Blogs > Cleveland Cavaliers Blog

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Game 31: Cavs at Pacers

Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The struggling Cavs dropped their sixth consecutive game to end the 2013 portion of their schedule.

They dropped to 2-14 on the road, worst in the NBA. Why they are so bad on the road, I can't figure. 

They played with fire on Tuesday and were in the game until the Pacers' defense stiffened in the fourth quarter. They were outscored in the fourth quarter, 26-10. The Cavs made just 3 of 16 shots in the final quarter.

That's what the Pacers can do: Play physical defense. Cavs coach Mike Brown said the Pacers like to grab, push and shove - and not get called for it. He should know. He was on their staff several years ago.

The Cavs have now lost eight in a row to the Pacers. They'll get a chance to snap that streak on Jan. 5 at The Q.

The Cavs' last road win against the Pacers came on Jan. 29, 2010.

The Cavs played without center Andrew Bynum, who has been excused from all team activities. He's being paid to stay at home. It's a nice gig if you can get it.

The Cavs are trying to deal the big man. Good luck with that one.

The Pacers concentrated their defensive game plan on stopping Kyrie Irving, who was averaging 33.7 points in his previous three games. He had just 10 points, five assists and five rebounds. He bumped knees with an Indiana player and spent some time in the locker room with a bruised knee.

He will have an MRI on his knee on New Year's Day when the team gets back to Cleveland. That would be about the worst thing to happen if he went down. He's one of the few reasons to watch this team right now.

He made just 3 of 9 shots on Tuesday. The Cavs had just three players in double figures, led by Anderson Varejao's 14 points and 11 rebounds.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Orlando at 7 p.m. Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Earl Clark (6-10, 225) vs. Paul George (6-9, 228)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. David West (6-9, 250)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Roy Hibbert (7-2, 290)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Lance Stephenson (6-5, 230)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. George Hill (6-2, 188)
Cavs - G/F Carrick Felix, C Andrew Bynum
Pacers - F Solomon Hill
Zach Zarba, Mark Lindsay, Eli Roe

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Game 30: Warriors at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Cavs played their third game in four days. They've now lost the last five games overall. This team is fractured right now. However, they came to play against the high-flying Warriors, but couldn't put them away.

I want to get this out of the way first. Stephen Curry is a beast. Golden State coach Mark Jackson said he's one of the best in the world. I can't argue with that.

He's one of the best shooters I've ever seen. His first-half display was unbelievable. He made all five of his 3-pointers in the first half.

Curry ended with 29 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, two steals and a block. He was 10 of 23 from the field, 5 of 10 from behind the arc, and 4 of 5 from the foul line. He did have five turnovers.

This Warriors team can score with the best of them. They can also defend. They held the Cavs to 41.3 percent shooting. This is a good team. An NBA Finals team? No. But a second-round-of-the-playoffs-type team.

The Cavs led for much of the game. Kyrie Irving was up for his matchup with Curry. Irving had 27 points and nine assists. Irving is one of the best point guards in the league, but a couple spots behind Curry. There, I've said it.

The Cavs have to get used to playing without center Andrew Bynum, who was suspended indefinitely before the Boston game on Saturday. No one seems to expect him to come back. The Cavs have a little more than a week to decide what to do with him. My guess? They'll waive him and save $6 million.

They are 0-2 since announcing he's been suspended.

At least we don't have to watch the Cavs' feeble attempts at getting him the ball in the post. It totally stagnated the offense (what there is of it). He was practically immobile on the defensive end. But one thing he was able to do is slow down big men like Andrew Bogut. Playing against legit 7-footer didn't faze him in the least.

It's a little different with Anderson Varejao, their new starting center.

The Warriors are six games over .500, yet they are the seventh seed in the Western Conference. They'd be the third seed in the East.

Golden State has won five in a row overall. They've won six in a row over the Cavs. The Warriors haven't lost at The Q since Nov. 17, 2009.

