Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Game 82: Nets at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
It was never boring. There was always something to write about, even with a 33-win team.
Should this team have made the playoffs? Darn right. But the Cavs failed to get in the postseason for the first time since 2010. There were parts of the season where they played very well. Others where they were an embarrassment to even watch.
Since Cavs Acting GM David Griffin took over the first week of February, the Cavs were 17-16.
There's talent on this club. It just took too long this season for it to blossom. Does Brown have to shoulder some of the blame? Absolutely.
Will he be back next season? I believe that he will. He'll at least start the season. If they get off to a poor start, I think he'll be jettisoned.
I believe he'll be back for a number of reasons. Perhaps, my gut feeling is way off. Cavs swingman C.J. Miles said before the game that it's hard to build a nucleus with a revolving door.
There will also be roster changes. Hopefully, not to the extent as last year when they brought in nine new players.
Teams can't keep making wholesale changes like that and expect to win.
In all honesty, it really doesn't matter who they play. If they are on their game, they can beat any team in the NBA. They have so much playoff experience in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson.
Nets coach Jason Kidd said he's blessed to have so many playoff-tested players, some who have won championships.
Like forward Luol Deng said on Tuesday, the Cavs should be preparing for their first-round playoff series with Indiana. But they're on the outside looking in once again.
Cavs guard Jarrett Jack tried to explain that the playoffs are a different animal. It's a whole new game. Teams play harder and there's no (or very few) slouches. He said he had a recent conversation with teammate Dion Waiters, who said the playoffs were probably a lot like the NCAA tournament. Jack said he told Waiters it was nothing like the NCAA tourney. He said you wouldn't be facing any No. 16 teams in the NBA playoffs.
Jack said Waiters and Kyrie Irving were talking about going to some of the NBA playoff games as fans to see what it was all about. Perhaps next year, they'll find out what it's like to play in the postseason.
UP NEXT: The NBA draft lottery on May 20.
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Jason Collins (7-0, 255)
Nets - C Brook Lopez, G Shaun Livingston
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Game 81: Celtics at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
Cavs coach Mike Brown was asked after the game whether that has happened. He doesn't know how to answer the question.
His starters just abandoned him on Saturday. They've now lost by a combined 15 points to two of the worst teams in the league in Milwaukee and Boston. In the case of the Celtics, they're 0-3 against Boston this year. What's that all about?
The Celtics came into Saturday's game having lost 14 of their last 16 games. Despite being in tank mode, they knocked off Charlotte and the Cavs on back-to-back nights.
They were playing without two starters in center Jared Sullinger and point guard Rajon Rondo.
The two players that stepped in for them were fantastic.
Center Kelly Olynyk, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 draft, had 25 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs. I implore the Cavs to find a player as good in the 2014 draft.
Point guard Phil Pressey started in place of Rondo and dished out 13 assists. He has 26 assists in the last two nights.
His dunk in the first half was also a thing of beauty. He followed a shot that bounced off the rim. He grabbed it in mid air and threw it down with authority. Remember, this guy is 5-11, 175.
He's the son of former Cavs assistant coach Paul Pressey.
It's only human nature to set your sights on the finish line. It's been a long season, and a difficult one at that. But one would think the Cavs would be able to slip past teams like Milwaukee on Friday no matter what. Of course, they've lost twice to the Bucks this season.
Cavs small forward Luol Deng was held out of the game with a sore back. Alonzo Gee started in his place.
The other injured players - guard/forward C.J. Miles (ankle), forward Anthony Bennett (knee) and guard Carrick Felix (knee) - are also out, likely for the duration. The season ends on Wednesday against the Nets.
The Cavs can't finish above .500 this year at home. They are 18-22 at The Q thus far this season. That's ridiculous. Even really bad teams win at least half their games at home.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Brooklyn at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Kelly Olynyk (7-0, 238)
Celtics - G/F Keith Bogans, C Vitor Faverani, F Gerald Wallace
Friday, April 11, 2014
Game 80: Cavs at Bucks
BMO Harris Bradley Center
Don't tell me the Cavs just lost to the worst team in the NBA. That makes twice this year they've lost to the woeful Bucks, who have half their team on their injury list. They are clearly gunning for the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, but, boy, they know how to put a jolt into the Cavs.
The Bucks snapped a six-game losing streak. They've won just 10 games at home. Two of those 10 wins have come at the expense of the Cavs. I figured the Cavs would finish strong. Heck, they could lose 50 games this season if they drop their last two.
The Cavs finished 14-26 on the road this year. They closed the road portion of their schedule by winning nine of their last 16 games away from The Q.
It came on a night Kyrie Irving barely showed up. He started in the let's-get-everyone-involved mode. Then when he tried to turn it on in the late going, it wasn't there. He ended with 12 points and made just 4 of 12 from the field. Hopefully, he's not having difficulty getting motivated for these games.
Despite what you hear, they do mean something. The front office is still evaluating talent until the final buzzer goes off on the disappointing 2013-14 season.
Guard Dion Waiters paced the Cavs with 23 points and a career-high five steals.
Bucks power forward Jeff Adrien - all 6-7 of him - caused problems the whole night with his hustle and determination. He ended with nine points, nine rebounds and a block - I know, it doesn't seem like much - but he was very active around the paint.
After having 41 assists on Wednesday against the Pistons, the Cavs dished out just 18 assists against the Bucks. That ball movement wasn't there.
