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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wizards at Cavs

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (7-7) 113, WASHINGTON WIZARDS (9-5) 87
Quicken Loans Arena
Wednesday
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio


QUICK SHOTS: 1. Even though Kyrie Irving didn't want to use that word, it was revenge time for the Cavaliers. They were belted by the Wizards on Nov. 21 at the Verizon Center, 91-78. The Wizards' big men had their way in the previous meeting, especially Kevin Seraphin. The Cavaliers had a major presence in the paint on Wednesday, especially Kevin Love (21 points, 5 rebounds) and Anderson Varejao (10 points, 7 rebounds). The bigs have to show up for the Cavs to be successful.

2. Major kudos to Kyrie Irving, who took on the challenge of stopping Wizards guard John Wall. The Washington All-Star was limited to a season-low six points, seven assists and five turnovers. He shot just 2 of 6 from the field. Irving said before the game he wanted to take on the challenge of guarding the opposing team's top offensive threat. Wall had 28 points in the Nov. 21 contest. There's no reason Irving can't be a good defender. He's quick, fast, athletic and strong. A lot of it is want-to. Apparently, he wants to do it now. That is huge for the Cavaliers.

3. Washington played without starting power forward Nene, who is suffering from a bout of plantar fascitis. Kris Humphries moved into the starting lineup, but never showed up. He finished with three points and three rebounds.

4. Blatt has been hinting at changing the starting lineup, but he stuck with Shawn Marion at shooting guard. Change is coming, but it didn't happen tonight. Many thought Mike Miller might start at "2," but the veteran swingman has been non-existent since training camp. He hasn't gotten in either of the last two games. One thing is for sure, you can't play him in 3- and 4-minute bursts and expect any kind of production. He needs to play maybe 8-10 minutes in a row to have any kind of impact. He doesn't have the lateral movement to guard many players, but he can stretch the floor and make a few shots - they hope. Up until this point, he hasn't made anything - 27.8 percent from the field and 20 percent from the 3-point line. He has yet to get to the free-throw line.

4. Marion has started the last 11 games at shooting guard. There are a lot of things to like about Marion's game. Unfortunately, he was not the right fit at shooting guard. When your shooting guard can't shoot or handle, that's going against the grain and putting more pressure on LeBron James and Irving. We all know they drafted Dion Waiters a few years ago to be their starting "2." He's been sent to the bench where he's struggled for the most part. He did have 15 points, six rebounds and three steals on Wednesday, but shot 6 of 17 from the field.

5. The Cavaliers were able to build on their win over the hapless Magic. Now, if they take care of business on Saturday vs. Indiana, they'll have a three-game winning streak. They shared the ball. They didn't turn over the ball and they are defending. It appears as if things are coming together. Of course, it all starts with James, who once again came out on fire. That's what this team needs.

UP NEXT: vs. Indiana, Quicken Loans Arena, 7:30 p.m. Saturday

STARTERS
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Paul Pierce (6-8, 220)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Kris Humphries (6-9, 235)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Marcin Gortat (6-11, 240)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Bradley Beal (6-5, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. John Wall (6-4, 207)
PROJECTED INACTIVE LIST
Cavs - G Matthew Dellavedova, C Alex Kirk
Wizards - G/F Glen Rice, G/F Martell Webster
OFFICIALS
James Capers, Matt Boland, David Guthrie

Monday, November 24, 2014

Magic at Cavs

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (6-7) 106, ORLANDO MAGIC (6-10) 74
Quicken Loans Arena
Monday
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio


QUICK SHOTS: 1. It didn't matter who the Cavaliers played on Monday. If LeBron James plays with such determination and aggression, the Cavaliers are going to be hard to beat. He came out with the right mindset from the start - he scored 16 of his game-high 29 points in the first quarter - something that has been lacking from time to time this year. He has to be the aggressor. None of this passive stuff. When he forces the issue, teams have a hard time stopping the Cavaliers. It all starts with him.

2. When they are most effective on offense, the ball moves. When it doesn't, they revert to one-on-one play. They dished out 30 assists on 42 field goals against the Magic. They also moved bodies. When the ball swings from side to side, they are almost impossible to stop. 

3. The Cavaliers' defense limited the Magic to opponent season lows in points (74), field-goal percentage (36.3 percent), field goals made (29) and assists (14). When they defend like that, it's gives the Cavaliers a whole new dimension. Before we get too giddy, the Magic can't shoot a lick from the perimeter.