Cavs guard Jarrett Jack spent the 2012-13 season with the Warriors. He averaged 12.9 points during the regular season, but 17.2 points in the postseason. Golden State made it to the West semifinals last year.

They let him go, and he was gobbled up by the Cavs. 

Jackson talked about him like he was one of his sons. He just loved the guy and appreciated what he did for the team.

The Warriors are fourth in the NBA in total rebounding, second in defensive rebounds. Lee and Bogut just pound the boards. They outrebounded the Cavs, 52-44. They've also held their opponent below 40 percent shooting in 12 games this year, second in the NBA behind Indiana.

One doesn't think of this as a defensive-minded team. They are no long run-and-gun under Jackson.

Cavs coach Mike Brown was so happy with his team's performance, he called practice for Monday. Remember, this is after a back-to-back set. Normally, they'd be off after that. They certainly need the work.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Indiana at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

SF Earl Clark (6-10, 225) vs. Andre Iguodala (6-6, 207)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. David Lee (6-9, 240)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Andrew Bogut (7-0, 260)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Klay Thompson (6-7, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Stephen Curry (6-3, 185)
Cavs - G/F Sergey Karasev, C Andrew Bynum
Warriors - C Festus Ezeli, C Ognjen Kuzmic, C Jermaine O'Neal
Michael Smith, Steve Anderson, Courtney Kirkland

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Game 29: Cavs at Celtics

TD Garden
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: Playing in their first game without center Andrew Bynum, the Cavs came up short against the Celtics.

Bynum was suspended a few hours before the game for conduct detrimental to the team. It could very well be his last game with the team.

It came to a head on Friday, but it wasn't announced until Saturday. He didn't fly to Boston with the Cavs. The team sat on the news overnight. 

Bynum wasn't on the practice court on Friday when the media was allowed onto Cleveland Clinic Courts, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. He often started his off-the-court work by then.

If you don't ask about a certain player specifically, the media won't be told about things. If someone had asked about Bynum, maybe the news would have broke Friday. Who knows?

Anderson Varejao moved back into the starting lineup at center. He didn't do anything extraordinary on Saturday with six points and eight rebounds. Tyler Zeller has moved into the backup center spot. He had a season-high 10 rebounds.

I'm assuming this is the last we'll see Bynum. No one is talking, but that's the feeling I'm getting.

The Celtics haven't played since last Sunday, Dec. 22, at Indiana. They jumped out to a 22-point lead vs. the Cavs. However, the Cavs outscored them, 34-18, in the fourth quarter to narrow their deficit to two points.

A big block by Brandon Bass on Dion Waiters' drive to the basket prevented the Cavs from tying the game late. Earl Clark didn't get a 3 off in time at the buzzer.

The Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak.

They've now beaten the Cavs twice this year. They also won on Nov. 29 at TD Garden, 103-86.

Many of the players hated the start time. It threw their routine out of whack. They'd rather play at 7 p.m. There could be some sluggish players at least for the start of the game.

Cavs coach Mike Brown has tinkered with the starting lineup once again. He's inserted Clark at small forward. Alonzo Gee has been dispatched to the bench and has not seen any action in the last two games. Clark is bigger and offers more from an offensive standpoint. Clark had 12 points and three rebounds against the Celtics.

Clark was supposed to be an upgrade at small forward. The Cavs are going to have to do better than that. He's a journeyman, nothing more.

One thing he does do is shoot 3s, something that Gee was unable to do with any consistency.

Brown is now playing Anthony Bennett at power forward again. He's getting minutes at both forward spots. It could be one reason why he struggles so much. He's been forced to play both forward spots. He wasn't bad on Saturday with five points and five rebounds.

The Celtics are hanging onto the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Coach Brad Stevens has done a nice job with this unit.