The thing that stuck in Coach Mike Brown's craw, however, was the Cavs' lack of defense. They appeared to try to outscore the Bucks instead of trying to stop them. Obviously, it wasn't enough and they blew a 14-point lead.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Boston at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Zaza Pachulia (6-11, 245)
Bucks - G/F Carlos Delfino, G Nate Wolters, F Ersan Ilyasova
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Game 79: Pistons at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
The Cavs snapped a four-game losing streak to the Pistons at The Q. Strangely enough, they've won the last two outings in Detroit. This season, they won three of four games against the Pistons.
As you probably know, he doesn't run a lot of elaborate plays. A lot of predicated on pick-and-roll action and reading the defense. Tonight, the ball didn't stick on one side. It swung from side to side.
It might be hard for the Cavs to get up for the last three games. They have nothing to play for at this point except for pride.
Cavs coach Mike Brown begs to differ. He said they get paid to perform no matter what the playoff standings look like. He's right, of course, but this team had trouble getting up for games with the season hanging in the balance.
The Cavs really should be hovering around the .500 mark. It took so long for the Cavs to buy into what Brown was selling. Suddenly, they are defending like he's wanted them to all season.
Some of that has been the play of gritty Matthew Dellavedova, who has grown on all of us with his physical play.
I used a note on this for today's paper. It appears that forward Anthony Bennett will miss the rest of the season with the tendinitis in his patellar tendon. What a disastrous season for the first-year forward. It started terribly and will likely end with him injured. He's missed the last 15 games.
UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Milwaukee at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Bradley Center.
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Andre Drummond (6-11, 279)
Pistons - C Josh Harrellson, G Will Bynum, G Chauncey Billups
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Game 78: Bobcats at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Now, they are basically playing out the string. It's been an interesting season. It started with Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert proclaiming that he expected them to get into the playoffs. Well, that didn't exactly work out.
The Bobcats went out and paid handsomely for free agent center Al Jefferson, who has panned out in a big way. He has averaged 21.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 steals. Need I go on?
Jefferson shot just 9 of 21 from the field, but finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
But he's not their only threat. Guard Kemba Walker also had a standout season and has averaged 17.8 points, 5.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds on the season. Like Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, he gets up for facing Kyrie Irving. Walker ended with 20 points and seven assists.
The Bobcats have won four in a row. Coach Steve Clifford should be commended for what he's accomplished in Charlotte this year.
Maybe Cavs guard Kyrie Irving should get miffed before every game. He was steaming mad about the ESPN.com blog that said, among other things, that he wanted out of Cleveland. He went out and scored a career-high 44 points and added seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
Yet, with the game on the line in overtime, he had a chance to win it with a wide-open 3-pointer. It clanked off the rim with 8.9 seconds left.
Oh, well, another day, another loss in a long line of losses this season. There are only four games left in the 2013-14 season. The offseason could be outlandish and quite busy for the beat writers.
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Al Jefferson (6-10, 289)
Bobcats - C Brendan Haywood, F Jeffery Taylor
Friday, April 4, 2014
Game 77: Cavs at Hawks
Hawks forward Mike Scott pulled the plug on their playoff aspirations.
Very few Cavs fans knew who he was before the game. They know him now after he made 12 of 13 from the field en route to 26 points.
They are three games out with six games to play. They have to finish a game ahead of both Atlanta and New York, since they lose tie-breakers to both teams.
One wouldn't think the Cavs would get beat by anyone by 19 points with such importance riding on this game. The Hawks led from wire-to-wire. I really can't explain it.
The Hawks entered tonight's game having lost seven of their last eight games.
The Cavs came into the game having won five of their last six games. They inserted guard Kyrie Irving into the mix in Orlando and he didn't miss a beat. Coach Mike Brown has finally figured out a way to play Irving and Dion Waiters together in the same backcourt.
More on Irving later.
They had to focus on Hawks guard Jeff Teague tonight. Teague usually gets up when he faces Irving, and has played well against him in the past. He can shoot and penetrate. He finished with 20 points and 12 assists vs. the Cavs.
The other focus was on power forward Paul Millsap, who might be a bit undersized, but is a very productive player. He's the only player in the Eastern Conference (and one of two in the entire league, Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins is the other) averaging at least 16 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. On the year, he is averaging 17.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks.
Millsap has destroyed the Cavs on the boards this year. He's pulled down 36 rebounds in the three Atlanta wins. The Hawks finished 3-0 this year vs. the Cavs and have won four in a row in the series.
Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson, who had averaged 13.5 rebounds in his previous two games, was no factor in the game. He was once again totally outplayed by the 6-8 Millsap.
Thompson played in his 200th consecutive game on Wednesday. His 33 double-doubles on the season are tied for fifth in the East.
Forward/center Anderson Varejao returned after a one-game absence for the Cavs. He missed one game with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. He ended with nine points and five rebounds. Strangely enough, Tyler Zeller never left the bench.
Forward Anthony Bennett was back in Toronto dealing with a personal issue. Guard C.J. Miles is also sidelined with the longest-running sprained ankle in team history, it seems.
Before I sign off, I wanted to commend Waiters for his recent play. He's averaged 22.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the last 10 games. He's playing the best basketball of his career right now.
Waiters has scored at least 20 points in seven of the last nine games.
Now, back to Irving. There was a blog entry, fueled by ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, that stirred up more rumors about Irving. The Cavs guard lashed back at Windy on Twitter, and said the reporter should have had the guts to face him and ask him about these rumors before throwing all that stuff out there.
I've got to agree with Irving on this one.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Charlotte at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Pero Antic (6-11, 260)
Hawks - C Al Horford, G John Jenkins, C Gustavo Ayon