4. Magic center Nikola Vucevic is a load offensively. He had an NBA-high 23 rebounds against the Pelicans Oct. 28. He leads the NBA with 12 double-doubles. He ended with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers had to account for him in the defensive game plan. Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao made him work on the defensive end. Varejao had 10 points in the third quarter on 5 of 6 attempts.

5. Orlando missed starting small forward Tobias Harris (strained calf muscle), who came into the game averaging 18.8 points and 8.4 rebounds. Mo Harkless started in his place and did absolutely nothing.

6. Coach David Blatt is hinting at a change in the starting lineup. He wants to do it in practice first instead of just throwing that player into the lineup. Shawn Marion's starting job could be in jeopardy. I'm actually not sure what he's going to do. I was thinking it might be Mike Miller, but he didn't even get off the bench on Monday. James Jones did and he promptly buried a 3-pointer. 

7. Cavaliers forward/center Tristan Thompson recorded his 2,000th career rebound. He was pretty darn good in the paint area. He ended with nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.

8. The Cavaliers recalled center Alex Kirk from the D-League Canton Charge. He was inactive on Monday, however.

UP NEXT: vs. Washington, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Wednesday

STARTERS
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Maurice Harkless (6-9, 215)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Channing Frye (6-11, 255)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Nikola Vucevic (6-11, 260)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Evan Fournier (6-7, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Victor Oladipo (6-4, 205)
INACTIVE LIST
Cavs - G Matthew Dellavedova, C Alex Kirk
Magic - G Devyn Marble, F/C Kyle O'Quinn
OFFICIALS
Mike Callahan, Brent Barnaky, James Williams

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Raptors at Cavs

TORONTO RAPTORS (11-2) 110, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (5-7) 93
Quicken Loans Arena
Saturday
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio


QUICK SHOTS: 1. This team is now lost four in a row. Remember, there were people predicting they'd win 70-some games. That's, obviously, absurd. Unless things turn around quickly, this could be one of the biggest flops in NBA history.

2. It's hard to say when was the best time to face the Raptors, who are tied with Memphis for the best record in the league. The Raptors have a lot going for them right now, starting with their backcourt of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and backup Lou Williams. That trio combined for 79 points against the Cavaliers. Their roster is deep and talented. Let's not forget that they are well-coached with Dwane Casey.

3. I'd like to say the same thing about the Cavaliers. Right now, I can't. David Blatt's rotations and player substitutions are a mess. Bench players don't know when they are playing or if they are playing. On Friday in Washington, Dion Waiters was the fifth player Blatt brought into the game off the bench. He just tossed Brendan Haywood into the game after not seeing action in weeks. Maybe it was because he used to play in Washington. 

4. The players are starting to get bewildered. Their body language is terrible - and that starts with LeBron James. Blatt had better get a handle on all this in a hurry.

5. Blatt is hinting at a change in the starting lineup. Get Shawn Marion out of there. He can't shoot or handle, yet he's their starting shooting guard. I'd put Dion Waiters back in the starting lineup.

6. Kevin Love had a season-high 23 points and seven rebounds against the Raptors. That came at the right time, too. He looked like he was ready to go off on somebody.

7. Cavaliers guard Will Cherry spent five games with the Raptors in the preseason. Then he was waived and signed by the Cavs. He was guarding Lou Williams when he started going off. He ended with 36 points. Cherry is a D-League player. He's not an NBA player, and Williams recognized that in a hurry.

8. This Raptors team puts up points (110), but doesn't turn the ball over (8). Tonight was the third time they've had eight turnovers in games this week.

UP NEXT: vs. Orlando, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Monday

STARTERS
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Terrence Ross (6-7, 198)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Amir Johnson (6-9, 249)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Jonas Valanciunas (7-0, 270)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. DeMar DeRozan (6-7, 219)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Kyle Lowry (6-1, 204)
INACTIVE LIST
Cavs - G Matthew Dellavedova, C Alex Kirk
Raptors - F James Johnson, F/C Tyler Hansbrough
OFFICIALS
Scott Foster, Dedric Taylor, Josh Tiven


Friday, November 21, 2014

Cavs at Wizards

WASHINGTON WIZARDS (8-3) 91, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (5-6) 78
Verizon Center
Friday
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN

QUICK SHOTS: 1. The Cavaliers are a sub-.500 team. Yes, I'm aware they are just 11 games into the season. The Cavaliers just aren't gelling like many thought they would. "It's just Game 11," apologists will say. How long are you going to use that excuse? It's Coach David Blatt's job to get this mess straightened out. Thus far, he's been a bit lacking in the leadership department. Patience is starting to run thin. This thing is starting to get away from them.