The Cavs have now lost four in a row overall. They are 2-13 on the road and have lost seven of their last eight.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Golden State at 6 p.m. Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Earl Clark (6-10, 225) vs. Jeff Green (6-9, 235)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Brandon Bass (6-8, 250)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Jared Sullinger (6-9, 280)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Avery Bradley (6-2, 180)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Jordan Crawford (6-4, 195)
Cavs - G/F Sergey Karasev, C Andrew Bynum
Celtics - G Rajon Rondo
Sean Corbin, David Guthrie, Karl Lane

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Game 28: Hawks at Cavs

ATLANTA HAWKS (16-13) 127, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (10-18) 125, (2OT)
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: I could count about five different times the Cavs had the game wrapped up. Each time, the Hawks got a ridiculously easy shot and got right back into the game. 

The Hawks are a good team. They are currently the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Are they an elite team? No. They have three really good players in Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Paul Millsap.

Teague is a borderline All-Star right now. He's playing that well. He had a career-high 34 points on Thursday and hit the game-winning shot in double overtime. He was outscored by Kyrie Irving, who had 40, but Teague won the game.

That's all that really matters.

The thing that separates the Hawks from the Cavs? They are a much smarter team. They don't make bone-headed mistakes like the Cavs.

They don't foul 3-point shooters 30 feet from the basket. Cavs center Anderson Varejao knocked Kyle Korver down after the latter drained a 3-pointer. You just can't do that, especially when you have a five-point lead in the second OT.

You can't allow the "guy with the beard," Pero Antic, to drain a wide-open 3. I don't think anyone guarded him. 

Cavs guard Kyrie Irving had six turnovers. I swear it seemed like he had about nine. Many of them were unforced.

The Cavs have lost their last three matchups against the Hawks, including the Dec. 6 contest in Atlanta. The Cavs were throttled in that game, 108-89.

The Cavs are facing the fork in the road in the 2013-14 season. It's time to either start playing like they are capable or go south. They are really close to the latter. The signs are there.

They don't play hard half the time, even though they did on Thursday. They aren't listening to what the coaches are preaching. They are not defending like they need to. They have the mindset that they can outscore teams. Coach Mike Brown wants them to defend first and foremost.

Horford totally outplayed Cavs center Andrew Bynum. He outscored him, 25-4. He drew Bynum away from the basket with 15-foot jumpers.

Horford is headed toward another All-Star appearance. He's averaging 23.2 points and is shooting 64.6 percent from the field in his last seven games.

The Hawks are averaging almost 117 points in their last six games. They don't have a deep bench.

After much build-up, Brown made a change to his starting lineup. He inserted Earl Clark in at small forward and benched Alonzo Gee. It was much to do about nothing. Clark had three points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. 

Brown said he was going to stick with the move for a while. He also played backup center Tyler Zeller for 11 minutes. The tradeoff of that was to trim some of Bynum's minutes. He played just 17 minutes and had just one rebound and one block.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Boston at 1 p.m. Saturday at TD Center.

SF Earl Clark (6-10, 225) vs. DeMarre Carroll (6-8, 212)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Paul Millsap (6-8, 253)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Al Horford (6-10, 250)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Kyle Korver (6-7, 212)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Jeff Teague (6-2, 181)
Cavs - C Henry Sims, G Carrick Felix
Hawks - G Jared Cunningham, G John Jenkins
Bill Spooner, David Jones, James Williams

Monday, December 23, 2013

Game 27: Pistons at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs have lost seven in a row to the Pistons, including their last four at The Q.

The Cavs' frontcourt wasn't ready for the challenge tonight, not even close.

The Pistons have one of the top frontcourts in the Eastern Conference. For those who didn't think Josh Smith would work in Detroit, think again. He's averaging 23.8 points in his last six games. That includes a season-high 31 points vs. Portland on Dec. 15. He had 25 points against the Cavs, who have no one to guard him.

But let's not forget center Andre Drummond and power forward Greg Monroe. The three players made life miserable for the Cavs tonight.

I didn't like the Alonzo Gee-Smith matchup from the start. He's too big for Zo to handle.

Let's not forget about the Pistons' backcourt. Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been very active. We know Brandon Jennings from his days in Milwaukee. He's very streaky. If he's making his jumper like on Monday, it turned into a long night.

