awhile and finally reached the point where he couldn't continue to practice on it.

Today's surgery finally answers all of my questions of why we hadn't gotten our needed supply of Gody flying across the court doing all of the awesome things that he does.

With how terrible the bench play has been in the early part of the season, Cool Hand Luke couldn't possibly have been any worse than what Casspi and Co. were providing. But Harangody never saw any court time and following the surgery it could be quite awhile before we see Harangody in a Cavaliers jersey again.

Hopefully Harangody has a speedy recovery, blowout victories and loses wont be the same without him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Mighty Omri Casspi Makes His All-Star Push

The ballot for this years All-Star game was released today.

Three Cavaliers were among the 60 names that made up the candidates for the Eastern Conference. Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao were obvious choices to make it on the ballot, but the third member of the Cavs who found his way into All-Star contention has as much reason to be on the ballot as I do.

Omri Casspi was that third Cavalier.

Not either of the previous #4 overall picks in the last two NBA Drafts in Dion Waiters or Tristan Thompson. But Omri Casspi!

The Omri Casspi who entered tonight's contest with New Jersey averaging just 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds while appearing in only three games.

Casspi, a native of Israel, clearly made his way onto the ballot because he will be popular with the international voters. Instead of giving a more deserving player the chance for some added recognition, the panel of NBA media members who make the selections somehow decided on giving Casspi the nod.

So lets get the bandwagon started early. Let's get Omri in the All-Star Game so he can show the league what he can do on the big stage.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Waiters Watches as the Thunder Rolls

The Cavs hung around for the better part of three quarters in tonight's 106-91 loss to the Thunder.

Kyrie did Kyrie things. Boobie Gibson continued to drain shots from all over the floor en route to finishing with 16 points and once again the starters showed that they can match up somewhat well with any team in the league on a given night.

Unfortunately, as I just touched on last night, when Omri Casspi and Jon Leuer are having a say in the outcome of an NBA game more often than not things are going to end poorly. The only thing that kept the game from getting out of hand early was the aforementioned shooting from Gibson that kept the walls from imploding in the early minutes of the second quarter.

It looked as the game would be tight heading into the fourth quarter until Russell Westbrook banked in a running 3-pointer from just inside half-court on his way to nailing four consecutive long range jumpers.
By the time Kyrie reentered the game with about six minutes remaining the deficit was double figures and the Cavs were unable to ever make a push. Dion Waiters watched the final quarter from the bench and I was hoping for Byron Scott's sake that it had more to do with nursing his thigh injury than trying to prove a point to the rookie.

Scott was apparently angry over something Waiters had done and even Waiters himself was unsure what it was following the game. Being stubborn with young players is something Scott has been known for in the past and a trait I had hoped he left behind in New Orleans.

Despite this being a third straight loss, I'm not as disappointed in the outcome as much as I had been after the previous two. Even without James Harden the Thunder are still one of the top teams in the league and a squad that brings it every night behind the play of Durant and Westbrook.

I've sort of come to terms with how terrible the play of the bench is going to be throughout the season and even though I would love to see playoff basketball back in Cleveland I realize that it make take another year before that happens.

However, if this season is going to be another defined by the growth of our young players, the benching of Waiters should have been handled better. At any point while the Cavs bench was on the court stumbling through the motions Scott or one of his assistants should have been talking to Waiters about any mistake he had made.

"I don't know. I cant explain it," Waiters said of why he watched the fourth quarter from the bench.

For Waiters to have no clue why he was benched for the final quarter is unacceptable. Scott has the comfort of having his extension picked up for next season but shouldn't hinder any on court growth while he tries to show who's running the show.

His inability to relate to the enigmatic J.R. Smith hampered Scott's tenure in the Big Easy, hopefully tonight won't become a similar trend as the Cavs look to build towards the future.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The Cavaliers match up with the team they hope to one day become on Sunday in Oklahoma City. They'll enter the contest with a 2-4 record that should be flipped around to 4-2 if not for the less than stellar play from their bench.

Saying the Cavs reserves have been terrible doesn't do it justice. Outside of Daniel "Boobie" Gibson and Tyler Zeller, the team has gotten next to nothing from anyone outside of the five starters.

A blown 26-point lead comes after the bench couldn't hold leads at Milwaukee and looked overmatched against the Bulls and the Clippers.
Sure this team could use one more piece via next year's lottery, but seeing how well the top seven in the rotation have played only makes these losses all the more frustrating.

Byron Scott has no choice but to continue to roll the dice with different combinations off the bench in hopes that they begin to click. Bringing Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao back in too early in the fourth cost them the game late as Irving looked exhausted while bent-over in the corner in the final minutes.

With such a young team this season is going to be full of huge swings of momentum from game to game. Unfortunately too many winnable games will continue to be lost no matter how well Irving and Dion Waiters play together if production from the bench doesn't pick up.

I'm looking forward to a showdown with the Thunder tomorrow night. Waiters proved in the win over the Clippers that he savors the opportunity to go up against the best and I expect a good showing coming off Friday night's collapse at the hands of the Suns.