2. The Wizards are undoubtedly one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are going to see one of the other four Saturday when they play host to Toronto. Heck, for all we know, they could lose that one, too. Washington is a possible second-round playoff foe for the Cavaliers. If that happens, that would be a difficult series. Unlike in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the Wizards are capable of actually beating the Cavaliers in the playoffs. They are 5-0 vs. East teams at home this year.


3. The Cavaliers - more specifically Blatt - has to figure out a way to take advantage of Kevin Love's vast talent. Thus far, he's been a little above mediocre. He's shooting 38 percent from the field and is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds. Those are Drew Gooden numbers. Not necessarily Kevin Love numbers.


4. The Kyrie Irving-John Wall match-up was one to keep your eye on. Irving has scored 20 or more points in six consecutive games. He's averaging 23.7 points in that six-game span. Wall is averaging 24 points, 10.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals in five games at Verizon Center this season. He leads all NBA guards with seven double-doubles, including five at home. Irving is the better jump shooter of the pair, but Wall is more athletic and a better playmaker. Wall was the best player on the court with a game-high 28 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals. He was 12 of 20 from the field.


5. The Cavaliers' bigs were totally outplayed by backup Kevin Seraphin, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Some might not have heard of him, but they did after Friday's game. He was very good around the basket.




UP NEXT: vs. Toronto, Quicken Loans Arena, 7:30 p.m. Saturday

STARTERS
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Paul Pierce (6-8, 230)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Nene (6-11, 250)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Marcin Gortat (6-11, 240)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Garrett Temple (6-6, 195)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. John Wall (6-4, 207)
INACTIVE LIST
Cavs - G Matthew Dellavedova, C Alex Kirk
Wizards - G/F Martell Webster, G Glen Rice
OFFICIALS
Ron Garretson, Sean Corbin, Justin Van Duyne

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spurs at Cavs

SAN ANTONIO SPURS (7-4) 92, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (5-5) 90
Quicken Loans Arena
Wednesday
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN

QUICK SHOTS: 1. Make no bones about it, Coach David Blatt made some peculiar decisions with his rotation and to quote him, they "paid the price." First of all, either Kyrie Irving or LeBron James needs to be on the court at all times. One can't yank both players off the floor and expect to play with teams like the Spurs. 

2. Blatt has been asked over and over about the mounting minutes. Well, he cut James' minutes and ran Joe Harris into the ground. Harris played 27 minutes in the game, including the last 20 in a row. Unfortunately, he didn't do much with five points.

3. James wasn't happy with the turnover at the end of the game, but he was happy with the progress the Cavaliers made. They competed on the defensive end. They held the Spurs to an opponent season-low 92 points and forced 16 turnovers. Irving was impressive with the way he hounded Tony Parker. Parker had eight points and three assists in 34 minutes. He shot 2 of 7 from the field. That is how Irving has to defend.

4. San Antonio was missing four rotation players with injuries, including guard Patty Mills (right shoulder surgery), forward/center Tiago Splitter (tightness in right calf), forward Matt Bonner (stomach virus) and guard Marco Belinelli (strained right groin). Some how they still found a way.

5. Forward/center Boris Diaw had 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block. Both his points and assists were season highs. He just knows how to play. He knows how to make the right basketball play. If he needs to score, he does it.

6. As former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said in today's News-Herald, the Cavs' defense will decide how far this team goes this year. The ESPN analyst is absolutely right, too. Unless the Cavs buy in, they will be hard-pressed to get to the Eastern Conference finals. You know darn well that Chicago isn't going to have the same problem.

7. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant took over the league's lead in scoring over Cavs forward LeBron James. It could be a battle all season for league supremacy.

8. I have to admit I'm infatuated with Gregg Popovich. I love what his team is about. I love what he's about. I love everything about him, except for his surely moods. If a reporter doesn't ask a question the right way, he'll jump on him and almost try to embarrass him. He did it tonight in his pregame scrum with the media. 