I could make a case the Pistons are better at every position in the starting lineup, with the exception of point guard with Kyrie Irving. And even that spot on this night was up for grabs. Jennings was quite good on Monday.

I'm impressed with the job GM Joe Dumars did in the offseason. There were just two major moves: Signing Smith in free agency and trading Brandon Knight for Jennings. They are much improved and it appears better than the Cavs.

I don't know why, but when I went down to pregame, Pistons coach Mo Cheeks reminded me of former Cavs coach Byron Scott, only not as friendly. The guy has been around the league forever.

They are now 8-6 on the road this year with wins over Miami, Indiana and Boston. Why they are better on the road than they are at The Palace of Auburn Hills, I can't tell you, and neither can Cheeks.

I will say that front line will do a lot of damage to most teams in the league.

Of course, the Cavs are very good at home, at least before Monday. They are now 8-5 at The Q. They're 5-2 in their last seven home games. They have rugged games against Atlanta (Thursday) and Golden State (Sunday) coming up. They play an afternoon matinee in Boston on Saturday.

Unless they snap out of their funk, they could be going on a losing streak.

Guard Kyrie Irving is also very good at home and averages 24.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.4 assists in 13 home games this season.

They were missing shooting guard Dion Waiters on Monday for the third consecutive game. He has tendinitis in his right wrist. They miss his scoring and playmaking desperately, especially when Jarrett Jack doesn't show up like he did on Monday.

I thought the addition of Jack was going to be a huge move for this team. That hasn't been the case for the most part. I hope he's not showing his age. Former GM Wayne Embry said he grew wary of guards that turn 30 years old.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Atlanta at 7 p.m. Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Josh Smith (6-9, 225)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Greg Monroe (6-11, 250)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Andre Drummond (6-11, 279)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (6-5, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Brandon Jennings (6-1, 169)
Cavs - C Henry Sims, G Dion Waiters
Pistons - F Tony Mitchell, G Peyton Siva
Tom Washington, Eric Dalen, Pat Fraher

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Game 26: Cavs at Bulls

United Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Bulls had lost four in a row overall and at home. They had lost 12 of their last 16 games coming into Saturday's contest..

But that was before the Cavs came to town. Everything that ailed them went out the window. They didn't have leading scorer Luol Deng? Big deal.

They were also missing Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler? Made no difference.

The Bulls promoted reserve players into the starting lineup and they exploited the Cavs' defense. The Bulls shot 53.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the 3-point line. In other words, it didn't show up.

We can blame this on the fact that shooting guard Dion Waiters didn't play. But that would not be accurate. They didn't come in with the right frame of mind. This was a team the Cavs should have had success against, especially with the Bulls missing so many key performers.

They signed free agent D.J. Augustin on Dec. 13 and he has moved into the starting lineup with the back injury to Hinrich. What did he do? Record season highs in points (18), rebounds (5) and assists (10).

The Cavs dropped to 2-12 on the road this season. There's no reason why they are this bad on the road. But they are a completely different team at home and on the road. On the road, you have to play with fire. This team doesn't.

The Cavs handled the Bulls in the last meeting on Nov. 30, 97-93, as center Andrew Bynum was dominant with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and five blocks. He was the last Cavs player to block five shots since J.J. Hickson on Feb. 25, 2011.

Bynum hasn't been playing up to that capability for quite some time. He showed up on Saturday with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Bulls center Joakim Noah responded after a poor performance against Bynum in the last matchup. Noah tied his season high with 18 rebounds and 11 points.

The difference in the game might have been rookie shooting guard Tony Snell, who finished with 17 points on 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Wouldn't it be nice to have a rookie do something for your team? 

One wants to be patient with the Cavs' rookie class, but it's been a major disappointment thus far. Their best rookie, by far, has been Matthew Dellavedova, who had 10 points, four assists and two blocks on Saturday. He wasn't even drafted.

The other three rookies - Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix - have done nothing to make me believe they belong in the NBA.

The Bulls have had injuries all season. However, power forward Carlos Boozer got off to a fantastic start and then hit the wall. He's been on a terrible streak as of late. In fact, Boozer, though, was very good against the Cavs with 19 points and nine rebounds. Taj Gibson has been their best power forward.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Detroit at 7 p.m. Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Mike Dunleavy (6-9, 230)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Carlos Boozer (6-9, 266)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Joakim Noah (6-11, 232)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Tony Snell (6-7, 200)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. D.J. Augustin (6-0, 183)
Cavs - F Anthony Bennett, G Dion Waiters
Bulls - G Derrick Rose
Zach Zarba, Matt Boland, Ben Taylor

Friday, December 20, 2013

Game 25: Bucks at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Bucks were injury-ravaged. Those thinking this was going to be an easy game had another thing coming. They were missing most of their front court, including Larry Sanders, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova.

Coach Larry Drew said he had three bigs standing, and two of them - John Henson and Miroslav Raduljica - were in the starting lineup.

"You do the math," he joked.

The Bucks, though, fought the Cavs tooth and nail. Right to the final buzzer in overtime. Guard O.J. Mayo missed two 3-point attempts in the last seconds with a chance to send it into double overtime.

The Cavs are on a tear, having won five of the last six games at The Q.

Now, let's see if they can take that feeling on the road where they are 2-11. They flew to Chicago after the game. They'll have to do it without forward Anthony Bennett, who didn't travel. He is sick.

They have been averaging 103 points in their last nine games, 110 in the last five.

When asked about the offensive explosion, Cavs coach Mike Brown said, "Mike Brown can't coach offense."

It was an obvious dig at those in the media who poke at his offensive capabilities.

Guard Dion Waiters, also playing his best basketball of the season, didn't play on Friday. He's suffering from tendinitis in his right wrist. He did travel to Chicago and might play against the Bulls.

The Cavs seem to be figuring it out. Brown is getting a consistent effort out of them.

We'll see how they do against the struggling Bulls, who have lost four in a row.

Cavs center Andrew Bynum had a horrible night. He was 3 of 14 from the field for eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

The Cavs worked on ways to get him the ball in practice. They didn't have trouble with the opposition fronting him. The Bucks started 7-foot, 280-pound Miroslav Raduljica to match Bynum's strength. He more than held his own against Bynum, which is a shocker.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Chicago at 8 p.m. Saturday at United Center.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Khris Middleton (6-8, 217)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. John Henson (6-11, 220)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Miroslav Raduljica (7-0, 280)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo (6-9, 210)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Brandon Knight (6-3, 189)
Cavs - G Dion Waiters, F Anthony Bennett
Bucks - G/F Carlos Delfino, C Larry Sanders
Jason Phillips, Tony Brown, Violet Palmer

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Game 24: Trail Blazers at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs lost to the hottest team in the NBA tonight. The Trail Blazers have the best overall record (22-4) and best road record (12-2). They've also won five in a row after tonight's game.

Coach Terry Stotts' club has firepower, starting with the head of the snake, point guard Damian Lillard. He was the Rookie of the Year last year. He's a pure scorer, who can also distribute to his team's vast arsenal.

He really took it to Kyrie Irving on Tuesday. Of course, Lillard buried the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left. He, obviously, got up for the matchup against Irving.

Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is having a fantastic season, as evidenced by his back-to-back Western Conference Player of the Week honors. He's not necessarily a banger down low, but he can score in the post. He likes to shoot mid-range jumpers and draw his defender away from the basket.

He's so long. It's impossible to get a hand on his shot. He ended with 15 rebounds. The Blazers embarrassed the Cavs on the boards, 56-44.

Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson brought his hard hat, but he was no match for Aldridge. In fact, he almost looked small standing next to him.

He faces some of the top NBA talent night in and night out. The last time, he faced one of the top power forwards in the West, the Clippers' Blake Griffin, he dominated the matchup. That wasn't the case on Tuesday.