UP NEXT: at Washington, Verizon Center, 7:30 p.m. Friday

STARTERS
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Kawhi Leonard (6-7, 230)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Tim Duncan (6-11, 250)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Boris Diaw (6-8, 250)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Danny Green (6-6, 215)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Tony Parker (6-2, 185)
INACTIVE LIST
Cavs - G Matthew Dellavedova, C Alex Kirk
Spurs - G Patty Mills, F/C Tiago Splitter
OFFICIALS
Ed Malloy, Derrick Collins, Leroy Richardson

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nuggets at Cavs

DENVER NUGGETS (3-7) 106, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (5-4) 97
Quicken Loans Arena
Monday
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA TV

QUICK SHOTS: 1. The Cavaliers split the season series with the Nuggets. They handled the Nuggets in Denver on Nov. 7, 110-101. That was the start of the Cavaliers' four-game winning streak. Of course, that streak ended tonight.

2. Point guard Ty Lawson missed the earlier meeting. He made his presence felt tonight, as he destroyed anyone who tried to guard him. He had a game-high 24 points, 12 assists and two steals. It got so bad, the Cavaliers tried LeBron James on him in the late going, to no avail. 

3. For the first time since March 3, 2000, at Dallas, the Cavaliers had four players score 20 or more points. Yet, they never reached 100 for the game. It also showed they got almost nothing from the other players on the roster.

4. Guard Dion Waiters had a season-high 20 points for the Cavaliers, including 16 in the second half. He made 9 of 16 attempts from the field.

5. The Cavaliers connected on 10 3-pointers. They've reached double digits in 3-point goals in three of the last four outings. 

6. Swingman Mike Miller must be less than 100 percent. He played four scoreless minutes in the game. He did attempt a 3-pointer. He's 2 of 11 from behind the arc this season. The Cavaliers are still waiting for him to make some positive plays. He was brought to the team to help spread the floor. He still does that, but soon opposing teams will quit guarding him at the 3-point line.

7. Forward LeBron James came into the game leading the league in scoring at 27.8 points per game. In his previous five games, he averaged 31.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists. He was named Player of the Week for the 46th time in his career earlier in the day.

UP NEXT: vs. San Antonio, The Q, 7 p.m. Wednesday

STARTERS
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Wilson Chandler (6-7, 225)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Kenneth Faried (6-8, 228)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Arron Afflalo (6-4, 215)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Ty Lawson (5-11, 195)
INACTIVE LIST
Cavs - G Matthew Dellavedova, C Alex Kirk
Nuggets - C Jusuf Nurkic, F/C J.J. Hickson
OFFICIALS
John Goble, Haywoode Workman, Sean Wright


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hawks at Cavs

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (5-3) 127, ATLANTA HAWKS (5-4) 94
Quicken Loans Arena
Saturday
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

QUICK SHOTS: 1. The Cavaliers made quick work of the league's hottest team with a 41-point first quarter. The Hawks had won four in a row coming into Saturday's game, but were no match for the Cavaliers. Coach David Blatt's team has now won four in a row. Atlanta had won its last four meetings against the Cavaliers, including all three games last season.

2. Some people are forgetting about the Hawks in the Eastern Conference playoff race. When it's all said and done, they'll be among the top eight teams. They have three formidable players, including Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Jeff Teague. Millsap is averaging 16 points and eight rebounds.

3. Teague also has had much success against Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who had much to do with his team's comeback in Boston on Friday. Irving had 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter. He started draining 3-pointers in the fourth. He ended up 3 of 7 from behind the arc. The most impressive thing about the way he's playing is the lack of turnovers. He played 68 minutes in games against Boston and Atlanta, respectively, with a turnover. He held Teague to just five points.

4. Forward LeBron James is averaging 31.8 points in the Cavaliers' win streak. He's starting to take over late in the games, which is needed right now.

5. Rookie guard Joe Harris is making his move. The coaches love how hard he's playing. He's also making big shots in key junctures of the game. He had a career-high 12 points, four rebounds and four assists against the Hawks. He will continue to get more and more minutes. He defends, which is needed on this team.

UP NEXT: vs. Denver, The Q, 7 p.m. Monday

STARTERS
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Thabo Sefolosha (6-7, 220)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Paul Millsap (6-8, 246)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Al Horford (6-10, 245)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Kyle Korver (6-7, 212)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Jeff Teague (6-2, 186)
INACTIVE LIST
Cavs - G Matthew Dellavedova, C Alex Kirk
Hawks - F DeMarre Carroll, F/C Adreian Payne
OFFICIALS
Derrick Stafford, Nick Buchert, Gediminas Petraitis