Thompson called the 6-11 Aldridge an MVP candidate on Monday. LeBron James might be the frontrunner, but Aldridge is in the running, which is really saying something.

Old friend Mo Williams will be making his lone appearance at The Q tonight. He was fired up with nine points and six assists.

When talking to Cavs coach Mike Brown, who said he loved coaching Williams, I thought back to the Boston playoff series in 2010. The 6-1 Williams threw down a dunk in Game 1 of that series. I remember asking Brown in the postgame press conference if he even knew Williams could dunk. He was flummoxed, and said he had never seen him dunk even in practice.

Despite the loss, the Cavs are playing their best basketball of the season. As you know, there's no moral victories in the NBA. They had a four-game winning streak snapped at home.

The Cavs really took care of the ball tonight. They had a season-low six turnovers. Irving didn't have any. 

But they couldn't overcome getting pushed around under the boards.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Milwaukee at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Nicolas Batum (6-8, 220)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. LaMarcus Aldridge (6-11, 250)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Robin Lopez (7-0, 265)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Wesley Matthews (6-5, 214)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Damian Lillard (6-3, 195)
Cavs - G/F Carrick Felix, C Henry Sims
Trail Blazers - G C.J. McCollum, F Victor Claver
John Goble, Kane Fitzgerald, Eli Roe

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Game 23: Cavs at Heat

AmericanAirlines Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs played their rear ends off on Saturday, but still came up short.

They overcame a 19-point deficit in the third quarter before storming back and taking a four-point advantage in the fourth quarter. However, they couldn't get over the hump.

The Heat's Big Three all scored more than 20 points. That's problematic since they have good role players around them. 

LeBron James was outstanding with a game-high 25 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and four steals. He was 9 of 12 from the field. He came into the game shooting 58.4 percent from the field, crazy good for a perimeter player.

You don't need me to tell you he's probably the best player in the league.

If he goes off, they can't allow Dwyane Wade (24 points) and Chris Bosh (22 points, 12 rebounds) to have such strong games. If they do, the two-time NBA champion Heat are going to be hard to beat.

It didn't help that the Cavs were outrebounded by the worst rebounding team in the league. Of course, the Heat makes up for their lack of rebounding by playing stellar defense.

The Cavs have lost seven in a row in Miami. Their last win in South Florida came on Jan. 25, 2010.

The Cavs had a three-game winning streak snapped. They return home to get ready for Portland on Tuesday at home. So, they can once again play well and lose the game. The Trail Blazers are that good right now.

The Heat lost their last game to the powerful Pacers, but overall have won 13 of their last 16 games.

It was thought the best way to beat the Heat was to pound the ball inside to Andrew Bynum. But once again, Bynum was a no-show with four points and four rebounds.

Bynum has done next to nothing in his last three games. In that span, he's averaged 3.0 points and 4.5 rebounds and is a combined 4 of 11 from the field. He'll have to step up his game if the Cavs are going to make their move.

The Heat topped the Cavs on Nov. 25 at The Q, 95-84.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Portland at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. LeBron James (6-8, 250)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Shane Battier (6-8, 220)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Chris Bosh (6-11, 235)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Dwyane Wade (6-4, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Mario Chalmers (6-2, 190)
Cavs - G/F Carrick Felix, C Tyler Zeller
Heat - F Michael Beasley, C Greg Oden
Monty McCutchen, Brian Forte, Sean Wright

Friday, December 13, 2013

Game 22: Cavs at Magic

Amway Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: Besides stretching the Cavs' winning streak to three in a row and five of the last six games, the only thing that mattered in this game was that Anderson Varejao wasn't seriously injured.

He took two shots to his knees in the game. First, he bumped knees with Magic guard Victor Oladipo. Then, he was thrown to the floor by Andrew Nicholson with eight seconds left and hurt the other knee. Nicholson was ejected from the game, but not after doing some damage.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team we call the Cavs won their second road game of the season on Friday. They are now 2-10 away from The Q.

It was a big emphasis in practice this week. It's time for this club to start winning on the road. How about another road win on Saturday?

The Magic have won 10 of their last 14 matchups against the Cavs. However, the Cavs won three of four meetings against the Magic last year and won by an average margin of 9.2 points per game. They have visions of doing it again this year.

Kyrie Irving was quite good with 31 points. Sidekick Dion Waiters was even better - at least in the fourth when he scored the Cavs first 14 points. He fueled the Cavs' fourth-period blitz, 36-24, over the Magic.

Orlando had a 14-point lead in the first half before the Cavs started chipping away. Varejao, sore knees an all, had 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Twelve came on the defensive glass that he dominated.

Varejao is one block away from Jim Brewer (353) for eighth place on the franchise's all-time list. 

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Miami at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Arron Afflalo (6-5, 215)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Glen Davis (6-9, 289)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Nikola Vucevic (7-0, 250)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Victor Oladipo (6-5, 215)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Jameer Nelson (6-0, 190)
Cavs - G/F Carrick Felix, C Henry Sims
Magic - F Dahntay Jones, F Hedo Turkoglu
Tom Washington, Nick Buchert, Derrick Collins

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Game 21: Knicks at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Knicks stumble out of Cleveland having lost 11 of their last 13 games. A lot of experts were dead wrong about the Knicks.

From afar, it's a poorly constructed and flawed roster. They didn't have protection with their bigs in case a player like 7-1 center Tyson Chandler got hurt. Obviously, you're not going to find another player as good as Chandler, a former Defensive Player of the Year. 

But you've got to have bigs. Several of them. Andrea Bargnani is big, but he doesn't play like one. He was pretty awful tonight, as he shot just 5 of 17 from the field en route to 11 points. Point guard Raymond Felton? Ditto.

Cavs coach Mike Brown compared the Knicks to a wounded animal. Maybe a wounded chinchilla. 

The Knicks are missing Chandler (non-displaced fracture of the right fibula) and Kenyon Martin (sore ankle).

Studying their roster, I immediately came to the conclusion the Cavs shouldn't break up their depth in the front court at the trade deadline. They have a major advantage over most teams with bigs like Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and even Tyler Zeller. If Cavs' little-used center Henry Sims were on the Knicks, he'd get a lot of playing time.

However, before you write off the Knicks, remember they still have offensive firepower, starting with All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. Only Miami forward LeBron James, Anthony's buddy from the fabulous 2003 draft, is scoring more points in the Eastern Conference. James is averaging 25.4 points per game, compared to Anthony's 25.2. Anthony is also averaging a career-high 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

Anthony had 29 points and eight rebounds on Tuesday.

Obviously, the Knicks are capable of putting up numbers. However, for the most part, they've been a total flop this year. That's one reason Coach Mike Woodson is on the hot seat. The end is probably near for him if things keep heading the way they've been. 

The Cavs are 7-3 at The Q this season. They have now won four of their last five games.

They've won 11 of their last 13 home games against New York at The Q dating back to 2007.

Bynum, Thompson and Varejao have combined for at least 30 points and 30 rebounds in each of the previous three games. During that stretch, they are averaging 41.3 points and 35.7 rebounds.

Bynum is averaging 18 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his last four games. He'd like to increase his minutes, but the Cavs are being cautious with him. He was limited to just three points and eight rebounds against the Knicks.

Thompson has been a beast on the boards, averaging 14.8 rebounds in the last four games. Included in that span was a career-high 21 rebounds against Denver on Dec. 4. He's now averaging 10.4 rebounds per game - eighth in the NBA.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Orlando at 7 p.m. Friday at Amway Center.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Carmelo Anthony (6-8, 235)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Metta World Peace (6-7, 260)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Andrea Bargnani (7-0, 250)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Iman Shumpert (6-5, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Raymond Felton (6-1, 205)
Cavs - G/F Carrick Felix, C Henry Sims
Knicks - G Chris Smith, C Tyson Chandler
Marc Davis, Dick Bavetta, Leon Wood